Having run a studio for 39 years, we’ve seen all manner of strange and wonderful things and heard all manner of tales of woes, where promising bands have suddenly disintegrated. The usual word we hear is “musical differences”, but this is often just a name for something far more serious. The second biggest cause of death of promising bands is a terrible affliction called “Rockstaritus“. Most bands start as a group of friends who enjoy making music. Often the group has a diversity of ability levels and commitment. Members tend to fall away and are replaced as the band develops, so that a more level playing field of commitment and ability is achieved. Eventually the band reaches a point where they are ready to gig. This is the point at which the danger of Rockstaritus is most likely to strike.
What happens is that there is a huge amount of excitement around the first few gigs of a band. All of bands friends and family turn out. They are a rather friendly audience. There is no better buzz than playing to a crowded hall and getting a good response. Sadly for those prone to the Rockstaritus affliction, this goes to the head of one or two members. Friends and family tell them they are marvellous and that “if they got a decent drummer (etc)” they’d be billionaires. The afflicted start scheming and plotting to shaft the members who are deemed “not up for it” for whatever reasons.
Once the affliction sets in it is generally only curable by disbandment (and often a punch up!). Lifelong friendships can end in an instant. So how can you spot the signs and prevent it? Sadly you can’t, the only way to deal with it is to develop a sense of humour and form a new band. Generally once musicians have been in a few bands and done afew gigs, they grow out of Rockstaritis, but it can return with a vengeance when the first whiff of real success comes along.
There are a few warning signs of Rockstaritis to look out for
* Cliques start to form in bands with members being left out of band activities
* Recording sessions become fraught with criticisms and blame games
* Band members start demanding larger shares of future income due to their amazing talents
Sadly once Rockstaritis has set in, the band is usually doomed. For those on the receiving end of it, often it can be quite traumatic. But if you get turfed out by the rest of the band, because “you are not taking the music seriously enough” or because “We need a new drummer who is more photogenic” to play the Dog and Duck in Pinner, then take a little solace that at least you are not stuck in the back of a van driving from Berlin to Copenhagen having to put up with them talking about how marvellous they are.