Five Great Ways to Kill Your Band

The road to creating a successful band can be very rocky, and a lot of projects never get off of the ground. When one looks at many of the bands that do manage to stick with it long enough to gain a certain level of success, they've usually been through a few lineup changes before finding the combination that works. Even after reaching a point where a band is steadily gigging and things seem to be going great, a band member can still do lots of things to screw it up. So for anyone wishing to ruin the band he or she may be in (or as a warning to those trying to avoid that), here are a few time-tested and reliable strategies that cause a lot of problems.

Few people want to work with individuals who are unreliable or act erratically, and having a bandmate who gets loaded right before a show gets old really fast. All the practice in the world seems like a serious waste of time if your bass player can barely stand onstage, or if your singer gets wasted and assaults audience members at every other show. Sure, rock history is full of tales of debauchery, and plenty of famous musicians have carved out a legend for themselves with behavior that's entertaining to read about, but it's not so fun for the people who have to deal with the aftermath. People who want to crush their band quickly just have to get shitfaced before every show and start skipping band functions because they're either too wasted or too hungover to function.

This is a classic in the "bad band breakup" repertoire, but anyone who wants a hasty exit from his musical project that will be long remembered should consider acting like a true shitbag — either by raiding the band's coffers or nabbing some gear on the way out. Your reputation as a criminal jackass will probably require a permanent move to another city, but hey, what are consequences when you have a serious crack habit to support?

This is another tried-and-true method for causing serious problems in a band, and will telegraph "this band is probably doomed" to your other bandmates. While a budding romance is usually something to be celebrated, when it happens within a band it can become a major headache for everyone else. Some couples can make it work without everyone ending up hating them, but every time there's a problem in the relationship, it can (and probably will) affect the band. Jealousy, lover's spats and disagreements over band business can add an extra-messy layer to the delicate balance of interpersonal relationships that many bands already struggle to maintain.

This is another recipe for success, if by success a person means "causing lots of trouble with the band," but if a member has a significant other who can't get along with his or her bandmates, it will usually become a problem somewhere up the road. Sometimes the girlfriend or boyfriend of a musician will become jealous of the band the lover is in because it demands so much from that person, or just won't like a particular member of the group. In any scenario where a person's romantic partner and his band don't mix well, that spells trouble for either the project or the relationship. Or both.

Sometimes being in a band is a little like being in a gang or a (usually dysfunctional) insular family group, and can create adversarial feelings toward other bands, promoters and/or club personnel. Life in a band can have ups and downs, and it's often easy to blame others when things aren't going well. Sure, some people in any music scene are scumbags, and I even remember chasing a promoter through traffic one night as he tried to escape paying my band for a show we'd played. Unfortunately, some folks get involved in the music business so they can take advantage of others, but if a band treats everyone they encounter like trash, eventually that can cause them serious problems. Making enemies with every other band in town is also a bad way to do things, since a lot of the time having a good working relationship with others in the music scene is what helps a band get bigger and better shows. When you meet a musician who seems to have problems with a whole bunch of other people, you have to wonder if it's those folks who are the problem, or him.
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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.