That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.
It all has to do with the fact that we can get along with each other. The musicians that I play with know how to function as a team. There are several basic reasons why my bands function so well as a team. The first and most important is we know how to communicate with each other. When someone is having a problem with another person in the band, there’s rarely a big confrontation. The disagreements are usually handled between the two people having the problem and they’re usually handled in private. Sometimes a 3rd member will be asked to mediate between the members having the problem. Sometimes all four members will sit down and resolve disputes as a group. My point is that my bands will talk to each other. Talking out problems is better than trying to get revenge on each other.
The next reason we’ve been together for so long is that each member is willing to give a little bit when someone else is really pushing something. The ability to give and take is a huge reason for my bands staying together. I know that each member in my band has tried something that they haven’t wanted to do just because someone else in the band really wanted to do it. Either they’ve learned songs they didn’t like, played gigs they didn’t want to or come to band practice when it wasn’t convenient. The fact is, they did it for the good of the band. It’s those little sacrifices that keep the band together.
Each member of the band has a defined role in the way the band functions. One member will usually be in charge of the music and making sure all the parts and sequences are there and the songs sound good enough to play out. Another member is in charge of booking the band and dealing with the agents. Another member is in charge of the P.A. system. Other roles in the band include running the light show, getting drinks, tuning guitars and putting together contact information to hand out at the gigs. So another reason my bands have stayed together for so long is that we all take on a role in the band and we make sure our jobs are getting done. It all adds up to a smooth functioning band.
Finally, we enjoy being around each other and telling jokes and sharing stories. We all take turns speaking and listening and it’s really fun being around each other. That’s a really rare and wonderful thing to be around musicians that can listen to each other when someone is speaking. Enjoying each others company is a huge reason that my bands have stayed together for so long.
So there you have it, you can put a band together with the most amazing musicians in the world, but if they can’t stand to be around each other, the band will never last. That’s why I say “Getting along is more important than musicianship” for keeping a band together.