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Author Topic: How do I kick out a bandmate?  (Read 2768 times)
Prime Mover
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Shattre
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« on: September 25, 2013, 05:20:02 AM »

I know this sounds really bad, but I'm at my whits end. I have this band, and I know we're really quite unique and solid. Every one of the players puts in a lot of work: practicing, writing, accounting, marketing. And everyone really can hold their own on their instrument (all of us have 25 years experience+). Except one person: the drummer. Not the typical drummer problems of banging on their instrument or not understanding the arrangement... no, she's timid, uncreative, always tries to tone down anything complex or aggressive. Furthermore, she's not a very skilled drummer, she'd only played a bit before we all got together, and she's improved the least out of all of us the 3 years we've been playing together. And lastly, she doesn't practice or put any outside effort into the group. The moment rehearsal or a gig ends, I can just see its, "well, that was fun... back to my real life."

I used to just go "oh well, I guess this band will have to rely on other instruments for creative interest," but now she's started demanding the final word on every decision, when she puts in so much less than anyone else. We used to have a part time singer who everyone else used to like (my girlfriend, actually), but our drummer forced us to kick her out because SHE wanted to sing more. At that point, myself and the fiddle player, who basically do the majority of the organization, composition, and business for the band, kinda lost all respect for her, and really don't feel the need to give in to her every demand. She's extremely passive aggressive, so we have no idea she has any problems till far after she's lost it, and we have to backtrack.

Respect is earned, and not only has she not earned it, but I think she's sorta lost a lot of it too.

Problem is, even though I tend to take the dominant roll: I produced the album, much of the compositions are mine, we don't have an official band leader, so I don't really have any authority. But I just feel worse and worse every day, like I'm putting in all this effort and having to compromise on a really subpar drummer. There's actually some great drummers around in this town, and I think we could find one easily.

I want people to be happy, I want to make things comfortable and everyone have a voice, but I also have standards, and dreams and goals for this group, and I just don't think we'll be able to achieve the high escellon we're going for without a better percussionist. I keep thinking that she's going to quit: she's threatened to before, and she seems more and more unhappy, and more and more paranoid, but she hangs on. I do think she eventually will, but this hanging on is excruciating, she just needs to leave.

I've never had to break up with a girl, I've never had to end any relationship or fire an employee... and what's worse, I'm not in any official position to do so. The rest of the band is either in agreement with me, or kind of indifferent, but we're all really nice people, and no one wants to really be the bad guys. How do I do this?
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Agent D.
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2013, 12:17:53 PM »

Defer to your other bandmates before you do anything, and make sure they're on the same page before you confront her, because in the end it's all about confronting her with your opinions and establishing a basis for why she is no longer welcome. It's not about saving her feelings, it's about keeping your band happy. If the rest of the band doesn't agree with you, it may be a better idea to simply point out moments where she's weakest in performance while practicing and make sure they're aware that a drummer who spends more time actually drumming wouldn't be as lame.

Honestly just make sure you're doing what the band wants and not just what you think they want. Good luck mover.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2013, 01:31:19 PM »

Well, I have. They've all expected her to leave by now. Things are complicated by a seasonal switch. Our original bass player went off to Boston to Berklee but he comes back for the summer. Meanwhile, we have this amazing winter bass player who leaves during the summer. The winter bass player just came back a few weeks ago, and he's a really low key dude, and he doesn't feel like he has much say, and he wasn't here this summer when all the shit went down, but he's never been a fan of the drummer musically, they're really at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Problem is, summer bass player and drummer are dating... yes, it's one of those situations. The dynamic of the band changed overnight. The two of them used to never agree on anything until they got together. Usually the bass player was the crazy creative out there one, and I'd have to reel him in a bit, while the conservative drummer was totally at the other end. Once they started going out, he was wrapped around her finger, and has made a point NEVER to disagree with her. So now, she has all this power over half the say in the band, and convinces him of everything. This summer has been a nightmare, with basically being the two of them vs the two of us.

But now that we're back to winter bass player, she's suddenly not getting her way anymore, and she's pissed. See the winter bass player is a technical jazz/metal guy, and the drummer comes from a "keep it simple" country background, so even though they personally get along, musically, they're not anywhere near the same page. And then there's the fiddle player and I, who are both very sore over the bit about her kicking out the singer, as well as generally being absent, late to gigs, and passive aggressive.

So it's complicated. We would dissolve the band and start anew with the three of us and another drummer, if it wasn't for the fact that we JUST released our new album, did a small US tour, and are getting very well known up here in Alaska. It's at this point that we're ready to go full steam ahead, when this happens.

For the moment, I've told myself that I'm just no longer going to coddle to her frail opinions anymore. I used to give her the benefit of the doubt and REALLY try to let her have a chance to do what she wanted and give her a voice in the band. I used to go out of the way to organize things so she could introduce her own ideas, etc. But this summer, all of that got thrown back in my face, and so I'm not doing it anymore. She wants something, she's going to have to speak up for herself and work for it just like the rest of us... but she won't. And I was thinking that she would eventually give up and quit on her own. But she hasn't even been to the last few rehearsals to get a sense of the new dynamic. In the meantime, the three of us have bonded and are working on new material, so she's in for a shock. The other day, we shot a scene from our music video, which I thought we had all agreed on, and she didn't want to be in it. When I edited the video and sent her a draft, she was furious and told us that she wasn't included! The fact is, she didn't show up to rehearsal the day before the shoot, when we were pinning down some last minute specifics. So now she wants us to include her on every decision we ever make, even if she's not there... I just can't run a band like this.

You don't show up, you don't put in the time, you don't get to have a say. That's my feeling anyway.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 01:33:17 PM by Prime Mover » Logged


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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2013, 07:34:33 PM »

You and the winter bass player could both leave the band and form your own band.

Which would have the same end result.
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Dice
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2013, 11:34:35 PM »

You and the winter bass player could both leave the band and form your own band.

Which would have the same end result.

A pretty awesome workaround there. x)

Otherwise, I definitely think you're gonna have go the harder route and "talk it out" with everyone in the band, because I'm not sure there's a "clever solution" around this (other than Mesh's).  The few times my brother had to do it for the band he was in went in a similar fashion.  Funny enough, the one big "firing" was actually a friend of his from high school -- a drummer as well.  It hurts for the person, but if they're inadequate (and he was, he was a school band percussionist and a hardly skilled drummer), then they're inadequate for what you and the band hope to do and do well.  You just have to ease that in with a good argument and a "padded" response (as in, treat the bad stuff in a hopeful and well-intended manner than a "YOU'RE A PSYCHO BITCH WHO CAN'T PLAY FOR SH**")

You need the band to agree with you and then you gotta do a "band style" intervention.  You can really force it by saying you already found a potential replacement who IS willing to put the time and effort (but careful with that one there).
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Aeolus
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 12:21:11 AM »

Comedy Option: Tell her she's the band's Yoko Onno. If she doesn't get it, tell her "And now you know why you must leave.".
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Tomara
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 03:02:02 AM »

Poison her food?

But seriously, it sounds like she needs to step it up if she wants to keep up with the rest of the band and if she can't/won't, she really shouldn't be there. Whether you start a new band or fire her, it's going to be messy either way. So I'm with Dice, talking to the other members and then confronting her seems to me like the best way to limit the damage.
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Lard
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 04:08:26 AM »

Talk to your other bandmate(s)? and see how they feel.

If they feel the same, there's no point in putting off the decision any longer.
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 05:41:15 PM »

From the sounds of it you are the de facto leader of the band. If you are the one leading, it's also your responsibility to make the decisions and do the things nobody else is willing to do, unfortunately. Trying to make everyone happy inevitably results in nobody being happy, and you'll catch the most flak for letting it happen. Tell her she's out, and avoid the later headaches.
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 09:37:00 PM »

Tell her farting is horrible and you all can't put up with it anymore. 
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SonicDeathMonkey
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 11:41:51 PM »

Tell her farting is horrible and you all can't put up with it anymore. 

i wish i could "like" posts on here like facebook
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2013, 11:44:22 PM »

Like this:

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Aeolus
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2013, 12:25:58 PM »

Like this:



Image hosted by Tripod? That's it. You're out of the band.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2013, 03:05:39 PM »

Starting a new band is definitely not a good option. I put 15 months and over 1000 hours into producing our album alone. We've gotten some national recognition on the contra dance scene... when we toured down in the states, we really started something. It seems we're likely to get chosen to perform in the national contra dance festival in Atlanta next spring. So our album and name holds a lot of weight to us both personally and financially.

Anyway, we had rehearsal the other day, I half expect her not to show, or there to be an all-out war (as there had been that day through email), but to my amazement, we had a very normal, even fairly good rehearsal with absolutely no mention of any issues. She talked about far off gigs and doing some long term planning. So it seems the idea of quitting hasn't crossed her mind for the last few months. I didn't know whether to be happy or pissed about this. On one side, she didn't lord anything over us or make things miserable and got down to playing, but on the other side, nothing got solved or exorcised.

Last night, I took Winter bass player and fiddle player to a jazz concert that a few cats I know were playing. They have this killer new drummer, and fiddle player was noticeably jealous. Strangely, the bass player went ga-ga over their bass player. I wasn't expecting that. Yeah, their bass player is amazing (about twice the age as our young winter bassist) but winter bass player is fucking insane as far as I'm concerned. At that level, it starts to require that you really play the instrument well to be able to distinguish between "great" and "amazing". His response was, "looks like I need to go back to the shed for a few more hours a day for a while" (he already practices about 6 hours a day).

Thing is, we're good. I'm one of the best keyboardists in town (there are pianists and straight jazz pianists that run circles around me, but my skill set is different), there are a number of progrock bands that are always trying to get me to play with them. Our fiddle player is one of about 3 upper-tier players here, and as far as I'm concerned, bass player is the best bass player I've ever played with, and comes up with things that I think are almost better than anyone I've seen (barring the bassist we saw last night). It just kills me that we're playing with a drummer that would barely hold her own in a HS garage band.

As far as being the "de-facto leader". Maybe in theory, but not officially, and that all depends upon who you talk to. Fiddle player says she thinks of me that way, and winter bass player most likely does (probably both fiddle player and me together), but that's precisely what the drummer seems to be constantly fighting: that we're all equals, and there is no leader. Currently she's fighting off the fiddle player, but she's usually on my case. I don't really care, personally. I don't really feel comfortable "taking command" if not everyone else wants it. But I would like to demand that everyone hold their own. Fiddle and bass totally pull their weight, I give them very little "commands", and always couch them in suggestions and subjective ideas with the clear understanding that they could take it or leave it, I trust their judgement enough that I don't think my own ideas are necessarily superior. But to be blunt, I don't feel that way about the drummer. She doesn't pull her weight, and she's not creative, so I'm constantly coming up with parts for her... but she doesn't like doing creative things (she picks one beat and plays it over and over again, no fills, very little alteration), and when I make suggestions she pushes back and tries to reassert that we're all equals. "get off my lawn" mentality (yeah, she leans that way politically, too, which makes sense).

Latest thing, I made a crappy iPhone recording of a new tune of mine we JUST started working on. I'm listening to it in the car and feeling the bass, and the fiddle is flying... drums are fucking repetitive. It's a floaty tune with a very "cinematic" modal chord progression, and she's sitting there banging out a 6/8 gallop! I've gotta say something, it totally goes against everything I intended for this tune to sound like. In this case, percussion should be a bit more atmospheric than strictly functional, and play with the syncopation, not just bang out the downbeats. I don't WANT to over emphasize the beat. But she's REALLY into hard core dance music, she believes that the bass drum should almost always be on 1, 2, 3, 4 and things like that. No implied pulse, no momentary lapse of time or polyrhythm, not even any fills. It feels like I'm playing a broken drum machine some times!

That said, I was able to make it work for the album by squeezing every little ounce of creativity out of her, and then using myself and the bass to produce the rhythmic interest. It worked, but I'm tired of it, I'd like a drummer who actually understands what I'm going for on a tune, and adds to it.
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Tomara
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 04:00:22 PM »

It sucks when people abuse the word 'equality' like that. A group only functions when people step up to play the roles that need to be played. You need a leader, someone who's willing to make decisions that need to be made. Of course this can be a democratic leader, but the approach she seems to be going for is giving everyone veto powers. That simply doesn't work...
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