My favorite band turned out to be jerks — what now?


The Door Guy is a veteran of countless clubs around town. People say they've seen it all, but he's seen more. Write to him for everything from live advice to life advice.

Dear Door Guy:

What do you do when your heroes let you down?

I had a chance at a show to hang out with a band I've loved for a really, really, long time, and it totally sucked. I don't want to go into a ton of details (because I wouldn't want anyone figuring out who I'm talking about) but it was a huge disappointment. It was sort of cool at first but mostly it was weird and awkward and one of the guys started acting like a total dick.

I have seriously been into this band for years and now I just feel like I wish I hadn't met them at all.

You meet famous people all the time, right? How do you handle the letdown?

— Heroes? No More!

Dear Heroes:

It's funny, Heroes, because the very first thing that went through my mind when I read your email was, “I'm wondering what band?” And believe me, I have a ton of opinions about certain bands that people seem to love and I can't understand why they're popular, or why anyone would look up to them. But it would be pretty obnoxious here if I said something like “why the fuck do you want some guy in a band as a hero?” You know, play the jaded card and talk about how I never feel that way about bands. But I'm not going to do that to you, for two reasons: one, you're writing me because you're trying to get some real advice or a decently thought out point of view; two, it's simply not true (at least not entirely). 

Certainly, (over)exposure deadens the senses, so it's true what you're feeling isn't something I have to deal with much any more. It's not like I'm blown away every time I am in the same room with someone who has a song on Spotify. Fact is, over the years, I've had the chance to meet tons of people who play music, make movies, appear on TV, do standup comedy, etc. And by and large, I've learned to handle it with pretty low expectations, because I absolutely have to. But that doesn't mean I've given up completely.

I can tell you plenty of horror stories. Some are of the “rock 'n' roll lifestyle” bullshit variety, like dudes heading off the stage immediately looking for drugs; bands spending more energy making sure there's groupies around than about putting on a good show; musicians refusing to get on stage (or not showing up at all) because they just didn't give a shit or couldn't bring themselves to care, all that clichéd stuff that I once naively assumed we'd outgrown before I hit level 9 in the Door Guy Guild (the level of “whatever”). The more common stories? They're about when people are awkward, or rude, or self-obsessed, or a lot dumber than expected, or, in any number of ways, just a lot more human than we want them to be.

The weird thing about rock 'n' roll, fame, “art,” whatever, is that it creates a relationship between those that produce and those that consume that's entirely based on imagined expectations. As consumers, we often develop an intimacy with people whose work we love that feels very personal. You invest in this thing because it evokes very primal feelings in you — you laugh or cry or feel accepted or just amazed that someone else is not only hearing the same crazy thoughts that you have but somehow turning those thoughts into something that speaks to you. That's the basis of gut-level fandom. And more often than not, as happened to you, the actual people don't turn out to be what you expected. How could they? That doesn't mean that you have to throw their records out the window. You just have to decide for yourself at what point that divide between the producer and what they produce just doesn't work for you.

Fact is, plenty of guys in bands are pricks. Some are overwhelming narcissists. Some have terrible destructive habits. Some are rank hypocrites who say or do things that are the exact opposite of what you think their music is all about. And, to be honest, some are absolute monsters (Kim Fowley, anyone?). There's an age-old debate about “loving the art while hating the artist” that we're touching upon here, and some people would say that it doesn't matter what a person is like if you love what they make.

I don't agree. I don't think that people need to be rewarded for being assholes. Not in the name of tortured artist bullshit, not because they are full of crap, not because they were raised by wolves. I can name plenty of occasions where personal interactions have made me less interested in checking out something someone has created, and if I think someone's a jerk I'll totally hold it against them. I do so precisely because I still love the personal connection that great music makes me feel.

But I also still love the shit out of this ridiculous world I live in. There's still people that I'm excited to meet, and people I feel excited to have met. I've gotten really lucky to be around, meet, and sometimes befriend awesome people creating stuff I love. In some cases I've been with them long enough to watch them fuck up royally and still know that they're good people. And while I don't find fame or popularity inherently valuable in its own right, that doesn't mean that I don't admire the awesome things people do.

I'm sorry that your favorite band let you down. People do that. Sometimes, it's forgivable — I bet last night's room full of Morrissey fans loved every minute of it, no matter how many damn shows he's canceled. Sometimes, it's absolutely not. My question for you, was it bad enough that you have given up on this band you love? Or can you still care about their music despite having your illusions shattered? Where you draw that line is entirely up to you.

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