Five Reasons Your Lead Singer Sucks

A living cautionary tale
A living cautionary tale

Anyone who has ever been in a rock band has had to learn how to get along with other band members, and let's face it, that's not always an easy thing to do. For every rock musician who is a responsible individual showing up for rehearsals and gigs without stirring up drama or being blitzed out of his mind, there's another one who can't seem to avoid causing problems. Sometimes that band member is the drummer (Insert drummer joke here), sometimes it's the guitarist or the bassist, but often enough the main offender is the singer. Here are a few of the reasons some bands — even yours — could end up hating the person up front.

Pictured: Some singers' contribution to "songwriting"
Pictured: Some singers' contribution to "songwriting"

In some cases, a band's singer might be the main creative mind behind the music and songwriting, but that's not always (or even usually) the case. Even if he did write the lion's share of the lyrics to a tune, that doesn't equate with "wrote the song" if the music was the brainchild of other members. It rapidly gets tiresome to have a singer who regularly claims responsibility for your band's music when you damn well know the dude couldn't write a whole song if his life depended on it. Grandiose boasts like that may be the first symptom that...

Sure, Nick started out as a nice guy with enough talent to croon your band's tunes, but something's been happening over the past year, and he seems to be changing...and not in a good way. First he started demanding that everyone refer to him as "Nikky Blackthorne," when his last name is really "Smith," then he began showing up at gigs 45 minutes late, and conveniently after all the gear was loaded in. Lately he's been shooting his mouth off onstage and in interviews, pissing off half the people who hear him. No one in the band is happy, because their previously amiable front man is exhibiting the signs of "Lead Singer's Disease." The condition is usually incurable, and the other members should ready themselves for suggestions that they rename the band "Blackthorne" and develop a new image involving makeup and spandex. If the guy shows up at a show wearing a kilt and launches into an onstage rant about how "the scene fucking sucks, and it's because there aren't enough sexy girls in this town," it's probably time to let the dude go solo and walk away from the train wreck your band has become.

You spent years learning to play an instrument and how to collaborate with other musicians. Countless hours were spent mastering scales and challenging techniques, preparing everyone for their eventual roles in the band that you're all in together — everyone put in a lot of time and effort getting to where they are now. Well, almost everyone. Nikky Blackthorne spent more time trying to look like a gothic David Lee Roth than he did developing his vocal chops, and while he can get through the songs without sounding terrible, he's definitely the weakest link in your band's chain. He's also been known to chain-smoke and drink too much right before shows, giving his already average voice a decidedly "Axl Rose dying" inflection that no one is happy with. What's worse is that singers like Nikky tend to have a bad habit of acting as if they're the most talented member of their band and are burdoned with carrying the whole group.

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When "Death Hippie" formed, everyone seemed to be on the same page — the band wanted to build an audience based on solid music and performances, with everyone contributing without any prima donna tendencies. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, the band's meager success has gone to Nick's...Excuse me..."Nikky's" head, and along with increasing demands for more creative control within the band, the dude is becoming the person that many fans and the press look to as your actual "leader." With the other members beginning to feel like they're becoming the backing band for some unpleasant solo project, and your singer's ego growing large enough to generate its own gravitational pull, things aren't looking good for the future of Death Hippie.

You've even caught the dude looking at your girlfriend in a way neither you or she is comfortable with, and everyone knows he already slept with the drummer's girlfriend. Everyone except the drummer, anyway. Nikky has also quit coming to rehearsals, claiming he needs to "save my voice," and has begun doing photo shoots without the rest of the band. You're no dummy, and you know how things have traditionally worked out for a band when the singer becomes the most famous person in it. Few people want to be left behind or held at a diminished stature when their front man is vaulted to fame, something I refer to as "The Marilyn Manson Effect."

It's bad enough that an out-of-control dude in the throes of "Lead Singer Disease" might have his ego leading him to burn through as many sexual conquests as he can, but it gains a whole new level of awfulness if his romantic activities extend too far into your fan base. While no one in the band relishes having a slimy front man trying to hit on his significant other, it can get the whole band in trouble if Nikky Blackthorne decides to hook up with the wrong fan, particularly if he's not checking IDs. No one in Death Hippie is going to have a fun time if the cops think that's happening. Even if it's not, it gets tiresome to have to watch anyone who is always looking to hook up with somebody, and can invite all sorts of drama that the band might have to deal with. Nothing feels "better" than being chased out of a town by a group of your singer's paramours, the cops and angry parents. Better to ditch Nikky and find someone else to belt out your tunes. Besides, unless you're already in KISS — do you want to be in a band with a guy who tries to act like Gene Simmons?

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