Courtesy of The Penguin Press
Here are the dirty facts! What happened was simply that Dean quit, more or less out of the blue, on the telephone one day. We have not seen him since, nor spoken since last week. In fact, he didn't even place the call! It was just after the weekend we had finished what turned out to be our last tour, which was an opening slot for the Cocteau Twins in the States; we had an upcoming tour to Japan (this was something Naomi and I were very much looking forward to, as you can imagine, as was Kramer, we were going to take him with us, and when I opened the paper on Monday I discovered there was a sale on for tickets to Tokyo that was ending at midnight. So I called Dean to say, "Let's buy our tickets," and he said, "no, I quit." No explanation, just "there's nothing more to talk about," and that was it. A lot of years of friendship, not to mention the band, down the drain in a minute flat.
It wasn't entirely out of the blue, as we had already discussed my quitting in January, but other than that Damon got this part right. There was no real explanation. I chickened out. I didn't know what to say. I didn't say, "I quit because I can't be in the same room with you anymore," or, "I quit because I don't like being told where to stand onstage."
The most common reason a guy gives when he breaks up with a girl is no reason at all. You give no reason, or vaguely state that you are confused and unhappy. "No reason" means only one thing—I don't want to be in a relationship with you anymore. It's not me—it's you. I want to lead my life without you in it.
I can see why they were so upset with me. How could a friend do such a thing? But I would counter that we were not quite friends at that point. We were bandmates. Our friendship didn't go down the drain in a minute flat. Our friendship had been trickling down the drain for a couple of years now.
Was there something wrong with Damon and Naomi? Or course there was—my therapist says there are ten things wrong with every person. There are plenty of things wrong with me, too.
Some of my best friends are crazy. But that's okay, because I don't have to ride in a van with them for five weeks. We're just friends. Damon and Naomi were lovely people, brilliant and artistic and likable. I loved Damon's fluid, jazzy style on the drums, and Naomi's simple and melodic bass parts. I like Damon's poetry and Naomi's miniature paintings. But they were driving me crazy.
No, you are not just friends when you're in a band together. The band may begin as a pure friendship. You share a love of music, and you start playing together in that spirit. But if the band is at all successful, then it takes on another logic. It becomes a business. Now you are business partners as well as friends and collaborators. You travel together. You spend all your waking hours together. You're a family and a secret society.
Joining a band is like joining a cult. You give your mind and your body and your soul to the cult. You give your money to the cult. If you read interviews with young bands, they say, "We think this," "We like this," "We don't like such and such," "We are inspired by," and so on. They have collective opinions. They have a manifesto. This is part of how you define your band as distinct from other bands.
At first, it is fun being in a cult together, this secret society. But you become more involved with one another's lives than you ever anticipated. Instead of being friends, it's more like you are lovers. Only you never really planned to move in together. I loved Damon and Naomi, but I didn't want to marry them. I didn't want us to spend our lives together.
Other artistic collaborators don't really encounter this problem, because people don't work so closely together for so long. Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner did not get along on the set of The Magnificent Seven. But then it was over. The rock-and-roll band is a unique construct, one that can last for many years, and one that is subject to many pressures, external and internal.
Excerpted from Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance by Dean Wareham. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) March, 2008.