The last month has been without doubt the most bittersweet of my life. All of the shows on the farewell tour were packed to the rafters with some of the best people you could ever wish to spend an evening with. Almost every night fans stood in venues singing “This Song Is About You” long after the band had left the stage while bouncers wondered how on earth to get them to leave. Our fans are like a family and knowing this was the last family get together was heartbreaking. We sat in the dressing rooms listening to them carry our choruses out into the streets, teary eyed but swelling with pride.
Over the course of the farewell tour I’ve been asked countless times “why?”. We can still put on big tours and sell tickets at a rate and quantity to make many acts envious, the shows are always great and the fans are always breathtaking. So why walk away now? Well it’s an expansive question, one which I couldn’t hope to answer in a single blog post. Maybe one day there will be a book and the story can be told in full, but for now the best way I can explain it is to say that for every spine tingling minute stood on stage in front of a room full of passionate music lovers united in song, there were weeks and months of fighting with radio producers, record labels, our own management and at times each other. There comes a point where the greed, the hypocrisy, the lies and the infighting that plagues the music industry becomes so intolerable, so nauseating that you have to step back and ask yourself, is this really a nice place to be?
In the decade that I’ve worked in this industry in several capacities, I’ve witnessed friends screw each other over for money, I’ve seen companies steal from bands who’s interests they are payed to represent, I’ve watched record labels shrivel from power-houses to empty offices sparsely populated with self important pretenders, I’ve seen national radio transform from experts like John Peel who would lead music fans onto their next love affair with a band, to careerist charlatans who follow online statistics regimentally, incapable of an independent thought or opinion.
The music industry used to be about two things, the appreciation of musicians creating art in sound, and the ability to monetise that art in order to fund its production. Now it is about one thing. Money.
Over the past ten years as I’ve travelled around the world playing music, I’ve always felt incredibly proud of the U.K’s historic contribution to popular music. Per capita, the U.K has surely exported more internationally alcaimed acts, pioneered more ground breaking genres and given the world more incredible music than anywhere else in the world. We used to lead this industry. Somewhere along the way radio lost its balls and the record labels completely failed to predict the impact of the digitisation of music. As the labels lost more and more revenue to iTunes they took more and more from artists, crippling them financially and then moving on to another like cocaine fuelled vultures looking for the next talented soul they could bleed dry. Historically an artist could take ten years to develop their sound on British radio before we exported them to the worlds delight. Now artists are here today gone tomorrow, radio doesn’t know who to play, dance sounds like hip-hop, pop sounds like dance and everything is written and produced by committee to ensure maximum revenue for the ten minutes that anyone cares about it.
Money is nice, we’ve had years where we made a lot of it and we’ve had years where we’ve had none of it. It’s also corrupting, never more than when an industry which was used to a lot of it all of a sudden has to share ever decreasing amounts of it. It turns life long friends against each other, it makes once passionate men greedy, it erodes trust and destroys good people’s morals. Ultimately the music industries ceaseless and crass addiction to it is too much for me to bear anymore. Musicians are not valued, artistry is not encouraged, new ground is not broken. Pop has eaten itself and regurgitated all over a once great industry. All the good people are gone or going, music desperately needs a revolution and needs one soon.
Hopefully this offers some insight to those who just couldn’t understand our decision to say farewell. Integrity is everything in this short life, thankfully we left with ours intact and our heads held high.