If you’ve played in bands for any length of time at all I’m sure you’re well aware of personality conflicts. A lot of very famous and huge acts have fallen apart citing personality differences or conflicts as the reason the band fell apart. Chris Cornell of of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave cited “Personality Differences” as a major reason for leaving both of those bands. Another famous example is Van Halen, Eddie has cited several times that the reason somebody has left the band was “Personality Differences”. I’ve seen interviews with Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth where it looked like it was all Eddie could do to keep from strangling Roth.
It’s something that you’ll never be immune to in a band. Part of the evolution of a band is the emergence of personality conflicts. When you start a band, everyone is on their best behavior. The members are nice and respectful to each other. You all share a common vision and in the beginning you’re focused on the same things. It usually doesn’t take long though for the differences of opinion to surface. The nastiness can come out as soon as you start trying to decide on a song list. It can get even nastier when you start trying to decide on a band name. Even deciding which harmonies each member is going to sing can bring out huge clashes between band members.
So how do you deal with personality conflicts in a band? You can always kick out the worst offender but then you’re back at square one trying to find a replacement, having the replacement learn all the songs and then hoping the replacement member gets along with everyone else. It’s far easier to try to work things out between the members that are having the conflict. You have to try and focus on the things that you have in common with each other. Just remember that you all want the band to succeed. Everyone in the band wants to have big crowds of people that love their band. You really have to stay focused on your ultimate goal so you can get through the mundane things like harmony selection without getting in petty fights with band members.
Another way to keep personality conflicts at a minimum is to remember that everyone has a job and they are responsible for that job. If you start criticizing the job that somebody else is doing then you’re stepping out of bounds and you’ve got to expect some criticism back. Nobody likes to be told that they are doing a bad job. If you criticize somebody else in the band, try to be prepared to receive some crticism back without flaring up. It’s okay to give suggestions to other members of the band but you have to be soft handed to be successful at it. It will always help to minimize conflicts if you can take suggestions and criticism as well as you can dish it out.
A major reason that my bands have stayed together for so long is we know when to take a break and get away from each other. You’ve heard the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Well it’s very true in a band situation. Getting away from each other for a week or two will let some of the tension get released and settle down. When my band takes a break I don’t see or hear from them for at least a week. So when we get back together again it’s just great to see them and be able to create excellent music together.
So remember be flexible, be forgiving, be light handed with the criticism, take what you can dish out and take a break from each other from time to time. All these things will help you get past Personality Conflicts!