“Maybe you guys need a new guitarist”
Well, I did it – I quit my band, almost to the day when they first contacted me to audition.
This wasn’t an easy decision, but it has been coming a while. I nearly quit at the last practice before Thanksgiving but I didn’t – I decided to sleep on it.
I always find it to be ridiculous when fans are upset when someone quits a band or the band breaks up. You never know how happy or unhappy people are in their situation.
In my case, when I auditioned for the band, I had to weigh the pros and cons.
The Pros were that this band sounded great. This is probably the best sounding band I’ve played with or one of the top ones. Having two dedicated lead vocalists both male and female gave us a lot of flexibility, plus everybody else had a lot of years on their instruments and knew what they were doing.
The Cons were the following:
1) I was told they don’t gig any other night but Saturday (this is not exactly true – we did some Friday gigs but the sentiment remained)
2) They told me they gigged 11 times in 2011 which is fine – about one a month, which was ok. I’d prefer two. But later on others expressed the desire not to work that often – more like 1 gig for every two months which is not frequent enough in my opinion
3) Very little attention was given to marketing the band. This includes an amateurish web site with grainy photos, bad video (focused on the dancers not the band) and clunky interface to play their sound clips, plus a dumb attempt at humor with a page entitled “Nothing” and when you click on it, you got a blank page that said “We told you”. No portfolio, no professionally done photos, no CD, no DVD, just a clunky website and a business card that still had the phone number of the guy that quit. No facebook page (they created a “personal” page for the band, I later made a real band page on facebook), no mailing list, no booking agent
Unfortunately, #1 and #2 remained in place a year later, and while effort was put into #3, the webiste improved, pictures were taken (at JC Penny, which is fine), a CD was recorded and a DVD made, all these efforts together took 9 months. Many in the band didn’t care to do it, some had no money to do it with, so a lot of the work fell to two people who wanted to take it on in their spare time. More drag.
The end result is we hadn’t worked since July 21st, as the only place we played shut down.
Still, even all this wasn’t enough to make me want to quit. We were each given five places to call and promote the band – I made my calls and dropped off the portfolio at a club that wasn’t on my list. I attempted to contact agents. I don’t know if it’s the economy or time of year or what but we got little or no response.
By this time, we had 95 songs on our song list. Now granted, many of them I haven’t even played with the band. You need about 45 songs to get through a 3-4 hour gig. So with all this time off, they wanted to go over the other 40 songs that I hadn’t played with the band.
I found my enthusiasm waning. I found I didn’t want to work on all these new tunes. My thought was to get 45 songs down pat, have a gig’s worth of material down tight so when the phone rings, we’re ready, and maybe work in other songs once in a while. Realistically, with one 3 hour practice a week, you’re not going to get tight on all 95 songs. But they thought we should know them all.
Additionally, in the time of one year, I had suggested ONE song which was rejected by the male singer. It was Tattoo by Van Halen. He said if it doesn’t have 100,000 hits on youtube it wasn’t worth his time.
So I started showing up unprepared. That wasn’t professional of me, but I was trying to find the right motivation to do what the band wanted me to do. It didn’t work. And finally, last week, the keyboard player (who is ALWAYS heard and always wants me to turn down) started in on me about my lack of preparation.
And so I said it: “Maybe it’s time for you to get a new guitarist”. I think the keyboardist was fine with me quitting. I think over the months I had disappointed him in one way or another on a continuing basis. I don’t think the news made the others happy but they took it in stride. No one asked me to reconsider. You want out? You’re out.
I did state, for the record, if they get a gig before they’ve worked somebody else in, I’ll stand in for them. Shook hands, and left.
I will admit, I was bummed for several days afterwards. It’s like breaking up in any other kind of relationship. Even though I wasn’t close friends with any of them, you spend a year with these people it’s somewhat sad they I won’t see them anymore. But as the days roll on, I find myself comfortable with my decision and realize it was the right thing to do for me.
What now? I’m not sure. I have one friend that wants to write originals and another friend who wants to start a classic rock band and wants me in it.
Time will tell.