#1
Hi guys, this is my first post here on an account that I made all the way back in 2009! Wow time flies, anyway,

I am 21yrs old, and I'm the lead singer and lead guitar player in a 4 piece rock band. We play mostly covers and have started writing our own material, with one of our own songs in the set right now.

There's myself, Lead Vocals, lead guitar

Our Rhythm guitar player, The youngest at 18yrs old, who also sings backups and sings lead on about 15% of our songs.

Our Bassist 19, twin brothers with the drummer, Who admittedly doens't know how to sing, but does his best on the gang-vocal backups, although he's not very confident in his voice lol

Our Drummer 19, twin brothers with the bassist(obviously), Who also doesn't know how to sing, and only sings on the gang-vocal songs, and even less than the bassist

So some background for us. I've been playing guitar for 4 years-ish, started when I was 17, a junior in highschool. I started a band with some of my friends, we were a 5 piece at the time, and only played out a few times a year that year. There was another band of guys a few years younger than us, that we had play with us sometimes to fill the 4-hour time slot that is pretty standard for your typical bar-gig around here.

So it's kinda like in Summer of 69, Jimmy Quit Jody got married deal, and everyone in my band with the exception of our old rhythm guitarist decided to leave and do something other than music, and so did part of this younger band, so we kinda decided to join forces and become one band from everyone left from those two bands, so we were a 5 piece at this time.

Then after playing for a year with the lineup of myself, our current drummer and bassist, and current Rhythm guitarist, who was on aux percussion and acoustic at the time, and our forvmer rhythm guitarist, we decided, that our acoustic guitarist is just as good as our rhythm guitarist, and we dont' need 5 people most of the time, to move on without our old rhythm guitarist, leaving myself, the only original member of the band, with the same name as it always had.

So myself and the other three guys moved on with our current lineup, and things were going great. We were getting better, and going back to some of our earlier songs we learned and re-learning them the right way, because we had become better players now so we didn't have to "fake" some of the harder stuff anymore.

Lately things have been going absolutely great, we're playing atleast twice a week, and making money. Not quite enough to live on, but still netting $200 per person weekly. And just this last Month (June 2015) We got the opportunity to open for The Georgia Satellites at an outdoor concert in front of about 2000 people. Which was a dream come true.

But as far as the band goes, our bassist and drummer, who are twin brothers, are your typical twins. Then do everything you could ever think of together. Which is great because they play all the time together. But, they also kind of live in their own world too. They like the same kinds of music, which a lot of is cool, but most of it is obscure. Like they like Alice in Chains, Tool, RHCP, and Rush a LOT. Like a LOT lol.

So lately, about 6 months ago, our bassist has started playing these really complex runs and basically improv solos on bass almost constantly. Which I have asked him to play the bass, more like a bass, but he gets a little defensive, and says things like, "I'm not good at playing straight." and "But that's how I play."

For example, one of the songs we cover is What I like About You by the Romantics, Which we play as a 3 piece, and our rhythm guitarsist does the harmonica part, and that's all, so it's mostly 3 piece most of the song. And he plays the bassline right the whole song, until we get to the guitar solo, In my opinion the most important time for the bass to lay it down solid, then he goes off on a bass solo thing, and doesn't do the chord changes anymore, just kinda stays on E. All the while I'm playing a guitar solo, it makes the whole thing sound slightly off.

He will do this on proabably half or a little more of the songs in different places. Like in our cover of Simple Man, by Lynyrd Skynyrd, he does 12fret+ on the top strings improv during the verse, which clashes with the vocals. And he does it on various other songs.

So remember all that and lets move on to the drummer. He started out as a guitar player and when we asked his brother to join the band back in the day, we asked him if he would as a drummer, and he agreed, and he's really come into his own as a drummer, and really started to think like a drummer. He's not just a guitarist that plays drums anymore, he's a real drummer now, much better than he is a guitarplayer.

But I think since he started as a guitar player, he had similar expectations of what the drums should do as me. So at first, this made working with him very easy. But now he's been playing drum fills that are very different than anything he's ever played, and they're certainly not the actual drum fill in the song, which throws me off singing and doesn't sound right.

So the question of this whole thread, and the reason I'm even writing on here, how would you guys go about getting everyone's playing back on track? We're on the verge of going to the next level as a band, but there's too much improvising on stage, and we don't sound as tight as we could, and I feel we should after playing so many shows together.

Thanks in advance for all responses. Also I'd like to mention, we're from a small town of 2500 people, so theres no chance of replacing anybody, and I'm worried that I might piss em off and be in a bit of a pickle.

Thanks again, and if you have any questoions about anything please don't hesitate to ask.
#2
Well first of all, I wouldn't say things like "play the bass like a bass". That's a bit unclear. Tell the bass player what you want and tell him why it sounds bad - be honest. Say things like "I really need you to play the root notes while I'm soloing" or "you can do fills here, but not here". Same goes for the drummer. Personally I wouldn't expect a drummer to duplicate every fill from a cover exactly the way it is in the original version. Part of being a musician is knowing what serves the song the best.
#3
Quote by ironmanben
Well first of all, I wouldn't say things like "play the bass like a bass". That's a bit unclear. Tell the bass player what you want and tell him why it sounds bad - be honest. Say things like "I really need you to play the root notes while I'm soloing" or "you can do fills here, but not here". Same goes for the drummer. Personally I wouldn't expect a drummer to duplicate every fill from a cover exactly the way it is in the original version. Part of being a musician is knowing what serves the song the best.



Hey bro thanks for the reply. Yea I probably could have been more clear, but that was just one example. I know/ remember saying things like, "hey bro can you play something lower and kinda do what he's doing (pointing to the rhythm player)?" And he'll reply with something like, "I've played it like this for a long time" or "but that's how I play."

And in regards to the drummer. He's usually been really tasteful with his fills and playing in general, even given the prog influences. But lately he's playing these fills that land on the 'and' of 1 and really Mitch Mitchell-esque (Jimi Hendrix's drummer) CRAZY drum fills that don't fit the song at all, but that he seems to like.

They also both do a bit a wankery when they're supposed to be out, like in the first verse of Faithfully, like clinking on cymbals or high-up the neck bass fills and stuff, and they both do a LOT of ****ing around between songs while I'm trying to talk to the crowd and/or start the next song.

I'm not sure if they don't like the songs we play, if maybe that's causing all this experimentation lately, or if they're just bored of the setlist or what, but I really think it's detrimental to the sound of the band, and to the future of the band. I

n our original song in the set right now, I'm pretty sure our bassist hasn't played it the same way twice in the roughly 25 times we've played it live. (It's not on a record yet so there's nothing to go back to)

I think the main thing here is that I don't find their playing sounding very good lately, mostly because I know what they're capable of, but I'm pretty sure that they LIKE the way they're playing lately. But that' being said I'm pretty sure that they're thinking of the songs kind of selfishly. They're thinking about what cool thing to play on their instruments next, instead of thinking about what that part of the song calls for.

Thanks again for the reply
Last edited by A Gibson SG God at Jul 9, 2015,
#4
Did you really just call Alice in Chains, Tool, RHCP, and Rush obscure or did I just misunderstand?

Sounds to me like the bassist is getting good enough to be bored by the barebones bass playing that's common in so many rock songs, but hasn't developed a knack for dressing things up while still holding the groove, as well as knowing when to really go for it and when not to.

There's nothing wrong with him having some fun with the song, but ya'll should figure out where the spots are in the songs where it would be appropriate for him to let loose and which spots he should be holding the groove. He should be doing this most of the time - if he's not then as a group you won't sound tight. The bass is like the link between the drums and the guitars. For the most part the bass should be locked in with the drums carrying the beat, while also accenting the right notes to help the harmony and melody along.

Talk to him about specific sections and tell him what's not working and make suggestions. Like tell him it's clashing because he's playing too high up, and that he may not need to follow the exact bass line that the original had, but that he should still be accenting the chord tones and getting the basic idea of the original across, while maybe adding in some notes here and there and going for short runs when the drummer goes for a fill.

You can experiment with extending sections of a few songs to give him some room for bass solos, as well as experiment with sometimes having him sliding up an octave higher a little before the climax of a guitar solo.

I don't see a problem with the drummer doing different fills from the original song, as long as they're in the right places and appropriate for the feel at that moment in the song. If he's just going crazy all the time even in more subdued parts of songs and it's not fitting the mood then maybe after practicing a song point out specific sections where you think it would be beneficial for him to hold back. If what he's playing sounds good and your only complaint is that it's throwing off your singing then I'd say it's just a matter of getting him to settle on doing the same or a similar thing every time in the same spots, and you and everyone else getting used to it.

After practicing a song talk about it afterwards and point out the sections that need improvement, and point out the sections where it sounded great. It's really important when you're offering constructive criticism (or any time really) to not always talk about the things they're not doing so great, but to also be positive about what they're doing really great on as well.

I'm not sure if they don't like the songs we play, if maybe that's causing all this experimentation lately, or if they're just bored of the setlist or what


Well, if that's the case I don't know what you can do about it, other than working in some songs that they're more interested in playing.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Jul 9, 2015,
#5
Quote by The4thHorsemen
Did you really just call Alice in Chains, Tool, RHCP, and Rush obscure or did I just misunderstand?

Sounds to me like the bassist is getting good enough to be bored by the barebones bass playing that's common in so many rock songs, but hasn't developed a knack for dressing things up while still holding the groove, as well as knowing when to really go for it and when not to.

There's nothing wrong with him having some fun with the song, but ya'll should figure out where the spots are in the songs where it would be appropriate for him to let loose and which spots he should be holding the groove. He should be doing this most of the time - if he's not then as a group you won't sound tight. The bass is like the link between the drums and the guitars. For the most part the bass should be locked in with the drums carrying the beat, while also accenting the right notes to help the harmony and melody along.

Talk to him about specific sections and tell him what's not working and make suggestions. Like tell him it's clashing because he's playing too high up, and that he may not need to follow the exact bass line that the original had, but that he should still be accenting the chord tones and getting the basic idea of the original across, while maybe adding in some notes here and there and going for short runs when the drummer goes for a fill.

You can experiment with extending sections of a few songs to give him some room for bass solos, as well as experiment with sometimes having him sliding up an octave higher a little before the climax of a guitar solo.

I don't see a problem with the drummer doing different fills from the original song, as long as they're in the right places and appropriate for the feel at that moment in the song. If he's just going crazy all the time even in more subdued parts of songs and it's not fitting the mood then maybe after practicing a song point out specific sections where you think it would be beneficial for him to hold back. If what he's playing sounds good and your only complaint is that it's throwing off your singing then I'd say it's just a matter of getting him to settle on doing the same or a similar thing every time in the same spots, and you and everyone else getting used to it.

After practicing a song talk about it afterwards and point out the sections that need improvement, and point out the sections where it sounded great. It's really important when you're offering constructive criticism (or any time really) to not always talk about the things they're not doing so great, but to also be positive about what they're doing really great on as well.


Well, if that's the case I don't know what you can do about it, other than working in some songs that they're more interested in playing.



Hey thanks for your thoughts, and Lol no I wasn't calling any of those bands obscure, but they are really into Ashes Divide right now, which I would consider obscure.

I'll try some of the things you said. Part of the issue I'm facing is that they're twin brothers, so they kinda team up against any kind of criticism. I also am worried about stepping on their toes.
#6
I wouldn't say that bands like Tool and Alice in Chains are obscure but in a bar band setting they are probably not appropriate. A band doing the type of he mentions (classic rock) will not be going from a song like the Romantics "What I like About You" or Skynard's "Simple Man" into a Pantera or Megadeth song. Not if they want to keep working regularly. Alice in Chains, Megadeth, Tool etc are great bands, just the wrong thing for a regular bar band thing (at least in my neck of the woods).

I agree with much of what has already been said and I might suggest you record a few nights so you have some specific examples of what you are talking about. That way you are not just talking about generalities but can show specific examples. I know it sucks when the bass and drummer take off and do their own thing on simple tunes. It forces you to change what you do to try to compensate for the lack of bottom punch and tightness when you should just be able to play a lead supported by the rhythm section. You might have to face the possibility that they don't want to play the kind of music you are playing (and apparently doing it successfully) and might just have to consider moving on to other players. The best drummer's and bass players I have ever worked with were excellent musicians who could play as fancy as anyone wanted but had the good sense and taste to simplify their playing when required by the song. When a bass player and drummer are locked together it's so much fun to play.

It's an age old problem so you are not alone. This kind of issue happens all the time in band situations. Good luck.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jul 10, 2015,
#7
Some good advice here. The point is that the bass and drums can play more complex parts if they suit the song. They've got the complex parts but don't seem to care about the song, or be able to step back and make a call as to whether their improv is improving or detracting from the song.

Also, if musicians start playing around at band practice, it's usually a sign that they're disengaged and are likely to quit soon. I'd keep an eye out for that.
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#8
Well, I would guess this is very usual. I'm pretty sure I was like this when I had just figured out what a fifth and an octave are and what a pentatonic scale is. But now I have realized that you shouldn't play the bass/drums/guitar/whatever - you should play music. Many times individual bass/drum/guitar parts are boring, but they sound good together. And when something sounds good, I enjoy it, no matter how simple my own part is.

I guess they will also realize this eventually.

If you are playing fills all the time, it also makes your fills kind of lose meaning. If the song only has one drum fill in it, that fill has way more meaning to it, and even playing a pretty simple fill may have a great effect. Also, you can ruin a song by playing fills all the time. You need to play music. Play according to the mood of the song. This applies to all instruments. The lead guitarist can't play a solo over the whole song either - that would just sound horrible. Why should a drummer or a bassist do that?

But yeah, the bassist and the drummer need to learn to listen. Good band playing is a lot about listening.
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#9
To me, the probably is obviously that you guys are on different pages and clearly have different ideas about the bad. It sounds like you, as the lead guitar and lead vocalist, basically kind of get to do what you want and be in the spotlight. It also sounds like you are probably the one that is picking the songs.

Now clearly, the bassist and drummer are not happy with the song selection, since all those songs you mentioned sound like they would be pretty boring for both of them to play. They're bored, but meanwhile you are doing everything you want to do. The song choices seem to favor your self expression at the cost of theirs. This is a problem that often comes up with lead vocalists and lead guitarists, and you happen to be both. You have to remember that you aren't a solo act and they aren't just your backing band.

Now, you might be happy playing covers of old songs from the 70s and 80s that nobody under the age of 30 cares about to a bunch of middle aged people at a bar a couple times a week, but for them that might not be particularly interesting. Personally I think that that sounds absolutely dreadful, but they might not have quite the same level of feelings about it. But I would say that they definitely are not as interested in it as you are.

And there lies the problem. You have two parties, you vs the twins (obviously I don't know where the rhythm guitarist falls, but it's probably somewhere center left), that obviously have different ideas about the direction of the band. It sounds to me like the band is doing everything you want it to (other than a "misbehaving" rhythm section) while the bassist and drummer are getting the short end of the stick.

So how to solve this? Well, there are a few options.

1. Don't change anything.

2. Replace them with some musicians that will do what you want.

3. Sit down and talk with them. Tell them that you want to have a serious discussion about the future of the band. Rather than starting off by telling them what they are doing "wrong" and how they should fix it, let them took. Ask them how they feel about the direction the band is going. They might just straight up tell you that they aren't happy with what you guys are doing. Maybe they want to cover different stuff that is more interesting for them. Maybe they want to write originals. Maybe they don't think bar gigs are as great as you do.

Regardless, I highly doubt that they will tell you that everything is just perfect.

Now... if you go with option 3, and they tell you that they are unhappy, here are your options:

1. If it is clearly not going to work out because the creative differences are too great, it's for the best that you part ways with them. The rhythm guitarist might leave with you, might stay with them because he likes where they want to go, or he might not want to be involved with any of you.

2. Try and figure out some compromise if it's realistic or you really want to continue working with them. That might mean doing more progressive rock covers or writing originals, potentially at the cost of your bar gigs. That might be something that you have to be willing to go along with, especially if the rhythm guitarist is in their camp and it's 3 against 1.

There are probably more options, but I don't really want to type any more and those are obviously the two biggest options.
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