Courtesy of Max Monahan
Making a band work is a balancing act. The recipe for success in a group music setting is a very delicate one that requires a good attitude from everyone involved.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of musicians out there who can single-handedly drag your beloved project straight into the mud. Even a slightly abrasive habit can build into a horrible burden to your musical project and seriously threaten its success. To ensure a long, happy life for your band, it's in your best interest to avoid these five types of musicians at all costs.
1. The terrible listener
The blaring stereotype of the unfortunate band member and the brunt of endless subtle jokes, when you have a band member who just can't listen and figure out what's going on, there's little help for improvement without serious intervention.
Good listening is the cornerstone of any musician's success. Every musical teacher you've had has told you to use your ears, and if your guitar player still can't seem to do that, then it's time to find a new one, plain and simple.
2. The over- or under-confident one
This is where personalities start to play into the game. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who talks loudly or can only talk about themselves? It's overbearing, unpleasant, and pretty horrible.
On the other hand, have you ever had a conversation with someone especially skittish, someone who seems afraid to open his or her mouth whether or not he or she actually has anything interesting to say?
Both of these experiences are agonizing ones that you would never want to subject your beloved fans to... right? If your drummer is playing massive fills every four bars or your guitar player is scared of anything but root notes, then it's not going to work.
A good musician is comfortable in his or her own skin and knows his or her role in the song, so don't settle for anything less!
3. The overly obsessive gear-head
We're all familiar with the stereotype of the crazy little man endlessly tinkering with knobs and wires to form the perfect contraption. Sadly, this persona takes on a much less endearing form as a real-life band member.
What you end up with is more like a person who hides behind unnecessary equipment that they had to take out a lease on their car for, who really just ends up taking away from the focus of the band.
When any occupation becomes more about the tools than the job itself, quality falls. Don't let a delusional gear junkie clutter up your band.
4. The stubborn one
There's just no getting through to the stubborn one. Even worse than the terrible listener, the stubborn one's fault is that there's absolutely no getting through, essentially rendering him or her the ultimate lost cause depending on the severity of the situation.
This stubbornness can manifest in different ways. As mentioned before, it could just be that this band member isn't right for the genre you have him or her playing. If you've got a country singer in your shoe-gaze band, that's your fault.
This stubbornness could also be more of a personal issue; someone who, for one reason or another, just cannot mentally bring themselves to compromise. Which brings us to the most colorful hindrance to any band.
5. The one with personal problems
This topic addresses problems found far and wide, issues from as far as the eye can see. It could be anything: always late, always "tired," irritable, or unprepared, just to name a few.
A group is only as strong as its weakest link, and if your singer is showing up late to every gig, the whole band is late. Of course, when you care about your art, the band shares a relationship with your personal feelings, and this can be extremely frustrating. Failures in band logistics can ripple into your creative habits and the rest of your life.
For this reason, it's important to thoroughly screen band members you plan on becoming closely integrated with. Find musicians who don't have the kinds of problems that will spill over into your band and your life. Take your time, find the right musicians for the job, and don't let anybody slow down your dream.
Max Monahan is a bassist and a writer living in Los Angeles. He spends his time working for an audio licensing website and shredding sweet bass riffs.