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I think my bandleader is douchebag playing mindgames


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  • I think my bandleader is douchebag playing mindgames

    I know I am posting new thread that's kind of related to what I already posted, So I apologize if this is too much.

    I think I've finally caught on to exactly what kind of mind game the bandleader and his associates has been playing all along, and I think this is how it goes.

    I am sure you guys all have been in situations where the bandleader has asked you to go the extra mile for the band.  You go along with it because it's for a good cause, and you feel good giving extra effort for the team. The bandleader tells the band member that he appreciate the sense of comradery we share, and you feel like you are in this exclusive club of people with common passion and dedication for the project.  You feel like this is your "family"

    ..so far so good

    But what if they kept on pushing you, raising the bar for that "extra mile", to the point where it's going way beyond what you think is reasonable?  Maybe at that point noone is willing to speak up yet, because if you say no, it may make you sound selfish and you are not really "with the team".   But eventually you'll get to that tipping point and something happens.

    1)You finally speak up, but then you are dealing with guilt trip, and the band leader grills you on that.  He tells you it's important and that he needs everyone to give that extra 10% more.  If you feel guilty/responsible enough, you stick it out, telling yourself that this is for the band.  After all, this is your family we got a good thing going here.. it's not worth losing over that extra 10%... and you usually feel good afterwards.  The Cycle continues.

    2)If you don't feel guilty about meeting that unreasonable demand, then the band leader will find "diplomatic" ways to oust you from the band.  It usually goes like "I know that we are asking a lot, and if you this is too much for you I understand, if you can't do it, we'll find someone else, no hard feelings".  Of course, the bandleader can choose to work within the limitation of what each bandmember can do, but that's not an option, because the gig is too important.  

    If you are the latter, you are actually in good shape, you got out before you got sucked in deep emotionaly.. but if you are the former, it just gets worse and worse, because the longer you stay, the more you feel like there is more at stake.  The bars keeps on getting raised, but eventually until you get to the breaking point. Sooner or later you join catergory 2, unless he made a true believer out of you.  Hopefully there is no hard feelings, it was a good ride but the band has to move on and I am sorry you can't be committed enough to go along with the ride.

    But what I noticed about people in category 2 is that after they leave and they are not contributing to the band leader's project, you are pretty much ignored afterwards.  A friend of mine was doing sound for us for free, and he told me as soon he told the bandleader he couldn't do it on one of the gig, he's gotten no love from the bandleader.  

    At that point, you start to wonder, All that talk about comradery, facade, and was this all a scheme to get people onto his agenda?  I don't think I can ever know for sure.. but one thing I know is that I've met plenty of people in category 2 who feels bitter and is not in good terms with the bandleader.  

    I recently had a conversation with a DJ who worked with him, and here's how the conversation went

    Me:"You know, I think our bandleader is playing this mind game on me and the band. He really gets you going and worked up about his project and he keeps on pushing you to do more and more, until it's too much to you.. but then he kinda"

    DJ:"But then, he kind of puts you in a situation where you feel like you are the one being a dick for not wanting to go along with the plan?"

    I was astonished, because he literally finished my setence for me before I could finish it.. and on top of that, the other band member has told me the same exact thing recently.

    I don't know, this is a complicated issue, and I am just throwing it out in the open.. I figured you guys are more expereinced in dealing with all kinds of people in music biz, and maybe someone here has had similar expereince.


  • #2

    (To me) This sounds like more trouble than it is worth.  Obviously your views may differ, but if you feel that strongly it seems like you should walk away from the entire thing.




    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment

      Yea, I've decided to walk away from it, and for me it's a really important life lesson in a lot of ways.  

      I've actually encountered similar situation in college, and I met a lot of vocal music majors who felt they were manipulated by their muisic director into doing a lot of work.  It's pretty much the same story, the director makes you feel like a part of elite group, and a family(which if you are a freshmen in college, meant having a place of belonging), and he gets you worked up to do a lot of stuff.  These kids were gigging 3-4 gigs, 6+ rehearsals a week with no pay and the scholarship they were getting didn't justify the workload they were doing.  If the director find someone more talented, he will find ways to replace you, saying  things like "I know you are overloaded, so I think it's best we  took you off the elite ensemble and give you a rest", while the other (more talented) members gets worked like a slave until they graduate.  

      These kids were so overloaded with work to the point where they don't have any time to study for their other classes.  A friend of mine took 8 years to get his BA because of that. It's gotten to the point where some of the music professors who knew what was happening were giving a passing grade to any music majors who attended their class.

      By the time they are in their seinor year, they see through the game and they are sick and tired of it.  But there is too much at stake to turn their backs on the director at that point.  After all, he is the one who is going to give you the letter recommendations  and giving you the grades.  They just want to get the hell out ASAP and move on from this nightmare.  

      There were handful of people who saw through the game right from the beggining too. They've all pretty much had to transfer to another college, which was probably the right thing to do in the long term.


  • #3
    For what it's worth, I wholeheartedly disagree with your bandleader's approach and expectations. The volume of material and level of execution he's demanding requires an extraordinarily high level of versatility and professionality...and players of that caliber don't leave the house unless they're getting paid. For a gig like this, they would also expect the bandleader to have charts readily available for all the material, with every detail carefully charted out to eliminate any possibility of confusion.

    It seems to me the bandleader is trying tobhave it both ways: he's placing extreme demands on the band members, without providing the monetary compensation that players of that caliber normally receive. He's selling it as if it's a "band"....but he's running it with a "my way or the highway" approach and tresting band members as if they're disposable commodities.

    If he can't afford to pay the band for rehearsals, then he has no right to place such stringent demands on them. And if he's unwilling to compromise on either the execution or the volume of material, then I suspect he'll be replacing individual members on a regular basis.....and once his reputation gets around, he'll have trouble finding anyone who's willing to work with him without getting paid up front.

    I thinkb you're doing the right thing by walking away. As talented as the band may be, I don't think the guy's business model is sustainable....and my guess is, nobody is going to put up with him for very long.


    • etcetra
      etcetra commented
      Editing a comment


      I agree, and I brought those issue up before and made suggestion, but he just wouldn't listen.  He said that the workload is only going to get bigger going forward, and he thought me making suggestion (i.e not doing completley new set of music every single gig) was just me feinging my responsibility for not doing good enough of a job.  Again it seems like he is turning the table and making it sound like I am the one that's wrong about this.

      The whole money issue is tricky too.  We knew the money wouldn't be there at first, when we decided to push the band to the next level.  It was meant to be an investment so that we can do bigger and better things.  But the discrpency between the money we are getting now and the work we are doing is getting bigger and bigger.  Again, I wonder if he is consciously/unconsciously abusing that.

      Ya, I really don't see how this band is going to be able to sustain itself.  2 members are leaving, the replacement isn't cutting it, and I don't think they can find a proper replacement for me who is willing/capable to do the job at that level.  He's also burned bridges with a lot of people(venues, DJs) because he blew peole off when he couldn't have it his way.  We aren't that big yet but we already have people who hates him enough to actively sabotage his gigs too.  


      Yes the band is on it's way up.. or so it seems, but I don't know how much of it is the bandleader hyping things up to make it seem like things are bigger than it really is.  I admire the bandleader for his determination to make it, but sometimes I wonder if he is deluded.  In his mind, he has convinced himself that he is going to make it, and he doesn't see it any other way.  

      In fact, I got into an argument with him, because I basically told him that I am willing to commit to this project, but I don't know if I can stick around if things don't improve 2-3 years from now on.  He was unhappy with the fact that I even thought about that, and he said he didn't want anyobody around him who doubted him.  But then again, he didn't fire me for it either.

      9 months later, we are doing bigger venues but we aren't making  that much more money.  When I talked to session guys backing up big pop stars, they are impressed with what we do, but they also warned me about not making that big deal out the fact that we are playing these venue.  In other words, it's really not as big as you'd like to think.  

      I did ask him not long ago whether there are anything big in the works next year.  He said nothing, and explained that it's almost new years and people aren't making plans for next year just yet.   We aren't even doing a new years gig.   The more I think about it, a lot of things just doesn't check out, and I wonder if bandleader is just trying to convince himself that things are really on the way up.

  • #4
    I think most bands just really don't think about guys in bands. If it's everyone's backburner project, whether the other burners be music or other things in life, they may think less of asking a guy in a band. But if it's a serious project that demands serious time commitment, they won't want you to pull double duty and won't try to poach you away unless there's a reason to believe you're making yourself available.
    Free prog-related metal from Michigan.