By Billy Lee Lewis Published March 2008
There comes a time in the career of nearly all musicians, when we find ourselves on stage, stoking and fueling a frenzied vamp-out, and with each turnaround, the energy flies further off the chart, the fans rendeth their garments, yea, they gnasheth their teeth, virtually levitated by the pure power of our playing, and the entire room is caught up in an apocalyptically, mutually climactic euphoria. Everyone, that is, but you.
You find yourself so completely disengaged that your total concentration has, for the last 15 minutes, been dedicated to the possibility of getting back to the hotel in time for that back-to back Simpsons special. Not long ago, you’d have sold your soul for an encore from 30 people, but tonight you’re so caught up in calculating the amount of time left on stage, (+ tear-down, x load-out, to the power of the drive time to the hotel), your desperate hopes for “noncore vs. encore” evaporate before your glazed, inattentive eyes. The fact is, these inconsiderate, devoted, no-life-havin’, salary-payin’ boors will want more.
What’s happening here is that the highest, purest reward any performer could ever wish for — the ability to, even temporarily, change people’s lives for the better — has been reduced to an imposition. Clearly, something’s very wrong. Let’s talk about what it is.
Okay, has this been an ongoing situation? Might it be an infrequently recurring slump? Are external problems hijacking your concentration and/or enthusiasm? These are always possibilities, and in my opinion are the equivalent to bouts of flu, which must be endured, but from which one recovers. On the other hand, has this been a persistent, perhaps worsening problem? If so, the answer can most likely be found through a process of elimination and/or change. Let’s just name a few, starting within the band. Is it the people, the music, the schedule, the pay? What about you? Are you fed up with touring, tired of waiting for the brass ring? Have you basically realized you’d rather be at home doing something else?
Bands are virtually identical to romantic relationships. Don’t waste everyone’s time by dragging out a loveless partnership. For the band’s sake, either fix it or move on. It’s inarguably a deeply difficult and often painful decision, but ultimately, one seldom regretted.