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Recently, I reconnected with 'Jake', an friend of mine from high-school, and he mentioned that he was starting up a new band. I told him that sounds really fun, and that I would check it out. I was under the impression that he had a band already formed and playing together, and they wanted to me to check them out to see if I would be a good fit for them. Instead, it turns out they have never played together, don't know each other, and immediately assumed I was 100% on board with joining before they had met me.

I just attended the first practice with them for the first time earlier this week, and to be honest, it was a rather painful experience.

  • Most of the band members do not know each other, and have never played with each other before.

  • Most of the band members do have have very much musical experience.

  • Jake has very little talent, but is overconfident about his abilities and plays with way too much energy. Since he doesn't play or sing very well, he just wails on the guitar and screams in the mic.

  • The practice was very disorganized. No one really stepped forward to lead the band. I would have expected Jake to, since he was the one organizing it, but rather than keeping people focused, he was just playing really loud and shrill guitar parts over people talking.

  • In my opinion, most of the music we played together was very sloppy and sounded bad.

  • Jake has a very loud and domineering personality. To the point where he will shut down other conversations without realizing it.

I feel like if I continued playing with this band, I'd spend most of my time teaching Jake guitar parts, and trying to get other people on the same page about what were doing. And since I dislike the sound we make, I don't know if that would be worth it to me. Also, the way he talked about writing music together and playing local gigs and things like that made me realize that he is waaaay more passionate about this group then I will ever be. I think I would be a detriment to them when they have these expectations of the band going places and I cannot possibly be excited about playing with Jake.

I did however get along with the rest of the band fairly well. I could even see myself playing with the drummer in the future in a different context. But I have no desire to be in this band. Unfortunately, because of not starting out on the same page, they are all under the assumption that I'm fully on board with the band, when in my mind I was just checking it out to see if it would be a good relational and musical fit.

So I need to tell Jake (and the other members) that I am not going to be a part of this band, but I really don't know how to say this in a tactful way. Especially because in the end it comes down to: "You sound bad and I don't get along with you". (Not that I dislike Jake, I just find the way he does music very abrasive) I'm also concerned

  • it might come across as too soon to leave them after only playing with them one time. And

  • The other band members might feel hurt that I don't want to play with them because of issues I have with Jake, not them.

So I have a few different questions:

  • How can I tell Jake that I don't want to play with them without hurting their feelings? I can beat around the bush, and say things like "I'd rather focus on my other music" or "I'm busy with school", which are both true, but aren't really the honest reason I don't want to play with them. I'm concerned he might come back with "Oh that's fine. You want to play with us this summer when those aren't issues?" or something like that if I don't give the honest reason.

  • Should I be more honest with the other band members than Jake? I'd like to let them know that I enjoyed playing with them, and that Jake is the bigger issue. But I'm concerned that being too honest with them would feel like insulting Jake behind his back.

closed as too broad by sphennings, Rory Alsop, baldPrussian, A J, Anne Daunted Feb 15 '18 at 7:27

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    You are not really dropping out. You were never really joined the band. – paparazzo Feb 14 '18 at 23:08
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    Please limit yourself to one question per post. – sphennings Feb 14 '18 at 23:14
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    @sphennings I think the questions are inter-related and the solutions will definitely be affected by each other. – spiral succulent Feb 14 '18 at 23:23
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    They may well be connected, but it's not useful on Stack Exchange to try to ask more than one question at a time, as there could be many answers which just tackle one question – Rory Alsop Feb 14 '18 at 23:24
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In most any artistic/creative endeavor that involves a group working together, you can site "creative differences" as a reason to not want to join up.

In this specific instance there are obviously "creative differences" and there really isn't a good reason not to tell them that. If you want to avoid friction it may be better to focus on the specific reasons that you don't see things working out than the specific person. Something along the lines of:

I'm interested in making music, but I need something with more structure and group cohesion; something more serious and organized. I'd also prefer to play with people who are on the same page artistically. People who want to play something that sounds more like insert genre and/or whatever sound you prefer

You never know, perhaps putting it out there directly may even help them to pull it together and focus a little more and if some members of the group find that they're looking for the same things they may even hit you up down the road.

Honestly I've probably seen dozens of garage bands with the problems you describe, led by loud, somewhat obnoxious, guys that seem to crave the spotlight more than the music... From what I've seen the bands that make it out of the garage and on to a stage are the ones that eventually get down to the actual work and practice. Sometimes that means dropping the obnoxious guy, and sometimes the obnoxious guy grows up a little and gets to work.

Either way, don't feel obligated to handhold. More often than not these guys need a good kicking more than they need someone to gently explain things. Telling them to hit you up when they get serious is probably the better move.

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It's not too early to leave the band because you never joined them. You told Jake that you would 'Check it out', so you never actually agreed to join them.

I would suggest you tell him what you exactly think - "Hey, when I said I'll check it out, I was under the impression that you guys had a band already formed and were playing together. Sorry, this won't work out for me as I have other stuff to focus on." This would be the direct, easiest way out and there's no other explanation required. You are also not being rude, there's no reason for your friend's feelings to be hurt by this.

If you don't want to be so direct, you can try saying something like 'Sorry but we are not really in sync with each other / Our styles don't match/ I don't think I fit in here'. However, he may ask you to explain it further and then you'd have to justify why it's not working out for you. So direct approach seems better.

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