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In a Band suggesting songs

Olrocker

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<Veto power>
In a few of the cover bands I've played with, we had the "A**hole clause"; anyone could veto any song for any (or no) reason. This ensured that everyone enjoyed playing all the songs, for the most part.

Doesn't work that well in bands playing original tunes (depending on who's doing the writing.)
 

Houndog

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One thing that I have recently really taken to heart is that the songs we play are all about the vocals. The most important part of song selection is, "who's going to sing it?" If a singer isn't comfortable with the range, or can't be bothered to learn the lyrics, that song isn't happening. My suggestion is...learn to sing. If your bandmates are open to another voice leading a few songs, you'll get a lot more input into song selection. I took my own advice last weekend at a little jam session at my guitarist's house. I said, give me a mic and let's see what happens. I'm not going to be leading any songs anytime soon, but backup vocals are on the table now. I think just that makes me more valuable as a band member.
I won’t join a band unless the vocals are top notch .
Nothing more important for me ….

Yes , I know jazz doesn’t require vocals but I can’t play jazz so that settles that .
 

kallen49

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I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this topic…

Back in 1978 when my guitar playing brother and I were choosing tunes to cover and writing set lists we were instructed by agents & managers to not just play tunes but to present them “as a show”. So we still try to do that.

I recently joined a country-rock festival band in which the singer hands out hula hoops to kids to use while I play “Wipeout”.
Didn’t see that coming! We have had to play it three times when adults also want to “hula”.

I’ve come to realize that in a vocal band the singer must want to sing the song.
So singers pick the tunes they can really sing.

BTW, if they are picking tunes inappropriate for their vocal ability just record them and let them listen, should fix that?
 

Dtucci

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Do any of your band mates go out and see other similar bands playing in similar venues on their nights off? Sometimes they need to step out of their bubble and see what’s happening between bands and crowds TODAY. I’m the only guy in my cover band who goes out and sees other cover bands in our same venues. I have definitely taken some good kernels away from their shows. What to do/not do. What songs killed/bombed. It might help.
 

AgDrumma07

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My band is an original band and only sprinkles in a few covers to help fill a set list. I don't typically suggest songs because I always lean towards songs that are fun for ME to play, not necessarily for the others or the crowd. Instead, I prefer to stay open-minded when everyone else makes a suggestion, which is easier for me.
 

Houndog

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A lot of guitar players only want to play songs with what chords and riffs they already have in their arsenal..If they can't figure it out right there in rehearsal they make an excuse not to learn it...
I've played in bands where I sang 80% of the songs..I like when a guitar or bass player introduces a song and looks at me to sing it.."Well, you sing all the other ones" Yeah, OK,..I'll sing some Geddy Lee and play like Niel all at the same time..give your head a shake, man!
Just saying ……

 

Ray Dee Oh King

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Every band I ever played in that did cover songs, the choices were always made by everybody. Years ago I played in a cover band, and what we would do is make 5 suggestions per each member, and then discuss picking one song from each members list. We never really argued about the songs because we didnt play for ourselves, we played what made people dance. It worked pretty well. Depending how many members are in the band, voting can work well too. Sounds like the guy just wants it "his way". Maybe a solo acoustic act is more in line for someone like that?
 

YabaMTV

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I've been playing for quite a few years. I've played in cover bands, original bands, and some jazz groups. I've noticed that I have become very complacent and not suggesting songs to do anymore. I just let the other members suggest the songs now. Maybe its my age, I don't feel like fighting anymore and its just easier to give in.

When I do make suggestions I fail to have the power to persuade the other others to play the songs and eventually I just go along with what they suggest.

Sometimes, they say the song I suggest can't be done with our arrangement of instruments. But, I make the argument that I did that same song in another band with the same pieces. Sometimes its things like that song is too old, or they just don't like it. I would hear contradictory statements where one song is only three chords whereas another song has too many chords. I suspect that maybe they don't want to admit their limitations in ability and would rather not spend a lot of time on one song.

Have any of you noticed anything like this? Do you suggest songs for the band to do and are they receptive to your suggestions?

I am in the same boat. The few I have suggested got played for a few months in rehearsal only to be nixed before playing them out. However, there is a bright side to this. I have learned many more songs I would have likely never learned by just stepping back and allowing it. Besides, the jury isn’t out yet if I have not taken it to “court yet.” I can always make an argument to bring them back or eventually surprise them by throwing my foot down to make an argument that I need to have some picks in the future. Eventually I will make a stand but for now I am sitting back. It doesn’t bother me much yet. I noticed but that is it.
 

squidart

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Unless you write songs or can sing play another instrument . I learned that you just don’t have much of leg to stand on .
Yeah and it sometimes boils down to the old "drummers are not musicians" thing where any suggestions about arrangements, song choice, endings, etc are automatically dismissed. Been there. One of several reasons I started my own band. :)
 

YabaMTV

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Yeah and it sometimes boils down to the old "drummers are not musicians" thing where any suggestions about arrangements, song choice, endings, etc are automatically dismissed. Been there. One of several reasons I started my own band. :)
Anyone with an attitude even close to that gets immediately kicked out of my fully stocked home recording/rehearsal studio. We as drummers must demand respect or it will not be given. I don’t know how drummers became mostly relegated to unimportant replaceable elements of a band but it seems to be the case in a majority of the industry for a long time now (a few exceptions of course).

Decades ago I became sick and tired of the other members not having the right gear etc… Especially most singers. Most I have played with or auditioned don’t have a microphone. Don’t know their range. Don’t practice their craft and workout their vocals techniques. So I started buying gear and building my studio. First it was small cheap stuff. Gradually I upgraded over the years. Now I have everything except keys and a bass guitar (sold it) in my home studio. Vintage guitar amps and cabinets. An American HHS Stratocaster guitar. A decent Acoustic Guitar that plugs in to the board. Multiple vocal mics and mic stands. 3 full sets of drum mics (two are professional Audix Drum mic sets). 100 foot 24 channel snake. Cables and cords. Samplers and triggers. MPC X unit. PA system and a Presonus 24 channel recording/live board. Guitar stands. 3 sets of in ear monitors and stage monitors. A bunch of other stuff.
 

SY-ya-nara

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In my last band who had been together without a drummer for quite a while and they had all bonded, I finally got to pick one song.

I choose "Happy" by the Stones. Happy? they said - no one knows or cares about that piece of crap yada yada. Made 'em learn it anyway cause it made me happy. We started to *really* rock it eventually. Later read in a Keith Richard's interview that it was one of his favorite Stone's songs.
 

fredpasta

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The singer has to sell the song ... and I believe he/she has the most difficult job with that in mind. All eyes and ears focused on them. I give them a lot of latitude in choosing tunes because of that. If it's super difficult to choose songs then maybe the band chemistry just isn't very good in the first place.
 

jptrickster

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We’ve been together 22+ yrs and pretty much all in synch, we work and play very well together. I only quit once!

I think there’s over 300 songs on the master list. I’ll play anything I really don’t mind and mostly let the singers call it , it’s more up to them if they dig it and can sing it , it’s going to be good.

I would venture to say a good 20% of our material has been suggested by me. If something doesn’t work or someone hates we move on , there’s a million songs to pick from.
 

drumsforme

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Play in a Classic Country Band now for 8 years with older guys....The two front guys that sing everything have been playing together for 30 years. The last 5 years they refuse to learn new songs. The band has a setlist of 140-150 songs and we are able to play almost all of them. They said that's enough. I'm tired of fighting as I'm an older 68. Just play the 3-4 gigs a month- keep my mouth shut now and just keep things pleasant. If I can get a half a dozen more gigging years out of this body- I'm happy.
 

michaelocalypse

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Last band I was in wasn't my style or anything (top 40), so I couldn't really make suggestions. I did happen across one song when I was out somewhere and suggested it since it fit what we were playing, and they liked it. We never ended up playing it because the front man seemed to be more preoccupied with learning things that were outside his range.
Anyway, my only suggestions came in the form of refusals, which ended up working out because The Beatles are too old, and 3/4 of the band didn't want to play Coldplay.

In other metal bands I've been in, it's usually pretty equal all around on suggestions getting turned down, at least temporarily, based on a particular part being too difficult. Occasionally there's a, "Those guys are lame" reason, and we laugh and pick something else. If it's not fun, it's not worth it.
 

Wheresmyroadie?

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My current situation is similar, but with a twist. I've been a singing drummer most of my career.
As a hired gun, I don't particularly care to sing much any more, but the boss keeps begging me to do some tunes. I offer suggestions as to what I want to sing and he and the others always say:"Hell, yeah! great choice! lets work it up! And then...
Crickets...

Since I'm in it for the $$$, There is no pressing urge to do more for the same money, but why do they bother bugging me when they don't ever follow up?
 


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