Last week saw the hugely talented Grammatics play their last ever gig, a devastating event not just because a truly talented band has stopped making music. The real kick in the teeth is that Grammatics’ self-titled debut album was only released last year. That’s one year from dream realised to dream destroyed. And the reason? Largely financial. At their final Scottish gig in Glasgow last week, their merchandise stall offered only t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Grammatics are fucking bankrupt’.
Money troubles are, of course, nothing new, but it seems that an increasing number of bands are having to stop making music because it is no longer financially viable. Look at Reuben, who held down day jobs throughout their touring days before taking a lengthy hiatus; look at Idlewild, who have cited similar reasons for their imminent break. After their last album, Elbow have become big hitters, but before that, they were shuffled from record company to record company as they failed to meet sales targets (see also Delays). A deal with a major label is no longer security, a deal with a smaller label even less so.
So what are the options when a band finds themselves without money? Stick it out and hope there’s another label to pick you up? Work even harder for even less reward and risk ending up resenting your own music for getting you into this mess? Or walk away as gracefully as possible? Given the available choices, Grammatics’ decision to pack it in is understandable, but it’s no less heartbreaking. You can pledge towards their final EP release here, and then all that remains is to say goodbye to an exciting, endlessly inventive band who simply can’t do it anymore.