why can't bands just stay together?

I was listening to Jay Mohr's excellent podcast last week when he had Duff McKagan from Guns and Roses on.  Find it, it is a really great hour of radio. He asked Duff why the band couldn't get back together.  Duff, having had to answer the question millions of times sidestepped the issue.  He handed it well.  The answer, as we know, is Axl is a narcissistic nutjob who really really really has it out for Slash.  No point dragging that story through the mud, especially since he has managed to avoid Axl's rage thus far.  Probably because of tactful avoidance like this one.

So, why can't bands stay together... or get back together.  Since I am both a serious and super hard core rock fan, who is also in a rock band, I will tell you.  People will say "it is like a marriage."  It is not like a marriage.  It is a marriage. Know that first.  Then, think how roughly 50% of marriages end.  If two people, who are banging each other no less, can't stay together no better than half the time, how could you expect 5?

So, lets look at a marriage.  You have some time apart.  Since I can't speak for your marriage, I will speak for mine.  We have been together nearly 20 years.  We have plenty of time apart.  We only really see each other after work for a few hours a day.  Imagine if I worked with my wife.  Imagine if I worked 20 feet away from her 7 days a week.  Imagine we rode to work together every day, and that drive was 20 hours each way.  I think we would kill each other.  A band does this.  A band especially does this when they are starting out, and can't afford separate rooms, tour buses, etc.  You live with these guys 16 hours a day.  You have been together since you were 18.  Know any marriages that started when a couple that was that young that lasted?  No, because there are none.  At 18, you are not the person you are going to be for the rest of your life.

At 18, I was a bit of a dick.  Everyone was.  Worst part is, it took me another 20 years to figure that out and make amends. You are finding your way in the world.  So, think of successful bands that have been doing this for 20 years.  Of course they hate each other.  There is no way around it.  There is NO ONE you like enough to spend that much time with them.  You are lying to yourself if you think otherwise.  Remember when you hated your parents and siblings and school and everything?  That is because you had spent too much time together.

I have a ton of great anecdotes, and I am a great conversationalist.  Not to my poor wife, who has heard every single story of mine 15 times over the last (nearly) 20 years.  Add to that pressure the press.  Imagine if every time you had a disagreement with your spouse, their side of the story was in Rolling Stone.  One of the keys to keeping a relationship together is being respectful and not doing your dirty laundry in public.

At least John Lennon was funny when he handled it.  when asked if Ringo was the best drummer in rock, Lennon replied "in all of rock?  Ringo isn't even the best drummer in the Beatles".  That is some wickedly funny shit.  Imagine how Ringo felt, though, reading that.  Ringo has taken a TON of shit about his drumming.  Ringo is a great drummer, and always was.  No, he is not Neal Peart.  But, Neal Peart isn't what early 60's pop music wanted or needed.

Then, you get money involved.  You perceive the others aren't working as hard as you, but getting the same cut.  Imagine this marriage analogy AND being related.  Of course the Robinson brothers (Black Crowes) and the Gallagher brothers (Oasis) hate each other.  They literally have spent their lives together.  That one never ends well.  The Fogerty brothers (Creedence Clearwater Revival) even sued each other... and Tom Fogerty died before his brother and he could patch the rift.

I genuinely think it is nearly impossible to spend that kind of time with anyone and not hate them.  So, what about the bands who have pulled it off?  Aerosmith has the same five guys for forty years.  To me, it is amazing the original 5 are even still alive.  It helps to throw money at the problem.  When I saw Motley Crue years ago, I noted they each had their own full size touring bus.  Smart move.  They only have to see each other for a couple hours a day, and that is on stage.  They are notorious for hating each other.

I think the Black Crowes handle it very well.  They don't fight in the press anymore, and they frequently take very large breaks from each other.  It looks like a 2 years on, 5 years off system.  Just like firefighters.

A long time ago, I posited on this very website that in time, all bands will get back together.  I believe this still.  Also, outside of Guns and Roses, I have proven correct.  Don't worry, they will get back together eventually.  Sadly, sometimes this doesn't happen until someone's funeral.  It takes something like that to realize how great things used to be, and maybe those issues are water under the bridge.

Also, money isn't always the panacea to fix everything.  My folks are divorced, just like everyone's parents.  Do you think they would remarry for a million bucks?  Nope... and they still get along.  Sometimes, all the money in the world can't fix things if you hate each other.  The Beatles sang "all you need is love".  Then, after the break up, Lennon writes "how to you sleep at night, you cunt?" to Paul McCartney.  They had all the money in the world.   Remember now, the other great love adage, money can't buy happiness.


Wren Gradey said…
More Lono gold.

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