Breaking up is (not always) hard to do

When and why bands decide to amicably call it quits

The Middle Coast, before going their separate ways.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Breakups can be difficult, whether it’s a romantic breakup or the breakup of your favourite band. But they don’t have to be.

Winnipeg band The Middle Coast is splitting up, but in a very amicable way.

The band posted about the split on their Facebook page, saying, “We love each other a lot. We’re best friends and brothers and musical co-conspirators and that will never change.” They also stated they would be taking a long break, focusing on their own “personal creative projects.”

Middle Coast guitarist and vocalist Dylan MacDonald says writing new music together became a challenge for the band.     

“We were all kind of writing in different directions, and we all have solo records out or on the way,” MacDonald says. Bandmate Liam Duncan “and I both have records that aren’t released yet, and it’s all so crazy different.”

While it may be the end for now, MacDonald says, “Yeah, I think there’s definitely a chance that we may play together again, at least in some capacity.”

Just like a romantic relationship, band members need space. Sometimes taking a break is the best thing to do. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a future for them, as was the case with local mod rock band Duotang.

Formed in 1995, they took a 13-year break after the 2001 release of their third album, The Bright Side. Apart from a 2006 Christmas show, they didn’t play together again until 2014, when their label Mint Records asked them to play a show in Vancouver.

“We thought, if we’re going to do a show for Mint in Vancouver and practising, let’s do one for Winnipeg and see if people show up,” drummer Sean Allum says.

People showed up, and the support was immediate.

“Through those shows, we started getting offers right away for Sled Island (Music & Arts Festival) and other stuff,” Allum says. “So we thought, ‘If we’re gonna do that, let’s just try to write some songs.’ We’re not the type that just wanted to play our old stuff.”

They started playing together again, even going on tour in 2015 and releasing a fourth record, New Occupation, in 2016.

“When we started the band, it was for fun, but then it became a fun business. But this is for fun,” Allum says of the band post-reunion.

This contrasts with the approach the individuals of The Middle Coast will take with their own separate musical endeavours.

“Absolutely, there’s not even a whiff of anyone getting a real job per se or anything,” MacDonald says.

Bands taking a break or ceasing altogether does not mean the end of the band members, and they needn’t be thought of as a negative thing. Sometimes, people move in different directions and need to pursue their own endeavours to be true to themselves.

“The whole breakup thing is kind of strange, so my hope is that it comes in sort of a positive light.” MacDonald says.

You can expect to hear some exciting things from members of The Middle Coast in the future.

The Middle Coast will play their farewell show and release a final EP at The Good Will Social Club on Feb. 2. Doors are at 9 p.m., and the show starts at 10. Admission is $15.

Published in Volume 73, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 31, 2019)

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