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So I am in a band consisting of 5 people: 2 guitarists, the drummer, the bassist and a vocalist (might be worth mentioning that the guitarists are brothers that only tend to see each other at practice). Due to the style of music we play we pretty much need everyone there to practice.

We meet up twice a week up to practice or write new songs and play gigs roughly once every two weeks.

We decided together that we would practice on Thursday evenings at 6:00PM after work and on Sundays because all of us were free at that time. This was working out fine until recently. One of the guitarists (I'll call him X) keeps showing up late to practices by 2 or 3 hours, or not turning up at all. X also makes it to every gig but barely and has caused us to not be able to have a sound check.

Each time he's late/doesn't show up he sends us a message stating that something has come up. This has been happening consistently for the last 3 months.

Now we don't want to kick X out of the band as he's clearly talented and brings a lot to the band when he's here.

My question is, what would be the best way to express that this kind of behavior can't continue without it negatively affecting the band/music?

Edit: We've spoken to X a few times about the issue and he usually just apologizes and insists that it won't keep happening. It seems as though he wants to stay in the band as he keeps pushing us to get more live shows.

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    Is X just a band member or also a friend? If he's a friend - did you try checking what's going on with X in his life? When people do something like this it sometimes indicates another problem that needs to be addressed. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Oct 18 '18 at 15:06
  • @BenjaminGruenbaum He was a band member first and since we've all become good friends, we've asked about everything and all seems fine the only thing that could get in the way was a recent engagement but that was two weeks ago. – Tfish Oct 18 '18 at 15:08
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    How long are your practices? Being late by 2 or 3 hours implies practice is even longer. That is a long time both on a day after work and also on a free day. Can you change this somehow so he can arrange that better into his daily routine? How do others live with that? – puck Oct 18 '18 at 17:08
  • @puck practices usually last about 4-6 hours but usually if someone has to go early that's not an issue, I just the guy to show up more – Tfish Oct 19 '18 at 6:26
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First of all - I am only projecting my personal experience and that of friends and what worked for me here - YMMV.

I would try to address it with him directly and privately:

Hey X, can we talk about band practice?

Then I would follow up with a bland and objective representation of the situation.

Our music requires everyone to be coordinated and be there at the same time to practice. When not everyone is at the same place at the same time we are unable to practice.

Note that the actual facts of the issue are stated (rather than laying blame on X, even if X is to blame).

Then, I would contrast and frame the issue with how you value X:

I think you are a talented musician and I appreciate you and your art. I think the band is better when all of us work together and I think you bring a lot to the band.

Note that some people have a hard time giving compliments in person - so make sure you practice if this is a problem for you. Then I would raise the objective specific issue:

In the past few times we haven't been able to to schedule a time to practice together. In addition we have missed a sound check. This bothers me because I care a lot about our band.

Stay concrete, bland and non-judgmental. This isn't about "X being wrong" this is about "figuring out how to work together in a way both sides are good with".

Then ask about what to do:

What do you think band members can do better in terms of scheduling or otherwise so that we are all able to make it in time?

Or alternatively, ask directly:

In the past 3 times you arrived late to practice. Why is that and what can we do to help?

It's important to not make this about X being wrong, X being a person who is late or even X being late in the last few meetings. It is important to keep this about "how the band can meet and practice in time".

It is important that X feels safe in this discussion so that it doesn't turn into an argument. It is not your place to educate X as a friend.

Since X is a friend I would also consider asking him how he's doing out of context since people suddenly starting to be late can be a symptom of other (more severe) issues.

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For myself in these situations I tend to try at first to focus on the problem rather than the result. Here the result is that this band member is late or missing, but the problem is that they say they have been having something come up that takes them away from the band. Focus on trying to find out what that something is that keeps coming up, if you can resolve that then that should solve them being late or missing.

If your band mate won't explain what it is that keeps coming up try to see if maybe their schedule has changed and a different day would be better for them so whatever was coming up won't block them. Otherwise if they do explain what it is coming up in addition to this if applicable you can try to help them with the issue(s) so that they can attend regularly.

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As a band you need to decide what you can tolerate with lateness and absence. If you are willing to accept the accept the status quote without kicking him out of the band then that effects how you go about this.

Start off with telling him his absence and lateness is effecting the band. Ask him if anything can be done to accommodate him.

Ask him what can be expected from him going forward.

If that is less than what you had decided to tolerate then tell him that. Tell him the expectation is X. If he does not live up to X then give him a couple warnings and replace him.

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