It’s Only Rock & Roll Part 6
Almost 3 years after the band's line-up was complete and tensions between Rik the singer and Joel the guitar player were becoming more and more obvious and more and more vocal. They say that nothing lasts forever and they are right.
When I joined the band, back in September 2002, they both seemed like the best of friends, living in each other's pockets as a lot of band-mates do. However, as time went by, Joel's dislike of Rik grew from a few niggles over the years to a very strong loathing.
I distinctly remember one night after playing a gig somewhere in Bangkok. I had met a very attractive young lady at the venue we had just played at and was heading back to my flat with her. As we were getting into a taxi, Rik called me, telling me that Joel had said to him that he couldn't stand being around him anymore.
The taxi ride to my flat took about 20 minutes. 45 minutes later, I was sitting on my bed still talking on the phone to Rik. The girl by this time was getting impatient and before long, I had Rik moaning down the phone in my left ear and the girl's tongue down my right ear. I decided to take action and tell him a call was coming through from England. At least the evening ended happily for me.
By around September 2004, things had become unbearable between Rik and Joel. Rik had decided to leave the band and me, trying to act as peacemaker, arranged a band meeting with everyone there. We all met at the Bus Stop restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 4, but it was clear that Rik was not going to show up.
Eventually we found another singer, but the style and slickness of the band began to evaporate. It just wasn't the same. We carried on playing around Bangkok, but the exciting gigs began to disappear. One night Joel told us that he would be leaving Thailand to return with his wife and kids to England. He would be leaving in about 6 weeks. I had just landed a management position at a language school in Ploenchit, which would require 100% of my energies.
This being the case, and looking back at my musical career over the last 10 years, I decided I had had enough. The straw that broke the camel's back was a wedding we played at a top Bangkok hotel (I won't mention the name, but it's easily within the top three). We got this wedding gig through a friend of Joel's. His English mate was getting married to a very hi-so Thai lady and we were booked to play the reception.
At the end of the evening, I was feeling drained and, after getting paid, went straight home. I received a phone call from one of the other band members the next day telling me what had happened after I went home.
Those of you familiar with Thai weddings will know that at the entrance to the room is a large framed photo of the bride and groom taken some weeks before the wedding, looking their best. A couple of the band members got very drunk afterwards and along with some of the bridegroom's so-called friends, decided to take a black permanent marker and vandalise the photo. I won't go into what they drew on it, but I heard they also tried to walk off with a hotel coffee machine. I was left wondering what the hell I was doing in this band.
I threw myself into my new job. At least with teaching, you only have yourself to worry about, rather than four or five other guys.
Although Joel could be extremely blunt, he was the lynchpin of the band. He couldn't solo for toffee, but as a rhythm guitarist, he was one of the best I have ever worked with. I ended up leaving at the same time as him.
Thinking back, I needed to leave and take stock. I had a new job and was getting married in November 2005. Needless to say I did not invite any of my ex-band members to my wedding reception, especially after the last wedding they attended. If they could do that when they are supposed to be working, what the hell could happen at my wedding party?
Sometimes, your dreams come true, and they are great for a while. Music took me round the world, all the way to Thailand. I met some interesting people and had some great experiences. However, any dream can turn sour and this, for me, had turned sour. We had gone from being one of the best bands in Bangkok to a shadow of our former selves. The new line-up wasn’t working and the gigs were drying up. The dream had ended. It was time to forget about music and focus on a career change and a new life.
A love the brutal honesty with which you write – it really makes this series so readable and so interesting.
I have to say that your former bandmates' defacing that wedding photo is SERIOUSLY bad form. At many weddings I would fear for the safety of anyone so stupid and so brazen. I am not exaggerating when I say that someone could die over that.