How do I avoid letting my friends down?
June 27, 2011 2:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I leave my band in the most non-sucky way possible?

Hey guys. I'm looking for advice about how to quit a band that I've been involved in for a couple of years. We've put a few CDs out and played a few local shows / festivals but things aren't really taking off and my heart isn't in it.

Now, leaving would be totally cool were it not for the following factors - 1) I do a lot of things in the band, kind of feeling like I 'hold it together' musically, and I'm not sure how they'd cope without me, 2) the female vocalist is very passive-aggressive, and tends to react angrily and defensively when challenged or when she doesn't get her way, and 3) they're all fairly good friends, a social circle that I rely on, and I feel awful at the thought of letting them down and / or pissing them off. I've been going along with things for a while, seeing how it goes, but I'm at the stage where I really want to make decisions about what to do. I have another project that's doing really well and that I want to commit full-time to, but as these guys are in my circle of friends I'm worried that pulling out of the band in the wrong way will cause a lot of bad blood, and this will spread to other friends that know us and reflect badly on me. I've been on the wrong side of this girl's passive aggressive nature before and it isn't great. Me and her started the band together originally, but now she's made better friends with the other guys in the group, perhaps sensing (rightly) that they won't challenge her like I will.

Anyway, we have a festival show coming up at the end of July and I need to decide whether to break the news before or after that. I was thinking I'd take the girl for coffee and tell her first, as we started it together and I think she'd feel better hearing it on her own, but I don't want to shut the other members out. It seems like a simple problem, I just want to go about it in the least antagonistic way possible. Any ideas?
posted by ashkenazy to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a lot like a relationship talk, and like that, it's probably going cause some hurt feelings for a few months.

Try to couch it in language about yourself. Say things like that you're just burned out and you need a break, you're thinking about going in a different direction, etc. It's really variations on the old "it's not you, it's me" talk.

It's your call if you want to talk to the girl ahead of time, but I find these things usually go better in a group setting so that nobody feels like it's their fault.

Good luck, it always sucks.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:36 PM on June 27, 2011

You say you think the band will fall apart without you. Whatever you do, you must keep that feeling entirely to yourself.
posted by fritley at 2:42 PM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, you can't do shit about #1. Once you leave, how they cope musically is not your problem. So don't worry about that at all.

As for #2 and #3, I totally agree with lupemprole's advice. You have another project, so you can just say guys, I love you, I want to be friends forever, but I've decided after much serious consideration that I really want to go into the direction of New Project and I want to commit full time to it.

Another way you could cushion the blow is to say you'll help with the search for your replacement, then do so.

I wouldn't worry about your friend's passive-aggressiveness. (Forgive me for this brief derail, but it's her passive-aggressiveness that's an issue... not the fact that she is female.) Just be nice to everyone, be yourself, do NOT be backstabby or bitchy, do NOT make negative comments along the lines of them falling apart without you -- leave all that shit behind when you leave the band. Don't give the p-a person or her allies a reason to hate you. Just be nice and leave. It happens all the time in bands, as I'm sure you know.
posted by pupstocks at 2:48 PM on June 27, 2011

What instrument do you play? A key question in such disputes. Also, are you signed?

I know the passive/aggressive issues in bands suck.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on June 27, 2011

You just need to tell them, all together, that your heart isn't into the music anymore and you need to go a different direction. Don't go on and on or describe anything else. That's it, period.

Tell them as soon as possible, like at the end of your next rehearsal. The sooner you do it the sooner they'll have a replacement.
Tell them you'll help with auditions and play gigs that are lined up until they have a replacement. It's a professional thing to do in bands and a nice thing to do for friends.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:12 PM on June 27, 2011

You just have to do it. It's not fair to you, and it's not fair to them if you are no longer having fun. You deserve to have fun, and they deserve to have somebody around that is enthusiastic.

It sucks, and it will be awkward, and there will be some hard feelings. And might make peace after a while. These things happen, and no band is really a permanent thing, you know?

Offering to help search out a replacement is a good compromise. I kinda like that.
posted by kaseijin at 3:25 PM on June 27, 2011

You just need to tell them, all together, that your heart isn't into the music anymore and you need to go a different direction. Don't go on and on or describe anything else. That's it, period.

You might throw in something about how, since they are so awesome and just like family, you just KNEW they'd understand and be supportive of you.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2011

I thought the way you put it was actually pretty tactful. Emphasize that you still like them and the music, but there's another project to which you want to commit full-time.
posted by troywestfield at 4:55 PM on June 27, 2011

Sounds like the festival show may be a pretty big one for this band, if so I would wait until after the break the news if you can. It seems likely you'll play it with them either way (it will take a while to find a replacement and a while more for them to get the songs down, a month is tight), if you wait you won't have to deal with any potential bad feelings at the gig.

Frame it as a matter of not having enough time, so you had to make a difficult choice to focus on the other project. Odds are they know it is coming, I know I have every time someone has left my band.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:10 PM on June 27, 2011

How not to do it, apparently. Never heard of this band, but not good opening up in the press.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:30 AM on June 30, 2011

Hey guys, just to let you know, followed your advice, took them all out for a drink and told them straight away. They seemed to know it was coming and took it pretty well, and it look likes I'm going to be friends with them in future, which is great. Moral of the story - be straight up with people when your own interests conflict with theirs, even though sometimes it's really, really, really difficult.
posted by ashkenazy at 6:17 AM on October 2, 2011

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