A band is the family you choose. We can't speak for your family, but in our family we send you to the hospital over the last piece of chicken. We've seen our cousins choked unconscious more often than we've seen Star Wars. Bands are like that too.
On one hand, you're united in a common goal; it's a war band on a quest. On the other, it's usually cramming three or more over-the-top personalities into tiny vans or rooms, soaking them in alcohol, and then watching them try to kill each other.
Here's an example from Joe Ortiz of Clockpole:
In Novice, I punched Jason James, the guitarist/singer, for being a bitch when he broke a string or went out of tune. My attitude was either tune back quickly or keep playing, but don't throw a fit. After that, he never bitched out when his guitar would fuck up.
Also in Novice, [drummer] Austin Rhoads and Jason would always fight about something [dumb] hours before a show, and I'd have to run around town and calm them down so we could make it on time.
In Clockpole, there are a shit-ton of people. I get along with everyone, but others might not get along as much. Austin (same guy from Novice) and Erik Broussard stopped talking to each other for a few months over a girl. The girl was definitely not worth it. She was a serious alcoholic, mentally unstable, wet the bed and scared Andrew Lee from Wild Moccasins when she tried to make out with him while he was playing.
Austin and Erik patched it up in time for our Peelander-Z gig. Also at a KTRU gig, while me and Justin Clay ran to the store, Erik threatened to kick James Motherfucking Holmes' ass for not helping load equipment and James told Erik to stop being a bitch. When me and Justin got back, everything seemed normal and none of the other members told me what happened.
When all seven of us squeezed into the little KTRU studio, I had Erik and James set up right next to each other. Afterwards, they both told me what happened and I had to laugh. It was funny knowing they couldn't stand each other yet had to literally be side by side in the studio.
They currently are civil towards each other, but I'm not sure if they like each other.
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Honestly, that's what we'd call a pretty normal band dynamic, but what does everyone fight about? Rocks Off took an extremely unscientific poll to find out.
Two items stood out very significantly in the poll: Fights over practice attendance and over song elements. 23 percent of those polled cited these, and usually added some pretty venomous comments as well. The main issues seem to be people's lack of ability to stick to a schedule, or arguments over whether the drummer should be allowed a solo.
One former member of a Christian band said that songwriting arguments usually boiled down to whom God spoke to most.
The next two big causes of tension are our two favorite things: Family and alcohol. 20 percent said that they argue most over who is going to provide the booze. An equal number stated that lack of commitment to the band over relationships with significant others, children or, in one case, the county jail, were where the friction was hottest between the members.
Fights over money and about booking shows tied as the third most argumentative issues. Most bands polled complained about other members not coming up with rent on rehearsal spaces, though typical fights about payouts were also mentioned. Booking shows was a headache for most, as well: Where and when to play, and who's to blame if it all goes to hell. The show booking issue also seems to be wrapped up in a basic "Who's in charge?" fight.
A few other items seemed to be common problems among most bands. 15 percent said that the disgusting bathroom habits and farts of their mates were the most common fight. Where to stop for food accounted for only 11 percent, as did yelling at people for their awful stage attire and being too fucked up to play.
Singers not helping other members set up and tear down was mentioned by about 18 percent of those polled.
"The No. 1 thing that really pisses people off is when some members don't help hump gear to and from the van," says Lee Alexander. "This can particularly be a problem if you have a lead singer who doesn't play an instrument. I've backed some singers that just put away their mike (assuming they even brought their own) and then hit the bar to party with their friends and leave the rest of the band to clean up the stage.
"Eventually the other members get fed up, someone blows up at practice, and the next thing you know whiskey bottles are flying across the room. This is probably why drummers are usually the first to quit when a band starts to fall apart - they got more crap to pack up than anyone."
One musician polled said that arguments over who had the biggest tits were her most common fight. Another complained of constant arguments over masturbating in the tour van. These were statistically insignificant, though hilarious.
Seven percent said that their bands don't fight at all. Two -thirds of these said they accomplished this by replacing people they didn't like with machines.
"Having just one, maybe two members present usually prevents fights," says Hyperbubble. "Replacing all your band members with synthesizers guarantees it." The remaining third claimed that personally funding the project and ruling with a tyrannical iron fist kept the bickering at bay.
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Ultimately, the cause of fights between band members may not come down to petty arguments over the minutiae of music. Lewis D'Aubin of the Consortium of Genius sums it up best.
"In my experience, band members fight amongst themselves about petty things, usually when they should be fighting for the group as a whole," he says. "A lot of times it seems to come from insecurity about not being recognized or appreciated."
Now if you'll excuse us, we have to go kill someone for constantly tuning.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.