The Devil's Music

The band is called Cluster Headache and I am one of the unfortunate people in the world who is forced to endure the Devil’s Music… If you are an artist, like me, this is one form of art you fear, despise and hate. I have been listening to this music for 25 years…

The chances are that there are others amongst our Redbubble community who suffer in silence as they cannot explain that this is NOT a migraine – in fact, there are very few doctors who bother to find out about the difference…

Me: “Please, doctor, this is NOT a migraine – I can bear a migraine, I feel sorry for people who suffer migraines, I wish it were a migraine… but, I suffer from a relatively rare disorder called Cluster Headaches.”

Doctor: “Hmmmm… lie down, don’t eat cheese and here is your prescription – for migraine medication.”

The Devil’s Music is unpredictable… it comes when you are feeling good.. or not, when the weather changes, just when you think he has forgotten about you. And when his shadow flits across the room in the middle of the night in your deepest sleep… your nightmare starts and you have no way of knowing when if will ever end…

My nightmare started several days ago for the second time this year after a remission of almost two years… Damn the Devil and his music… I am exhausted but to sleep is to suffer the music… I fear sleep.

If you are in the same auditorium… I can only say… nothing. If your family suffers with you and feel helpless in the face of your pain… I can only say… nothing. And hope the cycle ends as suddenly as it started.

So, dear Bubblers… I cannot explain as eloquently as I wish but maybe this fellow sufferer’s words will give you an idea:

This excerpt is all about the Devil’s Symphony – if you suffer from this affliction, the only consolation is to know that you are not alone

The Devil’s Symphony – Interview with the conductor

Hey, Mic … can I borrow the mike? A-a-a-ahem. <knock knock> is this thing on?

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of death and waste. I’ve been around for a long long year – stolen’ many men’s soul and faith. When I’m around men scream “Jesus Christ!” in their moments of doubt and pain make damn sure doctors … wash their hands and seal their fate. pleased to meet you … hope you guess my name.

but what’s troublin’ you is the … nature of my game.


Uhhhhh … ‘scuse me … but those aren’t the right words, there, friend.

Oh. Hi-i-i-i-i-i there. Yes, I know … I’ve changed a few of the lyrics … it makes such a great theme song for my band.

Yea? What’s the band’s name?

Cluster Headache. We’re real headbangers. We play every night to a crowd of thousands. Our fans hate our music. They’re sort of a captive audience. But we just LOVE to play. Would you like to join our fan club?

Your fans hate your music? Why are they still fans?

Maybe fans is the wrong word. They’re really our prisoners. We make them listen to our music even though they hate it. The best part is when they tell other people about their captivity nobody takes them seriously … I mean – just get up and leave the bar, right?

Right. So why do they stay … and remain “fans”?

hmmmm. Let’s see. Well, we give them lots of drugs!

Ooooh. I see.

Well, it’s not exactly like you think. Actually, they need lots of drugs because of our music.

Let me get this straight. They listen to your music and it makes them take drugs because they hate it so much? That’s crazy.

Heheheh … yea. Isn’t it cool? Most other people think they’re off their rockers too.

Can’t they just walk away from you and get away from your music?

Sometimes. Usually, we follow them. Everywhere they go. In between songs some of them think they’ve lost us. That’s really fun. We can wait until they think that and then crank up a real head bangin’ tune at the least opportune moment. It makes the music so much worse when they’re not expecting it.


Yea … like I keep saying … they hate the music. We love that they hate it. The more they hate it the happier we are. Every musician wants his music to be appreciated.

That’s sick.

It gets better. You see, they’re the only ones that can hear our music. Even better, they can only hear it on side of their heads!! In a crowded room with all their friends and their family and coworkers, we can get down on a tune and make them look like complete boobs.

I don’t understand.

Think of it … we’re hammerin’ out a lick, louder and louder, they can’t react because nobody else hears us. But they can’t NOT react, either … heheheh. Eventually, they can’t ignore us anymore ‘cause we REALLY get rockin’. Our drummer has a way of doing a rif you would NOT believe. He can keep it up for hours, if need be.

He sounds very talented.

He is. The poor bastards punch themselves, scream, bitch, moan … we actually get alot of them to try to run from us … you should see them … hahahaha … it’s soooo funny … they walk from room to room, shaking their silly skulls as if they could bounce the music out of their heads. It’s pathetic. It’s hilarious. So all those people, their friends, their families, the people they work with, even the strangers who just happen to luck into the show think they’re seeing the personification of insanity. Can you imagine?

As a matter of fact … I can’t. I would think they wouldn’t go out if they thought you were going to start your … music … to torture them.

<sigh> you’re right. Unfortunately, after a couple of those concerts our fans tend to stay home. I mean, we can still play for them, but there’s nobody there to see how funny they are. Except their families, of course. That makes up for some of the loss of public concerts, though. Families can be as much fun as public humiliation.

How so?

Well, it can go 2 ways. First, we establish the fact that our fan doesn’t have both oars in the water. Piece of cake. Our music is sooo bad, no one that hears it has a chance of appearing normal in any sense of the word. Now if the family is strong, we can be as distasteful to them as we are to our fan … there’s just nothing they can do for this wretched groupie that they love so much. And our music makes our fans want to be a million miles away from everything … to be alone … it’s like if they sacrifice their whole existence, all of reality, we’ll go away too since we’re part of that reality. They don’t want to be touched, spoken to, or acknowledged in any way or sensation will bring them back to the music. That shit drives family members to tears. I love it!

And if the family is not strong?

Isn’t that obvious?

Oh, yea, I guess so.

We’ve given new meaning to “the band split up”. In our case, that’s followed by “… another marriage.”

So they’re damned if they go out, and damned if they don’t. … Damn!

Pretty much. And then there’s always work. They HAVE to go out to work. At least until we convince their boss that they’re worthless. Sometimes one or two midday concerts is enough.

This song of yours must be just awful.

It’s not just A song. We play a lot of tunes. Our friends become connoisseurs of the pain … they can tell which boogie we’re going to play just from the way we do the intro. But we have different songs. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Not a variety of pain causing music.

Why not? It’s a trip. Sometimes a fan will find a way to block out one of our songs. If we played the same one all the time they might drop out of the fan club. So we move it around.

Move it around?

Yea. Different songs have different effects. Some produce a simple feeling of having half your scalp removed, some are painful.

I think having half my scalp removed would be painful.

Childsplay. That’s one of our opening numbers. Simple burning on the scalp. Just getting started. The real metal songs go inside.


Yea, inside. Inside the head. Those songs can really rock. The guitarist can make you think he’s using your optic nerve for his E-string. That’s really entertaining. The drummer stuffs one stick into your nostril and the shoves the other one up through the roof of your mouth and plays paradittles on the back of your eye, then finishes up with an Inna Godda da Vita solo on your upper teeth. And our bass player can put a note on the bridge of your nose that defies description … it feels like a black hole in your forehead, mining its way through your nasal passage and cerebellum. Each song features a different band member. Sometimes we feature more than one member in a tune … there are even some numbers where we all get into it at once – what a rush!! And we do ballads. Loooooong ones – not too loud – kinda quiet renditions of the songs I’ve mentioned. Just to let our fans know we haven’t left the stage, you know – background music. So, you see, we have different songs that produce different results, and we play those songs at different volumes at different times. But it’s always the same band … the same band. Every fan hates us in their own way. But they all hate us.

Can’t any of them get away from you?

Like I said, sometimes. We’re really busy, you know. Can’t keep track of all of them all the time. some of them get away from us for a couple of months or years at a time. but mostly we find them again and bring them back into the “fold”. Heheh. It’s a blast to play again for a fan that hasn’t heard us for a while. It just sinks their heart when they realize “we’re ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck!”. God, I love this band.

Can’t they have your music masked somehow? It’s amazing how many things modern science can do today.

Even when one of them goes to a doctor they’re hosed. We don’t have many fans. The chances of a doctor having heard about us are practically nil. Most doctors think our fans are as looney as their friends and family do. Sure, every now and then some high falutin’ medical student sees more than one of them and starts to think he can help them stop listening to us … but none of them can – so far – and they only see a few fans anyway so they’re only a minor threat to the bands tour. No matter how you look at it, we have our fans behind the proverbial eight-ball.

… what about those drugs you said your fans use?

A sham. No drug company worth it’s stock is going to invest funds to help such a small clientele’. All the drugs we get for them have been produced for other ailments or for pain in general. Some of those drugs just happen to suppress the ability to hear us play. But not to worry, most fans don’t have the coin for the dope, and since it’s in the direct interest of insurance companies to deny coverage whenever possible, they won’t be covered for anything that can be explained away as substance abuse or insanity.

Substance abuse?

Sure. Insurance companies rule! They make the doctors afraid to prescribe addictive pain suppressing drugs that make our music harder to hear, and label non addictive treatments ineffective and unproven. They collect the bread and tell our fans to go pee up a rope. Epidemiological studies are even used to describe our fans in such specific terms as to make the whole idea of research laughable. Like, they’re all male (loada crap – we LOVE female fans!), hazel-eyed (that one really slays me), bad complexioned (that one’s sort of offensive), 20-something (we do NOT discriminate on the basis of age) drunken smokers. Those last two are really useful when insurance companies are determining the reason our fans can hear us. If the fan brought it on himself, so much better for the stockholders.

Pretty depressing for your followers.

You are the master of understatement. We can send our groupies lower than whale poop. They have to look up to see most ordinary peoples’ shoelaces. We kill a lot of them. Well, we don’t actually kill them – the music’s not fatal. But they off themselves because of our music. The great thing is no one ever blames the band – they blame the fan. Who ever heard of taking your life over a little headache … ordinary people figure it must have been something else. By then most ordinary people think our fan was nuts anyway.

So what do your fans have to look forward to?

Up until lately, nothing. Last year this one smart ass fan thought he could start an insurrection, but it’s mostly crap.

What’d he do?

Oh, he setup this website called to let our fans know how many of them there are. That really pissed me off. The nerve of that creep.

You don’t think that was justified? I mean, you’re pretty hard on those people. Wouldn’t you expect them to … revolt or something?

I thought we had that covered.


Well, the name of the band is Cluster Headache, right?


Does that suggest some indescribable, horrific, debilitating, other-wordly pain to you?

Well … no.

PRECISELY! So calling it a headache makes it sound so normal, so known. But there’s just no other word our fans can use to describe the feeling our music brings to them. I mean, it’s a pain in their head (most of them have a lower opinion of it … nyuk nyuk) … and a pain in your head is a headache … and everyone’s had a headache, right? You just take 2 aspirin and lie down, right?


So when they say, “excuse me for an hour or so, I have to go try to crush my skull – I have a headache”, their credibility goes right out the window. So they keep their mouths shut as much as possible and try to hide their ability to hear us play. So they never find out about each other. So they suffer alone. We like it that way. It makes it easier to make them feel and look like idiots.

And this website brings them together?

Yea … they even tried to come up with another name for the band. See what I mean? Give those fans a little commiseration and they figure out one of our most successful ploys. Didn’t work, though. There just isn’t another word for a pain in your head. It’s a headache. Pure and simple.

But the site’s still online?

It is. We even targeted the webmaster. Tore his family apart. But he wouldn’t bend. He’s even adding new shit to the site all the time. Boy, he pisses me off! And now he’s got this guerilla group organized that think they’re gonna mount some sort of offensive against the band. Callin’ themselves OUCH or something. But it’s all a bunch of bull. They’ll never pull it off.

You seem pretty concerned about the site and all this activity against you.

Naaaaaa. Screw them. How can they fight us when we can bring them to their knees so easily?

They would have to be pretty tough hombres’.

….. yeah …..

The Kip Scale of Pain

Pain level 0
No pain, life is beautiful

Pain level 1
Very minor, shadow’s come and go. Life is still beautiful

Pain level 2
More persitent shadow’s

Pain level 3
Shadow’s are getting constant but can deal with it

Pain level 4
Starting to get bad, want to be left alone

Pain level 5
Still not a “pacer” but need space

Pain level 6
Wake up grumbling, curse a bit, but can get back to sleep with out “dancing”

Pain level 7
Wake up, sleep not an option, take the beast (devil) for a walk and finally fall into bed exhausted

Pain level 8
Time to scream, yell, curse, head bang, rock, whatever work’s

Pain level 9
The “Why me?” syndrome starts to set in

Pain level 10
Major pain, screaming, head banging, ER trip. Depressed. Suicidal.

Last night, I reached level 8… and it’s only the beginning… more music before it ends… sighs!!

The Devil's Music

Avril Brand

Kilrush, Ireland

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The band is called Cluster Headache and I am one of the unfortunate people in the world who is forced to endure the Devil’s Music…

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