“We Were Spectacular”: The Art of the Band Breakup Statement

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As you’ve probably read, My Chemical Romance announced earlier this week that they were going their separate ways, and this morning singer Gerard Way published a lengthy missive explaining the reasons behind the split, along with a whole bunch of other stuff about coffee, birds, talking amplifiers, and acting on stage. As far as these kinds of statements go, it’s really pretty great — honest, funny, and heartfelt — and it got us thinking about some of the more notable breakup announcements of our time. Some of these are funny, some of them gloriously bitchy, and all thoroughly memorable.

My Chemical Romance

Gerard Way’s epic 2,000-word missive is a classic of the band breakup genre, as gloriously overblown and ambitious as we might expect from the band responsible for The Black Parade. Curiously enough, we’ll really rather miss them.

The White Stripes

Enigmatic to the end, The White Stripes remained silent on their split for quite some time, before releasing a joint statement that explained, “The White Stripes do not belong to Jack and Meg any more. [They] belong to you now, and you can do with it [sic] whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to.” Their official site promptly crashed under the weight of the traffic the announcement generated.

The Mars Volta

Cedric Bixler-Zavala called an end to The Mars Volta earlier this year, mainly because he was sick of seeing his wife bandmate Omar Rodríguez-Lopez run around behind his back with other musicians. In true 2013 style, he did it via a series of tweets, which you can read here. The most salient bits: “I tried my hardest to keep it going… What am I supposed to do, be some progressive house wife that’s cool with watching their partner go fuck other bands? We owe it to fans to tour.”

Paramore

Even nastier, however, was Paramore’s split, mainly because of the way guitarist Josh Farro used the interminable, Bible-quotin’ statement he issued on his blog to tee off on singer Hayley Williams, complaining that the band was in reality a vanity project for her and — shock, horror — that her lyrics contradicted the Bible: “[We spent] two and half years building our fan base, pretending to be a band that started naturally. In reality, what started as natural somehow morphed into a manufactured product of a major label… She presented lyrics to us that were really negative and we didn’t agree with. For example, ‘the truth never set me free,’ which contradicts what the Bible says in John 8:32… In addition to the band turmoil, touring had really taken its toll on us both. We left home at such a young age and missed taking part in normal teenage years. When you own part of a band and are constantly playing, you make sacrifices. Touring has taken its toll on our family members as well. I specifically remember many moments where our parents would break down in tears when we had to leave. It broke my heart. Seeing our siblings grow up so much during our absences was never easy either… After a lot a prayer and counsel Zac and I came to the decision that it was time to leave the band.”

Wu Lyf

Last year, Manchester band Wu Lyf composed what was arguably the most gloriously pretentious statement ever, posted to YouTube along with a farewell song: “WU LYF is dead to me. The sincerity of [debut album] Go Tell Fire… was lost in the bull shit of maintaining face in the world we live. Clap your hands chimp everybody’s watching. A year spent losing faith; Innocence lost wide eyes see clear the dark. There’s blood running down streets of every city in the world, what’s a song to do, pretend it mean everything/nothing to you.”

Rage Against the Machine

For a group so enamored of political bandstanding, it’s perhaps no surprise that Zach de la Rocha’s exit statement read more like a political speech that something about a band breaking up. “I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed,” he wrote. “It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal. I am extremely proud of our work, both as activists and musicians, as well as indebted and grateful to every person who has expressed solidarity and shared this incredible experience with us.”

Oasis

Oasis always looked like they were never going to end well, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, they did not. Noel Gallagher left the band after one fistfight too many with brother Liam, subsequently issuing a statement explaining that “I feel you [fans] have the right to know that the level of verbal and violent intimidation towards me, my family, friends and comrades has become intolerable. And the lack of support and understanding from my management and band mates has left me with no other option than to get me cape and seek pastures new.” The brothers have been sniping at each other in the press ever since — we give it five more years before they make up and reunite for a hugely lucrative reunion tour.

Test Icicles

Remember Test Icicles? These days they’re best remembered as Dev “Blood Orange” Hynes’s first band, but for a brief moment in the mid-’00s they were a hotly tipped project in their own right. That all came to a grinding halt in 2006, for the simple reason that they weren’t having any fun — as the band’s Rory Atwell explained, “We started this band in August 2004, our only intention was to have bit of fun, to play a few shows, cause some trouble and to split up shortly afterwards, the fact of the matter is that we played our 5 millionth gig the other day after a year of multiple tours and we’re sick, tired and miserable, and to put it simply, it just isn’t fun anymore and hasn’t been for a very long time, so we’ve decided it’s time to find something that does make us happy because unfortunately this isn’t it.”

R.E.M.

Thankfully, some bands handle splitting up with a measure of dignity. R.E.M., for instance, did it right, as one might expect from a band staffed by relatively functional human beings — they released a collective statement explaining, simply, “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills also released individual statements, which you can read here.

The Beautiful South

And finally, leave it to the Beautiful South to release perhaps the wittiest statement of the lot. “[We] have split up,” they explained wryly, “because of musical similarities.” Touché.