It is time to throw a band member out. I know you have answered this sort of question before, but here is the twist, we have to throw out my brother. He is basically a drunk. He wasn't when we started, but now he is. We're all in our mid-twenties and as a band we've taken our music increasingly seriously and gotten better and even more professional in how we approach the whole thing, but he has taken it less and less seriously, more like he likes being a "musician" lifestyle-wise but not when it comes to actually PLAYING the music and getting better. He's the bass player, so it isn't like he's irreplaceable or anything, but still he's my brother and that makes it weird and even more so that I can't figure out what his problem really is because obviously we came from the same homelife and all that so I know exactly how fucked up his/my familly is - which is: alittle, but not all that much. I'm no saint and neither is anyone else in the band, but he is completely out of hand. So I have two questions - what do you think caused this slide of his and how do I go about throwing him out. - Done.
Dear Done -
It is interesting that you threw in the word "irreplaceable" because, as I read your email, the first thing I thought of was, of course, the story of The Replacements and how they had to throw Bob Stinson out of the band while his little brother, Tommy, stayed. That might sound like ancient history to you guys, but it might be worth digging up some books and reading about it... but I know that doesn't help your immediate situation. So let's get into it.
Sure you both grew up in the same home, but you would be surprised how differently siblings can experience the same home they grew up in, just as any individuals will experience and process ANYthing differently. Maybe he saw your mutual childhoods as a more difficult time than you did. Maybe he has had experiences (bad ones) that you don't even know about. Add to that the fact that every individual (including members of the same family) is a unique soup of genetics and brain wiring/chemistry and there is your answer. Things like alcoholism do run in families due to what many researchers are fairly certain is a genetic 'predisposition' to the problem, but even in the most besotted of families there are always a few who manage to avoid the landmine of alcoholism... Is it luck? Genetics? Determination? ...I'm not going to even pretend I have an answer for that, just know that it is a fact. Trying to figure out the 'why' of his problem isn't going to yield (m)any answers and isn't going to much help your current situation. Just deal with what you can see: His behavior and how it affects you, your band and your family.
Sure it would be easier to just toss a 'friend' out of a band for bad behavior, but family is tough, and contrary to what you said in your letter, I'll warn you that good bass players are much harder to find than you probably think. How far HAVE you already gone to address your brother's problem? Have there been ultimatums or interventions already? or have you all just been silent as he as gotten increasingly "out-of-hand" and just NOW you're getting to a breaking point? He's your brother. Have you talked to him one-on-one about any of this, not as a band mate, but as a family member? Trust me, on some level even he knows he is fucking up... He might be amazed that no one is calling him on it. He might be dying (literally and figuratively) for someone to throw him a line and pull him out... even if he says otherwise when drunk and confronted. Find a time when he isn't loaded, get him alone and SAY what isn't being said, then see if that changes things. Keep in mind that, if he is already in deep, and not ready to quit, he might say all the things you are hoping to hear, even if he has no intention of changing his behavior. You have to set some parameters and STICK to them, then judge the results by his ACTIONS not by his words. I say all this because, based on what little you said in your letter, it sounds like things are just beginning to go off the rails for him.
IF you have already been through all of that and he is still incapable or unwilling to improve and you really are at the end of your rope with him then of course you do have the right to take care of yourself and your band (and your family.) You might have to handle it like a real 'Intervention' and just sit him down with everyone, including the band and the family if possible. Let them all have their say. Tell him, with no negotiation or wiggle-room, what has to happen if he wants to stay in the band and then put the situation in his lap. It is tough, but the flipside is: You keep him in the band and let his problem become a problem for all of you. You have the right to protect yourself.