Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

When the road can’t go on forever

You may think that nothing beats life in a rock’n’roll band, but those at the coalface would beg to differ. Where outsiders see an escape from the usual routine, insiders will talk about pressure, hassle and stress – and it’s …

Fri, Aug 5, 2011, 09:48

   

You may think that nothing beats life in a rock’n’roll band, but those at the coalface would beg to differ. Where outsiders see an escape from the usual routine, insiders will talk about pressure, hassle and stress – and it’s not just bands on the first rung of the ladder either.

This week saw the Kings Of Leon cancel an entire US tour after an onstage meltdown. Meanwhile, Australian band The Middle East called it a day, saying they didn’t feel like playing any more. It was, it seemed, better to split up rather than carry on and pretend things were OK.

It’s actually a surprise that more bands don’t call it quits. Life in a touring band is far from glamourous. Your day is spent soundchecking, doing promotion (even journalists know that most bands hate doing interviews) and hanging around waiting for stuff to happen.

While you might think that the constant travel is a bonus, you usually get to see little more than the venue or hotel, if you’re lucky to get off the tour-bus for a night.

You’re also spending all your time with your bandmates and cracks quickly appear in those relationships. Band pyschology is a fascinating subject, especially with bands who’ve managed to spend decades working together. But even in the most well-adjusted group, there must be times when the drummer has to be prevented from punching the singer.

Of course, the pay-off can be superb. You get to play your music to adoring, enthusiastic fans every night and get well paid for your troubles (the holidays and pension plans are pretty good too). And you get to hang out with roadies and tour managers.

Yet there are still many acts prepared to give all that up. They’re the ones who believe it’s better to put on the brakes than merely burn out.

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