#1
I'll get straight to the point. I'm typically a huge advocate of the bass in all it's forms. I picked it up several years ago because I felt the bass is a largely unexplored and underused instrument. But as of the last two or so months I've just felt....utterly uninspired with the bass and demoralized almost to the point where I feel like quitting. The ironic part behind it is that me and my band has just finished a fairly active few weeks of recording. I have fun but after hearing the finished results, I'm just...very discouraged. I feel like that my role is just not as essential as the other 3, that no one appreciates the bass, and that I'm just spinning my wheels.

I asked a handful of my friends for feedback on our band's music and also how my bass playing was in it. Most people replied, "yeah the drums and guitar are great", to which I reply, "and the bass?" to which is further replied "Oh yeah it's good I guess, I can't hear it much I suppose". And any referencing to the "instrumental" section of the band is labeled as "guitar and drums". Do people even know the bass is an instrument?Or is it just a detuned guitar? How do you garner respect as a musician when the majority, albeit somewhat ignorant, isn't even aware of your instrument's presence?

And I have to face it. Unless I can get a band as supportive of bass lead as say Primus or Rush, I'll never achieve much status no matter how hard I try or how skilled I am. I wont ever get as much respect as the singer or guitarist from the public. Speaking of which, when I sit down by myself to try some solo bass work, I feel just completely dry of inspiration. I feel like I can't proude enough punch to hold a solo line together. My tone sounds weak to me, my style feels reptetive, and I'm stuck in my own writing technique.

I'm aware of how QQ this post is but I'm just looking for some support from the only people who actually seem to appreciate the bass; other bassists. Anyone else ever felt like this before? I can't even look at my bass these days with much joy.
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#2
I get that feeling every now and then, but thank god I have very supportive band members that want me to be in the spotlight. In my band I compose practically everything, sometimes I give myself a lead spot but most of the time I just preffer the music to sound nice. People don't what the hell I'm doing, that sometimes helps me not focus on myself as an instrumentalist but more of a musician and see the big picture with my band. Well, that's my case.
#3
I'm very much in the same boat in that my style is repetitive all that you metioned in your 3rd paragraph.

However i feel if you want develop your playing to be unique you should find a unique style of band that gives room to the bass. I'm finding this in my other band and we are a better band then the one that you can hear in my profile song.

So my advice, go out and find a band that plays country metal and go nuts
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#4
Try writing a song with an extremely dominant bass part-either write the guitar parts yourself or tell your guitarists that you want a song where you dominate the music. If you've got plenty of others where the bass isn't too overwhelming, they shouldn't object to you having one showpiece number. Doesn't need to be a solo piece, but one where the bass plays a lead line.

And bass will inevitably get less respect, because people hear it less. It's lower frequencies which are harder to hear, a lot of people listen to music through bad speakers/headphones which don't put out much bass (I even know people who turn the bass down because they don't like the sound), and it rarely has the catchy, memorable hooks that guitar or vocals do.
That's part and parcel of the instrument, unfortunately. However, when you say that your instrument doesn't seem to have the same importance as the others, it's not quite true. Sure, people won't notice it as much, but the overall feel of the song is magnified enormously by good bass playing. Guitars sound tinny, there can be the sense that the drums aren't playing along with the other musicians, and the whole song suffers from a lack of solidity. It's an important instrument.
In a rock or metal band, you may have trouble feeling like you stand out. Possibly try a different style? Jazz bass is extremely dominant a lot of the time.
#5
Hey man, I don't play bass, but I've tried, and it definitely takes some skills to play it well. I don't think that if you have any skill on the instrument, that you should give it up. Try broadening your horizons...listen to some different style music, learn some new techniques...I was stuck on my guitar playing, but I realized that any instrument (certainly not just guitar) has so many dimensions to it, if you take the time to really look into it and discover it.

And yes...in general, the bass seems to be just in the background...but even still, without a bassline, 90% of songs just fall apart. I would compare it to...say, the crew of a movie. They're grossly underappreciated, but if they ever decided to say "**** it, I wanna direct this movie", and quit, the movie would absolutely collapse.

And besides...music is a lifelong journey...just like life itself, really. You won't always be happy with the way things are going, but that doesn't mean you should just give up. I'm sure there are many distinguished bass players that felt the same way you do at some point in their career.

Do what I do when I start getting discouraged about my musical abilities...think back to when you first started, and how far along you've come from barely being able to play some root notes, for example, to today, when you can play a well established bass line. If you can come that far, what makes you think you can't go much, MUCH farther?


That's my two cents...take it as you will.
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#6
Maybe my band just doesn't give me enough room for improvisation....but that's not all of it at all. I'm a bit hesitant to post my band's material as it's not completely done yet so judgement might be a little harsh. I just feel like I want to go in a slightly different direction. Like I don't want the traditional rhythms and bass patterns...I wanna use like flanger for example and be on my own track while guitar is on another. Like I see bass as driving the main riff, and guitar being sort of like a biting 'ambient' attack. The bass keeps it somewhat steady while the guitar is doing it's own thing. Here though I find I'm either leading and guitar follows the exact same riff, or vice versa. I guess my ideas are just very abstract and get shot down alot because we focus on keeping it steady.

Feh.
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Last edited by Ingsoc at Dec 11, 2007,
#7
Quote by Ingsoc
Maybe my band just doesn't give me enough room for improvisation....but that's not all of it at all. I'm a bit hesitant to post my band's material as it's not completely done yet so judgement might be a little harsh. I just feel like I want to go in a slightly different direction. Like I don't want the traditional rhythms and bass patterns...I wanna use like flanger for example and be on my own track while guitar is on another. Like I see bass as driving the main riff, and guitar being sort of like a biting 'ambient' attack. The bass keeps it somewhat steady while the guitar is doing it's own thing. Here though I find I'm either leading and guitar follows the exact same riff, or vice versa. I guess my ideas are just very abstract and get shot down alot because we focus on keeping it steady.

Feh.


Abstract is good. Improv is good. I say doing anything that isn't "typical" or "normal" or whatever you want to call it is good.

We live in an age where every ****ing band sounds the same. We absolutely NEED people to do their own thing...to make music unlike anything anyone's ever heard...if for no other reason than to prove to people that it still can be done.

If you feel your band is constricting your creativity, so to speak, then tell them to **** off. I'll ****in' play music with you, hahahaha.


Seriously though. I will.
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#8
Only thing I can say is, (this has probably been said already) stay away from root notes. I find that bass gets pretty boring when you're playing the root notes. Bands like RHCP you can hear the bass in songs, and it makes it sound ALOT better. I find when you're blocked anyway in music, just give it a small rest- don't quit. It's alot like writers block, if nothing is coming try to find some inspiration, or give it a short break.

Do not quit playing bass unless you truely feel like quitting. Try playing guitar or something, see if they'll let you play with two guitarists in a song or maybe switch with the lead guitarist... just tell them how you feel.(sounds kind of lame =\)

Learn some new songs, practice some solos... try some new techniques?
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#9
Why don't you try a guitar bas harmony to show off some of the skill you posses. Also having a bass do a lead is always a great way to liven up a song, and besides a lot song will sound completely different if it weren't for the bass. It's true that bass can be boring or uninspiring to play because it seems unnoticed or unimportant to a lot of people, but if you were to show them the same song one with bass and one without they would notice a difference in the sound. Most people just don't hear the bass because their ears aren't trained like ours so they hear something that holds the guitars with the drum. That's another thing to some people don't notice that the bass drum and the bass are playing the same beat so they here the bass and think it is the drums, in the boring songs anyway.
#10
When I first started, I though Ryan Martine's playing on LD 50 was just a weird sounding guitar and drum set.

People are idiots. Turn the bass up. I don't see why more bands don't turn the bass up. Of course, you don't want to overwhelm the instruments, but listen to Martinie's playing on Mudvayne's LD 50. He's pretty loud. I'd imagine you just need to turn your bass up. So when you as someone how the bass is, they can say "I guess it's good." There shouldn't be any "I can barely hear it" bull**** at all in my opinion.

Turn your volume up and explain to them that you feel inferior in a sense, and want to stand out more. If they can't respect that, then you shouldn't respect them.

Post some of your stuff. I just want to see how loud you are in the mix, I really don't care what it sounds like overall.
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#11
I had a period of maybe two months (a couple years back) where I almost completely stopped playing bass. And then my guitarest called me and was like, "Hey were having band practice next week." And the next thing I know I'm sitting here getting ready to get my second Upright Bass, looking at 300w stacks, Building an 8-string fretless, and getting ready to get into some major recording time with my band. It usually wears off. But hang in there and try not to get discouraged.
#12
Quote by gywo copta
When I first started, I though Ryan Martine's playing on LD 50 was just a weird sounding guitar and drum set.

People are idiots. Turn the bass up. I don't see why more bands don't turn the bass up. Of course, you don't want to overwhelm the instruments, but listen to Martinie's playing on Mudvayne's LD 50. He's pretty loud. I'd imagine you just need to turn your bass up. So when you as someone how the bass is, they can say "I guess it's good." There shouldn't be any "I can barely hear it" bull**** at all in my opinion.

Turn your volume up and explain to them that you feel inferior in a sense, and want to stand out more. If they can't respect that, then you shouldn't respect them.

Post some of your stuff. I just want to see how loud you are in the mix, I really don't care what it sounds like overall.


Martinie isn't loud. He cuts through the mix well by using EQ and using the bass as a melody instrument.
#13
Okay, I guess I should post some of our material to give an idea of what I;m talking about and get some opinions from other bassists.

http://www.purevolume.com/mindsplit

Be gentle!
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#14
wow, man that is def, a mixing problem i think, it could be your tone, it might not cut through enough, but your tone sounded pretty nice to me on so sudden, but then as soon as the guitars come in you instantly drop out

like i said it might be with your eqing, but in this case i think it might be in the mix
#15
tell your guitar player to unscoop his guitar. there's you problem. scooped guitar amps sound cool. sound like a wet fart recorded. lol. thats all it is. plus it blends in because you and him are playing the exact same notes at the exact same time. the only way to burn this out right if he wont unscoop is crank your eq so it is high toned. one final thing on the song i heard "california air". play with octaves.

Ie: G:----------------------
D:----9---------7------
A:-----------------------
E:-7----7-5-5----5--3


just a thought
#16
Yeah, the guitar tone sucks

the vocals are also pretty awful

the drums sound bad ( good playing but they sound horrible ).

Get a new band
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#17
Quote by damienblack333
tell your guitar player to unscoop his guitar. there's you problem. scooped guitar amps sound cool. sound like a wet fart recorded. lol. thats all it is. plus it blends in because you and him are playing the exact same notes at the exact same time. the only way to burn this out right if he wont unscoop is crank your eq so it is high toned. one final thing on the song i heard "california air". play with octaves.

Ie: G:----------------------
D:----9---------7------
A:-----------------------
E:-7----7-5-5----5--3


just a thought


I always try to use octaves but my guitarist tends to be against them. And I have no idea what unscooping the guitar means, I've never heard the expression. With So Sudden I really think that the main riff should be bass driven and the guitar be the varying factor, not the other way around. I know that us following eachother causes alot of blending that takes away from our individual tonesm but with some songs just call for it and I don't ant to go too insane with variances. *shrug
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#18
Scooping a guitar: removing most or all of the mids from the amp via a turn of the Mids knob

why i the guitar player what about what the bass is doing. sounds like an ego problem. tell him to worry about what he's doing. unless he desperately longs to play your bass

here is my bands first demo back 2 years ago, im back with them and it is me playing on the tracks. its kinda 80ish but you can really hear the bass defined on alot of things

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#20
Scooping the guitars would make the BASS more present, right? Mids make the instrument seem "louder", so scooping it would make it seem quieter. Go scoop your mids now, and you'll see what I mean.
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#21
I see what you mean by scooping the guitar. Hopefully I can control this sort of thing by going in with the track itself and just editing the EQ instead of asking him to re-record, which wouldn't go over well.
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#23
Just an update here.

I brought y disatisfaction to the attention of my bandmates. They seemed to have no idea what iw as talking about. My guitarist said "the bass on So Sudden is just fine I can't hear it okay". I told him to try and cut the mids and he said he thought it soudned worse with them cut. I brought up other issues witht he recordings we had like the drums being too loud and the out of synch -ness on Where We Are Now, and none of it seemed to make any impact on them. They just seem to be settling for whatever sounds "ok" instead of trying to make it the best. I wasn't there for the writing of our first 4 songs, so I'm trying not to overstep my bounds too much, but the impression I've gotten from my band just isn't promising. I'm under the belief a band is one-4th of a presence given to each member to make a whole piece, but they seem to be under another concept. And none of them had nay idea where I'm coming from.

I tried to suggest that the bass and guitar vary more from eachother and they though they sound better together and that it's a bad idea. They want everything to meld together and run along very uniform. It soudns okay but it just comes across as very formulaic.
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#24
Quote by Ingsoc
Just an update here.

I brought y disatisfaction to the attention of my bandmates. They seemed to have no idea what iw as talking about. My guitarist said "the bass on So Sudden is just fine I can't hear it okay". I told him to try and cut the mids and he said he thought it soudned worse with them cut. I brought up other issues witht he recordings we had like the drums being too loud and the out of synch -ness on Where We Are Now, and none of it seemed to make any impact on them. They just seem to be settling for whatever sounds "ok" instead of trying to make it the best. I wasn't there for the writing of our first 4 songs, so I'm trying not to overstep my bounds too much, but the impression I've gotten from my band just isn't promising. I'm under the belief a band is one-4th of a presence given to each member to make a whole piece, but they seem to be under another concept. And none of them had nay idea where I'm coming from.

I tried to suggest that the bass and guitar vary more from eachother and they though they sound better together and that it's a bad idea. They want everything to meld together and run along very uniform. It soudns okay but it just comes across as very formulaic.


It really sounds like these guys are getting you down! Playing should be fun... sometimes hard work and stressful, but you should feel a sense of reward afterwards. (What that reward is, is entirely your perogative).

I think you might have to take the bullet and say that you're not happy playing for them. It can be difficult leaving a band. But the sooner you leave, the sooner you can go out and look for people who you actually enjoy playing with.
#25
I know what you mean about formulaic.

Introduce them to bands where the bass stands out. The only band near your genre I listen to really is Dream Theater.. ignore their later stuff, and take "Change Of Seasons", and Scenes From A Memory - he uses a lot of changing of tempo (sometimes 16ths, sometimes 8ths), a lot of supporting guitar solos, and a fair amount of bass breaks or little solo parts which mould several parts of the song together.

On "So Sudden", when there's some little drum fills, I'd ask if you can have a pattern of drum fill-bass fill-drum fill-bass fill. Then you can be as creative as you want, even changing the time signature for a bar.

Other bands with distinct bass lines for different reasons... Bloc Party (though that's very rare bass), Muse (often using ethnic or genre-related influences, for example in some stuff on Hullabaloo and Black Holes), Interpol (great tone, use of rhythm changes, octaves, staccato) and of course Rush.
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#26
We need more creative musicians in the world today. Your band just doesn't sound like it. Especially if they are fine with writing okay songs. My advice: say "@%$ you!" to your band and leave. I hate your band's direction, and I hate how they're overshadowing you. I'm a lead guitairst, but I have a deep respect for bassists. In fact, I've written a few songs on my own that leaves room for some bass solos. Also, everybody loves a good bassline, and I always find it disappointing when I listen to song in which I can't hear the bass. It's obvious that a bassist, unless if your name is Geddy Lee or Les Claypool, will be overshadowed to some degree, but come on. Honestly, get/form another band. There is a reason why 'bass' is pronounced 'base'. You are the core. When you look at Earth, you can't see the core, but without it, Earth would crumble.

Also, if you're having problems writing basslines and solos, well... Just keep on playing, and they should eventually come to you. Try to make basslines in your head and than translate them to your bass, or just play random stuff until you get a sound that you like. That's what I do with my guitar.
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#27
Adding to TheStraightener's comments:

Experiment with two-strings-at-once. It sounds cool. Also just play around the scales, unconventional scales if you like. Your band should leave room for bass improvisation and if it's that constricting.. yea, just leave it.

Also nice analogy. Though I do think the bass should be seen more of the earth's mantle. It keeps everything together (pretend it's the core) but occasionally it releases an awesome volcanic eruption when you can hear it so distinctly that it becomes a lead instrument.

If your band's that closed-minded that they like all the sound merging together and won't like anything else, then either leave them or try and show them instrumental melodies. Your music's so guitar-chord focussed it's stupid. No guitarist should *rely* on powerchords.
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#28
I'm in the exact same situation, well not the exact same. I got my bass last December for Christmas and have been practicing whenver i can, although i've haven't had much time to practice due to sports and whatnot. A few months ago a few of friends started a band they i was like "hey, i'll play bass". so i showed up to two practices when they basically told be not to come back, for what reason i don't know. that was in early november and i haven't really had to urge to play after than. don't see the point in doing something if not even your friends support you in it
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#29
Quote by DemonicSloth
I'm in the exact same situation, well not the exact same. I got my bass last December for Christmas and have been practicing whenver i can, although i've haven't had much time to practice due to sports and whatnot. A few months ago a few of friends started a band they i was like "hey, i'll play bass". so i showed up to two practices when they basically told be not to come back, for what reason i don't know. that was in early november and i haven't really had to urge to play after than. don't see the point in doing something if not even your friends support you in it


Form your own band then =] Or in your little time you have learn something really challenging. It's a bit evil for them to tell you to go but not tell you why... You should ask them about that lol. Their loss.
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#30
Quote by Paul Lambeth
Adding to TheStraightener's comments:

Experiment with two-strings-at-once. It sounds cool. Also just play around the scales, unconventional scales if you like. Your band should leave room for bass improvisation and if it's that constricting.. yea, just leave it.

Also nice analogy. Though I do think the bass should be seen more of the earth's mantle. It keeps everything together (pretend it's the core) but occasionally it releases an awesome volcanic eruption when you can hear it so distinctly that it becomes a lead instrument.

If your band's that closed-minded that they like all the sound merging together and won't like anything else, then either leave them or try and show them instrumental melodies. Your music's so guitar-chord focussed it's stupid. No guitarist should *rely* on powerchords.

LOL, nice add to my analogy.

Yeah, do try all kinds of experimentation. I love anybody who is willing to explore their instrument to try to make new sounds.
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#31
The other day, I got the first fan letter of my band. One of the comments was "I love how you can actually hear the bass when the guitars are playing." It was an honour to get a fan letter, but it was a bigger honour to be heard. Perhaps a new bass rig is in order. Granted, I'm in a trio - and playing live, I'm at least 33 and 1/3rd % of the sound, so it's hard for me NOT to be heard. That said, if you feel like you're being "bullied" out of sonic space, you might need to flex your muscles and show who the real man is (i.e. bass amps are super-powerful for a reason).

That said, keep in mind that nothing is constant. People do feek super-inspired sometimes, and some people feel uninspired sometimes. It happens - but don't let it get you down.
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#32
Quote by gywo copta
When I first started, I though Ryan Martine's playing on LD 50 was just a weird sounding guitar and drum set.

People are idiots. Turn the bass up. I don't see why more bands don't turn the bass up. Of course, you don't want to overwhelm the instruments, but listen to Martinie's playing on Mudvayne's LD 50. He's pretty loud. I'd imagine you just need to turn your bass up. So when you as someone how the bass is, they can say "I guess it's good." There shouldn't be any "I can barely hear it" bull**** at all in my opinion.


Some quick notes here. It's not a matter of turning the bass up that's the problem -- it's how well it cuts through. On LD 50 you could hear the bass better than the guitar -- jesus it sounds like it came straight from hell.

To threadstarter -- Half of my friends think the rhythm guitar is bass. Whenever they hear "the heavy part" they go "oooh that's great bass." Some people never learn, but for those who do, there's numerous ways to achieve great tone and have people KNOW that's the bass. Here are only a few.

1.) No root notes. If root notes are a must, play them in a different octave.
2.) Syncopate and play different rhythms than your drummer. For example, he's playing eighths, you play sixteenths but still "in the pocket."
3.) When recording put the high ends through a guitar amp and run the low ends through a bass amp. You can see how that sounds on L.D. 50 if you must.

PS I live REALLY close to you -- I live in Redding.
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#33
My opinion is to stop. Seriously. Just stop playing bass and pick up something different like an acoustic and play that for a few weeks or even months until you feel like your refreshed enough to play bass again. After a while you get sick of something and hate it whether its your friends, sports, or instruments. I guess what I'm really saying is broaden your horizon and do something new and fun for you. Bass is awesome theres so much to it that people don't realize. Anyone can pick up a guitar and play but playing bass says something about your character. People who honestly love bass tend to have good characters IMO. Sounds weird right?
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#34
Quote by SOCOOLITHURTS
My opinion is to stop. Seriously. Just stop playing bass and pick up something different like an acoustic and play that for a few weeks or even months until you feel like your refreshed enough to play bass again. After a while you get sick of something and hate it whether its your friends, sports, or instruments. I guess what I'm really saying is broaden your horizon and do something new and fun for you. Bass is awesome theres so much to it that people don't realize. Anyone can pick up a guitar and play but playing bass says something about your character. People who honestly love bass tend to have good characters IMO. Sounds weird right?


IMO you're missing the point here. The point is that he's stuck in a band who hate or can't see bass creativity. If he wanted to give up the bass because he didn't realise its full potential he'd have switched to acoustic LONG back.
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#35
I was in a similair position, my guitarist kept telling me to turn my bass down (at one point before Id even turned the amp on-No i am not lying)
Even when we were covering Primus, and I was like, "Hang on chap, this is a BASS LED song"

He, like many guitarists I've met (not saying many guitairists, it's quite possible I've been unlucky) has an ego problem, examples include:

spending an enitire rehersal, that's 2 hours, just soloing

spending 6 hours in a park playing a guitar that wasn't his,upside down (he's left handed) then having a hissy fit when people got bored and stopped paying him attention

refusing to get a ryhtm guitarist in "Because then I wouldn't be in the spotlight as much, I wanna be the ONLY guitarist,I want people to JUST look at ME!"

So how'd I deal with this? Simple really, after a while, when he started being a Prink about stuff, I simply said "fine", switched my amp off, put my bass down and went out for a smoke, and wouldn't come back until he apologised, then the fact that there's about 4 other bands asking me to join them, means he's now realised that a band isn't just there for a guitarist (or for that matter drummer or bassist, but it tends to be guitarists...) to solo/ show off over the top of.
In fact, recently, we sat as a group, and had a discussion, spun out ideas and have decided to scrap our previous material and get a completely new sound, as a result of me introducing him to more bass led stuff, and in fact, have come up with the premise of "Death from above 1979/White Stripes/Grungesque" OR as we like to call it "Nu-Rave Speed Rock Blues Explosion"

long ramble, but the point is:

A mix of discusion and unrelenting stubborness are what seems to work, ie, talk it out with your band mates, but if one or more is being a Prink, don't be afraid to stand up to them/shout at them/walk off and let them waste their money on rehersal time, it'll make them reliase how much they need you!! Worked for me, I'm actually enjoying being in a band again, after months of not
#36
Thanks for the feedback guys. I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to guage my response to the situation on how much space they give me on the new song we're writing. And I'm also in the process of writing my own song with all parts sans drums pre-arranged. If neither of those float as I want them to, which is essentially just that I want my presence to BE a presence, I'm pretty sure I'm bailing.
Clamdigger of the Bass Militia, PM Dinkydaisy to join
Some say a comet will fall from the sky...