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He left to go on the road with an "up and coming" Nashville singer. The "tour" flopped and he came home, and then went back out with her, at which time we replaced him because we had a festival gig coming up. We should have just cancelled the gig.
Honestly, I am hearing a different element in this that is just hard to overlook.
Being in Nashville, I get to play or hear many hit songs before they get recorded by the artist that will eventually "wear" the song as a hit.
Often times, I did the original version WAY more than the Artist version that you will eventually know.
I think the key element here is the original chemistry ... NOT the playing styles or differences.
And there are really two ways you could look at this:
1) Replacing a drummer can be like replacing a great girlfriend. The next one NEVER is like the first one.
2) You can acknowledge that this is a chemistry thing ... and either work it out, or forget it and drive on ... embracing the new guy knowing he can't fill the shoes of the original guy (simply due to your expectations).
We recently fired a drummer that didn't go too well. He was an overreactive individual to begin with so I knew it was going to be bad. He threw a fit, said that we betrayed him, and we were "dead to him". Even though it was awful and sometimes I feel bad because I feel like the band was all he had going for him... you get over it fairly quickly when you have great, productive practices that sound better. I hope your friend is a little more mature.