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Things not to say at a bass audition

So we’ve been auditioning bass players.

We’ve seen a few so far. This refers to the second, or third guy. Depends what you count. The second guy that I saw, but the third that Crofty and Scott saw. He wasn’t a bad, or nasty person. Just not quite normal.

I will try to keep it short, rather than my usual essays.

Things not to say at a bass audition.

  • I pissed blood once
  • I have a viking helmet you’re welcome to use if I join
  • There is literally nothing I wouldn’t do for a dooby
  • I drink 8 cans of Monster energy drink a day
  • I don’t have a job
  • Oh… I didn’t realise you have to pay for practice
  • When you do too much ketamine, you can piss jelly
  • I would rather scoop out my balls with a spoon than drink a cup of coffee
  • I’ve never watched Batman, and probably never will in my life
  • I had the same car as you, it was shit
  • If you had less hair, you’d look like a mate of mine. He’s fucking massive too
  • I’ve got a job lined up that I’ll be starting pretty soon. (10 minutes later) - I’m going to college in September. (10 minutes later) - I’m joining the army next year
  • My CRB check is like 9 pages long
  • It’s pretty easy to roll a joint while driving
  • Ahh you work in a guitar shop? Can you get this fixed? My mate dropped a knife onto my bass
  • I honestly have a head like a sieve. I have such a shit memory, it’s a miracle I remembered to turn up tonight
  • Yeah, my mate, she’s a probation officer. That’s how I met her actually
  • The garage is killing me at the moment, they’ve got Monster on 4 for £3
He also told us about his car.

He came in to £10,000, so decided to buy a car. A BMW. The insurance was £2,600. He tried to overtake a motorbike on a corner, but the motorbike sped up, and nudged into him. He lost control, and had to make a split second decision between an 11 foot drop into a river, or swerving and ending up in the ditch. He chose the ditch.
I realise this isn’t funny. It’s the part that comes next. He saw his BMW in the ditch. Decided not to claim on the insurance. So he took the subwoofer out. But his shoes were wet from the ditch. So he took them off and left them in the car, and walked the 10 miles home with no shoes on, and a subwoofer on his shoulder. He then bought another car, which he swapped for a PC. Then he thought the PC was shit, so he destroyed it.
There were a couple of other things that were amusing. We were chatting about Scotts electric kit, and he told us he had a few drum pads that we could use if he joined. 10 minutes later we were walking outside, and he said “So do you reckon you wanna buy these drum pads or what?”

He was also so wired on Monster that he could stand still. We were standing outside having a conversation, and he was just walking around us in a circle.
I’m not having a bitch, I hope it doesn’t come across that way. He was a nice guy deep down. Just a bit wacky for us. We couldn’t imagine sitting down and having a few beers with him after a gig.

Rethink.

Despite my (now private) post from yesterday, I decided it wasn’t really the best thing to do. It was written in the absolute heat of the moment, when I was extremely angry. So I’m going to write less of a rant and more of a thought out post.

Recent, shall we say, accusations? Yeah, that’ll do. Have lead me to thinking about one word. Respect.

Before we continue, I would just like to confirm that I’m not Ali G.

Booyakasha.

So respect. How does it apply to being in a band? Well you all have to respect eachother, and eachothers ideas and opinions. It is paramount to working together, that you respect eachother. I understand this. The other members of my band understand this.

However, just because you respect eachothers opinions, it doesn’t mean you’re always going to agree. You will disagree. You will argue. The important thing is to come to a logical conclusion, that works for everybody. It might not be perfect for you as an individual, but it would be for the greater good.

Respect, in my eyes, isn’t a given. It has to be earned. You start with your respect meter at 50%. The way you act, depends on the fluctuation of this meter.

If you show an interest, put your ideas across, generally contribute to the group, the groups work, and the group activities outside of band practice, your respect goes up.

If you look at the floor, just say ‘yeah’ when asked for an opinion, go home at the earliest opportunity, don’t contribute towards ideas or get in a massive strop at the first piece of constructive criticism, your respect goes down.

It is very easy to earn respect, just by being a normal human being.

Say you’re a bassist, and you come up with a guitar riff for a song, and show it to the guitarists. They then take that riff and turn it into an entire song.

Have your ideas been listened to? Have you contributed?
The answer to both of those is yes.

Now, say it’s songwriting time. Guitarists are thrashing out riffs to try for a chorus. You have an idea, and borrow a guitar to play it. Not only is it the wrong key, but it wouldn’t really fit if it was the right key. We say ‘Hmm, I don’t think it’s going to work, but it could fit for a different song.

There are two ways you can respond. 

  1. "Ahh ok, well it was worth a try" - and writing continues
  2. "Well don’t know why I bothered then". Everyone feels awkward, and you’ve brought the writing session down.

I’ll address situation one first. This is how I would act. Considering the two guitarists both trying riffs had been telling eachother what didn’t work all night and moving on, it’s not a massive issue if the riff doesn’t fit.

Number two, is not a way to act in any working environment. We have taken the idea onboard, considered it, but decided it’s not going to work. Just like none of our ideas work.

Your ideas have been listened to, and respected. But they didn’t work. The way you acted afterwards however, let you down.

The examples I’ve put above, are just from one evening. If you multiply that over 5 years, you’ll understand why it got so tedious.

Other examples of how to lose respect:

  • Saying you have no money for travel to gigs, practice, recording, yet continually spend money on lavish items.

Pretty self explanatory really. If you really want to be in a band, it does have a financial side. If you can’t afford to have an amp repaired because you’ve spent all your money on a tattoo, don’t be in a band.

  • Telling porky pies

Pretty simple one. If you have a side project, fine. Go for it, knock yourself out. As long as you can maintain 100% focus on your main project. But don’t “leave” then when I bump into people from college two months later, have them tell me you’ve asked them to sing/play drums in your other band.

  • Kick off

Constructive criticism is not a personal attack on you. You will get criticised being in a band. I get double the criticism that everyone else does due to singing, and guitar playing, but I handle it. I accept that sometimes I get things wrong, or I have an off day. I make sure that I’m better next time. I don’t swear, get angry, or have a hissy fit. Accept you have made a mistake, and better yourself. Well, I sometimes swear, but it’s not serious.

Going to try and end this section on a positive. How to earn respect.

  • Go to infinity, and beyond!
Okay, jokey subtitle, serious point. Go the extra mile. Do more than what is asked of you. Example, you get sent the guitar parts and told to come up with a bass line around it. Just learning what gets sent and following the guitars is the bare minimum. Taking the root notes, and making an interesting groove along to the drums, is doing what is asked. Taking the groove you made, recording it, and sending it round to everyone else to see what they think, is going the extra mile.
You know how I go the extra mile? I learn my parts. I learn the rhythm parts. I learn the harmony parts. I learn the vocals. Then because I want to help the group, I learn the bass parts. To try and come up with something interesting, so the bassist doesn’t complain about just playing root notes.
Do you see the loop we’re stuck in now?
Step 1: Bassist wants to play more than root notes
Step 2: Gets sent guitar parts, and asked to make up something around it
Step 3: Learns the root notes
Step 4: Complains he only plays root notes
Step 5: See Step 1
I’m sure by now you can see why I’ve had to write this post. Being made out to be the bad guy for not “respecting” someone or “listening to their ideas”.
The time I’ve been in this band, I’ve been an unofficial peacekeeper at times. We’d have a practice, or a gig, get home, and there’d be one of those indirect statuses on facebook that always starts with “Some People….”. It was always me who would message him to ask if he was alright. Ask how to make him feel better. Then put whatever he needed into action.

He told me that he didn’t feel included. So I went out of my way to make sure he was included. He said he wanted to play more than just root notes. So I sat down, learned his parts for EVERY SONG as well as my own parts, and looked at how I could make them more interesting for him to play. I didn’t have to do this. I SHOULDN’T have to do this. But I wanted to. I wanted to help. Help to make him enjoy it more, and be happier. Yet in the end, it all got thrown back in my face.

There’s only so much you can help people. I’ve always tried to encourage him. Had him over mine to work on any ideas he’s had. Told him so many times that he can talk to me if there’s anything he needs to talk about. But he’s never taken up the offer.

Paint me as the bad guy as much as you want, but I know I’m a good person, and I did everything within my power to try and help out. I also held this post back until the first time he badmouthed me or my band. So I was quite willing to draw a line under everything and leave him to it. But if he’s said his piece, I’m going to say mine.

Evolution.

/ˌevəˈlo͞oSHən/

Noun
  1. The process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the…
  2. The gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form.
Synonyms
development - growth - progress


You may recall my recent posts. If not, here’s a round up.
Mark left. Recorded two new songs. Scott joined. We had a few jams. Nigel left. Bass player search began.
That leads us up to now. We’re basically working as a 3 piece until the right bass player comes in. At first, I wasn’t sure about how things would go during the bass player search. I thought we’d just be moping around waiting for someone to come along. Instead we’re writing what is probably our best material yet.
The best part? Not only are we writing it, we are absolutely STEAMING through it. Everyone is having ideas. Scott coming up with beats, then I’ll join in and we’ll jam out most of a song. Me and Crofty coming up with riffs, and starting songs. In less than a month, we’ve written about 3 and a half songs. Which is mental for us. Usually takes us a few weeks to get half a song sorted.
Subtle adjustment to the way we have to promote ourselves at the moment due to not really having a gig worthy lineup. I mean, we could play as a 3 piece if we were desperate to. Or get a stand in. 
We’ll be going at things a different way. New song will be out soon. Video is happening. More writing. Photo-shoot to be organised. Demos to be recorded.
Actually excited about plans. For the first time in a long time.

Now the dust has settled

So now the dust has settled (a week on basically), I can finally string a decent post together.

Recent happenings in our little band have been a bit stressful, you could say we’re in a bit of a transition period. Mark obviously outgoing as previously mentioned. Well we had another bombshell dropped on us a couple of weeks back.

Nigel decided it was time to leave too.

I’d like to add that there were no arguments or falling outs that lead to either member leaving. Mark - for personal reasons. Nigel decided to go back to college to train to be an electrician. This would tie him up for a few evenings a week, and would be tough to work around with gigs and practices etc.

Then last week there were a series of misunderstandings (click for the story) which lead to Nigel parting ways with us straight away. Some of these misunderstandings were on my part, and I have taken responsibility for them.

So that all happened, and we are now looking for a new bass player. If you are interested in trying out, and own a decent live setup - please email info@tothelions.co.uk and we’ll arrange to jam with you.

No real requirements other than someone we get on with, and can play bass. We currently have 3 people interested, and plan to meet with everyone who gets in touch with us. We want to find the right person. Good banter is ESSENTIAL.

We’ve had a few jams with Scott, and the time we’ve spent playing has been productive. Coming up with a few new ideas at each practice with the aim of writing a whole bunch of songs, and recording the best two or three either later this year, or early next year. We’ve also spent some time planning the next couple of months, so there is definitely more to come from us.

It’s a bit of a departure from our usual way of songwriting. Which has been mainly computer based, then we’ll try it, and change things we don’t like. Now we’re just trying stuff out, and all having our own input and seeing where it goes.

We also have two brand new songs from our time at Lucid Cut in March. One of which will be out soon. We’re definitely taking steps in the right direction, now we just need to complete our lineup again.

Finally - Thank you to Mark and Nigel for their contributions over the years.

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