Band ends live career over tinnitus
Last show: Tinyfish
A prog rock band will end their live career this weekend as a result of their frontman’s battle with tinnitus.
Tinyfish will play their last live show at the Celebr8 festival in Kingston-Upon-Thames, England, under headliners It bites and IQ.
Vocalist, guitarist and studio drummer Simon Godfrey contracted hearing problems as the result of an assault in 2001, during which he was struck on the head with a bottle.
The condition, often described as “ringing in the ears” is shared by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Who guitarist Pete Townshend, among others. Its side-effects include severe emotional problems – last year amateur guitarist Robert McIndoe committed suicide after contracting tinnitus at a Them Crooked Vultures concert.
Now Godfrey’s tinnitus has become so bad that it’s forced him to stop playing live – but his bandmates have decided not to replace him.
He tells Classic Rock: “Tinyfish choosing to bow out at Celebr8 is a way of acknowledging promoter John ‘Twang’ Patrick. We love the guy to bits, both personally and for what he’s done for our genre.
“To be honest we only formed the band so we could get into see bands like It Bites, IQ, Pallas, the Tangent and Magenta for free, and they’re all playing Celebr8. We’re lucky bastards.
“The band have been very supportive and understanding of my condition. I’d be lying if I didn’t say they were gutted to see Tinyfish cease to function as a live entity. I did offer to leave the band, but they dismissed that as an option.
“It’s our hope to continue in some form, possibly a studio-only act, but we’re waiting until after the final show to discuss it properly.”
Godfrey says tinnitus made a huge impact on his art from the moment he began suffering. Symptoms vary from victim to victim, but he describes his as “a constant ringing in my ears which forms a background chord of tones. Every few weeks, I have attacks of extreme bursts noise which can last anything between a few seconds to a few days, which is probably the worst aspect.
“Like everyone who suffers from a long-term illness, I have good days and bad days. On the good days when I’m up for the fight and the music I’m working on is interesting, it’s an easy thing to push the problem to the back of your mind. On the bad days, however, it can feel like solitary confinement.”
When the full extent of his tinnitus was first confirmed by an audiologist, Godfrey lost the will to continue making music. He explains: “If you’re passionate about something you want to give it your all. Having to recognise that your own body is placing a barrier between you and the thing you love doing is very demoralising.
“But I now see tinnitus not so much as a wall, but more like playing Wack-a-Mole. It keeps popping up and my job is to slap it back down at every opportunity.
“I recognise that I might have a limited amount of time to say the things I want to say before the condition significantly impairs my function if not as a songwriter, then certainly as a producer and engineer. Not having to play live will mean I have more studio time to work on writing and recording new music.”
His message for fellow sufferers is: “You’re not alone. The response I received from the prog community when I first blogged about my condition from fellow suffers was simply overwhelming. It gave me a real sense that there are people out there who care and have my back on this.”
Celebr8 2012 takes place at the Hippodrome, Kingston-Upon-Thames, on July 7-8. A limited number of tickets are still available at www.celebr8prog.com