Viva Brother v NME

“And as for NME. Shame on you.” This was the tweet that followed Viva Brother’s announcement of their split. NME had propped up the band, had them on the cover and regularly reported about them. This isn’t the first time NME has been accused of building up a band only to knock them down, it’s been claimed that they gave The Enemy the same treatment.

Calling out NME seems like a weak thing to do swiftly following the announcement of the split – it suggests that NME may have played a part in Viva Brother’s decision to split up. Viva Brother released an excellent debut album in ‘Famous First Words’ (if you haven’t listened to ‘Otherside’ yet you absolutely should), their potential was evident and it genuinely seemed as though they had a lot to offer the music industry, even if there were a multitude of dissenting voices saying otherwise.

Here’s where it gets confusing – if a band appears to have a loyal fanbase, were well-known by NME’s readership due to their frequent appearances in the magazine, were touring internationally and had just finished recording their second album it seems odd to split up and suggest that the publication (which admittedly did take a dim view of them after initially creating hype around them) that gave them media coverage is in some way a factor in their split.

Viva Brother’s frontman Lee Newell was in no way averse to insulting other musicians, and like any musician who has anything negative to say about anyone in the industry he drew instant comparisons to Liam Gallagher. Maybe it was Newell’s penchant for insulting other people that ultimately was Viva Brother’s downfall. It was inevitable that NME  would hone in on the negative yet newsworthy controversial statements Newell was making. Insulting musicians who a lot of people look up to and respect is clearly never going to endear you to music fans.

Bands last because they have staying power, overnight success rarely occurs. A band will inevitably fail if either the band or their music isn’t strong enough and they don’t persevere. In this instance Viva Brother’s music definitely had potential, it seems the band just weren’t willing to persevere. Posting vague but suggestive tweets about a music magazine who they were only too happy to talk to several months ago is a strange thing to do in the wake of a split up.

Perhaps ‘Famous Last Words’ is one of those records that will only get the recognition it deserves long after its release, but for a band who already had two previous incarnations, consisted of talented musicians who weren’t afraid of drawing attention to themselves, then negative press and criticism seems like a lame reason to split up, especially when they had a supportive fan base too. As Liam Gallagher said in 1995 in what I presume is Viva Brother’s least favourite music magazine, “You spend your life thinking ‘I want everyone to love me’ – that will never happen.”


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