Three Piece Band Woes



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Three Piece Band Woes

Postby SecretMachine » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:33 am

I'm kinda struggling with my band at the moment and I'm looking for some tips or advice from people who have been in a similar situation.

I'm the guitarist / singer / songwriter in a shoegaze / indie / space rock band.

It's difficult to articulate, but basically, I feel like our band suffers from a lack of dynamics and too much repetition. I realise that as the songwriter, I'm responsible for this,
however, I'm finding that unless I'm playing continuously, our sound sounds really empty and weak. So, I end up playing quite big complex chords to fill up the space.
I find it difficult to write songs to match a three piece because when I'm at home writing, I tend to want to fill up the sound quite alot so I have something to sing with.
For example, I'm a big fan of Swervedriver, and I really love the way their songs twist and change, whilst still being catchy, however I'm finding songs that I tend to write in a similar vein are not that dynamic enough, or suffer from too many "typical" movements, ie - big loud guitars but when vocals come in and everything dies back to leave it room etc.
Our bassist tends to basically play the exact same chords as the guitar and doesn't really add too much in the way of dynamics. However, unless I write the parts myself, which I have for some songs, no variations actually come out of it. He is happy for me to write his parts as he says he "just wants to play bass". So, I'm a bit stumped, as to how to change this up.
Shall I stop trying to write songs at home in a "singer - songwriter" style, and just jam with the band? We're not big fans of jamming.

Sorry for the rant, just feeling super frustrated!
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Chankgeez » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:17 am

Have you considered adding another member to the band?
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Dowi » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:25 am

Chankgeez wrote:Have you considered adding another member to the band?


I was about to say the same thing.

SecretMachine wrote:He is happy for me to write his parts as he says he "just wants to play bass". So, I'm a bit stumped, as to how to change this up.
Shall I stop trying to write songs at home in a "singer - songwriter" style, and just jam with the band? We're not big fans of jamming.


Since your bass player plays the same chords as the guitar another way could be to tell him the wrong chords :lol:
Jokes aside, you could try to write some basslines yourself already knowing what you’ll be playing over those, and then push the bass player to do something by himself following your ideas. Maybe this way you can “unblock” him and he’ll end up enjoying the writing process.

If you're not a fan of jamming don't go for it, you'll end up sickening yourselves to death playing the same riff over and over.
Better work out some ideas at home and then try to make them work together.
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby SecretMachine » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:55 am

Chankgeez wrote:Have you considered adding another member to the band?

We were a four piece but the drummer left (he had his own solo stuff) and so the lead guitarist jumped on drums.
Where I live (Barcelona), it's quite difficult to find people who like the same stuff as us. We're not really part of the scene
as none of us come from Barcelona, so I was hoping we could start gigging and maybe find someone then!

SecretMachine wrote:He is happy for me to write his parts as he says he "just wants to play bass". So, I'm a bit stumped, as to how to change this up.
Shall I stop trying to write songs at home in a "singer - songwriter" style, and just jam with the band? We're not big fans of jamming.


Since your bass player plays the same chords as the guitar another way could be to tell him the wrong chords :lol:
Jokes aside, you could try to write some basslines yourself already knowing what you’ll be playing over those, and then push the bass player to do something by himself following your ideas. Maybe this way you can “unblock” him and he’ll end up enjoying the writing process.

If you're not a fan of jamming don't go for it, you'll end up sickening yourselves to death playing the same riff over and over.
Better work out some ideas at home and then try to make them work together.[/quote]

Yeah, that's a good plan. I'll try that in future. Mostly I've been recording ideas in Ableton, adding drums / bass and then sending them to the other guys.
The drummer is way better than anything I can program and the bassist mostly sticks to what's been written. However, I can't always recreate the "vibe" of the song
that I want when I record it, cos I feel it's quite different when you play a song as a band compared to in the rehearsal room.
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Chankgeez » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:25 am

SecretMachine wrote:We were a four piece but the drummer left (he had his own solo stuff) and so the lead guitarist jumped on drums.
Where I live (Barcelona), it's quite difficult to find people who like the same stuff as us. We're not really part of the scene
as none of us come from Barcelona, so I was hoping we could start gigging and maybe find someone then!


That presents a bit of a problem.

In that case, have you considered adding some sequenced parts to your songs to fill out the sound?
"You can't copyright circuits really." - Ed Sanner …………….0.............
"The effects market was really nothing more than a bunch of beggars and thieves, all building off one another's work." - Dan Armstrong…...........................…
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby dubkitty » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:29 am

if you're comfortable with writing parts, you can do a lot to make the bass parts more interesting. 3-note bass chords, octaves, walking bass, playing the 3d/5th instead of the tonic a la Husker Du and My Bloody Valentine. frankly, when i'm in a band i prefer to write ALL the parts. other players don't really like this, though :idk:
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby lordgalvar » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:18 pm

We used to chop things up and reassemble songs. Didn't matter what note or whatever they were in, we would kind of try and construct songs out of parts of other ones kind of like splicing tape. It rarely worked but sometimes there was some magic.

The other thing I would do was write a part, the band would play it, then I would just play something else when I wanted it to sound different. We all did that to each other (no real exclusive songwriter. I still don't know what I am doing...freaking runaway car).

Change tempos all the dang time too. Just having a drummer switch to a hip-hop, police upbeat, ska, whatever subtly works wonders too. I knew a metal drummer that would do that and it was bad ass. Our drummer originally played mostly hip hop/basic funk style beats which worked surprisingly well for punk/indie.

(Not saying my band or I am any good...these were ways we worked together to get around any lack of skill, knowledge, or creativity. We had twenty band members or something so it made it easier I think to be so open...like person 17 doesn't get part 4, skip it and go to part 66).
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby JonnyAngle » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:21 pm

dubkitty nailed it
are backing tracks an option?

If you can split your signal and send one side to a CT5 or something and just let it do its thing
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby DADGBD » Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:03 pm

I know it can be hard to find players, but it sounds to me like maybe it's time to either find a guitar player and/or another bass player. Our band went from having three players, each pulling their own weight - which was very satisfying - to our very dynamic bass player leaving for a spell; and us carrying on with a new guy who did exactly as you said... just followed along with the guitar. A couple of things that helped, but never filled the gap after his departure... adding textural parts using something like an EHx Freeze... adding extra guitar parts and glitched-out rhythmic loops, using a looper. Those two things helped vary things up, but I imagine adding another guitar player (or synth) would be a thousand times better, if you can find someone (we couldn't). We were going to commit to intensifying our search, but the original bass player's schedule opened up and he could start playing again. It's only been a few practices since his return, but i can tell you - having that creativity and counter-balance there, has made a wold of difference!
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby coldbrightsunlight » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:39 pm

dubkitty wrote:if you're comfortable with writing parts, you can do a lot to make the bass parts more interesting. 3-note bass chords, octaves, walking bass, playing the 3d/5th instead of the tonic a la Husker Du and My Bloody Valentine. frankly, when i'm in a band i prefer to write ALL the parts. other players don't really like this, though :idk:

Yeah, I'm the bassist in a three piece and I do this sort of stuff wherever it sounds flat. Some of our parts the perfect bassline is actually following the chords on 8th notes but mostly I'm doing other stuff. I often to play interesting rhythms when the guitar is playing straight chords. Nothing complicated, but my motto is "What Would Tina Do?".

Often I'll play something one way in the first verse, then do a variation in any repetition of the section. Something not many listeners will pick up on but it does give a bit of variation to the sound. Kind of requires a bass player writing/improvising their own stuff though because it's a lot of work for you to write out the variations through a whole song.

Something that is really noticeable in smaller groups is when the bass and drums play tight and in sync with each other it makes a big difference even if if it's simple music. :idk:
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Dowi » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:58 pm

coldbrightsunlight wrote:Something that is really noticeable in smaller groups is when the bass and drums play tight and in sync with each other it makes a big difference even if if it's simple music. :idk:


This, in general, is a Golden rule.
If Drums+Bass are tight (even playing on different accents and parts, but really following the rhythm in the same way) 50% of the work is done.
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Chankgeez » Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:07 pm

coldbrightsunlight wrote: "What Would Tina Do?"


She was definitely the best part of that band. :love:
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby ognoy » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:27 pm

Dowi wrote:
coldbrightsunlight wrote:Something that is really noticeable in smaller groups is when the bass and drums play tight and in sync with each other it makes a big difference even if if it's simple music. :idk:


This, in general, is a Golden rule.
If Drums+Bass are tight (even playing on different accents and parts, but really following the rhythm in the same way) 50% of the work is done.


Like Earthless. The drummer and bass player sounds awesome together, but then there is this dude wanking all over it, making it super boring.
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby WORMDIRT » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:00 pm

I can relate to all this so much, especially
SecretMachine wrote: He is happy for me to write his parts as he says he "just wants to play bass". So, I'm a bit stumped, as to how to change this up.


With my trio, being the singer and guitar player, I end up having really focus on transitions and small "b" parts, like a verse that ends differently the second time through or something. If I'm frustrated with a song I'll loop myself playing guitar and hammer out some interesting bass parts sometimes too.
I always thought having a lot of creative control would be a positive haha
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Re: Three Piece Band Woes

Postby Mudfuzz » Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:05 am

Can't really add much as everyone has said all the right things... Thing is though.. as a bassist that plays in a trio.. I like it, it lets me play orchestrally to back up the song where you get to stretch out without getting all wanky and all "I need to cut through the mix so people can see how well I can wank" :p It's all about getting in touch with you inner Lemmy, Geazer, Entwistle AND your inner George Porter Jr :thumb:
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