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MUSIC | Vol. 6, No. 21, May 25, 2006
(Music Issue)

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Band Suicide

by Sam Baltrusis


Ray Ruddy, former drummer of the local band Emulsiphier and the current promotions director at TK101, knew his eight-year quest for rock 'n' roll superstardom was squelched when the group's touring van burst into flames en route to a show in Jackson, Miss.

"It's weird but that weekend I pretty much decided that it was the last time I would play with the band," Ruddy recalls.

Emulsiphier's van burned completely down to its frame. And it's both a literal and metaphorical fire Ruddy says he couldn't put out.

"While we were sitting at the gas station watching it burn, one of the guys was in tears and was like, 'man, we tried so hard,'" the 30-year-old drummer remembers with a misty-eyed nostalgia. "It was very symbolic actually."

Since Emulsiphier bit the dust back in 2003, Pensacola has seen a string of promising local bands crash and burn right before they were about to hit it big—groups like 10 Pages, After The Fall, The Second Track, Six O'Clock Shadow and Suburban Shakedown.

For Ruddy, the most disappointing local band to call it quits in recent memory was hardcore act Terrific Kid, winner of the IN Music Awards "Artist of the Year" laurels in '04.

"They had everything lined up and they were ready to rock," he says. "They were probably the most promising band I've seen down here ever—my band included."

Terrific Kid even had labels sniffing around its full-length CD "Same As It Never Was."

"It was really disappointing," says Ruddy. "They had a great product and they had a great name on the their product."

Locally, Terrific Kid's story is familiar. 10 Pages was on the verge of signing to an indie label before their break. The Second Track snagged a slot on the Van's Warped Tour stage before their split. Suburban Shakedown earned a headlining position at SpringFest only to fall apart when lead singer, Adam Roth, headed to Los Angeles.

Why do so many Pensacola music groups self-destruct when they're on the brink of making it?

Randi Reed, author of "20 Reasons Why Musicians Get Stuck at the Local or Regional Level" on a website called and a L.A.-based music industry veteran, says it's commonplace for bands on the verge to break up.

"You always find a lot of talent out there," Reed explains. "But it takes more than talent for them to succeed. They need to have the emotional capacity and the mental fortitude to handle it. I've seen so many amazingly talented people give up because they don't have the drive needed to make it."

Reed also says it's common for bands to call it quits right before they sign to a label.

"That's usually when it tends to happen," she remarks. "There's a lot of pressure that comes with signing."

The insider continues: "A lot of it is peer pressure. Even though you may be the same person inside, people's perceptions of you change when you start having success. Many artists have a hard time handling it."

Martin Fortet, guitarist and songwriter of the recently fallen band Six O'Clock Shadow, echoes Reed's comments.

"As a band, we were going in a different direction than the singer," Foret says about last year's IN Music Awards "Vocalist of the Year," Amy Boudreaux. "It was really hard to get everyone on the same page. She's a phenomenal singer but she wanted to go in one direction and we wanted to go in another."

Ruddy, who believes that the band suicide thing happens to groups who set unrealistic goals and timelines, says, no matter what, breaking up is hard to do.

"It sucks," he snipes. "It's like a really bad breakup and you're married to five other people who all have significant others as well."

Ruddy adds: "It's like a job—a job you want to do for the rest of your life. Just like anything in life, when it becomes toxic and you start to hate what you're doing, it's time to put it to rest."