Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her — confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
I have been in an up-and-coming band for a little whole now. I love playing with them and we are killing every festival and moving up in the world. We are finding success, good things keep coming and the potential for it to just get bigger and better is all there, so I am left wondering why the fuck the leader of the band forgets to do shit like bring merch to gigs? Or say the name if the band during the gig? Not follow up on great opportunities? Not write a set list and stands around looking stupid trying to figure out what to play next? Gets super high before gigs and forgets the easiest changes?
I understand that some of these things aren’t big deals. I just feel like I’m a professional. I want to play that way. I want the show to be that start to finish. We have some nights where we murder the set in a good way. The crowd is freaking out and loving it. Other nights that are just duds because the main guy doesn’t seem to care or thinks it’s OK to not give 100% when there aren’t as many people at a gig.
Your band is actually poised for success which makes such amateur-hour mistakes infuriating. Your frontman’s laissez-faire behavior sounds like he thinks he shouldn’t have to work for what you have, that it’s due to him, which, given the bands you have played in and your dedication, is the antithesis of how you work. As you note, it’s just not professional. And unfortunately, given that your band has momentum, he may not even have a chance to feel the brunt of being a dipshit. Also, like you said, he’s stoned. This is pretty typical stoned musician behavior and unfortunately you might be one of the only people that truly notices (or suffers).
If you are willing to take the lead a little–remind him or someone else with the mic to introduce the band, and make a practice of it at rehearsal, even as a joke, it may put him in the habit. Remind him that this is how people know whose recordings or merch to buy. Before you go on stage, say that for your own sake, you need a set list. He may think he is too magical for a set list. I watched some recent clips of your band on YouTube and it would be a good idea to cut down on his random asides. Mind you, overconfidence and stoned rambling are essentially the job description for a singer. It comes with the territory. Not sure you can breed it out of him.
I don’t normally suggest measures this extreme but your band needs a manager. This dude’s issues are systemic, and you may not be able to teach him new tricks without taking on all his responsibilities and babysitting him. Getting a responsible party involved might be easy at this juncture, especially given the sorts of opportunities and gigs you are being presented. There is some bait. Make it someone else’s job to answer emails, wrangle merch and motivate your singer into giving 100%.
Best of luck,