Earplugs or no earplugs? The dangers of live music

Welsh rockers The Blackout are just one of the bands supporting a campaign, by online retailers Allearplugs.com, to raise awareness of the potential damage that can be done if you expose your hearing to persistently loud noises.

Live concerts are arguably the best way to experience music; being cramped in a crowd of thousands of people all screaming the same lyrics as the bass makes your body vibrate and the guitar screeches through the noise of it all.

The Blackout
Rhys Lewis rocking the bass for Blackout

But the noise of rock concerts can also be, literally, deafening. With the average gig hitting 115dB, a whopping 35dB over what is considered safe, the regular gig-goer could be doing their hearing serious damage. 115dB is loud enough to start causing after less than 10 minutes, not even three songs.

The Blackout, a band from Merthyr Tydfil who have just announced their final ever tour, tweeted to over 50,000 followers: “you’ve only got two ears. Don’t break them.”

They then went on to elaborate in a released statement: “as an artist playing shows day in day out it can be intensely draining to your entire body, but unlike your muscles, your ear drums and hearing won’t grow stronger. Protecting them at all times is essential. Ear Peace earplugs give you the essential clarity and sharpness of sound whilst protecting your hearing from damaging stage sounds.”
Hardcore punk rockers  Cancer Bats and Sheffield metalcore mob While She Sleeps have also thrown their weight behind the campaign, sending out messages to their online followers.

While She Sleeps
While She Sleeps

Cancer Bats emphasised the need for effective ear care at gigs, especially with rock bands who tend to be louder than other musicians.

Lead singer, Liam Cormier said: “I want to be able to crank Pantera when I’m old and grey sitting on my porch, drinking a bucket full of black coffee. The only way I’m going to be able to still hear a thing at my prime old age is by taking care of my hearing now. Having a good pair of ear plugs is just planning for the future.”
Sheffield riffers While She Sleeps also voiced their support for the campaign: “Strangely enough it took me quite a while for the importance of wearing ear plugs to sink in! If you’re like me who loves any sort of music loud, I urge you to start wearing them now and not until it’s too late! It would be a disaster to damage a part of you that makes you so happy and can create such colourful worlds of wave form dimensions that can provide you with so many areas of peace, pleasure and creativity.”
According to a report from Action on Hearing Loss, a lot of people still don’t know about the damage they could be causing.  Only 34 per cent of the young people surveyed believed hearing loss would affect their lives in some way, and 88 per cent disagreed that music is played too loudly at gigs/concerts.

Cancer Bats
Cancer Bats

Worryingly, a massive 90 per cent of young people have experienced ringing in their ears – an early sign of damage – at least once.

As of 2011, 10 million people in the UK suffered some form of hearing loss, with that figure expected to reach 14.5 million by 2031.
About 10 per cent of the population have also experienced tinnitus, a debilitating condition frequently caused by excessive noise, and common amongst rock stars.
Gerard Way, known for his solo work and singing in My Chemical Romance, tweeted about having to wear a hearing aid because of not wearing recommended ear plugs during his time on tour with MCR.
Allearplugs.com said they started up the campaign in order to raise awareness around an issue that’s still not treated as seriously as it could be. Cancer Bats, The Blackout and While She Sleeps have all publicised their support for their campaign reaching out to their collective following of over 100,000 Twitter followers.

The Blackout
Rhys Lewis from The Blackout

Managing Director Rob Doole said: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying live music, but many people are still unaware just how much damage they could be causing to their hearing if they’re a regular gig goer.  We’re really pleased that the bands were able to get behind the campaign and communicate it with their thousands of fans online.”​
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Visit the campaign website here to learn more.