Mike (Fruitbag) and Johnny Rich have officially left the King Blues. A full statement was given by them on the forums of Punktastic.com which you can read below
Why I Left The King Blues (Mike)
I said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the band at the time but, it really was. I’d simply had enough of being treated like a second class citizen, I’ve never felt that low or been spoken to with such distain before. I was depressed and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I was made to feel unwanted, useless, unappreciated.
I was in the King Blues for 5 years, we’d been friends for years and we were making music with pure hearts and good intentions. As soon as we signed the record deal with Universal, everything changed. I was naÃƒ¯ve to think that my friends would remain friends. The first year wasn’t too bad, but after the release of “Save the World, Get the Girl”, certain people realised how much money there was to be made, and the whole agenda changed. Making music that was original and inspiring wasn’t a priority anymore. We had made music that would sell, make money and get played on the radio. Our beliefs about equality and peace became publicity stunts. Anything about the bands character that we thought could sell, we sold.
I was no longer in a band with my friends, they became my bosses. They had no respect for me and wanted to control every aspect of my life. If I went on holiday, I was a slacker, if I wanted to get everyone together for a night out, I was a slacker. If I wasn’t “working” for them for just a minute, I was a slacker. And when it came to writing the third album, I couldn’t win. Everything I wrote Itch didn’t like, I offered to go to his every day for a week so we could jam and write together but he didn’t want to, Jamie spent a little time writing with me, but also said that he had his own songs to work on and “shouldn’t have to hold my hand”. Silly me for thinking that bands should write music together and attempt to work as a unit. But after making “Save the World…” and they saw just how much money you get for writing the music, it was like everyone was in it for themselves.
I’ll admit, I’m not the brightest guy around and I’m not particularly good at writing music, but when it comes to learning music, keeping time, rhythm, and performing, I’m pretty competent. And I love being on tour, it made being treated like shit worth it. It didn’t matter if I was tired or ill, I always hauled my arse on stage and played with all my heart.
In November I was so sick (not just fed up, but close to a complete mental breakdown), from threats and abusive phone calls from Itch that I asked to be taken off the contract which meant that I didn‘t get a monthly wage anymore (£750). I thought it would straighten things out and we would all get on better as they wouldn’t have a hold over me anymore. I got some manual labour work from a friend for 3 days at the end of November – and I got screwed at because I should still have been “working” for them, it didn’t matter that if I didn’t do those 3 days work I wouldn’t be able to keep a roof over my head.
I got a bar job shortly after as it was flexible for touring and paid my rent, just after my second weeks rota was written I was told that I couldn’t work that week because we had to go to Devon to record. I couldn’t give just 4 days notice to a job I just got and tried to explain but they couldn’t see how it was an unreasonable request and they came to the conclusion that I just didn’t care about the band or the recording. I did care, but I also had to care about keeping a roof over my head. It was being made financially impossible for me to stay in the band and I was so sick of being treated like shit anyway I just didn’t see the point.
In the space of 2 days, John, Jim, Al and I, all left for pretty much the same reasons. And I have to say now that they are all exceptional musicians and they weren’t always in the pictures but, they were just as important as anyone else in that band. It’s hard to perform with someone preaching about equality, peace, tolerance and social harmony. when backstage he couldn’t care less about the people at the bottom of the heap, as long as you’re making him a star and making him money.
There will probably be some well worded retaliation to this – perhaps some kind of “I was under so much pressure from the label I didn’t realise I was becoming the embodiment of everything I hate”, or “it’s all lies, he’s just bitter because he wasn’t good enough”, or “he‘s playing the victim“, or “he‘s using us as a scapegoat“, or “fair play, I’m all for free speech” or perhaps a dignified silence, they really are an amazingly manipulative pair.
Please know I didn’t write this to be petty, it’s just the truth. I hate the fact that people are saying I left because I got a girlfriend and a flat and settled down. I’ve had all of those things for over 3 years, no matter what people may think it didn’t change a thing and I know it’s a pretty harsh thing to say but, before everything, the band was always the most important thing to me. I left because I hated the segregation and hierarchy in the band and the lack of respect for me as a person. I’m not saying we all should have had the same money etc., if you work hard and earn money then good on you, but that doesn’t make you better than anyone and it doesn’t give you the right to treat people like shit.
To be honest, I wish there had never been a contract, no record label, no greed and no egos. I wish we had just stuck to things like playing outside the Good Mixer in Camden, having a laugh and being honest with ourselves. I might not have a lot of money and no more guest list for festivals and shows, but I have a great family, great friends, my guitar and a good heart and that‘s enough for me.
All the best,
Mike (no more Fruitbag)
Why Johnny Rich Left The Band:
I was asked to prepare a statement on my depearture from The King Blues but so far they have failed to even acknowledge that I have left. No surprise really given that my exsistance as a member of the band was never acknowledged in the first place.
For anyone who cares here it is again:
By the end of last year, playing in the king blues had become a lot like being in a bad relationship. It was full of deceit, mistrust and dishonesty with on communication. Like all bad relationships there comes a time when it’s best just to get out. In the words of the stray cats :”I got a low down dirty feeling…