This band could be your life
If you only read one article on being in a band, make sure it’s Patrick Freyne’s brilliant piece from the weekend on his old band National Prayer Breakfast
The answer to the age-old question ‘why are you in a band?’ is here. It’s there shining bright in the midst of Patrick Freyne’s fantastic piece from the weekend’s paper about the decade he and his friends Paul Clancy and Daragh Keogh spent in a band called the National Prayer Breakfast.
Actually, it’s all there, the ups and the downs, the sheer mundane everyday drudgery of rehearsals and recordings, the moments of high comic drama that come with unscripted live shows, the times when it all makes perfect sense, the inevitable third album blues before a day is called. You could wrap the whole career of a band, who were much more than just-another-band to its members, in the folds of the piece.
It’s a superb piece of writing because it comes from the right place. Like Michael Azzerand’s Our Band Could Be Your Life, it captures the whole vivid nine yards of a particular time and a scene. As Patrick notes, Dublin was in the middle of ramping up for the boom when NPB were rolling around in venues like the Funnel and Ierne Ballroom. All around them, the city was preparing for economic take-off. They, meanwhile, were doing their own thing: “we were distributing free sweets and encouraging people to play the board games a friend had liberated from a toyshop.”
I’m sure many bands will read the piece and go ‘he got us’. Most bands, despite what they might dream and think, will end their run like this. They’ll be remembered by a handful of fans, those peers they’ve rubbed shoulders with, the scensters who thought they could have been huge and the venue bookers who took a chance on them on a Tuesday night.
Most musical careers may end in relative failure compared to what those early dreams and thoughts contained but, as Patrick’s piece shows, it doesn’t have to end in bitterness. He and his friends spent their twenties in a band which was their world and universe. It’s probably what you’re supposed to do. Indeed, his piece may well encourage many to spend their twenties in bands. That’s a good thing.