Psychobilly Freak Out!

July 18, 2008

Dear Dude,

First off HUGE fan!

I play in a Psychobilly band. We had to cancel the last 3 practices because our guitar player went out of town / anniversary / Lyle Lovett. Now he’s saying that he doesn’t like the band anymore and doesn’t feel like were going in the “direction” he wants. He claims, “were too hard to be a Psychobilly band.” When it’s he that writes most of the songs. He would rather play Honky Tonk Rockabilly and as of last month started drumming for a band that plays that style but only does covers. Anyways what do you think we should do, besides break his face?

Thanks,
Psychobilly Freak Out!

Dear Psychobilly Freak Out!

First of all breaking his face is not an option, physical violence against band members no matter how drunk, high, or angry the parties are should never be entered in the equation. With that out of the way, I can say there have been more then a few times I have wanted to “break some faces!” Music is personal, music is emotional, and music involves artists injecting part of themselves into the overall product. These three things can lead you to think emotional and irrationally about the predicament of your band. So lets try to tear away all the emotional garbage and take a look at this problem.

Ok, the main fact here is he is the main songwriter. This causes a huge problem for you and the other band members if he wants to leave. Its funny that he says its not going in the direction he wants it to while he is the main songwriter but thats not uncommon. I mean maybe he just doesn’t understand the style you really want to do, or maybe it just seems different to him when your band jams, or maybe its because he would rather play drums then guitar and not have the burden of songwriting on his hands. Whatever the reason (and I am sure I could list 10 or 15 more) his heart is not in it anymore and he is choosing to walk away from the band.

Now you are confronted with a choice. Let him leave and break up, or replace him and move on, The one thing that is clear is the current band climate is not working. So what’s The Dude’s advice? I say let him leave. Tell him you wish him luck and hope to play with his new band some day. There is no reason to fight his leaving. If he is not going to practice and doesn’t feel the music it will be a waste of time for to go forward with him. But this does not mean break up? Shit it’s just a minor bump in the road. You know how many band members I have had to replace? If I had a dollar for each time I could retire and just write advice for free all day! I have seen other bands go through major line up changes and still survive.

My advice is find another guitarist who understands the style you’re trying to rock. Shit replacing a guitarist is the next easiest thing to replacing an amp. Hopefully you will have no problem finding that dude who will fit in. I know it seems scary but move on, and most of all don’t give up. It’s a tough road but, you can and will survive, for those who try to rock, I salute you!

The Dude

Advertisements

Dudes Gone Wild!

May 19, 2008

Dear Dude,

I have been rocking in an established band for many years now, and our singer has caught the dreaded L.S.D (Lead Singer Disease, aka: he has gone crazy). Now, I know rocking and partying go hand in hand, but this guy seems to be taking it to the limit. Quite frankly, his spiraling out of control is bringing myself and other members of the band down. So, what is a fellow dude to do? Do I kick a little ass or do we sit him down and try talking and tell him that he seems to be going through a mid life crisis?

Thanks,
Dudes Gone Wild!

Dear Dudes Gone Wild,

Lead singers, dude, they are their own beast! But coming down with a case of the old overactive partier syndrome, well that can happen to any member. We have all seen the VH1 Behind the Music rock star cliche stories of alcohol, drug abuse, and self-destruction. It’s such an old story most people ignore, or almost, expect it. Why is this so cliche? Because, it happens a lot and it’s often times the true story. Most good musicians have a certain kind of compulsive personality that can easily turn into addiction. Not only are we compulsive by nature we are also around a lot of free booze, and well…lets just say partying. So, what’s the right move for dealing with an overactive partier in your band?

The first thing you have to do is search yourself to make sure you’re aware of all your feelings. Are you straight edge, or do you not drink? I was the sole straight edge member of my band for almost 12 years and let me tell you, it does really suck. If you’re not straight edge but you just don’t drink it’s going to be pretty much the same for you. Basically, It’s going to be lame when dudes are partying. You have to remember drinking socially can be done healthily. It is possible to only have a few drinks every once in a while, it is possible to go on tour and get rip roaring drunk a few times and still come home a relatively healthy person, shit it is even possible to have an amazing time as the only sober person in a room. It’s not all sober extremists and drunken Axl Roses,  there can be a middle ground.

Maybe, you do party and still have a problem with the level that other band members party. I would say you too have to do a little soul searching. One thing I have noticed from being around functioning alcoholics in bands (and almost every band I meet has at least one) is that they like to judge. Not to mention people with substance abuse problems sometimes like to make claims they know will hurt other people in order to misplace blame, or deal with other internal issues they may be having. It might be a hard look but you have to remember you need to make sure you have thought how your views may impair the judgment of your peers. My point is you need to make sure the judgment of your friend is coming from a place of compassion and genuine concern. Otherwise there may be some subconscious motive you may be missing.

Also, remember when anyone first starts partying they will go through a ‘honeymoon’ stage. They tend to be more social about it and will probably do everything in excess. Hopefully, after being hung over in front a whole lot of people at a show, or just being physically wrecked on tour a few times from drinking, your dude will hit his stride and mellow out. Some people (especially dudes in bands) don’t get to go through that phase of partying that most others go through in college. Lets be clear, do not use this paragraph as an excuse for inaction, use it merely to gain perspective. If you think that none of the last three paragraphs apply to your situation, then please, start communicating with him!

That’s right, after all your band members really should be your brothers and sisters. Vince Neil once said that a band isn’t really a band unless it acts like a gang and a family. I actually fully agree with him. I think if your singer is a person you have been in a band with for a while, is someone you genuinely care about as a person, and care about making music with in the future, you should express your concerns to this person and put it all out on the table. See, bands think in collective consciousness so you want to make sure your band (i.e. family) members know that abusive and aggressive self destructive behaviors are not condoned by the overall group.

At first I would try a simple short conversation. I suggest you do it alone just you and the band member in question. It’s best not to make a scene and you don’t want the member to feel like everyone is ganging up on him or her. Make sure you keep the conversation positive. Its good to start by telling the person you care about them and their friendship. You just want to put it out on the table that the partying concerns you a little and you want to make sure that the members health isn’t being neglected. Your band member may get pissed, may react angrily but people don’t like to be judged even if they are doing something wrong. Remember your friend has a right to make his or her own life choices but that doesn’t give them the right to be self-destructive. You need to acknowledge that you respect your friend’s decision but you want to put it on his or her radar that you are concerned. Friendship is a give and take, so you need to be willing to give your friend the respect to let him or her make their own decisions and they need to be willing to respect you by giving your concerns an honest ear. Try to end the conversation on something positive and leave it open to be discussed later.

This is a hard position to be in. You don’t want to make it a big deal if it isn’t, you don’t want to turn you band into a mess of personal problems, and if your not a partier you don’t want to open up the whole “I party, you don’t” argument. It’s all about intentions, keep them honest and sincere. Its probably not going to be a fun conversation but it will get the ball rolling. So look inside yourself and take a hard look at the situation from all angles. Decide whether now is the time to act and if so start a dialog. It is by opening the lines of communication you can fight dissent amongst your band members, quell any inner tensions, and most of all do the right thing as a friend.

The Dude