Things that suck about being in a band- bandmates that suck

Bandmates are one of the best reasons for being in a band.  You can learn a lot about someone by playing music together, and develop really close, possibly lifelong friendships.  I have made some very good friends that way.

It doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes musicians are not compatible.  Sometimes you know right away, and sometimes it takes time.  Sometimes you are and then you’re not.  And that’s not always a bad thing- you can learn from every person you play with, and some amount of turnover in bandmates can be good.

Then there are people who just plain make you miserable.  Depending on how long you are stuck with them, it can be either a minor irritation or a soul-crushing awful experience that makes you want to give up music forever.  Here’s a few-

The drug addict

I have thus far mostly dodged this bullet.   I know people who have been unfortunate enough to have to deal with this though and I don’t envy them.

There’s the unreliability, the fact that they might steal your stuff, the being gone for days or week at a time.  That would suck, and probably because most of the time they want to be there.  They want to play.  They just can’t get their shit together to actually do it.  It would be tough to fire someone like this, but I imagine you’d have to eventually.

The negative person

I’ve talked about this before– nothing takes the fun out of playing music like someone who thinks everything sucks.  Except for the person who has a drug problem, this is about the worst, because it’s hard to fire someone who is otherwise good at what they do because they don’t have the right attitude.  And if they’ve been telling you how bad your ideas suck for long enough, you’re probably not even sure that your idea of firing them is a good one.

The flake

This person is annoying, but for obvious reasons, this problem tends to resolve itself quickly.  Eventually they stop pretending to show up and you stop pretending to care.

The project

This is the player you like personally, but hate to admit that they’re just not that good.  But you like them so you want them in the band.  So you give them remedial lessons after practice.  You defend them to your bandmates who say they suck.  You pretend not to hear when friends ask why you have them in band.  These people tend to take it the hardest when you can them, so you’re pretty much going to get it going and coming if you hire this person, but some of us can’t resist.

The ego.  The asshole.

Thankfully I haven’t had a ton of these because for the most part, they wouldn’t waste their time with one of my bands in the first place.  We did have one guy who played drums for one show who refused to change the tempo of a song.  We said, “hey, could you speed it up a tad?”  “Nope.  That’s how I play it.”  That guy thankfully quit.  But he wasn’t that bad.

Then again, maybe I’m the asshole and the ego.  That’s possible.

The I’m just here to hang person

This person treats the band like a social club.  Depending on how good they are and what other qualities they have, this person won’t really wreck your band, but they’ll quickly morph into the flake if any serious issue arises.

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but I’m sure there have been others.  I’ve been mostly lucky that out of the dozens of people I’ve played with, only a handful were truly irritating.  Knock on wood I don’t have to deal with many more of these!



  1. I tell you, The Negative Person is real freaking bummer anywhere, not just in a band. Most people have enough shit to deal with and don’t deserve having someone around who drives you right into depression!

    1. Oh man, yeah, negative people are the worst. Especially since they can be otherwise decent people but they just slowly drag you down. This actually makes a nice segue because I decided I’m going to finish out the year just talking about stuff I like and trying to avoid crapping on other people’s artistic endeavors. Thanksgiving (American’s best holiday in my book) is next week.

  2. These are not just people in bands. You meet them in all kinds of professions. Assholes are assholes, drug addicts are drug addicts whether they are computer cowboys or guitarists.

    1. You meet some angry people on the internet! I always like to think that they had something really bad happen to them and they’re just using the internet to blow off steam. Or maybe they are jerks in real life and then I’m thankful that I’ll probably never meet them, or if I do, they’re probably not going to be as rude in person.

      1. I actually know some of these people personally and yes, they are angry –not at whatever they are ranting about, but other things they don’t feel free to talk about.

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