Drummer Bummer

May 13, 2008

Dear Dude,

I play bass in a metal band. We are just starting to get serious and want to do more things, such as play shows, make a demo, etc, etc. The thing is, our drummer is not exactly the most talented drummer ever. It is quite hard to write new stuff with him, and he does not know our songs very well yet. Should we stick with him and hope he improves?? Or move on to a new drummer?

Drummer Bummer

Dear Drummer Bummer,

As bands grow they often have to go through some major changes, especially in the beginning. Every band I have been in has had at least one line-up change before it got solid; it’s just the nature of being in a band. Regardless, it’s often a difficult, traumatic, and basically, the shittiest situation you can be in as a band member. It’s difficult to ask a band member to leave when there’s a personal dispute, but it’s even more difficult to ask someone to leave because of their ability. So, before you pull the plug think over a few things.

How bad is he really? I mean you have to live with the people in your band. Travel together, eat together, and sleep together. You’re basically going to be married for a short time to all these dudes (or dudettes) in your band. With that in mind if your current drummer is your tight bro take that into consideration. I mean if he’s cool, chances are you can probably (and tactfully) bring up the situation with him. You can tell him you want to play shows, record a demo and that means practicing a lot more! If he’s into it and you think he can actually get better, well then your boy deserves more time. A few hours of shredding in the practice space to get him up to speed is well worth it. To be blunt, you’re going to have to live, eat, breath, sleep, shit, with these dudes, so if he feels like family make an effort to keep him in the band and start practicing with him a lot more.

Ok, so you thought about it and well, you still think he’s not the right fit for the band. My advice then? Absolutely ask him to leave. I mean if you’re serious about doing this band and he is not willing to work, or just can’t keep up with you, then my advice is move on pronto. You need to be musically satisfied in a band too and if he is not going to cut it, it’s much better to move on now than later. I have seen bands hire a session drummer to play parts their own drummer can’t and it usually always results in the original drummer quiting the band. Its ugly, but dude, you don’t want to have to mess with this problem farther down the road. When money is on the line shit gets way more stupid, believe me.

The reality is being in a band with a good friend who has worked hard to get to his or her talent level is always more rewarding and fun then being in a band with a hired gun (you know someone you don’t know that well who jumps from band to band riffing). So stick with your man if you think he or she has got what it takes. Those hours of practicing will make you a better band anyway. Just remember if after that (or during) you feel it’s just not right and can’t get better well then go with that instinct. There just so little time, why waste it making sub-par music?

The Dude