Concepts: The sub.

equipmentdork

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Hello everyone,
I've been with a band for about 4 years. They are a tribute act. I was the second drummer in the project, after the first guy became disillusioned and began blowing off practices. I play and/or record with a few groups, but have a day job.

The band is getting more opportunities and they want the chance to jump on them. They're telling me that they'll be getting a sub for me because I have so many blackouts.

My concern is now that my gigs with this band will be cut more than in half, especially if they find someone with no other commitments. Am I right to consider this, or am I being paranoid?



Dan
 

drums1225

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You are right to consider this. It depends whether your bandmates are actually getting a sub, or if they're "getting a sub". The latter is code for "Finding your replacement". My band was in a similar situation last year. Our singer gave priority to two other bands before us, and his blackout dates took up 2/3 of the calendar. This necessitated us finding a sub with an eye toward finding someone who could commit more. We found a sub who ended up being a much better fit, and who also played bass. Guess who's in the band now.
 

TonyVazquez

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I can't blame you.
I've never been subbed, played all of
my show dates with bands.
Same with my current band, playing
all of my show dates.

BUT STILL: no matter how consistent
I am with my band, how much I
love my band mates, how much time
and dedication I put into my band,
I'm always prepared to become
a "free agent" in case my band decides
to move on without me for whatever
reason they have, or if they decide
to call it quits.

My guitar/frontman also plays bass
in another band...
Two years ago that band's drummer
had an arm injury right before their
30th Anniversary show. I was asked
to sit in for him on two songs.
And three other drummers were asked
to sit in on a few songs.
The original drummer showed up for
the show, his arm in a sling, so all he
did was get on stage with a bongo
and a tambourine. He was so excited
to watch us four drummers play
through his setlist.
Since then, whenever that band's
drummer has to miss a show I've
become his first sub on their list
of sub drummers.
It's an honor, and I do my best to
deliver a killer show especially for him.
If I can't do the gig another drummer
will do it. They usually call me because
of my immediate response.
 
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The age of bonding bands like The Who or The Beatles is completely over I think. The age of sidemen has entered for a while now.

Especially if you want to make a living in this industry, but nowadays even in the hobby/cover/bar bands cirquit.

Even the great drummers now have multiple projects.

I wouldn't sweat it and enjoy it as much as you can and deliver to the best of your abilities. As long as they don't speak out they want to have you out of the band there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are afraid for some reason, talk. It's so easy to get things out of the way by just asking that exact same question. I didn't talk about this stuff to bands for a long time and it wasn't good for my mental health.
 

drumstuff66

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This is a fact of life for any and all gigging musicians. We take the gigs we can and want to do. Unless it's our own band, we live with other's decisions.
100%. I've been fortunate enough to stay very busy over the last 35+ years and you nailed it.

When I am on a gig I try to do everything better than a potential sub (OR the drummer I'm subbing for) would do. Of course that means being prepared musically and playing well, but it also means showing up on time, having well-maintained, quality gear, staying sober, looking the part (a suit? jeans? semi-formal?), being a team player, offering to help during load in/load out, thanking everyone before I leave, etc. I think that's about the best I can do as a side guy...

Having said that, Equipmentdork's issue is unavailability for a lot of gigs and there's not much he can do about that. I'd continue doing the gigs I could, be 100% professional, cooperate as much as possible in whatever transition might be happening, maintain your reputation, etc...

In the end, maybe you do get replaced and/or become the "new sub" for them, but you've done the best you can do and it's out of your hands. There are always other bands looking for THEIR new drummer - maybe you're him?
 

Tornado

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Be the side man who always gets paid. "Band guys" often end up doing things for "the good of the band", which rarely ends up well for drummers and bass players.
 

CC Cirillo

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The Sub is just a built-in fact where music is a commercial endeavor.

And I think in the current music scene there is no more salient commercial endeavor than the tribute band.

I don’t think you should feel paranoid or let any thoughts creep in that diminish your enjoyment playing in such a project. (It’s more the nature of the beast than it is you.) That’s no easy feat but we all have to face fear of replacement at different times in different aspects of our lives, be it at work or in certain hierarchies within friendships or dysfunctional romances.

If you rely on this project for real income, that adds a different element, but it sounds like you don’t.

Once a good tribute or cover band has honed their craft enough to get paid, it becomes something of a mercenary organization.

Don’t let it get you down. If it does, and it stops being enjoyable, maybe just shrug your shoulders, shake it off, and move on to a project that is a better fit.

Unless it’s a Taylor Swift tribute band, then you might have to shake it off, shake it off.
 

Drdrumdude3009

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It’s just s fact of life; after all, you’re not 100% committed to this project, anyway. If you can’t make a full commitment and they are actually wanting to go places, you are possibly on the bubble. But you have fallbacks.
 

kallen49

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Be the side man who always gets paid. "Band guys" often end up doing things for "the good of the band", which rarely ends up well for drummers and bass players.
this exactly! As a sub for my friend who was in 2 bands I played once a month. Perfect for me at this point in life.
That was pre-pandemic.
Last night I played my first gig with a new band and drove 3 hours each way so made very small money but as a band member I’m in for this kind of gig regardless.

Even a weekend band is a business so every member needs a sub. Life can get in the way of music.
 

What It Is

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I think the best approach is to be 100% honest with your situation and let the band decide what direction they want to go. I've been in situations where my availability was hampered with other realities and I made sure everyone in the group knew that. I was committed, and they knew that, but I just couldn't suspend other life realities. It ended up working out as we all worked around everyone's schedules and realities. We still play today and it's a great thing. Be upfront and honest with what you can and cannot do and let it go from there. Best of luck.
 

1988fxlr

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You’re right to be concerned, but there’s no cause to be upset (if you are, I’m not making assumptions). You have a full time job and several other casual commitments. If your band is trying to become more active they do need somebody who can commit more time than you can, which might lead to you being more of a sub in this band than the primary drummer you are now. Thats not a bad thing if you have to balance other commitments.

A sub can say yes or no to any given gig based on convenience and pay, where a primary band member should try to always make things work.

The last few years that I was gigging I was mostly doing odd sub jobs for people I had played with more regularly previously. It was the perfect situation for me at the time. I didn’t feel pressure to turn down a lucrative weekend of overtime to play a random bar gig, but I still got the call for an occasional wedding or dance with a decent pay day attached
 

pedro navahas

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You are in control of your situation, if you want to continue you have to commit, simple!
 

Squirrel Man

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I just got back into playing a few years ago and haven't found a band yet but when I was in a band a while back it was with two other guys like me - both worked during the day, we rehearsed one or two weekday evenings and played out at a bar or somewhere on weekends. We sometimes had guest musicians that would sit in on a few songs or a set but that was always with the main band core.

Now I understand the "industry" of music and if this is what the band is in it for - the industry that's fine. If getting subbed out makes you itch politely bow out and find like musicians that better fit your music lifestyle.

I mean I get it, it's like a wife or girlfriend wanting to date other guys to some people. It would make me itch a little.
 


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