Even under the best of circumstances, moving on after the breakup of a band can be an emotionally devastating experience. And while extreme emotions can sometimes prove to be prime territory for making music in, that’s not always the case. After serious bands part ways, some musicians find a way to move on and keep making music, but others opt to throw in the towel in an effort to wash their hands of the experience altogether.
What went wrong?
If you’re intent on making music after the breakup of your band, the first and most important thing you should do is to look backwards rather before making plans to go it alone or start again with a new band. As much as you might like to think that you weren’t to blame for things going wrong in your previous band, your bandmates might disagree with you. Take some time to find out what went wrong, why, and how you can avoid similar pitfalls in the future.
No two bands are the same and either are the reasons for what causes their demise. Reasons for bands calling it quits range from huge dramatic fights inspired by inner unresolved conflicts and arguments about things like money to quieter collective agreements that it’s just not worth it to keep going any longer. Taking an honest look at why your band didn’t make it is the first step towards moving on and making music again in the future.
Coping with the loss of your band
Whether you see it this way or not, a serious band is an intimate relationship and there’s a profound loss that’s often felt when it ends. Falling somewhere between a marriage and a business partnership, the connections you form with your bandmates and the larger idea of your band itself can be incredibly strong and meaningful if the project was serious and one you were invested in for years. Keeping this in mind, don’t expect to seamlessly move on to making music again after the breakup of your band. If your band was a major part of your life, take some space to fully acknowledge that before launching into another musical project. Like you would during the end of a romantic relationship, look back at the positive and negative aspects of the partnership you formed with your band. Be grateful for the good it brought you and do your best to learn as much as you can from the bad.
Making music again after the breakup of your band
If you’ve been used to making music in the context of your old band for years, working on something new might bring up feelings of uncertainty or even thoughts of betrayal in some musicians. Whatever you’re feeling, do your best to acknowledge where you’re at and keep going. If making music is something you deeply care about, then try to see what you’re doing as necessary for your fulfillment and well being. There’s no easy way to move on after the breakup of a band that’s been a major part of your life for years, but the best thing you can do is to recognize however you’re feeling as being valid before trying to move on.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.