Sometimes writer/full-time layabout Ed Newman weighs in eight months later with the follow-up to his critically ignored first entry in his column:

To Earplug Or Not To Earplug?

Remember me? Probably not, it’s been a while and I did only contribute one article many months ago back in March of this year. I’m also no longer playing in Cyclamen after the disbanding of the live line-up, so I guess rather than “Ed Newman of Cyclamen” I’m now just “Ed Newman…some guy”.

To business. Now you may (or more likely, you don’t, so here’s a link) remember that the article I wrote all that time ago was concerning the obscene volume levels that we are faced with at shows. Well, back in that piece my main gripe was with the loss of sound quality when we’re listening to music that loud. This time, I’m afraid it’s all gonna get a little super cereal as I address the other connotation of gigs being too loud – the damage we do to our hearing.

What’s prompted me to do this is the tragic story reported recently on The Daily Telegraph website concerning Robert McIndoe, a music fan who killed himself because of the constant ringing in his ears. If the gravity of that statement hasn’t sunk in, I’ll say it again: he killed himself because of the constant ringing in his ears. It’s reported that he was unable to sleep for 3 months following just one gig where he forgot to take his earplugs. One gig, that’s all it took to destroy this man’s life and which eventually led to its tragic end.

It’s clear that this doesn’t happen to everyone, you can go to the occasional show without earplugs and usually the ringing subsides after a day or so, maybe less. But if one show is all it takes, then aren’t we playing with fire every time we do this? Do we not face the possibility that the next show we go to without earplugs could be the one that destroys us as it did Robert McIndoe? And even if it’s not that one fateful show that gets you, the constant going to shows without earplugs will eventually. And there are no ifs or buts involved here – repeated and lengthy exposure to such levels of noise will lead to tinnitus, and for some people, deafness.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: However often you go to shows, whether it’s twice a week, twice a  month, twice a year…whatever, it really doesn’t matter. The fact is that without exception, you need to be using earplugs. They should be as necessary in the pre-going-out body pat down as phone, wallet and keys. Maybe like me you’ll take them out every now and again for your favourite song, or to get the full impact of that br00tal beatdown, but be prepared to put them back in straight after. The sad state of affairs is that music at gigs is too loud and if you don’t protect your hearing, then be prepared to lose it.

Super cereal.

I did warn you.

- EN