Romantic Relationships Within Bands: Can They Work?

Hello again, everyone. Welcome to the very first ‘Advice’ column of the week. We always knew this series would be best if written by artists currently working in the industry today, and that is exactly who we have recruited for the columns you will see going live in the weeks ahead. Artists from a wide variety of genres have begun stepping up to help others on the rise, and we are thrilled to help their advice reach those ready and willing to listen. If you have an idea for a future installment of this series, please email and pitch your story. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s rare for any band to rise through the ranks of underground stardom and find success on the national stage, but it’s a downright miracle when that happens to a group that involves at least two members who are romantically involved. There is no real science behind this, of course, but much like the trouble most associate with dating your coworkers in an office setting, it’s widely considered a rule of them that relationships between members of the same band could spell disaster for the group as a whole if things go romantically awry.

But what about the other half of the conversation? There has to be a positive outcome or two associated with couples working together in a creative setting, right?

Fine Fine Titans are an up and coming hard rock outfit from Grand Rapids, MI currently preparing for the release of their debut EP (Omega) on March 18. Two of the members, Jennifer and Evan Bartlett, are married. We recently asked the members of the group to weigh in with their thoughts about relationships within a group and how it does – or does not – impact the creative process. You can read their thoughts on the subject below.

There is no question that FFT are a young group with plenty of room left to grow, but it’s hard to believe anyone could listen to their new material and not believe the band is destined for great things. If you would you like to learn more about their efforts, please make it a point to follow them on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

Romantic relationships within bands: can they work? If the relationship is destined to fail, will it almost undoubtedly destroy the band? If the band falls apart, does that put the couple’s bond at risk leading to an inevitable breakup or even some cases, divorce?

My most prominent concern in the above is that we are more often focused on the potential negative effects instead of the positive effects that a romantic duo can have on a creative project.

Evan and I were brought together by music. At the time, I sang in a band that had a strict policy of no dating within the group and it had been decided before I joined. This worked out wonderfully for all of us (the five men and I) because presumably, none of us were attracted to each other and it made it easy to focus on the task at hand. However, when I met Evan, it became impossible to ignore that we had a great deal of interests in common. We also shared a unrelenting drive and passion for our own dreams so we decided to combine lifestyles and start
a new band. Neither of us had ever balanced a romantic relationship inside of a professional venture and we were aware of the complications that could arise but we threw caution to the wind. We were hungry to make music. We knew we could help each other and we would be damned if we let some preconceived notion about disastrous couples in music stop us.

We would love to say that the last few years have been a cakewalk and our relationship has not suffered because of the band or the band because of the relationship but it would be a fabrication. However, humility has kept us together. Some days are harder than others and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of us…the guys in the band watching as sometimes we dispute each other during writing, rehearsal or even which restaurant to stop at on the road. As much as we try to keep our most aggressive arguments behind closed doors,
we are almost honest to a fault and sometimes it’s impossible to hide that from the rest of the band. There have been times when both Evan and I had questioned if this would work out…if we were strong enough as individuals and as a couple to be successful in both a marriage and a professional endeavor. In fact, we’ve almost completely fallen apart and when I went public about it, we were reminded that this was bigger than the two of us.

The bond is what brings people together but it seems as the collective dream is what sustains the relationship. In our case, it wasn’t the desire for children that would make us a family but instead, the magic of music that we would use to build our home. I’ve always referred to us as a team and perhaps that pesky little marriage certificate somehow forces us to hang in there when the water is troubled…but that’s sort of the point. People are sometimes elusive and flighty and really a piece of paper can’t make you do anything but it sure helps to remind you that every movement you make affects more than just you. To have complete trust in someone when following your dream can transcribe to superlative motivation and our hope is that as the days go on and we learn to communicate with each other more efficiently, that will overflow into the rest of the band as well. We’re extremely fortunate to have a few patient guys by our side helping us through this. They say you shouldn’t shit where you sleep but forget the rule, the exception is always more intriguing. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.