Six Tips for Dating a Musician
Editor's note: Be sure to check out or newly-posted Six Tips for Dating a Musician: Female Edition!
Cassie Kohler The author and her boyfriend Ryne Watts of the Hobosexuals
Musicians have an uncanny ability to send shivers down the pants of even their most a-sexual of onlookers. Even the ugliest asshole on the planet, wielding his/her musical weapon of choice in front of a crowd, can garner the underwear-throwing attention of an audience. Musicians uphold, perhaps even created, the "cool affect." Some people simply want nothing more than to be a part of their club. I spent the last year head-deep in that club as a girlfriend-of-a-musician -- these are the lessons I quickly learned. All of these tips work just as well for boyfriends of female musicians too, by the way. Or boyfriends of boyfriends, or girlfriends of girlfriends -- whatever turns you on, as they say.
1. Don't Yoko Ono
Seriously, it's the biggest cliché in the book -- do you want to be a part of it? Your boyfriend is a wonderful musician. He works very hard, but he is not always better than the rest of his band. He does not need to branch out and gain more recognition and individual praise from the music community. That is what you are there for (see The Support Factor).
In short, he is not always the best part of the band. The band unit is a highly important force -- their bond fuels their collaborations and it is the combination of their ideas that make their music. They need to fight, they need to get trashed together, or break things or do whatever it is that feeds their inspiration. They need each other, and it is your responsibility to make sure that you don't get in the way.
Do not beg him, in your infinite neediness, to stay home from band practice. Do not yell at him and tell him scornfully that the band is more important than you are (if it is more important, you'll find out the hard way). Do not bogart his attention at shows (see Proper Show Behavior). In fact, do not bogart his attention ever, but especially from people within his music community. Music is a part of him that he cannot explain to you. It makes up a large part of who he is, how he looks at the world and how he sees himself fitting into it. To be a part of that, you must learn your place.
2. The Support Factor
You must support his music. After all, it is likely the reason you were attracted to him in the first place. In that case, there are areas wherein you can extend a helping hand. Help carry gear or merch if you can. Musicians have a lot of baggage (and more than just the emotional kind that seems to shine through in their songs). Instruments, amps, merchandise: They all need to make it to the gig. If your car is needed, offer it. And after you're done loading it all it, stay. You should go to as many shows as humanly possible (see Proper Show Behavior). Your presence there is very appreciated. Encourage practices, bookings, writing; encourage the good stuff.
Part of the local scene is networking. He needs to not only book his own shows, but also to go to other people's shows. His friend's, the local DJ's event, this party, that party; he needs to show his face around town. Everyone knows everyone in St. Louis, and the more people he knows in the local scene, the better. Be the pretty face on his arm that understands him and his music. Be his networking buddy.
In order to not Yoko Ono, you must be on board for whatever he needs musically. Lastly, if you don't like his music, you are dating the wrong musician. Do not try to veer him a new direction. He creates what he wants to create -- bottom line. Which leads me to number three....