New bass player fired after 2 rehearsals

Mindthebull

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I play in an alt country band. About half original music and half covers. There are 3 core members and we all get along pretty well (lead singer, lap steel player and me on guitar) . We all have day jobs of course but take it pretty seriously, and try to play decent paying gigs but not all that frequently. We have got into the habit of working with a roster of different bass players and drummers from time to time who like working with us but without committing to any one - they always get paid and it’s just easier that way.

Recently we tried out a new bass player - friend of the lap player- who is more of a casual bass player. As a sub for some of our more low paying pwyc casual gigs (we always take equal shares) if he learned the material it might be good to have a good back up. We were told he was really excited about working with us and looking forward to it etc. has been a friend of the band for years and always said if we had an opportunity he would love to play with us. It was clear that he thought he was auditioning as a full band member which was weird as that was never discussed and he knows we work with lots of other people.

Anyways 2 rehearsals in and it’s clear it’s not going to work. He doesn’t use charts, doesn’t take any notes during practice, hasn’t “had time” to listen to any of the material (he has copies of our 2 cds plus YouTube links and charts i sent on Dropbox), keeps talking about how busy he is and says he will try to find time to learn the material. He watches my left hand and plays about half a beat behind. My response is WTF!!!We have a gig coming up in a few weeks and are running out of time and patience to work on it with him. After the last rehearsal, our drummer came up to me after and pleaded with me to get someone else and sent a follow up email. That clinched it. I was able to convince our lap player that personal relationship aside this was NOT going to work.

So the message was delivered that it just wasn’t working out and he reacted very badly and said all sorts of fairly juvenile and nasty stuff. But he still seems to think we owe him more of an explanation. My view is that if he doesn’t know why, that is part of the problem. I really liked him as a person but talking about this further is pointless. Anyways I am frustratedly and just ranting here. Anyone had similar experiences and is there a different approach or is it better to just rip off the bandaid in one pull and move on?
 

Ron R

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I think what you described is the best explanation possible. A bassist is SUCH an important part of the band, it has to be a solid relationship.
Agreed.
And from the OP, it sounds like the guy does not take criticism very well (or takes it too personally). If the message is being delivered face to face, I'd be aware of that and make sure to keep the emotion out of it.
 

nickmsmith

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A bassist has got to be on top of things. They are foundational for sure. This is why I hesitate to gig with anyone other than people I have massive trust in. The more people you have, the more drama. Every time.

Sometimes solo is just nice. You can rely on yourself to show up, not act stupid, not get lost in a song, etc.

If you’ve got a tight trio, that’s better than most!

I do sympathize, for sure. I’ve been through a lot of percussionists before I decided I’d rather just not have to mess with all of the extra stuff that comes along with.
 

nickmsmith

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Bass cannot be an afterthought. The rhythm section is actually playing the song while everyone else kinda dances around on top. Bass is the gas in the tank, and drums is the accelerator/brakes. Don’t settle for sub-par, and don’t feel bad about it.
I agree, unless you are just doing an acoustic type thing with little/no percussion. A lot can be done with an acoustic guitar and vocals alone. But for a full band.. not much is worse than a drummer or bassist that sucks.
 

nojazzhere

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I play in an alt country band. About half original music and half covers. There are 3 core members and we all get along pretty well (lead singer, lap steel player and me on guitar) . We all have day jobs of course but take it pretty seriously, and try to play decent paying gigs but not all that frequently. We have got into the habit of working with a roster of different bass players and drummers from time to time who like working with us but without committing to any one - they always get paid and it’s just easier that way.

Recently we tried out a new bass player - friend of the lap player- who is more of a casual bass player. As a sub for some of our more low paying pwyc casual gigs (we always take equal shares) if he learned the material it might be good to have a good back up. We were told he was really excited about working with us and looking forward to it etc. has been a friend of the band for years and always said if we had an opportunity he would love to play with us. It was clear that he thought he was auditioning as a full band member which was weird as that was never discussed and he knows we work with lots of other people.

Anyways 2 rehearsals in and it’s clear it’s not going to work. He doesn’t use charts, doesn’t take any notes during practice, hasn’t “had time” to listen to any of the material (he has copies of our 2 cds plus YouTube links and charts i sent on Dropbox), keeps talking about how busy he is and says he will try to find time to learn the material. He watches my left hand and plays about half a beat behind. My response is WTF!!!We have a gig coming up in a few weeks and are running out of time and patience to work on it with him. After the last rehearsal, our drummer came up to me after and pleaded with me to get someone else and sent a follow up email. That clinched it. I was able to convince our lap player that personal relationship aside this was NOT going to work.

So the message was delivered that it just wasn’t working out and he reacted very badly and said all sorts of fairly juvenile and nasty stuff. But he still seems to think we owe him more of an explanation. My view is that if he doesn’t know why, that is part of the problem. I really liked him as a person but talking about this further is pointless. Anyways I am frustratedly and just ranting here. Anyone had similar experiences and is there a different approach or is it better to just rip off the bandaid in one pull and move on?
I've been through so many versions of what you're experiencing it's just not funny. A number of years ago, I even got so frustrated in a band with another guitarist and my drummer, that I said "forget this".....and I played bass. I had dabbled for years, and had very definite opinions on what bass should be, (keep it simple, stupid) and it worked well for a few years. I wasn't able to sing as much lead while on bass, and then we had trouble finding an adequate singer.....so the whole thing eventually collapsed.....but the BASS parts were great while it lasted. (tooting my own horn)
I've been spoiled over time by getting to play with a couple of great bassists......so I know what it CAN and SHOULD be like. There's NOTHING like having to deal with a bad bass player. :(
 

scottser

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if the bass player wants a protracted explanation as to why it didn't work out, then let the lap player tell him but he should be told in no uncertain terms what is expected of him if he goes to play with other musicians. that's best coming from a friend.
 

chris m.

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Tough situation. Rip the Band-Aid off. What is the lesson learned?

I think the lesson learned is you have to lay out the requirements up front, and be very honest about it. Something along these lines--

"We are a tight band, and we need a tight rhythm section. We have 30 tunes. You have three weeks to learn them all. In order to become a player in our band-- even part time, you need to demonstrate that you can show up at the next three rehearsals with 10 new songs under your belt at each one. Where you're good to go, maybe a clam or two, but you know the songs and can play in the pocket, locked in, making the band have a nice groove. So 10 for the first rehearsal, another 10 by the second, and another 10 by the third. If you're having any issues figuring out any of the songs just email us and we can send you a cheat sheet. This may be challenging, but that's the gig. Nothing personal and if it doesn't work out, no hard feelings."

If the person is a mature human being, they will accept the terms and accept being hired or let go. If they are immature, there is nothing you can do to prevent them from being upset. C'est la vie.
 

joe_cpwe

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I can't imagine showing up to band rehearsal not knowing how to play the songs. I memorize songs so I work on stuff at home until I've got it. I occasionally have to make notes for a song or two but really don't like having to do that.

My only ask of the band/band leader is that they make it known what we'll be going over at the next rehearsal and also what the setlist is for the upcoming gig(s) so I can prioritize my time.

Showing up unprepared to rehearsal, twice, is a job loser. You can explain it to people, you can't understand it for them.
 

johnnylaw

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I’ve said it here before:
The song writer is the navigator.
The drummer is the engine pushing the bus down the road. The bass player is at the wheel.
Everybody else is along for the ride.
That dude would put you guys in a ditch, if not over a cliff.
For the record, I am not classically trained.
 

jays0n

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Send him a link to this thread, you pretty much explain the why and point out weak spots ;)
I think is a great solution. If I were the upset bass player, I would initially just be more upset with the OP’s post (not me because I am not delusional, but we’re I that person). However, as I got through the replies from all the members here … I think it would all tell me a lot and I would calm down.
 

brbadg

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I find it interesting that he really wanted to do it, yet did none of the work necessary to make that happen.
It's rather shocking that his ear wasn't even good enough to play along without having to study your hand. I always wait until the song's
over, go over the bridge, stops, key changes, and then WRITE THAT **** DOWN!. But then I'd have been pretty prepared before I showed up. 🤷‍♂️
 




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