dealing with a slacking vocalist and demotivated band members

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by kamello, Jul 14, 2019 at 3:32 AM.

  1. kamello

    kamello DESU METARU!

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    so, bit (lots) of context.
    during January of 2016 I started a band with two of my best friends, the result of that was one of the most inspiring and productive years of my life musically speaking, we wrote around 20 instrumentals between 2016 and 2017 (of which around 8-9 are already tracked and 6 fully mixed and mastered) The dynamic I had with the other members was great, and we could bounce ideas towards each other with ease and always get great results. After polishing what we thought was our best material we finally started the search for a vocalist and a drummer, and after a rough start we had a few shows, but both of those members weren't responsible enough for this so we went on the look for new members. Finally we found an awesome drummer who clicked with us insantly, and we got the songs going after just a month or so of practice. Our vocalist though, was another story.
    His voice is great and overall is a nice guy to be around with, but if we aren't constantly reminding him of his responsabilities he just doesn't work, this have been this way since the start, and since I foresaw this wouldn't change (around March 2018) I constantly asked our band mates to continue looking for a new vocalist but they refused, saying that we already had spent too much time on this

    up to this day we only have been able to write melodies for 3 of our songs (we have to write the melodies for him) and record for two, since every time we met in my homestudio, the vocalist barely can record 1/4 of a song since he doesn't practice, so timing is always off and pitch a bit shake-y, and everytime Im left with hundreds of vocal takes from where I have to prepare a decent arrangement

    Today, after months of supposed writting on his part, and instrumental rehersals on ours, he came to my homestudio with just one verse, my other bandmates were pissed and left, but I tried my best to come up with some new ideas to record with him and also do armonies and arrangements of a few of our older songs, the problem was that just doing a few verses took around an hour.

    This have been our dynamic with him for two years, and we've been sitting on our songs for almost 4, I told my bandmates that -from my perspective- we had two choices
    1-. continue in this process, release a mini EP and book some shows with what we have, while we look for a new vocalist
    2-. just stop, look for a new vocalist and re-record the older material with someone capable (something that with a good vocalist shouldn't take more than a pair of months of work)

    but the other main songwritter apart from me, told me that he just would quit if we have to go through this process again so I just don't know what to do. Im tired, depressed, and barely feel represented by the material we wrote so much time ago, but Im still proud of it and want to release it

    so the choices I feel I have in this situation are

    1-. start looking for a vocalist by myself without the rest knowing, work with this vocalist and just show them the results after I get them
    2-. just start everything from scatch, keep the songs were I was the main songwriter (around half of the material we did) and -if my friends want to- release the other songs through other outlets (their solo projects, one offs, or whatever) But I find this way more hard since I've never had such a good dynamic with bandmates and I don't want to lose what we have

    I just find it sad that being 24 years old, and working on this for almost 4, we still haven't been able to release anything in this band apart from two singles because of these constraints
     
  2. penguin_316

    penguin_316 SS.org Regular

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    My 2 cents is to start fresh and do your own thing. You cannot change people. You cannot motivate the unmotivated. You need to work with others who are on the same page as you. I’ve had bands where we swapped vocalists 3 times and each time it was a huge/measurable upgrade.

    Slacker vocalists are the worst. How can you not bring a microphone to band practice???? HOW?!?!?! Every damn time...
     
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  3. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    ^ What he said, but if you haven't made your voice really heard, as in being serious about it and giving an ultimatum in front of your friends too such as "You need to start pulling your weight man, or I'm gonna start searching for someone else. I actually want to accomplish things and work on stuff." , then see how it goes over the next time period you specify. Usually that gets people on track, but then they also usually fall back into their old habits. When that happens then say "Are you serious about this or not" , or just go ahead and do your own thing. It depends how much you like the guy and REally want to work with him.
     
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  4. kamello

    kamello DESU METARU!

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    bit of clearence as maybe my 3am rumblings weren't too clear

    The band -aside from the vocalist- is great, dudes who take their craft seriously and are willing to spend time and money in this improving everything; video production, stage presence, light show, helping me with mixes, improving our gear, etc. (hell, our bassist travels 2 hours almost every weekend just to reherse) I specifically want to keep working with the other guitarist as the writting chemistry with him is great, problem is that the he is as tired as im with all this, but his outlook is different than mine, looking to continue working with this vocalist because of the time already spent with him, or just scrapping everything alltogether

    I'll write to the vocalist tho' and see what he pretends with us in the future if he keeps doing this stuff, but changing habits at this age is tough
     
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  5. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Whatever you do, I wouldn't scrap the material you wrote. Good material is good material and it's yours and worth keeping. No need to scrap your hard work.
     
  6. Emperoff

    Emperoff Hasta la vista, Baby Contributor

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    Pretty much almost every singer I've worked with is a slacker. I know this is stereotyping, but the fact that they don't have the same obligations (gear, etc) as the rest of the members usually make them very careless overall in my experience. Can't tell you how much times they "forget" their mics, wireless, etc. Have you ever met a guitarist going to reahearse without their guitar? They also take criticism VERY badly as for them their instrument is their own body, and feel humiliated if you say they're off in some way.

    I'm at two bands currently, and both have at least one slacker singer. You just can't do much about it if the rest of the band members are ok with it (as it's my case). They just make jokes and separate "singers" from "musicians" and everyone seems fine with that.

    For plenty of singers, the rest of the band is their "karaoke" to sing upon, with zero care about what's really going on with the music. Since neither of my bands are going to take me to Hellfest, I can live with it since they're nice guys and we get along well.

    However, If you care about your music, are passionate about it and have future plans for it, MÁNDALO A LA MIERDA. :D
     
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  7. Esp Griffyn

    Esp Griffyn Play more music

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    Isn't making music supposed to be fun? Just quit of you're not enjoying it.
     
  8. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    I'd say quitting a mostly functional band shouldn't be your first reaction.

    First, everyone should be aware of how everyone else feels about a project, and how dedicated each member is. Communication is always key.

    If effort is made to resolve things, or personnel changes happen and nothing really changes, that's when quitting would make sense.
     
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  9. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Kill the vocals, no one needs them anyway... errr, do not actually kill the vocalist ok? Become an instrumental band.

    There are several advantages, the bigger one is not having to deal with vocalists, but besides that, it makes everyone else more present in the overall sound and composition. It opens lots of room for everyone to shine and everyone can lead here and there. This helps to distribute "song leadership" differently and brings a whole new dimension to the band dynamics. IMO its the way for interesting rock music. And what is out there that hasn't been sang anyway? What do you sing about that hasn't been yet addressed by someone else?... less shit to think about...
     
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  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Sorry to say, but, in my experience, this is most bands. Maybe it's the singer, or maybe it's the drummer, or whatever, but 99% of the time, it's someone's best friend who is a really nice guy, but just doesn't have any motivation to make music. Maybe 20% of the time, booking shows actually helps motivate the person, but it always wears off eventually, and the other 80% of the time it backfires.

    So, who is the band's leader, in terms of musical direction and organization? If it's you, then you might want to go ahead and make expectations crystal clear. If one or more of your bandmates disagrees with your expectations, you will probably find out pretty quickly, as long as you make your intentions super clear. It might cause everything to self destruct, but in that case, it's just hastening the inevitable.
     
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  11. crankyrayhanky

    crankyrayhanky SS.org Regular

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    Is the work you're expecting include writing lyrics and melodies? That is hard to do at a quality level. Could be this guy can't really do that. Some others in the band need to step up and write this stuff if you want to get it off the ground. Could be your material doesn't lend itself well to vocals? Just spitballing, that happens often when you write entire setlists before hiring a vocalist.
     
  12. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

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    Get girl vocals, maybe it'll motivate the rest of em

    Then fire the dude with a "sorry man, she has boobs, so, uh... bye now"
     
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  13. BIG ND SWEATY

    BIG ND SWEATY Edgy

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    Look for a new vocalist on your own and then kick the old one out, no point in keeping dead weight around.
     
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  14. fantom

    fantom Misses his 6 strings

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    It is all about understanding motivation. Figure out why band mates don't want a new vocalist. If they just don't want to put in the effort or time to search, do it on your own (and let them know you will put in the work with zero expectations from them). Your band mates might actually like the guy and not want confrontation. In that case, finding a different vocalist behind their backs might make things worse.

    As someone else mentioned, maybe your current vocalist is good enough, but your expectations are not the same. He might just want prewritten parts to sing because he doesn't have confidence to write parts. Have you tried playing a few cover songs that he likes to see if that motivates him? If that works, you might just need to write the vocal melodies and lyrics for the guy.
     
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  15. xCaptainx

    xCaptainx Dr Djodson

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    So wait you have a guy who can't get through an entire song, doesn't come to practises, doesn't write material, has shakey pitch, is out of time and doesn't put any effort in at all?

    Dude you have someone who likes the idea of being a vocalist. From what you've shared, he isn't one.

    You don't have to play to his fantasies. Find someone else.
     
  16. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Hard to judge a situation without being part of it, but here are some devil's advocate points I cooked up, maybe this might help us understand what might be going through your vocalist's head:

    A) Is it always automatically a singers responsibility to write all his own parts? If someone joins a band as a drummer or bassist or guitarist, it's often the case (though not necessarily) that their parts are decided by the "main songwriter" of the band. Not every band works this way, of course. But was there any decided arrangement when this vocalist joined? Did you stipulate to join this band you're going to be writing all your own parts and we need them ready on our timetable ? - I'm a pretty good singer and I've been the vocalist in a cover band before, and I would consider answering an ad for "heavy metal singer" but I'm not a good lyricist and I haven't ever written a vocal melody, so I can picture myself in your singer's position.

    B) Why are you trying to record songs that aren't written yet? I understand you've been sitting on your songs for a while and want to record them. But you said there aren't even lyrics written for the vocal sections? So you guys haven't even been practicing the song together. Maybe this isn't the way everyone thinks, but it's my philosophy that you should record the tracks after you've been playing them together for a while, tested different things out, and fine tuned it. My band is going into the studio this Friday~Sunday, and we are only recording 3 songs that we've been playing in a decided manner for over a year. I wouldn't even want to spend all the time/money/effort to record a song that's not tried-and-true. In fact, it kind of bothers me that the rest of my bandmates don't seem concerned that I play the a guitar solo a few different ways... but I guess we could just record it a few times and choose what sounds best...


    Of course, if it's not working, it's not working. Maybe you didn't realize you wanted a vocalist who takes care of all his own music writing when you were recruiting before, but now you've concluded that that's really what you're looking for. It's OK to adjust your expectations, especially when it comes to artistic vision. My vote is that you write the rest of this guys stuff that you want on the EP, practice it all together for a few months while playing some gigs, then record it.
     
  17. Fred the Shred

    Fred the Shred Shrederick

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    Well, first thing I advise you to do is to take a deep breath and calmly think what your goals are and where do you want to be regarding music. You look like you've been very devoted to this one project and its lack of evident progress is taking its toll. Sometimes, it's better to let go, especially if the band isn't all on the same page regarding goals, how the setup will be, and what each person's responsibility in that is.

    One's mileage may obviously vary, but truth is that it's always a timebomb to maintain a thing that doesn't really work and slowly builds up frustration if dialogue doesn't appear to go anywhere to boot. One of the reasons I was in many projects but only a small minority got anywhere is due to how organization, agreement in terms of goals and taking responsibility and acting on it is just as, if not more important than the musical product itself. I am a rather practical guy when it comes to this kind of stuff, in spite of how social and friendly I am, simply because I learned quite fast that romantic visions of glory and a talented bunch mean nothing without the "hard working" element in place when you want to go past the hobbyist stage.
     
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  18. DLG

    DLG not guthrie govan

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    is there any other kind of vocalist? :D
     
  19. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    If everyone isn’t hungry i don’t see how a band can be successful.

    I’m my mind a band is typically 4 dudes. This isn’t a company of 10 20 or 30 people where, no matter what, there’s going to be a few slackers. This is 4 dudes. It’s entirely possible to find 4, hungry, key players.

    If this is just for fun, do whatever you want. If you’re actually trying to accomplish something, i say find a new singer.
     
  20. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    Your vocalist is wasting your time. Your bandmates are absolute fucking goons if they think that dicking around with this guy is going to make things more enjoyable. You said it yourself--they got pissed off and left when the guy came in after months and had nothing prepared. I've kicked people out of my band for that exact same reason.

    Kick that guy out. Call him today and do it. If he's left anything at your studio or rehearsal space, put it in a box, go to his house and give it to him. Have a band meeting and tell your mates what you did and why. Don't use weasel words, be frank and honest. If any of your guys want to quit, point at the door. Stand there with your arms crossed and watch them haul their equipment out by themselves. I'm sure they're good dudes and you've had a decent ride with them up the this point but if they're so far gone that kicking out a useless non-musician is the breaking point, that's their problem. I could be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that if you just cut out the cancer yourself and call your writing partner's bluff, he'll stick around. Give your mates a bad-ass motivating speech about getting the right guy for the job and double down on that promise. Be a leader and set an example.

    I don't know how I feel about booking shows with your current guy. It sounds like he doesn't have another material prepared to do a full set and it sounds like he doesn't practice—how good could he possibly sound onstage? Do you want to present your band like that? Having a goal or a “deadline” can be a motivator for people. I dunno. You'll have to use your gut here.

    Take the material that you've got mixed/mastered and shop it around to singers. Go to shows and watch bands. If you see a guy onstage who might fit the bill, say hi introduce yourself and toss him your demo, mention that you're looking for a singer and see if he'd like to jam with you guys. Just float the idea to people who are already experienced and motivated. Put up ads in your music shops and your usual online routes.

    When guys come in to audition, you need to communicate what you expect from the singer. Be flexible though--not every singer is a great lyricist or arranger. Sometimes all they have/need is a great voice and charisma. Some guys are shy about certain things and need a bit of a nudge to get them going, some guys are exploding with ideas and need to be tethered. You might need to adjust to whatever situation your prospective singers have, but it'll probably be better than what you've described in your OP.

    And if your bandmates weren't bluffing and decide to walk out on you, then fuck it. You're in your mid-20's with a fresh start. You will never be more free. Put your old material on hold and join another band that would be thrilled to have you, or start a new project, whatever. The old material will always be there if/when the time comes.

    You sound like a guy who really gives a shit and you sound extremely frustrated. I honestly want nothing but the best for you.
     

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