Author Topic: The Saga of Orbert's Band  (Read 23513 times)

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Online Architeuthis

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #560 on: December 02, 2019, 11:37:35 AM »
It's always difficult with line-up changes. It's not easy to keep a band together when everybody has jobs and families.
 I just met some guys that said they wanted to do some originals and wanted me to go play with them. They were excited to know that I have a bunch of originals to work on. When I got there and set up, all they wanted to do was covers.  I didn't even get a chance to present any originals. So typical!
 The guy that invited me owns a music store and had a nice electronic drum kit set up in there after store hours. It was a nice place to play and they are good musicians, but I don't think the original thing will pan out. Therefore, I'm out!   :facepalm:
You can do a lot in a lifetime if you don't burn out too fast, you can make the most of the distance, first you need endurance first you've got to last....... NP

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #561 on: December 02, 2019, 12:21:56 PM »
Bummer.  Not meeting expectations is one thing, but being told one thing and then finding out that that's not how it is would suck.


John said he'd communicate with each of the singers this week.  Jerry told him not to scare them away.  Historically, our band has been able to put material together pretty quickly because we all understand how it works.  Showing up to rehearsal without knowing your parts is amateur shit.  Or at the very least, say something.  There were eight songs on the list, and obviously the plan was to go through each one, hopefully nail most of them down.  We'd start songs, vocals don't come in, or they come in early and cut off part of the solo, or some shit.  "Sorry, I didn't really work on this one"?  What the fuck?  Then we're wasting everyone's time here.  But Jerry's point is important.  That first rehearsal rocked, but those were all songs that everyone already knew, or mostly.  Let's not assume that 15 minutes per song is gonna work as the norm going forward.  Sure, it will get tighter over time, but as before, just running through the song one more time at rehearsal can make a big difference.  Boring, yeah, but necessary.

So hopefully John is tactful and we still have both singers at the end of the week.

Online Architeuthis

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #562 on: December 02, 2019, 01:42:01 PM »
I can relate. I remember going through different drummers and handing them some original songs on CD.  There was only one of them that actually listened to the CD and memorized the parts. It made our practices so much more productive and much better live shows.  The other drummers would only work on the parts at practice which got really frustrating.
 Our good drummer had a mid-life crisis and moved away.. Curse of the drummers!
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Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #563 on: December 28, 2019, 05:26:17 PM »
Wow...I've been gone for a while and it appears I missed a pretty decent amount of stuff. Hopefully the next few rehearsals improve.
You already touched on a point I was going to make. Since the band hasn't worked with either of these singers for long at all, it's still potentially very unclear as to how quickly they learn new material, how much free time they actually are willing to take on their own to learn said new material, etc.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #564 on: December 28, 2019, 08:43:37 PM »
I was actually just coming in here to post an update, since we had rehearsal today.  Also, I never followed up on the rehearsal right after Thanksgiving, and we did have a rehearsal two weeks ago.  Also, we another one a week from today because John's going out of town for a while, then David is, and we won't get together again until Feb 15, and we have a gig on Feb 22.  So John wants to nail down enough songs for a full show now, then we'll have Feb 15 to brush up before the gig on Feb 22.  Damn!  During the holidays and everything.  The guy's insane.  But no one has quit yet.  Right now, that's the best I can say.

John contacted each of the singers after the relatively crappy rehearsal Thanksgiving weekend.  People have been busy, the singers are both good but have never been in a band where they've had to coordinate so much with other singers.  Both are used to being the lead singer, doing some harmonies but mostly the backgrounds have been handled by the rest of the band.  Our entire "concept" or whatever you might call it, is that we have two strong lead singers, and therefore have built-in killer harmonies, especially when Jerry or I add parts.  But it takes some coordination and pre-work, just as the two guitarists need to figure out ahead of time who's gonna play what.  Angela and Jess used to communicate a lot between practices.  Lex and Katrina aren't used to having to do that, and are kinda still figuring out that it's not just helpful but required.  We spent a fair amount of rehearsal time today working out vocal parts.  But everyone's busy.  Also, Lex only moved to Illinois a few months ago; this is her first holidays away from family and friends and everything she knew back home.  Thanksgiving weekend, and the week leading up to it, were kinda crappy for her.  Not exactly a shock, I suppose.

Anyway, the practice on Dec 15 was much better than the one on Nov 30.  We mostly nailed down eight more songs; six "legacy" tunes and two brand new to everyone, plus we brushed up the other stuff.  Today was even better, with seven more nailed down and the others refreshed.  I think John is insane, but he wants to do another batch a week from today.  Well, as I said, no one has quit yet.

I know that sounds negative, and I suppose it's not quite that bad, yet.  But I really don't think John realizes that not everybody has the same work ethic as he does.  I mean, we've all done this before, we all know how to do our homework.  That doesn't mean we automatically push all other life obligations aside because we have songs to learn.  We also have holidays, family, shopping, work, and other real-life shit.  He's excited.  With the current lineup, we have the greatest potential to be really, really fucking good that we've ever had before.  There were some killer moments today, and some last time.  We put together hard, challenging songs pretty quickly because we're all good; that's obvious.  That's presumably why we're each willing to bust some ass for this band.  But I still don't think John should just count on that.  I keep expecting to hear from one of the new singers that the band is great, but way too demanding.

Anyway, two more good rehearsals down, to counter the one crappy one.  That one rehearsal we had before the gig, and the gig itself, still blow me away.  I figured we would be okay, perhaps even pretty good.  I mean, the point of the gig wasn't really even to play; it was to get pictures and video.  Which we did.  But we also got a scary-good taste of the potential of this lineup.  If we can hold it together another week, put together this last batch of songs, then we can relax a bit until February.  Songs get tighter when you play them live, so the gig will be good for us.  We have gigs booked in Feb, March, and April already, with more to come.  As always, plenty of potential.  As always with this band, two steps forward, one step back.  I'm just wondering when the backstep is going to come, and what form it will take.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #565 on: January 07, 2020, 08:21:26 PM »
You knew it was too good to be true, and it was.  We had another practice last Saturday, with "only" five new songs to learn in six days.  Fuck.  Katrina texted me and Lex expressing some frustration, we kinda chatted a bit.  Lex is super busy so I didn't think much of it when she didn't jump in.  In the email with the songs for next practice, John mentioned that the vocalists might want to get together separately.  Really, John?  When in the fuck are we supposed to do that?  We learned eight songs when we should have been spending time with our families for Christmas, Hannukah, etc., and eight more the two weeks before that.  Now we have to learn five more in a week?  Not everybody can just push aside work, family, holidays, etc., and put the band first.  Anyway, I tried to calm Katrina down, yeah it's a lot of work right now, but then we have like four weeks to chill.

At practice last Saturday, neither of the vocalists were 100% ready, but no one was.  We got to the last song, and it just wasn't coming together.  Plus we were all getting tired by then, and basically John and JT were pushing things pretty hard.  John wanted so hard to get 42 songs in the bag.  That was the goal, and he was pushing.  After a disastrous first run-through of the song, Lex apologizes and says that she just ran out of time; she never worked on this song.  John wants to run through it again; Lex says No, it would be a waste of time.  Some of the others also want to at least try the song one more time, and Lex kinda snapped.  I honestly don't remember what she said exactly, but she was tired and felt a bit ganged-up on, and she said something and left.  Practice is over.

Everyone has gear to deal with or put away except Katrina, so as the guys start tearing down, Katrina is pretty much on her way out the door.  This leaves the guys, the "core" of the band, to discuss what just happened.  John questions Lex's work ethic.  JT says it's not really that, but has trouble articulating what it really is.  I think they're both out of their fucking minds if they can't see that John has just plain pushed too hard, which I warned him about, and I even sent him an email saying that the singers were getting stressed, and I told him in person when I got to practice on Saturday because I made it a point to be the first one there so I could talk to him.  He didn't listen.  He pushed too hard.

Sunday afternoon Lex sends John a text saying that she's really sorry, but she's leaving the band.  It just is not right for her right now.  I don't blame her at all.  In fact, I'm so not-surprised by this that I'm also not mad, not sad, not even disappointed.  Well okay, I'm disappointed because I'd rather play than not play.  But let's face it, you make music because it's fun.  You play in a band because it's fun.  When you have to literally work your ass off to learn songs you don't even like, because you're (eventually supposedly) going to take home a pocketful of money one Saturday a month, you have to be sure you're doing it for the right reasons.  I'm not sure how much fun the band has actually been lately.  I sure as hell can understand the new girls not finding this shit fun at all.

Online Vmadera00

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #566 on: January 07, 2020, 08:33:42 PM »
That sucks. Definitively sounds like a lot to learn with not enough time. Hope you find a replacement soon.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #567 on: January 07, 2020, 09:52:00 PM »
Okay now this is just getting silly.  :lol

John sent another email, titled "Update on Lex".  He was going to call her tonight and they would talk, but she "pre-empted" that by sending him a text saying she was sorry about all the fuss, she's changed her mind, and it really is crappy to just quit the band like this, with gigs on the books.  She would like to continue on with the band.

Jerry sends a Reply All saying that "soldiering on isn't good, for anyone."

I said that that depends.  It's not optimal, but I'd still rather play than not play.  We've put in the work, let's at least enjoy the fruits.  Playing music is supposed to be fun; let's not forget that.  These past several weeks have been all work, no fun.  Once we're gigging again, the fun will be back.

I swear, I'm in a band with a bunch of mental cases.  Myself included, yeah, but still.

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #568 on: January 08, 2020, 08:41:59 AM »
Do you guys ever just talk?  I mean, sit down, the 5,6,7,8,however many of you, and just talk? 

"John:  I want to learn 8 new songs by Tueday."
"Katrina: I think 8 is unreasonable at this time; can we do, say, half that??"
"Lex:  I can do 5."
The Waves: I can do 6."
"JT:  Let's vote:  everyone write down the number on a piece of paper.  We'll take the average, rounding down."

I mean, some of this doesn't seem that hard if people are talking.  I know that's not the dynamic now, but as for whether it's possible, am I misunderstanding something?

I'm with you; sometimes it's work, but the work has to be in service of the fun.  If it's not fun, then it's not worth it.   

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #569 on: January 08, 2020, 10:24:11 AM »
Do you guys ever just talk?  I mean, sit down, the 5,6,7,8,however many of you, and just talk? 

"John:  I want to learn 8 new songs by Tueday."
"Katrina: I think 8 is unreasonable at this time; can we do, say, half that??"
"Lex:  I can do 5."
The Waves: I can do 6."
"JT:  Let's vote:  everyone write down the number on a piece of paper.  We'll take the average, rounding down."

I mean, some of this doesn't seem that hard if people are talking.  I know that's not the dynamic now, but as for whether it's possible, am I misunderstanding something?

I'm with you; sometimes it's work, but the work has to be in service of the fun.  If it's not fun, then it's not worth it.

I agree. Communication is key and it doesn't seem this one point was well-discussed. John may run the band, but he still needs you guys, and you're all there to have fun, so if someone (or, worse, more than just one person) isn't having fun, it's not worth it.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #570 on: January 08, 2020, 11:02:33 AM »
John has decades of experience managing people in business, and his approach from the beginning of this little project has been to adapt what he's learned managing people to managing a band.  He is also a very driven man, with very clear goals and no issues working his ass off to get there.  The problem is that he cannot simply apply business management concepts to running a band.  We're not doing this because we need the money; it's not a job (it's an adventure).  We're doing this for fun.

Last fall, after one singer quit and we (that is, John at the request of JT and Jerry) fired the other, John figured out a new approach.  We spend two months finding two new singers, we spend two months working them up to speed, he goes on vacation to South America for a month (a trip which has been planned for a long time), and then when he gets back, we have a rehearsal to brush things up, and there's a gig the following weekend.  And gigs each of the next three months.  We'll have a full lineup, a full set list of 42 songs, and gigs booked in some of the nicer places around.  Profit!

The thing he forgot is that not everybody is as driven as him.  Not everybody is fine with learning eight songs every two weeks, especially over the holidays.  Or maybe he didn't forget that but instead chose to drive forward anyway.  He sent out "suggested" lists of songs to cover.  He always looks for "suggestions".  But what he's really doing is plowing forward, demanding a hell of a lot from everybody, and basically daring anyone to object.  Anyone who says "Hey, wait a minute, this is insane" has to feel comfortable enough pushing back against him, and the new singers aren't up to that.  I did point out to him how crazy it was, and he just said it's the only way to have everything ready to go by February.  John is insane, so it just makes more sense to quit the band than to continue like this, and Lex apparently came to that conclusion.

Yes, we do talk about things, in a way.  John said that we had a lot of hard work ahead of us, and asked if anyone had issues with that.  No one objected.  He's been pushing hard, and I as I said, has ostensibly been open to feedback and modifying the course, but basically he's leaving it up to us to push back.  Out of each batch of new songs, only two are ever new to all of us; the rest have been "legacy tunes".  So it was just a matter of brushing up six and learning two.  That's doable.  But I did warn John, multiple times, that he's asking the singers to learn eight songs every two weeks, and that's a lot.  I told him point blank at the start of last practice that I'm honestly surprised that neither of them has quit yet.  Then after practice, after pushing and pushing and sending one of them into depression and just plain pissing off the other, one of them did quit.  I don't think anyone realized how hard it was going to be juggling all this during the holidays and stuff, but once I did, I tried to warn him.  We plowed ahead anyway.

So Lex is still with us, conditionally.  Her text indicated that she's stick around until at least November (November?) but she encouraged him to continue looking for an Alternate Vocalist.

Honestly, I just find all of this so amusing that I'm not even mad, or sad, or anything.  The band continues, or doesn't.  Yes, I'd rather play than not play, but I don't seem to have any control over what happens with the band, so I can't get emotionally invested in it.  It is what it is.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 11:15:16 AM by Orbert »

Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #571 on: January 08, 2020, 05:46:35 PM »
You'd think this whole thing would make John realize he might be pushing just a bit too hard. It seems most of the time he's been pretty open to feedback, but lately a bit less so.
Were the singers part of the discussion when John mentioned the amount of work that would be required going forward? They are the ones dealing with the most strain if the majority of the songs are ones the rest of the band has learned previously to some extent. Particularly when they just recently joined, I'm not sure how good of an impression it is making on them...so far not a very good one considering one was ready to quit (and may still do so.)

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band (consolidated)
« Reply #572 on: January 13, 2020, 10:10:16 PM »
So amidst all of this fun with Lex, someone (I forgot who) asked John if we were still looking for a substitute vocalist.  Funny they should ask, Yvette's band is breaking up, so she'd called John to see if we were still looking for a sub.  John just shakes his head and says "No.  Um... No."  I think that's hilarious, personally.  Fate's cruel irony.  John does see having a substitute vocalist "on call" as a valid working model, due to how well Yvette (mostly) worked out for a year and a half.  We played a lot of gigs that we would have otherwise had to turn down.  But Yvette turned psycho on us, as all of our vocalists seem to do (I wonder if that says more of about us than about them), so the irony is that John won't have her back, even if it meant that the band would play, versus not playing.  She's burned that bridge.  That was a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, Becky, one of the girls who'd contacted us late in the audition process last November (and by "late" I mean after both Lex and Katrina were basically locked in) contacted John again.  The upshot is that she's going to stop by John's this Wednesday for a karaoke audition.  John often does this as a preliminary screening, saving him and everyone else the trouble of putting together a full band audition if John can rule them out sooner than that.  If they show any promise, we set up a full audition.  Anyway, that's this Wednesday, and John will let us know how that goes.  Then he goes on vacation for three weeks, for South America and Antarctica, and will be mostly out of touch with us.  You read that correctly.  Fun times! :hat
« Last Edit: January 13, 2020, 10:26:16 PM by Orbert »

Offline pcs90

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #573 on: January 13, 2020, 10:20:53 PM »
Antarctica! Well that's a unique vacation for sure.

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #574 on: January 14, 2020, 11:41:13 AM »
Some more details regarding Becky's situation.  After Lex quit via text to John, John sent her an email basically blasting her for being unprofessional, which I thought was way out of line.  He was pushing the new vocalists insanely hard, during the holidays and during a time when both of them were going through some shit.  Eight songs every two weeks; I mentioned that already.  Anyway, Lex said something like she realized that it was kind of a crappy thing to do, considering the timing, the upcoming gigs, and how hard everyone's been working, but it basically wasn't any fun; it was only causing more stress in her life, and making music is supposed to be fun.  Again, I wasn't surprised by that.  John's email said Yes, it is a crappy thing to do, we've all been working hard, blah blah blah.  But we're past the hard part.  We've been through the songs; all that's left to do is run through them again and polish them up, then we start gigging in February and the songs will only get tighter.  Lex relented and "unquit" the band.

But the damage has been done.  John now considers Lex a short-timer, and would rather just get another vocalist who he's not afraid will up and quit on him.  I guess that's understandable, though I really wish he'd understand that he brought it on himself.  Anyway, he talked to Katrina, and if Becky's karaoke audition goes well, he asked Katrina if she could work with Becky on vocals and stuff during the five weeks before the next rehearsal (no rehearsal this past weekend, then John's gone for three weeks, then David is out of town for a week).  The idea is that if possible, the rehearsal on Feb 15 will be with the new lineup of Katrina and Becky on lead vocals.  Then we do the gig on Feb 22, and so on.  No time lost.

John is adamant about pushing forward.  He doesn't want to have to tell Agent Dude yet again that we're having personnel issues and have to back out of gigs.  We've done that twice now, and frankly I'm amazed that he's still booking us.  But when we do play, we get great reviews from the owners and patrons, so I guess he'll book us gigs because he still makes his money.  And if we do cancel, John always gives him several weeks' notice, so it's not like we've left Agent Dude in a lurch or anything.  I guess that's part of why he's still willing to book us.

So I get a break of several weeks, unless the vocalists want to work on some of the three-part stuff during the hiatus.  I'd be into that, I guess.  I could just take my piano and work with them at one of their houses or something.  John has dubbed Katrina our lead lead vocalist, given her control over putting things together in his absence, and apparently she's good with that.  So we'll see.

Online Stadler

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #575 on: January 14, 2020, 12:26:56 PM »
I get the agent part of it; he has a commitment and he has to honor that.  I can also understand the fear of a vocalist upping and leaving.  But those don't exist in a vaccuum.  What about the message to the other vocalist and the rest of the band?  "Speak up and you're out!"? 

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #576 on: January 14, 2020, 01:05:28 PM »
I haven't read this thread carefully or in its entirety, so maybe this is a dumb question:  Since John seems to be a big part of the problems going on, have any of the rest of you given any thought to staging a coup/firing him and getting another guitar player?
"There's a bass solo in a song called Metropolis where I do a bass solo."  John Myung

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #577 on: January 14, 2020, 03:02:22 PM »
I was having beers with Ritchie Blackmore the other day, and told him this story.  He looked at me and said "that guy John has to treat his band members better!".


:)


Online pg1067

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #578 on: January 14, 2020, 03:04:42 PM »
I was having beers with Ritchie Blackmore the other day, and told him this story.  He looked at me and said "that guy John has to treat his band members better!".


:)

I got the same reaction when Axl Rose was over on Sunday to watch the games.   :biggrin:
"There's a bass solo in a song called Metropolis where I do a bass solo."  John Myung

Offline Orbert

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Re: The Saga of Orbert's Band
« Reply #579 on: January 14, 2020, 06:37:18 PM »
I haven't read this thread carefully or in its entirety, so maybe this is a dumb question:  Since John seems to be a big part of the problems going on, have any of the rest of you given any thought to staging a coup/firing him and getting another guitar player?

It's John's band.  He put it together from scratch, hired every one of us, fired every one who is no longer with us.  There is no scenario where the band continues with its current name and him not in it.  Even if we all simultaneously quit the band, then immediately reformed without him, we wouldn't keep the band's name.  That is inextricably linked to John and his vision.  It's not even a legal/ownership issue; we just wouldn't do it.  We all have other musical outlets, some of us have multiple outlets.  We're in this band because all we have to do is learn our parts, show up, and play.  John does everything else.

Anyway, John does listen, and there's usually a compromise.  And sometimes there isn't, at which point your options are to deal with it, or find another band.  With seven people in the band, every one of us is compromising, including John himself.  This is just one of those times when John can't compromise.  Reaching the required number of songs in time to start gigging, factoring in all the time off he and others had on the calendar, required a lot of work in a short amount of time.  It was a logistical constraint.  John's mistake was in underestimating how much he'd have to coddle and schmooze the new vocalists to get them on board.  At this point, we're a machine, and they're the new parts.  John forgot that we're not parts to plug in and expect the same functionality; we're people, different and unique.  He got too caught up in the logistics, pushed too hard.  It's unfortunate, but we all make mistakes.

The band continues to improve with each iteration, and we're getting pretty damned good.  Every gig is a real gas, both for us and for the fans.  We sound great, people drink and dance, the bar makes money so everybody's happy.  It's fun, but man, getting to the fun takes a lot of work.  That's the seeming paradox.  But it's not really; it's the compromise.  We put up with the shit because it's such a gas when we play out.  That's the choice each of us has to make.  The band isn't perfect, but it's good enough.