How to quit a band?
March 20, 2013 1:45 PM   Subscribe

How to let them down easy?

I made friends with some New Agey/alternative people this winter, and somehow the idea popped into someone's head to start a band.

I'd always wanted to be in a band but had never had the chance, so I joined along. Also, I was happy to find other weird/alternative-ish people to hang out with. it was a nice outlet for me while I was working my first "realish" job since graduation in an office with really successful career-driven people who I find it hard to relate to.

Now I feel like an idiot, but I really want to quit. I want to focus on getting my shit together, coming up with a life plan going forward. Basically, I don't like the music we are making and I don't like these people very much any more. I'm not into the new age stuff and half the time I have no idea what they're talking about, not to mention that there seems to be a lot of passive aggression and drama going on.

I have held off from quitting til now, first because I am cowardly, and secondly because someone else tried to quit and was still badgered to help out. I just don't know how to dissapoint my friend. She's really attached to getting her songs out there, and I don't want to let her down. But I'm just not enjoying it at all and probably should have bowed out way sooner than now. Also, I'm timid and find it hard to argue with people calmly without appearing really cold. I fear my friend wouldn't take "no" for answer and would somehow convince me to stay in because I am so weak and accomodating.

I want to send her an email, because I know I could fully explain myself, but I sort of feel like she deserves this to be told in person. this whole thing means a lot to her. But in that case I am worried I wouldn't be able to stick to my guns on this. Should I email or call?
posted by winterportage to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just tell her that you have to back off because of time commitments elsewhere - work interfering is always a good excuse. Your "realish" job has become more real, and you don't have extra time for the band anymore.

Present it as something out of your control that can't be changed. Definitely offer to play any shows you guys already have scheduled, and if you know someone who could step into your place make that introduction. But set a final date that works for you, and don't agree to do anything more after that point.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:54 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, and in person is best for this sort of things - emails and even phone calls come off cold.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2013

I've quit bands several times. Sometimes there's a good reason to point to, sometimes not. I've always just said that it was time for me to do something different. Saying that the band is getting in the way of your job seems as good a reason as any. Do it in person and do it with confidence. There are worse things you could be faced with having to do.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:59 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: I'd arrange to meet your friend for coffee and just tell her that due to other committments that you're no longer able to play in the band.

If you are pressed, simply tell her, "your friendship is valuable to me, and I wouldn't hurt you for the world, but the band dynamic doesn't work for me. It was an interesting experience and I'm glad I gave it a shot. I admire your talent greatly. Thank you for the opportunity."

That's pretty much that. There's not a whole lot she can come back with.

It may be that she didn't want to hurt your feelings either and maybe she thinks that someone else would fit in better. (We can hope)

If you are asked to help after that, simply say, "That just won't be possible."

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If she gets pushy or tries to make it work, just tell her "I'd hate it if your songs didn't get out there because I had to miss so much band practice."
posted by politikitty at 2:04 PM on March 20, 2013

No need to coddle them. If they want to have a band, they need to get used to this.
posted by thelonius at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

They are themselves, passive aggressive. Email them.
Don't lose any sleep over this.
They may respond with wanting to talk - your choice then.
posted by Kruger5 at 2:09 PM on March 20, 2013

She's really attached to getting her songs out there, and I don't want to let her down.

You do not have to sacrifice your goals and free time doing something you don't like in order to nurture someone else's dream of making it big. Tell her you didn't take this decision lightly, and that it's final. No bargaining. Wish her luck.
posted by quince at 2:16 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

There my very well be angst and talk of betrayal and abandonment. This is not your problem.

If her songs are worth "getting out there," they will get out there without your involvement. This has been part of making music, arguably, since we were sitting around the fire blowing on reeds and beating sticks together.

Do not lose sleep over it. I agree that it would be classy of you to offer to honor any standing commitments, but with a hard quit date, sooner than later.
posted by Danf at 2:25 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think you should find a date that makes it reasonable for them to find a replacement - backing out on a gig that's tomorrow isn't good. But then you just go. There must be 50 ways to leave a band.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:41 PM on March 20, 2013

Just remember that you aren't arguing with her. You are not trying to convince her to change something. You are letting her know that you are quitting. THis is not a problem solving conversation, it is one in which you indicate clearly that your tastes have changed and your life is growing in different directions and you're heading out that way.

And then a nice "thanks for the good times and good luck with the music."

You don't need to let her discuss this with you. Remember that.
posted by salishsea at 3:35 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Remember that it's always better to quit before you start missing practice and delaying gig preparation by not being available or committed enough to practice on your own. Tell her you don't have time, and don't want to be the unpredictable one delaying their success.

I want to send her an email, because I know I could fully explain myself, but I sort of feel like she deserves this to be told in person

Not if she was one of the people who badgered the last guy into staying she doesn't. People only deserve being treated with respect if they can respond in kind.
posted by jacalata at 3:44 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should get the notion out of your head that you need to explain yourself, argue your position, that someone can convince you to do something that you don't want to and that you have to do it, and that her/their dream must be your dream as well. Otherwise, you're defeated before you even start.

Take this:
I want to focus on getting my shit together, coming up with a life plan going forward
and turn it from a forward-thinking phrase into a present tense action. Like
I am focusing on getting my shit together and I have other commitments that won't allow me to be a part of the band anymore.

You can choose to follow that with how it's not a good fit anymore, etc., but honestly once you do that, you open the door for someone to try to convince you. How you deliver this depends on how close you are to the "her" in this and whether you want to maintain the friendship. Keep in mind that a friend is allowed to be disappointed, hurt, or even a bit angry about this but that a true friend will not try to force you to stay by holding your friendship hostage, by guilting you, or by steamrolling over your feelings.
posted by sm1tten at 4:13 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Write an ad for a new whatever-you-are and show it to her. Tell her you will be posting it soon unless she already has someone in mind. Tell her that you are going in another direction and you feel that her talent will shine brighter with someone other than you. If she starts to argue, show her the ad again and repeat what you just said.

If you want to weasel out you could fake an addiction. 'Hey, you didn't know this but I can only play when I'm hopped on pez. I'm doing the 12 step thing now, because it was wrecking my life, and my sponsor says I have to quit music. Sorry.'
posted by myselfasme at 4:38 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I fear my friend wouldn't take "no" for answer and would somehow convince me to stay in because I am so weak and accomodating.

"Guys, I have to bail on the band after [date], because I've got commitments that aren't compatible. I'll still help out until [date], but after that you're on your own."

Then, every time you get badgered for help, say "Sorry, that won't be possible."
posted by davejay at 8:18 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: Update: I called her to say I wanted to talk-- she said she had wanted to talk to me because she was quitting the band and 2 other people had already quit. Basically the person causing all the drama is the only one left in the band. So I was worrying for nothing.
Thanks for your help though!
posted by winterportage at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2013

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