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Outkaster

Playing with former bandmates 25 years later

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Posted (edited)

About a year ago I got a chance to play in a roots type band with some former bandmates in the Buffalo area. It’s not really my music but three of the guys and I were in a band in the nineties. I would see them over the years here and there but for the last 7 I have had my own band and infrastructure built with help from the fan community. At any rate they asked me to do some one off gigs last year on new years day with them the last being a couple months ago. I kind of said well let’s see how it goes. I was amazed to find out that little had changed in 25 years once I stepped back in to play with them. The bass player is a young guy and in rehearsal I always couldn’t hear what he was doing until the other night on stage. He was off, soloing when other members were doing solos just not cool. I understand it’s a matter of experience but guys that young rarely have good enough developed instincts to be able to find their place with an ensemble. In the case of the experienced players, they seemed exactly as we were in 1992 and 1993. I guess I was ignorant to the fact that people didn’t develop or try to get better as musicians. It seems sometimes guys want to show off in front of their friends or have a couple of drinks to play music. That’s OK and can be fun but sometimes there has to be more than that for me. I have to tell them I can’t stay as I have my own project. I think once you run your own show there is always a comparison in your head that you do to measure things. I don’t think we mean to do it but it happens because I see a lot of mistakes they are making (arrangements, booking, overall business decisions) They can’t figure out why they have certain problems or that they have to fight tooth and nail for everything they get. Club owners aren’t going to do it for you.

 

Well 2 months ago they happened to get a review from a music critic in the next city over that went to their heads for a new CD they released. It didn’t even sound better than the demo I had? I wasn’t featured on it though. I didn’t do any recording at the time as I was out of town when they wrapped up the CD and got it rushed out. Now after two shows they want my bio for the website, a new stage plot and everything else. Truthfully running a seven person band is work enough and I can’t take on more than they are asking which is a big part of it. It’s not going to be easy because I have a history with these guys in the neighborhoods we all used to hang out with and play in. We also get along real well. Sorry for the rant as it's been on my mind. Sometimes a good idea is only on paper…………

 

Edited by Outkaster

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Hopefully you made it clear about about your ability (or rather, inability) to commit before you ever agreed to step back in. I'm very clear about that anymore when I'm approached.

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IMO, stay friends with them but move on. Life is too short and if you are not happy there is no reason to stay.

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The idea with playing is to get to the music. Playing with guys who are 'still on their instrument' is a complete waste of time with frustration thrown in. Lose Lose...

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I typically do not go backwards to play with people/friends, especially if I know they are not up to the level I'm used to.

 

I made this mistake recently...getting involved with an old friend and bandmate who I have not worked with in 20 years, and another gap before that of about ten years. He recently moved back to the area [but there is a whole other issue of him not bringing his gear back here for over 3 months...I lost the drummer I had lined up because of his delays, and nearly lost the keyboardist.].

 

He knows I am already leading 2 bands, but I had been thinking about a 'rock project'. I made it amply clear to him up front that this was going to be my project, my way, my decisions [there is some history of him not putting ANY effort into our past projects, and in fact causing their demise]. He didn't like it, but he agreed. First, I told him he was going to play bass, not guitar [he isn't ready, IMHO on guitar for the material I want to cover], which he didn't like [too bad]. Then I said he needed to help getting the song lists together, getting the charts prepped [there is some terrible history with him being given this assignment years ago], I gave him samples of the way I wanted the charts, and told him to chart them in the original key so the entire band could practice on their own at home, and we would do band rehearsals based on that initially, and then we could see who is singing what, and if keys need to be changed.

 

He comes by one day with his 'charts' which are lyric/chord sheets from UG and similar sites. Straight copy/paste, all the junk commentary, wrap around, incorrect lyrics, incorrect chords, some three pages long, not condensed, not structured the way I wanted, and some he already re-keyed for 'his voice'.

I tried explaining everything to him AGAIN. A week later, same thing...and he complains 'it is a waste of time to learn it in the original key if I can't sing it in that key'; to which I said 'who said you were singing this song?'

 

So, I said 'Hey, y'know what? Let's forget this, it isn't going to work, you just do not get the reasons I want it done this way.'

Needless to say a string of whiny emails and texts ensued. He tried to make me feel guilty, he tried to make me out to be the villain. Not buying into it...he agreed to a set of parameters and then ignored them. Done, Buh-bye.

 

Lesson learned: Don't work with people who are not up to the level you are, unless you like dealing with stupid crap, and don't care about quality.

 

I hope he eventually gets the message that I still want to be his friend, but I will not work with him because of his crappy work ethic. If not, more his loss than mine.

Edited by daddymack

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It's hard to be the Boss. You've done what you needed to, to insure the integrity of your project. If he doesn't get it, his loss.

 

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Thanks, Alamo...one of the reasons I generally avoid doing business with friends, but with music, it is hard to avoid.

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I think there is two kinds of people. Some that want to screw around and kind of play at being a musician. The other is the people that take care of their gear, personal lives and everything else. When you put them together you get a mismatched type of band that can come off kind of unglued. I really think some people just don’t get it.

 

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