Our advice to a gentle listener about how they can break up the band their in (even though they really love it). So we talk about how to deal with that and also chat about some of our band break ups!
In this episode of the podcast we addressed the following question from a listener:
I think I have to break up with my band and it is killing me! Logically, emotionally, physically, everything is saying stop doing this. But I also love the band, my friends, the songs. Really deeply. And I’ve a lot of sunk costs, time, creative, energy, financial.
We’ll be doing further podcasts about endings more broadly, and about friendship break-ups. In this one we focused on endings with a group like a band, and in relationships where a shared creative project was a key element of the relationship. We also threw in a lot of references to bands we like which have navigated endings.
In general we advised trusting your sense of when it is time to end, and explaining it to the others in an honest way, much as the listener has done here. It’s great to give people a sense of both what you’re grateful for and what the band means to you, as well as why it feels like time to leave. Also, it can be useful to articulate what kinds of ongoing relationships you would like (e.g. continuing to be friends with the group or individuals in it).
It would be worth giving people time for this to sink in, and then inviting everyone to share their feelings about it. This is not about trying to persuade you to stay or saying you’re a bad person for going, but an opportunity to be with the different meanings the band has – or has had – to those involved, and how the ending feels for everyone.
If people are struggling to accept it, it’s worth remembering that if it isn’t working for everyone, it isn’t working for anyone. Also everything ends at some point, and endings often offer new beginnings. So many great bands have had shifting members over the years. So many musicians have gone on to other bands, solo careers, or different careers, after leaving.
Of course the ending may be messy, however much we want to avoid that, because people have a lot invested in a band and the relationships within it, and endings often hurt because of what is lost (both the past, the present, and the potential future). Bands also involve people sharing very intimate and exciting moments – rather like an erotic relationship – which can make it even more loaded.
It’s okay for an ending to be hard and messy. It may feel differently once people have had time to process it, to see what happens next, and for the heat to go out of the situation. It is certainly best to leave if it feels right for you, and there probably isn’t a perfect way to do it – you can only do your best in the circumstances.
© Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock, 2019