Being A Good Bandmate And More

Advice from a young, at times disheartened yet resilient musician in his early twenties, who has been in enough bands to know better.

0
I am offering you the advice of a young, at times disheartened yet resilient musician in his early twenties, who has been in enough bands to know better. The following statements sound very preachy-meachy and they have been written in such fashion to make a lasting impression, and perhaps to make me look a little tough. Lord knows I need it. But really, I'm just trying to share my humble, sincere opinion on why several of my bands didn't work out. 1. A band is a joint venture. Just because it was your idea to start up the band, or just because you were the founding member, doesn't mean you own the shebang. It should now become the property of the band as a whole and its respective members; 2. Give every member an equal say when making decisions; 3. Don't bring complete songs to the table, no one wants to sing your poop. It's a lot better to poop together; 4. Never, ever, ever get upset or depressed when a song isn't coming together. You're supposed to be having fun; 5. Be remotely polite when talking about musical ideas. Never tell a band member that sucks or that's poop. People care deeply about their intellectual property, which reflects on their abilities of the craft, and you could seriously upset someone, cause conflict, and in the long run it will come back to bite you in the buttocks; 6. Be open to different ideas, give them a chance. Quite the same way that you didn't like your favorite band the first time you heard them, you may not like that riff your delirious guitar-playing band member keeps hammering your ears with on the first listen either; 7. Arguments, disputes, fights, etc. are unavoidable, but don't forget to kiss and make up quickly. Leave no room for resentment; 8. Beware of the blinding honeymoon phase, i.e. the first two or three months of being in a new band. This is when you're so in love, you make grand gestures and investments that you may come to regret soon enough; 9. Beware of dating the only chick who will love you back; 10. Beware of dating that drop-dead gorgeous cold witch who will make your life hell, and no, anyone who has been there can tell you that the sex isn't worth the trouble. This leads to the next point; 11. If you don't get along on a personal level with your band members, you're musical venture will probably be short-lived. It's almost always impossible to stay together for the kids, your beautiful lovechildren, your songs; 12. If there are drugs involved you have two options. Option one: partake and be another lazy, stoned-out-of-your-mind drummer who falls asleep during band practice not at, but on the drum kit (what a pitiful sight that was) or the bassist who trips backwards over his amp and severely injures his knee during a gig (laughable, but still a pitiful sight). Option two: quit the band. In case you try and put up with it, a guaranteed disappointment and waste of time is surely coming your way; 13. Never think that you're hot ****, but if you are, keep it to yourself at all times; 14. For god's sake will you shut up when the band is recording?! 15. The obvious be professional, arrive on time, have your gear ready to go, keep phone calls and texting to a minimum when practicing, don't start playing Call of Duty in the middle of practice or whatever it is you kids procrastinate with these days; 16. Work hard before you party hard; 17. And finally, if you happen to have your band crumble before you, simply decide to leave it or probably the most demoralizing of scenarios get kicked out, don't despair! Think of all the free time you now have and put it to good use. Practice more, write more, maybe even get out of your musician's prison, your lonely bedroom, and go do something different for a change. An elder, more experienced band member once told me that being in a band was more difficult to deal with than his sorry state of matrimony, and I have had the displeasure of meeting his nagging, soul-sucking wife. I suppose he was right. There exist as many band related problems in the world as there are guitarists on UG and that's a helluva lot of problems. However, I have only covered the ones that have personal relevance, so feel free to add more from your very own experiences in the comments. Put into writing for your entertainment and edification by Giu Phirtskhalava.

44 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Dukey
    Great article! I'm looking at the bands I've participated in - those are great advices!!! I had a serious issue that took down my band to disbanding - after I managed to arrange them to come for a rehearsal he found ourselves just standing there with our instruments, not knowing what to play. I couldn't write a full song back then. I also had some drugs-issues in my band, but it wasn't me who made the problems (and the drugs): I had a intelligent and talented guitarist in my band who is an alcoholic (and he have through crazy experiences in his life - yes, near death ones as well...) Ever since he started taking Ritalin he started to be a little bit more assh*le about me - disrespecting me and my music. Later, he threw into the mess some actual drugs and he likes to brag about his trips and laugh at me since I don't do drugs... I know it might sound like I'm exaggerating - but from knowing him, and after he've through an overdose once, I can actually see him die because the drugs... And like good ol' Neil said before: "Every junkie's like a setting sun". I can respect musicians who take drugs, but I don't believe that drugs are the key for making good music.
    MisterNickster
    I know quite a few guys who could benefit themeselves and their bandmates alot by reading this list.
    ChucklesMginty
    "3. Dont bring complete songs to the table, no one wants to sing your poop. Its a lot better to poop together" This is bad advice in my opinion... Everyone works differently, and it's very common for bands to either write separately or for there to only be 1 or 2 writers in the band. They might appreciate you having done all the work yourself. But it depends on how your band works, some guys prefer to jam out. Others prefer to go off and do their own thing separately, one is not better than the other.
    shikkaka
    Silverpack wrote: Dukey wrote: I can respect musicians who take drugs, but I don't believe that drugs are the key for making good music. It can be a tool, but it's true that i's often used as a way to overcome a lack of creativity "I can't do original material on my own, so let the reefer do it for me."
    I have never been able to write while high. I just end up noodling. Thankfully, I don't really have problems writing sober.
    Arr0wHead
    Instead of leading off that a band MUST be a democracy, it is something that should be established clearly up front. Frankly, some of the greatest music in my collection is from bands that are CLEARLY a monarchy - just look at Megadeth. If it's one or two guys doing the writing, and they want to keep it that way, establish that. If you want a democracy, establish that. Either way, be clear. But to start from the assumption that every band MUST be a democracy would eliminate many of my favorite bands from history.
    Damascus
    12. If there are drugs involved you have two options. Option one: partake and be another lazy, stoned-out-of-your-mind drummer who falls asleep during band practice not at, but on the drum kit (what a pitiful sight that was) or the bassist who trips backwards over his amp and severely injures his knee during a gig (laughable, but still a pitiful sight). Option two: quit the band. In case you try and put up with it, a guaranteed disappointment and waste of time is surely coming your way;
    There's also option three, which is to be a responsible, mature drug user who can enjoy recreational chemicals without allowing them to ruin the rest of their life. Like, say, the vast majority of people the world over who use drugs (both legal & illegal), or maybe a very large portion of successful musicians for the last hundred years or so?
    dakielster
    that's a really great article.... now the only thing left is to find a band to play with....
    G-Dog_666
    I agree with most of your points. However, points 3 and 5 contradict each other in regards to 'poop'. Bringing a completed song to a band is no better or worse than bringing a riff/melody idea. As long as you don't go all Axl Rose and make your band play everything note for note, it's just as natural a process as jamming a riff. I have musical differences with my band from time to time, however, instead of making it a big deal and throwing a strop, I just set aside the idea/song with the intention to use it with another band/project. It is their musical loss, not mine. Finally, point 13 is a slippery slope. If you know you're tight/good at your craft that's fine but don't beleive your own hype. Modesty and humility go a long way because there will always be someone better than you. And if your ego can't isn't able to take it someone will need to call you a whambulance. Overall I do agree with you. I've been in my band over 5 years and its a major pain in the ass at times but we make it work.
    Silverpack
    Damascus wrote: 12. If there are drugs involved you have two options. Option one: partake and be another lazy, stoned-out-of-your-mind drummer who falls asleep during band practice not at, but on the drum kit (what a pitiful sight that was) or the bassist who trips backwards over his amp and severely injures his knee during a gig (laughable, but still a pitiful sight). Option two: quit the band. In case you try and put up with it, a guaranteed disappointment and waste of time is surely coming your way; There's also option three, which is to be a responsible, mature drug user who can enjoy recreational chemicals without allowing them to ruin the rest of their life. Like, say, the vast majority of people the world over who use drugs (both legal & illegal), or maybe a very large portion of successful musicians for the last hundred years or so?
    I went through option four : I was the only one not taking drugs, and we used to jam while the others were high (actually I didn't hear any particulair difference in the way they played, they just had this weird expression and that's all).
    SheKILaDZE
    All of the above corrections are all very true, as there are many instances in which the points in the article have exceptions. Nevertheless I don't think I'd be wrong in saying that generally, from a young musicians perspective, they are all somewhat accurate and quite applicable. We could go on all day about how some bands can afford to be a monarchy, or how some or maybe even a lot of bands can function just fine on drugs... but do we really need to?
    Jim #4
    i didnt get it all i think because english isnt my mothertongue. but this i have to say 2. partly agreed: If one of your bandmembers just hasnt an ear for, maybe, melodies or stuff, why listen to his/her opinion on a melody youve written? 3. disagreed: if you have songs written and the others like them whats wrong with that? you shouldnt force stuff through when noone likes it but bringing complete songs should not be a problem. too many cooks ruin the meal anyways. 4. disagreed: its just a part of your character. it will happen and sometimes its better to step away for 3 days, let the anger go and starting fresh. 5. party agreed: again that will happen, especially if someone wont let go of bad material. the important thing is to keep it on a musical level and not get personal stuff involved.
    oldmetallica
    Dukey wrote: I also had some drugs-issues in my band, but it wasn't me who made the problems (and the drugs): I had a intelligent and talented guitarist in my band who is an alcoholic (and he have through crazy experiences in his life - yes, near death ones as well...) Ever since he started taking Ritalin he started to be a little bit more assh*le about me - disrespecting me and my music. Later, he threw into the mess some actual drugs and he likes to brag about his trips and laugh at me since I don't do drugs... I know it might sound like I'm exaggerating - but from knowing him, and after he've through an overdose once, I can actually see him die because the drugs... And like good ol' Neil said before: "Every junkie's like a setting sun". I can respect musicians who take drugs, but I don't believe that drugs are the key for making good music.
    theres a difference between heroin and weed buddy. Heroin is the most awful drug in the world that will ruin your life as well as the peoples around you. Trust me I know. Weed is the greatest thing nature ever gave us.
    herpderpton
    It always makes me giggle when I hear people thinking that drugs 'completely ruin' music and that anyone who uses them is a 'lazy prick' who can't play. Comments like those show me how out of touch most of society is.
    Silverpack
    Dukey wrote: I can respect musicians who take drugs, but I don't believe that drugs are the key for making good music.
    It can be a tool, but it's true that i's often used as a way to overcome a lack of creativity "I can't do original material on my own, so let the reefer do it for me."
    link no1
    There's also option three, which is to be a responsible, mature drug user who can enjoy recreational chemicals without allowing them to ruin the rest of their life. Like, say, the vast majority of people the world over who use drugs (both legal & illegal), or maybe a very large portion of successful musicians for the last hundred years or so?
    I have yet to stand in a room with another musician who happens to be on drugs for longer than 10 mins without them either pissing me off or just stopping progress of whatever musical benture we are taking part in. Keep drugs outside of the practise room. You will only piss off other members (This includes "Fun" druggies)
    Jamma
    I can see why your bands fail so much, you seem like a douche.
    sjones
    Some pretty good tips, but I have to dispute a couple things. #3 - There's nothing wrong with bringing completed songs into practice, as long as you're fine with other members' giving their input, recommending changes, and writing their own parts. This is how my current band approaches songwriting for the most part. Either myself or the vocalist will bring in a "skeleton" idea for a song, sometimes full and other times just a few parts. The band will jam on that "skeleton", adding in their own parts, proposing changes, etc., and it works great! Some people are songwriting types, some aren't. I'm not saying you're entirely wrong. Different bands have different personal dynamics. I just don't see your suggestion being appropriate for every band. #5 - Once again, this depends on the personal relationships members of a certain band have. Some bands have stronger bonds as friends or co-workers than other. Case in point, if I bring in an idea to practice that someone in the band absolutely hates, I'd rather them say "This blows horse-schlongs, WTF were you thinking?" than go through the motions in the songwriting process begrudgingly. Some people in that situation may get their feelings hurt though. It really comes down to knowing your bandmates and peopole and developing a friendship with them, which you actually mention later in the article. #9 - I'm actually not disputing this at all, it's a very good piece of advice that I think too many people overlook! Settling for a band member you feel, or even worse know , is sub-par is only going to bring your band's performance down. This normally happens to people who are having trouble finding members for their band and absolutely cannot wait to get the lineup filled so they can start playing live. An inadequate addition to your band can and will hinder you. Musicianship-wise, if that member cannot keep up with the technical demands of your band, you'll end up having to dumb down your songs, or kick him out and start the searching process all over again. The wise move is to just wait until you can find a good fit for what you're trying to do. Good tip! It's one that many people don't take into consideration. Lastly, I'll say something about #12, regarding drugs/alcohol. Luckily, I've never been in a band with a person who has had a problem with hard drugs or addiction. Alcohol and weed? That's a different story. Here's how a feel about this; Those things are a problem if they're causing problems (for the record once again, I'm talking about alcohol and weed, not "hard" drugs), but there's nothing wrong with having a few beers or passing the bowl around a time or two providing you and your bandmates can stay on task, focused, and perform at the expected level on your instruments. Pretty good article. Good job.
    metalhead_99801
    As a sidenote to #12: If you feel like your bandmates' habits are hampering their abilities, have them come to practice sober one day, see if it makes any difference. Drugs effect everyone in their own way, and you may decide that band practice isnt the place to partake. Personally, whenever i work on technique, learning new material, or am at practice, i keep a sober mind. The natural state makes everything clear. Simple. However, if you are just jamming simply to rock out, or you have the tech to solo over backing tracks, fun can be had experimenting with the human consciousness.
    pushingthrough
    i do also agree with arrowhead if the band has a visionary and the others want to follow along so be it. But it should be pretty much brought right up if that is the case.
    Deified
    ChucklesMginty wrote: "3. Dont bring complete songs to the table, no one wants to sing your poop. Its a lot better to poop together" This is bad advice in my opinion... Everyone works differently, and it's very common for bands to either write separately or for there to only be 1 or 2 writers in the band. They might appreciate you having done all the work yourself. But it depends on how your band works, some guys prefer to jam out. Others prefer to go off and do their own thing separately, one is not better than the other.
    Yeah, in my band it starts with me writing the songs on my own, getting a chance to throw all my ideas out there, and then sending it off to my bandmates to take a listen, see what they think, flesh out their parts and then when we're all happy with it we start practicing it. Whenever we jam out songs we end up coming up with boring, generic stuff, which is fun to play but not fun to listen to.
    leenux5030
    I agree, with this. In my band the other guitarist is sort of mental, he would careless about any ideas that others present, in fact he would try his best to discourage other't to bring their ideas. For example if work on an idea at home and post the recording of it, and ask what do you guys think, he would comment something irrelevant like "I don't like drums on this" but would never comment on the guitar ideas that I wrote. And if I go the other way by generating the idea in Jam room while jamming on some random riff, and next day if i post the recording of jam session and ask everyone what they think. And his only comment will be "Next time I'll have more volume on my guitar" I love song writing, and experiment with lots of different things, but dealing with these dumbasses is very discouraging. I am not able to figure out how to deal with this person.
    CommanderMeaty
    Actually, Limp Bizkit's drummer once had a drug addiction. But they didn't kick him out, instead they letted him take the times to get back up.
    brokndwn06
    CommanderMeaty wrote: Actually, Limp Bizkit's drummer once had a drug addiction. But they didn't kick him out, instead they letted him take the times to get back up.
    that cause OTTO is the shit!
    The Ghostwriter
    "3. Dont bring complete songs to the table, no one wants to sing your poop. Its a lot better to poop together;" I agree with not hogging song-writing credits with a band, but pooping together is not my idea of fun. Hahaha.
    TS-Genocide
    I would like to emphasize numbers 9 and 10 seriously lock it down or they will take everything from you. i would also like to add find a vocalist who comes to every practice and participates in the writing process he/she are the only ones outside of the musical fishbowl and they can tell you when its not sounding good
    p_a_morgan
    I think everyone started out with the Points !&2 mentality, at one time, and probably still hope to accomplish this some day...but it doesn't always work that way. Oftentimes, one or two guys simply know what is best for the band. Some are better writers than others...others know which investments to make and others know which gigs will be worthwhile for your career as a group of serious musicians. Don't fight about it. Suck it up and do what you need to do. From my experience, the BEST and MOST IMPORTANT thing about being in a band is COMMUNICATION. If you can't tell your bass player that you don't like the line he is playing at the bridge of a song, or you hate the groove that your drummer is playing on a song, or you think you can improve your guitar player's solo part....then just TELL THEM. Whatever you do, please don't go behind their backs and talk about it to another band member. Chances are...it'll get back to them and they'll feel betrayed or just plain pissed off. A lack of communication is a common downfall of many great bands.
    Saverain
    Man the band I was in just about did all those things to me. They must have really wanted me out.
    pushingthrough
    Great advice, honestly. I've been in a quite a few bands and these words are true! Good job bro, everyone in a band should read this.
    BigHeadClan
    I'm pretty lax about pot for jams, mostly because my band has enough common sense not to do anything else at someone else place. But if it starts effecting their playing then I just tell the person in question to go home. We only jam once a week and it's already hard enough to get stuff done with that little time. Most of this is common sense sadly, not really any deep insight for anything, then again as the saying goes "common sense is anything but common".
    Damascus
    or how some or maybe even a lot of bands can function just fine on drugs... but do we really need to?
    If it's true - and it is - then we don't need to 'go on about it', we just need to not claim the exact opposite . Jesus, people.
    Damascus
    ...that stops them doing their job, which is clearly completely ridiculous. No sane person is going to deny that drugs (any drugs, legal, illegal, hard, soft, whatever) can ruin people, just like no sane person should argue that anyone who takes drugs is a listless stoner, alcoholic, whatever. People need to be reasonable about drugs and drug use - the fact that they haven't in the past is the reason why we're in such a complete mess with current drug legislation and the failure to deal with the harmful effects of drugs on socities/individuals.
    Damascus
    and lmao sorry for hating on the druggies but irresponsible use of narcotics leads to problems in a band and if you have the foresight to acknowledge this from the start, and you really wanna get things done and make it somewhere in music, then it's best to avoid being in such a band. And this goes for alcohol too, if you have your band getting drunk before a gig well... you know what I would recommend.
    I think the problem was that you stated the options if "drugs were involved" as 'be in a band where nothing happens' or 'quit', as if any musician who takes drugs will do so in a way
    SheKILaDZE
    ChucklesMginty wrote: This is bad advice in my opinion... Everyone works differently, and it's very common for bands to either write separately or for there to only be 1 or 2 writers in the band.
    true, it can work just fine that way, but I think that generally people who bring complete songs to the table tend to have a certain uncompromisable vision for that song, which causes conflict with the receiving party who just doesn't wanna sing/play someone else's song. I am guilty of this myself, I was forcing my songs onto band members and didn't like the changes they were trying to make, cause I thought I knew what was good for the song. Once we began collaborating their enthusiasm rocketed sky high and we began to have a blast. Yet you're absolutely right, often times you do have 1 or 2 writers in the band, but from the start of a new band you gotta keep your head up and notice if it's not going to work that way. I honesty think that it's better to bring loads of ideas that can be changed, replaced and thrown out than it is to be rigid and constrained in your approach. I also think that four minds can put together something much more original than one mind can, most of the time anyway. and lmao sorry for hating on the druggies but irresponsible use of narcotics leads to problems in a band and if you have the foresight to acknowledge this from the start, and you really wanna get things done and make it somewhere in music, then it's best to avoid being in such a band. And this goes for alcohol too, if you have your band getting drunk before a gig well... you know what I would recommend.
    Xcutioner13
    Everything in this article I can personally relate to from my ex-band NeverFade. Everything you have said in this I have gone through. Wow. Well said man. All these are the reasons why I chose to quit and record my own music - on my own terms. Never looked back
    Randomrings
    Personally I've had WAY more issues with pretentious douchebag band members whose ego got in the way of everything than with band members who have ever partaken in any drug abuse (if you want to call it abuse)
    spunnn333
    We all know of which drug you are referring to. I'm having an issue with someone who takes a different kind (uppers mainly) and am stuck thinking what to do! I need help should I kick him out? He's good and professional with learning songs on time. And you could tell his band/music is obviously his number 1 priority.. But for example, at least 3 out of 10 times he stays up all night, then comes to practice out of it the next day, very cloudy headed and slow, but is still talented enough to learn, Idk what to do! HELP! Thank you guys.