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.