Do Fans Make Bands Untouchable?
Posted on November 11, 2015
November 11, 2015 | by Jonathan Diener
Whether it’s due to a supposed God Complex or just a fear of being mobbed, successful artists have always kept somewhat of a barrier between themselves and their fans. Having been on all sides of the situation I had to ask myself, are the fans responsible for this separation?
The most outrageous example I have of this was when my band The Swellers was on tour with Paramore in Southeast Asia. We went to a Comic Con in Singapore with Hayley Williams and some of their crew because we’re all pretty big nerds. As we were walking around, a few people started to notice Hayley and she was polite and awesome to them. Then as word spread, we noticed people stop caring about the Stormtroopers and other costumed attractions walking around and start running up to meet her. Out of nowhere, actual paparazzi showed up and the noises coming out of the camera sounded like we were being showered with bullets from machine guns. It was like a bizarre Saving Private Ryan moment where time slows down, we jumped behind a booth for cover while the crew tried to get the mob to move on. Hayley looked over to me and said, “I wish I could just hang out like everyone else.”
Hearing that really resonated with me. It’s obviously amazing to be a big name in entertainment, but at a certain point you can’t even go out in public without having to be confronted or mobbed. Early on from traveling with bands I realized that people simply want to be treated like people. They want to hang out and do their own thing and if you’re freaking out or drawing attention to them or interviewing them on their one day off from interviews, it gets frustrating. Again, these people are certainly aware of the amazing life they get to lead and are appreciative of you, the fans, but they shouldn’t have to feel guilty for still being human beings and having bad days here and there.
There are a lot of great, respectful music fans out there. I’ve seen people wait at an airport to meet a band, but instead of screaming they were super cool and even brought gifts. They just wanted to meet their favorite band and didn’t make a big scene. When people are screaming and running toward someone or taking pictures when the flash is bright and the click sound is excruciatingly audible, it creates the zombie complex. Depending on the size of the artist, heads will start turning in the room and draw a bigger crowd and amplify the reaction into an event. The cool, respectful fans will see someone on the street and in passing say, “Hey, I think your band is great.” Or as unrewarding as it may be, maybe say nothing at all. People do enjoy conversation when it’s conversation and not an interrogation. You just have to feel out the situation. If someone is upset and doesn’t seem like they want to talk then you’ve already found your answer. It doesn’t make them a bad person.
At the end of the day, you are paying money for tickets to watch a performance. Meeting them is just an added bonus, which is why you very literally have to pay money to guarantee it happens. With over thousands of people all having a story and things to sign, it will take a very long time to organize it. You shouldn’t feel upset or disappointed if you don’t get to meet someone outside of these meet and greets. Most of all, you shouldn’t ridicule the artist because you didn’t have a chance to meet them. At the end of the day, it’s about them. To be able to tour all over the world artists need to keep healthy regimens and for the most part, talking after shows is a major factor. It’s not from performing where most people lose their voice, it’s talking over loud music or yelling over crowds. Vocalists often go on vocal rest to wind down and prepare their mind and body for another show.
Entertainment is a strange business, but it is ultimately for the fans. After walking offstage, this larger than life specimen under the spotlight is now just an average person. They want to eat food, relax, hang out with their friends and get ready for the next day of work. When you’re performing and take it seriously, there are limitations to what you can do while out for months on the road for your physical and mental health. Artists wouldn’t be anywhere without their fans, but as a fan, you need to remember that you love these people for a reason and give them the respect they deserve.