Too much work on your plate?

Musicians like to keep themselves busy. Whether it’s recording a new album or setting off on a fifty-date world tour, most bands find being busy is ultimately better. But when does this overindulgence in diary dates become a detriment rather than a gift?

Jim Root is the guitarist for both Corey Taylor-fronted metal bands; Slipknot and Stone Sour. Recently Root announced he had made the decision to skip Stone Sour’s twenty-two date North American winter tour in favour of turning his focus to Slipknot for their upcoming album, expected towards the end of 2014. Being a member of two highly successful acts simultaneously requires a careful juggling of time so that neither act becomes neglected – arguably Jim Root has allowed his double commitments to compromise his responsibilities in Stone Sour.

Jim Root is allowed much more freedom with his guitar work in Stone Sour compared to the nu metal-styled Slipknot, and as such, his absence from the tour will have an impact, regardless of replacement Christian Martucci’s efforts. Whilst the tour will undoubtedly be a success, if I had bought a ticket and learned I would not be watching one of my favourite guitarists, I would be disappointed and the experience would be diminished – albeit very slightly.

However, taking on multiple projects can be advantageous; it allows you to keep inspired by switching to different projects when others aren’t taking off as planned. Steven Wilson is a brilliant example of this, finding that flitting between the multiple bands and production duties which run alongside each other actually encourages the best from his songwriting.

For regular readers of RockAtlantic, you’ll know my feelings on nu metal band Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP). After releasing ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume Two’ last month, they have now amassed five albums in the space of just six years and naturally the question of quality control comes to mind. Recently guitarist Zoltan Bathory was quoted as saying “we are putting records out nearly every year…we’re catching up [to Avenged Sevenfold]”.

Unfortunately keeping up a constant output is an almost guaranteed method to produce below-par records. Save for a few very gifted writers, great records take time and patience to craft, something FFDP have forgotten in their quest to build a double digit discography in under half the time that most of their contemporaries will achieve this. In this case FFDP’s need for action has lead to a decline in song quality, which is a shame because debut ‘The Way of the Fist’ and sophomore effort ‘War is the Answer’ showed some great musicianship and creativity that has gone missing from recent works.

Contrast this approach, however, with the almost sloth-like inner workings of progressive metal titans Tool. Their last release ‘10,000 Days’ came in 2006 and only now has progress started to begin on a new effort. The extraordinarily long wait has been a feature of the band ever since the beginning and has only seemed to grow longer with age. However, every album has been superb, pushing the boundaries on what a progressive band can achieve and keeping up a quality discography, justifying the fans’ patient.

Overall the ability to know when to take on a new project and when to take a step back is a major factor in keeping quality standards high within a band. There are bands who can break this model such as the very busy Deftones or the previously mentioned Steven Wilson, but in general a plate which is too full won’t help fulfill your musical potential; only subtract from it.

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Coming soon: The best of 2013

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