Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ow, my freakin' ears!

This will be a non-preachy endorsement for wearing earplugs during metal concerts.

Here's my endorsement: I freaking HATE wearing earplugs during metal concerts.

When I go see a concert, I want to feel the intensity of the music. I want the double kick drum to blow me over. I want the guitars to rake across my brain, causing uncontrollable headbanging fury. I want to THRASH!

All of these are hard to achieve through the muffled tranquility of earplugs.

Earplugs. Blah. Pfft!

I played in various metal bands throughout high school and into my late 20s and I never wore earplugs. I went to concert after concert and never wore earplugs.

I remember going to see Sepultura during their Chaos AD tour (with openers Clutch and Fear Factory), and as everyone gathered on the standing-room hall floor, I heard someone yell this:

"You're wearing earplugs?! What are you, a f*cking p*ssy?!"

I turned around to see a guy yelling at a complete stranger about him wearing ear protection. I guess that wearing earplugs was not "metal" enough for this schmuck. My lack of wanting to wear earplugs stemmed from them hampering the live music, not if it was acceptable within the circles of metal.

So that idiot's statement bothered me and stuck with me. You know what else bothers me and has stuck with me?

A consistent and permanent ringing in my ears.

Yep, through years of abuse, they are damaged. And it sucks.

The breaking point came when I was the vocalist for the band Truth Cell. We practiced in a 10 x 10 foot room at full concert volume. Stupid? Yeah, but at the time, we felt that we didn't buy all this equipment to strum at acoustic volume. We wanted to ROCK!

However, I would leave each practice (and live show) with a hard ringing in my ears that would usually go away the next day (or two). Or so I thought.

Now since I have always slept with the stereo or TV on, I never noticed during the dead silence of the night what kind of accumulated damage I was doing to my ears.

One night while trying to sleep in my apartment, sans the white noise of my Japanese devices, I noticed a sound as if the neighbor's tea kettle was being left on the stove top.

My eyes opened wide and I cupped my hands over my ears to kill any outside noise. I muttered, "Oh, crap," as the ringing remained. I knew I was screwed.

The dumb thing is, I knew the risks of not wearing earplugs. But no matter now. Shoulda, woulda, coulda…I messed up my ears for good.

It doesn't get better. Even now as I type this, with all the room noise and outside traffic blaring, if I pay attention, I hear the ringing. Also, when I go to sleep, I HAVE to turn on a fan or the TV to help drown out the ringing a bit. My ears have become the home of an annoying noise shadow that will follow me around for the rest of my life.

Yes, I should have used ear protection. Yes, I now wear them to every concert I attend as protection against further damage.

Oh, I still freaking HATE earplugs, but believe me when I say that I hate the constant ringing in my ears worse.

It can happen to you. Wear earplugs.



  1. I dunno, I think concerts sound better with ear plugs! Heck, I've been known to wear my Bilsom T3 at concerts. I probably look like a douche, but tinnitus is no joke. Love your blog, by the way.

  2. I would rather look like a douche than have this constant ringing. You're right when you say tinnitus is no joke. I hope the teens who are just getting into metal will take heed NOW and protect their ears. They'll thank themselves when they're older!

    Also, thanks for the thumbs up for the blog.

  3. You got it right, Blake! For band members like you, aside from your instrument, your constant partner should be a pair of ear plugs. They protect your ear from excessive exposure to loud sounds. It’s not too late for you, though. Try to consult an ENT or an Otolaryngologist for medical assistance.


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