“The psychology of being a frontman?” muses Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, when asked to sum up the mental requirements for the job. “You know, I think this piece should really be called Why Frontmen Need Psychologists!’ ’Cos if you want to put yourself out in front of people like this, there must be something wrong with you! I don’t know what’s wrong with me …”
You probably think he’s joking. But after speaking to a range of men and women about the pros and cons of the job, an unexpected pattern emerges: hardly any of them wanted to front a band, most of them find the job stressful and almost all of them would be happy to lurk in the shadows instead – playing a bit of bass guitar, perhaps, or messing about on a keyboard somewhere just to the right of the drummer. If your stereotype of a frontperson is that of a raging extrovert who has dreamed since childhood of being thrust into the centre of the stage, then think again. A lot of them are riddled with insecurities.
“I always joke that if I did this again I’d make sure I was stood at the back of the stage and not the front,” says Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke, who is about to release his second solo album, The Trick. “There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders when you’re the focal point for all that energy. And there are a lot of things you simply can’t control to be able to put on a good show: the conditions have to be right, you have to be in a good headspace, the crowd have to be in a good headspace. You might not be feeling like it but you still have to go out there.”