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When The Music Stops


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I remember the fun and excitement, when as an young teenager I followed bands, stunned by their sheer vibrancy. I was taken places I would never have anticipated and shown things I didn't know existed. Above all I was given an identity of sorts, and I found that I was comfortable with who i could be. The bands seemed to exist on another level entirely, living a somehow gifted life, charmed. Untouchable. I believed every word I was fed.

I worshiped those bands, and I felt inspired. I had been playing music for years at that point, and now playing guitar in a band was all I could see. I wasn't interested in being famous, that was kind of a side effect of playing good music, playing lots of gigs and selling records. It was about the music, and the lifestyle.

A few years later I was playing in bands myself. The first ones were more of a racket. covering Freebird, Smoke On The Water, Paranoid etc. The usual rock suspects in the early 80s. We struggled to be cool, a sad reflection on our heroes. So I worked on. I finally got confidence to play my songs (I had been writing for several years), and to front a band. The band grew more popular and we stepped closer to fame, danced with the press and began to believe our own hype.

Eventually a manager came along. By that time I was already wide awake to the differences between my teenage view of the music scene and what the reality was. Drugs? Yes. Groupies? You bet. :) Life was a constant party. An ocean of indulgence, and boy did I swim. The band argued all the time. (sound familiar?) At some point we stopped making music for the love of it and started playing the part of being a band.

It's sad how we can be so deluded. I looked at bands through the eyes of a fan, and I believed that somehow the bands I liked had held on to their sense of self, had kept their feet on the ground and never sold out to hype. When I crossed the line and started getting fans of my own I thought "fan-f*cking-tastic!". Before long I was believing our own hype, but I had a growing sense of being uncomfortable. Deals on the horizon, 5 gigs a week for 2 years (or there abouts). We all started to believe the hype.

At some point I stopped and looked around. I had brushed a fan off with some moldy excuse, and I caught myself. For the first time in a long time I looked around. I was hanging with musicians. I was playing music. Music I had invested so much of myself in. A scene I had believed in. A band of friends who did nothing but fight about trivial shit. A scene full of bands like that. i had seen fans brushed off by all sorts of bands. i had heard them talk of fans like they were cattle. Ridiculing them. Distancing themselves from the fans. Music was no longer the inspiration, it was the vehicle. An identity in crisis.

I've heard so much BS over the years about keeping your feet on the ground, but the music industry is full of egotists, and shallow sycophants. The "Yes" men win the day all the time. You here it so many times it gets you hook line and sinker before you even get a whiff that you are in trouble.

This is the music industry. No longer is the music good enough. Commercialism has won the battle. "Here's lies Rock and Roll. Missed but not forgotten. It was a hell of a party!"

If you are planning on a career in music, put your naivety in a box and forget about it. Forget your grandiose ideas about changing the world and having your name written down in history. The music world is all smoke and mirrors, bullshit and cocaine. Musicians don't stand a chance. It's a job after all, but one where you are a 24 hours a day performer, living up to some bullshit image, playing the part of a band.

When the music stops, you look around and what do you see? Party wash outs. People with f*ck all to show but wounds, and songs they are sick of they can't listen to. For a while past glories haunt your life, you get stopped in the street, people still look at you in bars and restaurants thinking, is it?

I may sound bitter, but actually I'm not. I'm glad I walked away from a good deal. I'm glad I rediscovered who I was before I drowned. I'm glad that I finally didn't believe the hype.

You know it took years for me to play music in any kind of serious way. I was so sickened by the scene, what was the point?

Well after a lot of searching, and a lot of running, the answer was simple.

The music.

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