#1
All right, I've been here for almost 4 years, but this is the first time in this sub-forum so bear with me. I'll try to organize my problems so it's easier to read. Excuse the abundance of parentheses

First problem. My bassist is very independent. He is very reluctant to play something other than his own bass-line. Now he IS a half-decent writer (he could be better IMO), and his timing is getting better (that's not perfect either). It's just that I have written most of the material, as I'm kind of the band's main songwriter. A lot of my guitar work is written to work with MY bass-lines. I'm fine with him writing some original stuff, but sometimes I'm adamant that my bass-lines work better (and the rest of the band agrees). The problem is that my band (especially my drummer) are kind of afraid of losing him. Good (musically and technically) bassists seem to be a rarity around here, and if we permanently offend him, we may not have a bassist. Personally, I think we can do a lot better. What do you guys think? Am I being too snobby and controlling of my band? Or should I let him go and find another bassist? I can't help but think that it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a "cooperative" yet musically talented bassist.

Second problem. Me and my drummer are the core members of the band. We kind of manage the musical direction The other members are kind of "add-ons" that contribute to the writing process. Now here's the situation: the drummer is trying to pull us towards punk/pop rock, and I don't really like it. I would much rather go in the more, for lack of a better word, "natural" alternative rock route (I'm drawing HEAVILY from RHCP ). Now I'm willing to compromise a little bit, but he's tugging just a little too much. Now he's a great drummer both musically and technically, and on top of that we are great friends. Therefore, just dropping him isn't really an option. How can I convince him to ease up on his musical suggestions? And once again, am I just too elitist and controlling with the band?

Thanks a bunch guys!
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#2
1.
for your first issue, I would suggest getting together with your bassist and having writing sessions, so he can come up with a bass line and you put a guitar rhythm or lead to it. If he wants to be more apart of the writing process, let him. But do it together, and talk to each other and straight up say, I'm going to state my feelings and mind on any piece you write and I expect the same from you, don't be afraid to say something or give criticism, put personal feelings aside ( I know it can be hard) but your goal is to write the best songs you can, and some blunt opinions can keep you honest in that sense.

2.
Don't focus on who you want to sound like, you never will. Just write music! Keeping your RHCP influence will keep the sound from going pop punk, while the upbeat, and poppy drum beats will allow for some different textures to play with. You'll have your own individual sound as a band.

But seriously don't worry about labels, just write, your influences will mesh and you'll get your own style.
Last edited by scguitarking927 at Aug 24, 2011,
#3
seems like you just need to be a bit more straight forward and say what you feel to them, after all there not mind readers and will not no boundries till there told them, plus like the guy above me said you can't just rip off the RHCP you need to get a unique sound and you get that through compromise and including EVERYONES influences not just your own.
#4
A suggestion to your first problem: perhaps your bassist wants to do his own thing. Shocker, huh? Let him do his own thing, you are not the bassist of the group.

And in regards to your second problem. It sounds like you want everything to revolve around your visions. Is this your solo project or something?

Quote by bingeandletgo
How can I convince him to ease up on his musical suggestions?]


You are definitely being too controlling.
A callous exterior isn't an uncommon way of protecting ideals; it hides the idealists from the derision of fools and cowards. But it also immobilizes them, so that, in trying to preserve their ideals, they risk losing them.
#5
Usually, talent breeds an urge to create. So, you trying to keep him from creating and expressing himself musically will drive him away from you. As long as his bass lines fit the groove, what's the big deal?

Honestly, being this controlling can end with you being kicked out/the band leaving you behind.
#6
Problem 1:

You guys need to be able to talk to each other and offer each other feedback. That includes him saying, "I don't like the bassline you wrote for that," and you saying, "That bassline is too busy for the song."

The key is compromise. You don't want an automoton, who plays exactly what you tell him, right? Because you think he's a talented guy. So it's about finding a middle ground which makes you both happy. A lot of times these discussions need to be phrased in terms other than "I don't like that," - but rather about the music. Give him room to do his thing in a way that doesn't conflict with what you're doing.

So pick your battles. Every so often, say, "You know, I just don't think that works, I think my piece works better on this." Work with him on his ideas so they fit with your ideas better, and hopefully when he understands what you're going for, he'll be willing to work with you.

And if he's not, well, why do you want him in the band?

But picking your battles means not picking every battle. Make sure to praise the stuff he does well, and to give him room to create on some of your songs.

And if that's too much for you, again ... sounds like you're a bad fit for each other.

Sometimes it helps to have this conversation away from the discussion of any particular bassline - it's more of an attitude, about how much deference the band gives the songwriter's ideas. I strongly encourage you to SOLICIT their input on your songs, because that gives you more room to say "no" without stepping on toes. If he knows you're going to really listen to what he's playing, he's more likely to accept that it's not what works on the song.

Because a lot of the times we don't really listen to each other's contributions. We judge ideas based on where they came from, "That's not what I had in mind for this," rather than based on what's best for the song. So make sure you don't reflexively reject his ideas just because they're not your ideas.

But have conversations about this! Not "my way or the highway" conversations, but you need to be able to talk about it. You need to be able to get in arguments about stuff now and again, and it needs to not be that big a deal. You can't be in a band with someone you're afraid to - respectfully - confront.

Problem 2:

I'm not sure I see the problem. Honestly, the difference between "punk/pop rock" and "natural alternative" is, well, what, exactly? It sounds like you guys are worrying about labels a bit much, because quite frankly those areas are pretty close to each other and a *little* bit of friction about direction can be good.
#7
I've been in the bass player's scenario and I've been in your scenario. Both can be equally frustrating and sometimes you should really just sit back and try and get into what the other party is suggesting.

I think it tends to vary from song to song how sensitive you can really be without being over the top. There's a song of mine that basically all goes on top of one bassline that repeats throughout all the verses and solos, now I talked that over with the bass player in one of my groups and he was cool with it. Most other songs, I don't have to give him any directions. I might give him an idea of what I'm looking for if his idea is largely in conflict with my own.

tl;dr It varies from song to song, if and how you should be telling someone to play.
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#8
Thanks everybody! You all had great advice; I'll use as much as I can of it.


Quote by HotspurJr
a *little* bit of friction about direction can be good.


This caught my eye. Care to elaborate?
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Condoms, for all the copious amounts of pussy with which you will be inevitably bombarded from this moment onward.


#9
Friction (not fighting) can encourage you to mix genres and make something new. Of course, pop punk mixed with alt isn't new, but the way you go about it would almost certainly be unique. As AlanHB has said, and I paraphrase, "A group of the same people, playing the same instruments, will almost invariably sound the same."
#10
Quote by bingeandletgo

This caught my eye. Care to elaborate?


I think a lot of great music has come out of bands where there was musical tension between the bandmembers. That put them in a place of being critical of each other's stuff, which, if it's constructive, can push everyone to new heights.

McCartney and Lennon were pushed by their competition with each other. Sting and Stewart Copeland went through long periods of hating each other when they were making Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity. There was a tremendous amount of musical tension about what direction U2 was going when they made "Achtung Baby," which reinvigorated their sound and changed the landscape of popular music in a significant way.

I'm dealing with this - in both good and bad ways - with my current band. My tastes run towards pop rock (as you might guess from the three bands I mentioned in the previous paragraph) with a dose of singer-songwriter. My drummer is mostly interested in acid jazz and funk. My bassist comes from a jazz background. When it works, me and keyboard player keep them structured, whereas they keep us from getting boring. When it doesn't work, we don't enjoy playing with each other - so it's a balancing act.

So long as we're all listening to each other and willing to work with each other, I think the tension makes us better than the sum of our parts. The challenge is that it's a balancing act, playing stuff that keeps everyone happy.
#11
I'm finding your use of language interesting in a few places.

Quote by bingeandletgo

My bassist


He belongs to you? Or is he "our" bassist, as in belonging to the band?

Quote by bingeandletgo

my band (especially my drummer)


Again.... MINE sends a much different message about how you perceive things than OUR band and OUR drummer.

Quote by bingeandletgo

it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a "cooperative" yet musically talented bassist.


How cooperative are YOU being? Or by "cooperative" do you just mean "submissive?"

There are two kinds of people who play in original bands. One is the type who actually wants to be a part of things and to have input and feel like an important part of the project. The other is the type who just wants to be told what to play, and will happily show up to rehearsals and gigs with his parts prepared. It sounds like you have type one, when you are really looking for type two.

Quote by bingeandletgo

my drummer are the core


... again... but wait! There's more!!

Quote by bingeandletgo

The other members are kind of "add-ons"


Well, if there was any doubt before as to how you felt about YOUR band and YOUR members, there isn't any more.

Quote by bingeandletgo

Therefore, just dropping him isn't really an option.


So, he's a great drummer and a great friend, but because he wants to have some influence on the direction of the band, your first instinct is to drop him - just like YOUR bass player.

Quote by bingeandletgo
I just too elitist and controlling with the band?


Your attitude speaks loud and clear.

Let me add one more thing.... you know those two types of people I was talking about? Type one people are motivated by being given the chance to contribute and to really feel like an important part of things. They feel like they are an important part and the band needs them. They are more likely to stick around when things get hard because the band needs them. Because they have invested themselves into the project, they are less inclined to walk away from it. Type two people are motivated by playing to crowds and making money. When the crowds and/or the money dry up, so does their commitment.

CT
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