It’s no secret that bands are like family, sibling rivalry is definitely part of any family with multiple children. Back in 2004, we learned Metallica were on the brink of calling it quits when they shared their therapy-like documentary Some Kind of Monster. We have also seen a handful of “family” reunions like Guns N’ Roses, Misfits, and more. Additionally, there have been countles split-ups.
Maintaining a band is difficult and just like everyone else, they have bad days. A few weeks ago, Xandria fans were gearing up to see the symphonic metal band return for their second North American run this year just months after their first headlining North American journey. Unfortunately, the group had no choice but to cancel, due to vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen stating she was unable to perform with them for the time being. We were under the impression that Dianne was faced with health concerns. However, the vocalist shared her thoughts, expressing how surprised she was to see a temporary replacement singer, which led to her official removal from the band.
Xandria has gone through five singers since the group formed in the late nineties and yet has continued to record new albums, including Theater of Dimensions, which was released in January of this year. Following this news, two former female vocalists shared their thoughts on this issue, making it seem there’s more to the story.
Former vocalist Lisa Middelhauve who was with the group from 1999-2008, chimed in with a lengthy statement:
“Aaaand here we go.
The statement. Of Lisa Middelhauve. Concerning the newest „bad“ band in the scene.
Where to begin with? First of all: I have never been an innocent victim. Yes, „Xandria“ for a while ruined my dreams and therefore made me really, REALLY angry. But honestly, I have been a pain in the ass for the band the other way round. I am simply not the type of woman that will use her right to remain silent. I didn’t remain silent. I vented – for years! – and then I forgot about the band.
But wait, who or what IS this band? Is it a sexist monster that feeds from virgin operatic singers? Is it the nasty dragon that imprisons divas in distress? Sorry to disappoint you: no.
XANDRIA is a bunch of disposable guys (plus one disposable lady). It is a group of individuals. It is 4 or 5 musicians, which means we are talking about at least 4 personal histories, egos, personalities and opinions. We are not talking about one big monster against one helpless princess (at a time). We are talking about a clash of egos, which leads to an obviously catastrophal miscommunication.
Ha, I can imagine your faces now! Lisa fucking Middelhauve doesn’t take the chance to simply bash XANDRIA! Surprise! Well, I have to admit it: I really enjoyed the shitstorm. I am only human. I felt so hurt by this „monster“ that it was pure amusement I felt when reading some of the more creative insults. Popcorn, please!
But now some time has passed, let’s breathe and think. In the following I will try to explain some things to you that most of you simply can’t know.
1.) Never blame the management for the band’s miscommunication. The management is not the boss of the band. The band is the boss of the management. A manager gets paid to make the band as successful as possible – BY the band. It is the management’s job to keep the band working and to generate as many possibilities as possible (for example open business contacts, generate new markets and so on). This also means that a good manager will always try to make the band take as many of the generated opportunities as possible, even if bandmembers don’t feel well. No matter which bandmember.
Being mad at a management, because it only cares for the business aspect, is like being mad at a cook because he only cares for the food. They are simply doing their job.
2.) Of course, the pressure is high. I sang two of my worst shows when I was really ill and to proud to cancel. But also, my ex husband Nils Middelhauve entered the stage under very difficult circumstances several times, I know that the drummer (Gerit Lamm) suffered a bad BAD pain in the back for years – and entered the stage. Even Marco Heubaum (and I assure you, I totally don’t like that little sausage) played on with bleeding fingers.
Maybe you can compare this with a kind of competition. Who is the toughest motherfucker? „She never cancelled a show!“ is a compliment. „She cancelled a show!“ a reason to call her diva. What would you do?
3.) A singer gets all the attention. Boohoo guys, too bad for the rest of the band. But really this means that a singer doesn’t only have the pressure to please the fans no matter what – it also means that she constantly has to proove the band that she doesn’t think she’s something „better“ or „more important“. This is true for both genders, male and female singers. Additionally a female singer has to proove she’s everything: beautiful but Rock and Roll enough to not care about her outter appearance too much. Intelligent but not arrogant. Warm-hearted but mysterious. No little princess but also not manly. But those are general problems of society, not a XANDRIA-specific issue.
Of course, this story has two sides at least. How would you feel if you rehearsed until your finger bled, until your back felt like breaking for years and years and years and you carry around all that heavy stuff, you drive the band van, you contribute everything you can to the band – but you remain unnoticed? That singer bitch claps her hands only once and hundreds of fans bow just like that? Who does she think she is?
I understand this. But maybe it would be a good start to ask her who she thinks she is. Most of us singers would probably answer: I want to be one of you, but they won’t let me and you won’t let me either. The microphone is a cold friend.
4.) Do I still think XANDRIA is a monster? No. I don’t like Marco, because I simply cannot respect his ways to deal with people in general. Also I don’t think he is a very original songwriter, and he likes to hide those who helped him bring some soul into the music from the public.
I don’t like the way that the other bandmembers always hated those ways, too, but never had the balls to really change anything. I don’t like what this band turned me into. I didn’t like myself anymore back then and it was a long way from Lisa, the XANDRIA-hating fury to Lisa, the who-the-fuck-is-XANDRIA mother of two.
XANDRIA never was the monster that I saw in it. But, and folks this is important, members of the band – like any of us – are able to hurt, to exclude, to belittle, to insult or to disappoint other members of this band. Male or female. (I can assure you that my dear ex husband Nils Middelhauve is the opposite of female, and he left the band, too, but nobody is talking about him.) It’s not a sexist problem.
5.) So what IS the damn problem then? The answer is: all of this. Singers who are told to shine, instrumentalists who feel little in their shadows, bandmembers who have the power to decide things and other bandmembers that don’t feel represented by those decisions, and so on and so on. Short: the problem is EGOS.
And when it comes to XANDRIA I think we’re not talking about egos too big, but no, we are talking about many many many insecurities and hence wrong decisions and THE communicational problem of the century. Those guys are not evil. They are just not good at what they do (except for the musical part, which is, IMO nowadays pretty impressive). They were not good at dealing with the fury Lisa, the musical genius Kerstin, the heir of Tarja Manuela, the voice of reason Nils and now they failed dealing with the queen of hearts Dianne.
And now, what to make out of this? Has Lisa Middelhauve given you any interesting news? I bet not. None of this has ever been a secret. The information was there all the time. May I give you an advice?
Yes, in my eyes XANDRIA didn’t act very wise in this actual situation. I am terribly sorry for Dianne and I think her decision to leave is the only right thing to do for her. I appreciate her statement and I have also read Manuelas very intelligent words on this topic. I have a different role to play in this. I have always – and will always – talk from my heart, as human as possible.
They made a mistake. Maybe many mistakes. We, the ones who left, aren’t free from fault either. We’re all human beings. You have to understand that what you are just watching is something like a public divorce and most have decided that if mommy cries, daddy is a bad man. Frankly, this „daddy“ isn’t the best husband on this planet, I can tell you. Nevertheless, you are the children in this image. You don’t have to decide. You can follow Dianne AND the band. And Manuela and Kerstin and Nils if they decide to be active in music biz. I’m gonna raise my kids and I’m happy to listen to music and maybe to sing for my family.
I understand that you are disappointed – so am I – and I am not asking you to take back your insults on the XANDRIA page. Who knows, maybe they learn something out of it. But now, let’s all just… breathe. They made some mistakes. And me? Didn’t I? And how about you?
Give them a chance to explain this, give them a chance to fix this. I am waiting curiously for the official XANDRIA statement. Who knows, maybe it opens new perspectives. And I really hope that most of you will be able to enjoy the music of XANDRIA in the future nevertheless. After all it somehow still is my grown-up child that’s not living with me any more. It may be difficult, but it deserves to live.
Make of this what you want – this is all I can contribute to this for now.
(that will be Lisa Rodermund from next weeks Friday on, by the way)
ps: Oh and XANDRIA guys (I KNOW you’re reading this!): I put my heavy weight in this to keep your show running. You’re my dearest frienemies. BUT (!) don’t make the same mistakes over and over again! If I’m asked again to write a statement about your next singer/bandmember leaving, I’ll stay with the popcorn and let that ship sink, is that clear? Make the best out of it!”
Former vocalist Manuela Kraller who was with the group right before Dianne from 2010-2013, shared and responded to Lisa:
“Please read this post of Lisa Middelhauve!
It even brings more clearness in this whole Xandria situation…
That’s what I wrote to Lisa:
Lisa, you just nailed it! Thanks for this well written post…nothing is left unsaid…you brought all the aspects in…and yes, also other bamdmembers sacrificed for the band (for example Gerit with his hurting back, still playing shows). There are just sooo many factors leading to a split between singer and band. It’s not just the “bad boys“. In my opinion one of the main problems is also a lack of good communication between the members, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding.
As Lisa said we singers are no princesses nor are we victims, who have to be saved. We also have to be active and have to communicate and say what we need to feel comfortable. On the other hand the band should understand that in case that a singer has a desease or any other serious health problem, that cancelling a show might be the best solution. This is the same case if any other member is seriously ill. It’s all about caring for each other. Being human. And be wise enough to realize that the health of band members is much more important than any show on this planet.
Lisa, holy words…thanks for clearing this situation even more!
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All of this led to Xandria making an official statement on Dianne’s departure:
We are very sad about the situation that we and you, the people following Xandria, have to face now.
After we already had to cancel many concerts since July due to Dianne not being able to perform we had now been informed by her that she is leaving the band with immediate effect.
This happened after we published news that the upcoming concerts will be played with a temporary replacement singer. It was clear to everyone, including Dianne, that it was supposed to be a temporary solution only.
We had to learn about her departure in a way that has been surprising us very much and with a statement in which we do not recognize ourselves in.
We have been very downhearted about not being able to play these concerts, and probably would not have been able to play for an undetermined time also in the future. For that reason, we wanted to play at least the concerts in November and December with a temporary replacement singer that can celebrate the music we love so much together with you and us, instead of cancelling any more concerts.
We always have been doing our best to be there for you fans, so we tried the same in this difficult situation.
Just as we always tried to find a good way to care for all members of the band to live the passion that is music, which can sometimes be difficult for everyone. Unfortunately, it seems that Dianne´s needs and goals were drifting apart from the band´s ones.
However, we are proudly looking back at what we achieved together and we are thanking Dianne for the great times we shared and everything she did for the band. We wish her all the best for what she is heading for on her future way.
We will live the passion we have for our music together with you all on our concerts in November, December & beyond!With a heavy heart, but at the same time looking forward to the future and to see you out there sharing our music with you,
Philip, Marco, Steven & Gerit”
Lastly, Lisa had one more thing to say after the band’s response:
“Uh, just read XANDRIAs statement. They now did exactly what all the fans were screaming for all the time and still those fans are not satisfied. So happy with you, folks. I’m proud of my ‘no shitstorm’ fans and friends!
Let’s turn to more positive things… don’t you think, too, that my babygirl is going to be a mermaid…?”