Monday, January 20, 2014

Stop Standing There, Bass Player

Greetings, my devil-horned comrades! I have come to you again to share whatever it is I have. The Clap, the Syph, Gon, Clam, Slith, Gloff... I've had'em all, usually twice. But that has nothing to do with this week's column! This week's Q+A is about some jerk and his jerk-band. Read on!

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Dear Van Hammersmith.

I have been playing lead guitar in the same band for four years. The band is me and three of my best friends. We used to gig at least once a fortnight - pubs/clubs/parties, but in the last six months we have been almost dormant. We now have gigs booked for a month away and haven't all jammed together in 4 months. Sunday just gone, myself, the bass player and drummer jammed, and we all played very well, especially after such a long break. However, the bass player only seems to be interested in his own "Progressive Rock/Metal" shit that is bass heavy. We wrote the music for a whole song (his song) and nobody had any problems doing so. The minute I bust out one of the many riffs and progressions I've been sitting on for months the bass player just fucking stands there and isn't interested like a fat woman at a salad bar. My renewed love for music which has come about from listening to bands like NOFX and Frenzal Rhomb (more so their attitude, rather than music), gets punched in the face, and I'm seriously thinking about punching the daylights out of my best friend for being a cunt. I am more than capable of playing in any other band. What should I do? Sorry for the long ass question bro.

Cheers, Beno.

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Cheers, Beno! Remember, we are enlightened motherfuckers, and we do not use the hateful term "cunt." Remember, vaginas are awesome and powerful, and do not deserve to be used as insults.

Penises, on the other hand are stupid and silly-looking. The tend to care only about themselves, and they tend to screw up situations for everybody else, so I'm going to have to say your bass player is being a real dick. A dick-head, if you will. A dick-hole. A dick-face. A cock-headed dick-brain. What do you call your buddy when he's standing up? Erect. When your buddy sits down, point out that he's "gone limp." Get the point?

Ha ha! That reminds me of this time my band was touring with this other band. The guys in the other band were Brazilian. They spoke very good English, but sometimes they would ask questions. One day the guitarist asks me, "Hey Van, what is an asshole?"

I say come on, you know what an ass hole is. It's the hole in the middle of your ass.

He says, "But why do you call a person an asshole?"

I think, and then tell him: "You call a person an asshole if all that comes out of him is shit."

He looks over at his lead singer and then nods. "Yes. Exactly. Asshole."

Anyway, what should you do? It sounds like your band has already broken up, dude. When you take breaks for half a year at a time for no reason, or if you go from gigging all the time to gigging twice a year, dude, you're band is on life support. You're pretty much a free agent and can cruise with other bands. And if your old buddies say "Hey man, what's up?" you can just tell them, "We never play anymore, man."

Exceptions include massive bands who tour and record and gig out of their minds for years and need extended vacations to stay sane. But if you're trying to get your band going and suddenly you realized you haven't even jammed in four months, you better start calling around and seeing if you're still a band.

But to your specific question, yeah, you should punch him. Wait, no, wait. Don't punch him. Talk to him. Ask him what's up? Don't be confrontational. Ask him for-seriously: why is he not actively participating when it's time to work on other people's songs? And if he answers that he's not interested in that type of sound, you've just got to communicate to him that if song-writing duties are being shared, he's going to have to do his part on everybody else's songs.

Gee, Van, we never thought of that, you sneer. Right? We never thought of talking to him. But did you talk to him? Really for real? Because it wouldn't surprise me if you just internalized your anger and said nothing at all. Or got mad and screamed at him but didn't calmly help him to understand how you feel.

That's what you gotta communicate, dick-head. Your feelings.

Also, communicate that he's being a dick.

Look everybody wants to get their riffs in, and all lot of the time you hate everybody else's riffs. That's life. That's music. If it totally doesn't work anymore, move on, bro, because like I said, you band sounds dead anyway. But if you think there's some future there, then you've got to patch it up with this prog-bag.

Gah, prog people. "Uh, I want a seventeen minute song with fifty tempo changes and never playing the same bit twice." Okay buddy, the audience will totally connect with that shit. But whatever. It's a valid and popular genre. But it's way over my head, bro.

Anyway, I veered off on a tangent there. Okay, send me comments or questions at mistervanhammersmith o'er yonder at Follow me @vanhammersmith, find me and like me on facebook. And punch a dick today, even if it's your own.

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