Someone I know tweeted that statement years ago and it stuck with me. I’m not talking about the glorified, highlight of your career times but the real nitty gritty. Every artist that has made their way through the circuit has had to rise up the performance ranks which within any region and genre can definitely vary. It’s those humorously embarrassing shows, those you wish you never told anyone you would performing at, that really show you what you’re made of. That’s the funny thing about music – yes, tons of people want to be involved and “love” it but only the strong survive. Only a crazy person would gamble so much with money, time and ambition. I’ve played some amazing shows at breathtaking venues to crowds of people. I’ve also played a mildew filled basement with shoddy equipment, held my breath to filter out the smell of shit and sang my lil heart out. It’s a labor of love and for every glamorous day there are 10 dirt-filled ones. Also what they don’t show you while glorifying sex, drugs and rock n roll, is how difficult it will be to realistically live. Touring in a shitty van at 19 while working at your local cafe on the weekends – acceptable. Working at 7-11 at 35 while letting everyone know that you haven’t given up hope on the “band making it, man” – not so attractive. Reality comes hard especially when it comes to finances because only the young enjoy starving.
Who doesn’t love showing up to a gig and hearing one of the following ego boosting things:
“We’ll move the pool table for you guys to play” (almost everyone has played a venue like this, hysterical every time)
“Can you go on first or last?” (Thanks, I really just felt like playing for the bartender or waiting 3 hours to play to a few drunk people and the bartender)
“You brought 100 people, here’s 50 bucks for the night”(split generously between 4-5 other people)
“We’ve cut your set 10 minutes” (after you’ve driven 300 miles just to play)
It’s enough to make any respectable human analyze their sadistic romance with music. Next tier is the industry, which many musicians inevitably end up a part of. What people forget is that it’s the music BUSINESS and by far one of the most cutthroat environments to be a part of. If you think being a musician is compromising being a part of the business end will take you to that threshold. Few are millionaires and integrity is like a unicorn, the greatest shit show on earth. So why do so many like myself immerse ourselves in this year, after year, after year? It’s what we were born to do. Some people do it for the fame and glory. Few people actually rise to the very top and make a decent dollar from music. For me it’s a constant pursuit of that youthful passion I felt for music growing up. Beyond fascination and heady analysis, music is just something in your blood. The emotional ties to songs, situations, friendships and partnerships created though being part of the music world are irreplaceable. Like every relationship in life, it’s challenging when present but devastating when it’s away. What can I say, we’re all sadistic fucks in love with the pain.
Lemme take you back 10 years to a glimpse of my (FAT, ugh) past…
Shouts to Adam Leota for the pic, unsung photo hero of NJ!