Washington Think Tank with W.: Is It Worth It?

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As many of you are likely aware, we members of the Skull and Bones club predestined to rule this fine country have made great use of Washington think tanks to answer some of the nation’s most pressing questions. Although my primary mandate to researchers was to find methods for more effective torture information extraction, I occasionally employed my scientists to puzzle out more philosophical ventures. In this spirit of the scientific endeavor, I’d like to utilize you, our loyal flushers, as a new think tank in this ongoing column.

Today’s Question: Is it worth it?

A recent blog post by Allegaeon bassist Corey Archuleta is what first got me pondering this question. In this post, Corey opines that playing music is worth sacrificing a stable career and relative comfort. While I definitely think that some may believe it’s true, especially for flash-in-the-pan trend-followers who have enough novelty to ride a quick wave of public approval into stardom, the answer becomes a bit murky for underground bands who risk not eating and losing all of their investments over a long career of poor reception and sleeping in smelly vans.

So here’s my question: If you play in a band, are you willing to forego a normal life and the comfort it entails to create your art? Do you supplement band life with a side-job? Is music your side job? If you never achieved anything more than underground success, would you consider your contribution to the body of art meaningful?

Sound off in the comments below.

(Photo VIA)

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Nope, I have a stable job, wife, mortgage, dog. I’ve actually had shit released. I’ve already achieved anything I ever wanted for music. The rest is just cake.

    • Mook Styfawker

      Please take no offense, but I never once considered the idea you were married. My mental image of who you may really be is totally shattered.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Yeah, I figured that might fuck up some shit for some people. I still am a hateful son of a bitch. But I have a wife.

        • Queen Shit of Fuck Mountain!!!!!

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I just love pastels and making cookies!!!!!!!!!!

          • W.

            I too enjoy baking.

        • Mook Styfawker

          Well, if it means anything I still picture you basically being the thing on Celtic Frost album cover, sitting on a throne by a computer. Now I just imagine your wife popping in once and a while doing wife things and it makes me chuckle.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            That’s pretty accurate.

          • wife: “dear, come to bed!”
            KSoFM: [mutters under his breath, ‘stupid lifelover…’] “yes dear, be right in!”

          • W.

            That gave me a good, sensible chuckle.

        • RomuluxX

          King Shit…can love?

          • Further Down the Metal Hole

            I’d go with maybe just hates less? Love is probably stretching it a bit, lol.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I, King Shit, must hate.

  • A couple of days ago I was talking with a friend about band stuffs. His band got an offer to travel to another state to play a festival for $300. (A) It’s a good opportunity to be seen by a new audience and (B) It’s nice that they’re getting a little something but the whole thing bums me out.

    IMO if you’re making music for any other reason than your own artistic pursuit, you’re in for a lot of heartbreak.

    • I feel like the bands that are the least successful are the ones trying to please everyone. Its just not going to happen. The ones that make music for the sake of making music are the ones that are truly successful.

      • five finger death punch is truly successful.

        • Mook Styfawker

          That truthful fact actually kind of hurt, McNulty. 🙁

        • Negrodamus

          The dudes in Nails have real jobs.

          • i read on some other site (doesn’t matter which one) that the bro’s in The Haunted do too…

          • Negrodamus

            I bet a lot of guys in our favorite bands do!

            Think Luc Lemay has a job?

          • professional mind-blower

          • Negrodamus

            plus professional face-wrecker

          • Scrimm

            Luc Lemay does woodworking for a job. he makes some cabinets too. Amp cabinets, not the kind you keep shit in.

          • Negrodamus

            Awesome, that is awesome to know thanks for the heads up. It’s interesting to find out what a giant does for actual work.

          • Scrimm

            This is his. I hate to admit it but I found this on the site we all just abandoned lol.

          • Negrodamus

            Holy shit that is ILL.

          • Scrimm

            I know I want it bad but I’m not sure if he actually sells them. He said he had friends order them.

        • Nine Inch Males

          Let’s re-evaluate this in 5-10 years. Then again in 20 to see how in debt they are after blowing everything on meth.

        • successful like AIDS!!!!!!!!

        • no no no, stop that lmao.

    • FLUSH NEWS!!!!!!!

      MDM band Nightrage recording new album with whom?!?
      WITH Jesper fukking Strömblad yo! AND Daniel Bergstrand m/

      https://www.facebook.com/nightrage

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      well said

    • OldMetalHead

      A friend of mine who’s a successful engineer by day is in a band with several friends (one of them being his wife). They’ve had some local success on the club scene, but nothing big. He told me that the creative outlet was its own reward. Their financial goals for the band is to basically cover the costs of the band. Anything else is just gravy.

  • Spear

    I’ve always kind of half-hoped to be able to make a living on music, but I’ve never expected it could work. I wouldn’t sacrifice everything to make music unless I received a deal that I knew was going to secure my future. That said, I’m putting in no less effort or time to my art than I would be if I actually was trying to make a living from it.

  • W.

    I have a buddy who recently got hired by a label in LA to basically be a touring guitarist for pop groups. He seems to really enjoy touring, but I wonder how hard it is on him.

    • There are a bunch of dudes out there that live for touring. I couldn’t do it. Total homebody.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Give me my own bed and shitter, STAT!

        • EXACTLY

        • Ann Coulter’s Flaccid Penis

          Home is most definitely where your butt’s favorite shitter resides.
          -Confucius

        • Tyree

          Give me my fridge full of beer! That’s comfort for me, also my bed.

          • Deputy Dipshit

            Bed, Beer, Broads. The three B’s of life!

      • Poop Mango

        I’d love to be able to tour full time, any time I get home from road shows I immediately want to go back out again. That said, I’d also like to have a home to come back to, so no full time touring for me.

        • How long do you typically go out for?

          • Poop Mango

            No more than a couple of weeks, but usually we’ll try and do weekend trips a couple of times a month. I have friends who go out for 6-8 weeks at a time, but they either live in squalor or have trade jobs where they make enough money to quit work for 2 months and fuck off. For my band, it’s a matter of coordinating time off work between 3 people and saving enough money that we can pay rent after we’ve used our vacation days.

          • Your username/image both confuse and delight me.

      • Gloryhole Castration

        I do love getting to travel, see new places and play music I helped create but it can be taxing when you have to sacrifice certain amenities for an extended period of time.

        • Mook Styfawker

          Totally off topic, but your username would make a perfect band name for a grind project or something, if it hasn’t been used already.

          • Gloryhole Castration

            Hahaha thanks! It came from a drunken conversation with my guitarist. We were trying to think of grind/crust punk band names for a side project we might start up. Coat Hanger Abortions was another gem!

          • Gloryhole Castration

            Also, Buster Hymen and the Cooter Patrol for hip-hop….. I’ll stop now. lol

      • Stockhausen

        I feel that way while I’m tour, and when I’m home I want to get out on tour. It’s complicated.

      • Keegan Lavern Still

        Fuckin’ word. Being rested and clean is where it’s at.

    • Negrodamus

      I recently met the sound guy for Baroness, who essentially is on tour the entire time. I thought he was very arrogant, but, I did overhear him say he thought his life was a nightmare from never being home.

  • Tyree

    Stable job, single, and play in three bands for shits and giggles. Scab is my grind project, Nuclearth is my crusty project, and I just started a thrash band that has no name yet. Looking forward to getting thrashy.

    • W.

      Would you consider all three side jobs then?

      • Tyree

        Nope. It’s just for fun. I really don’t make any money doing it. I should put shit on Bandcamp though.

        • W.

          I’d download it 🙂

          • Tyree

            Thanks! I got KSOFM’s Priestcraft EP from Bandcamp.

          • Negrodamus

            Oh I’m gonna listen to some of that now that I have found it.

          • Tyree

            Lucifer & Liquor is my jam.

          • Negrodamus

            Coincidentally I’m getting into raw black metal at the moment. It’s kinda my jam lately instead of keeping up with 2014’s smattering of new releases lol

          • Tyree

            It’s impossible to keep up with all this new great music.

          • Negrodamus

            IMPOSSIBLE.

          • I’d also say I’m starting to develop a love/hate (remember them?) relationship with this blog. I can’t keep up with all the new stuff to listen to and all the comments!

          • Man, I edit (almost) every post and review (almost) every comment. I feel you. There is so much stuff I need to listen to.

          • Negrodamus

            It can be overwhelming at times, lol.

          • Mook Styfawker

            Which reminds me, because of you I’m diving right into Botch. Thanks for that, by the way.

          • Negrodamus

            I was happy and a bit surprised that several members of our esteemed community hadn’t heard of Botch, made it all seem worthwhile. You’re welcome, hope you enjoy them! I don’t have as much time to write posts as I would like but I am trying to think of something else good that is off the beaten path.

          • knowing all the bands he hates, i expected his EP to be the best thing i’ve ever heard.
            …i was not wrong.

          • Tyree

            Lol, I enjoy it. Dude has some nasty vokills.

          • Negrodamus

            I would also stream it into my headphones!

          • Tyree

            Alright then, I’ll have to get on this I guess.

    • LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN

      name it Thrashnkill in honor of ToH

      • Tyree

        Brilliant!

  • RuIN?

    There are numerous ways to make a living as a ‘musician’, touring is one of them. I teach music for a living and can probably consider myself a professional musician, but it is not for everyone. I however would not give it up to tour. Touring can be done in short bursts during the summer. Easy for me to say, though.

  • I think that regardless of financial situation, if you have a passion for something you should pursue it. Sir.

  • Gurp

    Nope. Unless you’re some genre redefining musician exploring new territories and setting trends (and let’s face it, there’s a dearth of truly new subgenres in metal), trying to cast your lot as another me-too act in a decades old scene probably won’t get you very far in life. It’s not like sports where the amount of work you put into translates directly into results and can offset physical decline later in life. When you’re in a metal band you’re entirely at the whim of a fickle, possibly disinterested market that isn’t overtly interested in paying for your product.

    • RuIN?

      I was thinking along the same lines. Like golfers. Teaching pro vs. Touring pro. Take your chances on the tour or play the safe route at the local muni. Risk/Reward. I think the logic applies here too.

      • Gurp

        I dunno, going pro in golf doesn’t sound as demanding as a more physical sport. Does golfing at a high level require someone to be in their athletic prime? Because I would imagine one could compete well past their thirties.

        • Golf is hard. There’s a massive difference between those with peak skill and the best guy at your local course. Physical fitness seems to be less of an indicator of talent (kinda like baseball).

          • Gurp

            Oh, I would imagine the big leagues trump the guys who play it for fun at your local course anyday. What I meant was that golf seems to be more about finesse than fitness and that it didn’t take a power athlete to go far in it.

          • RuIN?

            If you want to use the word “pro” it’s the same. I’m not saying Joe Golfer vs. Tour golfer. I’m saying you can be a teaching pro at a muni. Don’t have to be in the pga tour to be a pro. Just depends on what you want to do. I’m not saying the comparison is exact just saw the two being similar.

          • Poop Mango

            It’s a reasonable comparison. The trade off of a potential big payoff in a highly competitive market vs. relative security at a more modest income.

          • RuIN?

            Exactly. Extra points for being succinct.

  • Howard Dean

    I am THE Washington think tank! I would’ve beat you in ’04, W, if it wasn’t for those lousy media types. Portraying throat-shredding raw emotion in such a negative light. For shame! Like reserved, clearheaded, and stoic politicians never delve into the realm of the primal scream. Pffffffft. I’m coming for you, Washington. I’m coming! W is the conqueror? No, I’M Alexander. Washington is my Tyre. I’m building that causeway, motherfuckers. I got my sarissa in hand. I am your God of Emptiness!
    BOW TO ME FAITHFULLY, BOW TO ME SPLENDIDLY!

    • W.

      Byaaaah!

      • Tyree

        There it is!

    • Matt Damon

      MATT DAMON

      • Howard Dean

        Maaaaaat Daaaaaamon. MATT DAMON.
        Byaaaaaaaaah! Join my Cabinet, Good Will/Shepard!

  • Mook Styfawker

    Music has always been a hobby of mine, but nothing more than a hobby. Even though I’ve craved being in a real band and playing actual live shows, I’ve never once considered it to be a full time career, or sacrificing anything else in my life for the sake of playing music. My artwork is my true passion, and it consumes enough time, resources, and energy already.

  • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

    I’d rather keep my day job and be free to pursue the kind of music that I want to make rather than being beholden to anyone else’s expectations or under the obligations of a contract with a label (which have always been manifestly unfair to artists). In the old days, it used to be that in order to make a killer sounding record, you had to have a record deal. Now, sophisticated music production technology is affordable for the every-day musician.

    I say fuck worrying about making a living doing music. If you can beat the odds and manage to live comfortably on music alone, good for you, but I feel no less fulfilled because I do music in my off time rather than trying to make a living doing music.

    • Poop Mango

      “Now, sophisticated music production technology is now affordable for the every-day musician.”

      This is true, but you still have to know enough to get it to sound good, which is harder and more time consuming than most people think. I’m doing production work on an album right now and if I could afford to hand it off to someone else, I’d do it without even thinking about it.

      • Max

        I started home-recording twenty years ago and now work as an audio engineer. In between that transition, I learnt how to play bass, then guitar, and then drums so that I wouldn’t have to use a drum machine for my projects anymore.

        Although it’s been a fun journey learning all those disciplines (especially as the technology has evolved), I can categorically state that I truly regret not just sticking with one instrument, starting a band, and hiring pros for the recording.

        Total artistic control actually leads to almost total artistic stagnation. It obviously has its advantages too (not dealing with line-up changes, artistic differences, clueless engineers who don’t understand what you’re aiming for sound-wise, etc.), but it never really gets off the ground. The cost works out about the same, I think – if you consider time and effort as well as money.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          Man, didn’t know you were so prolific, interesting. As far as success in music , i think that talent has very little to do with it many cases. Its a cynical position but it is borne out by the success of bands like motley crue, poison, warrant , etc, in the 80’s, countless bands in the 90’s , and it goes on and on to the 5fdp and king 810’s of day. Right place at the right time, maybe good management, maybe a good gimmick (kiss, the kings of gimmick which is still working 40 years later ). Obviously living in the hot spots can help, LA in the 80’s , seattle in the 90,s , New York, Florida. Of course once in a while a pure gimmick free band rises like RUSH who defy the rules and rise to the top making decidingly non commerical music. And of course your giants sabbath, zeppelin, floyd, metallica. It’s all just a roll of the dice. You could walk down the street and run into an old friend who gives you a job in a multi million dollar venture he has started, or you could walk down the alley to buy coffee and a donut and get hit by a truck. Thats life, just one big throw of the dice, have to enjoy it moment by moment and if picking up a guitar makes a person happy thats never a bad thing, if you make money or not.

          • Max

            Oh, definitely – any label boss can tell you that they’ve encountered plenty of talented people who never made it. What it takes is drive and nerve…and of course the “right place/time” syndrome. All talent does is make the successful people more tolerable once they’re in the limelight.

            But you know the old joke –
            Q: How do you make a million dollars in the music industry?
            A: Start with two million.

          • TrickleDownTacoRiff

            Haha! Speak the trooth!

        • Drewcifer

          I agree with total artistic control leading to stagnation. I oft’ think that if I had a metal buddy/band members to bounce ideas off of and start the energy rolling with more spontaneity I may find more of a relationship with the stuff I jam out. The way it is now, In a room alone recording into a computer with no one around to influence at all, I end up recording a riff and going, “That sucks, Delete.”

          • Max

            My advice is definitely to join a band if you never have. Don’t wait for three other guys with exactly the same influences to come along; they never will. Find a band who’s music you can live with even if it’s not exactly your thing.

            Being a rock musician of any sort, in any genre, is ultimately pretty pointless if you don’t have a band. Having a band is pointless if it doesn’t play live. And playing live is pointless if that band doesn’t rehearse intensively to the point where they kick ass onstage. And having the sort of dedication required to achieve that is pointless if some members are treated like hired hands who aren’t permitted to contribute creatively because the riffs they bring “don’t fit the vision” or whatever.

            Once I’d learnt to play drums good enough to be in a band, I settled for joining a pop-punk outfit – not my musical cup of tea. But it was good because I wasn’t just treated like a drum machine; I was encouraged to write my own parts and put my stamp on it all. I don’t regret it, even though it went nowhere. Bad music played well is preferable to good music left unheard or undeveloped in somebody’s bedroom.

          • Poop Mango

            Agree with Max on the band-joining thing. I’m the primary songwriter in my band and it’s still good to play with and for other people. Without that, I hardly even touch an instrument, it just feels masturbatory.

      • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

        All very true. No one said it was easy though!

        • Poop Mango

          Yeah, all’s I’m sayin is, I may not need a record deal to get my music recorded and sounding decent, but it sure would be nice.

          • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

            I hear you. It’s doable, but not necessarily ideal. And I guess the drawback to the rise of affordable home recording is also that it raises the bar on what even constitutes a “demo level” recording.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    I know a guy who quit a career of engineering to pursue playing music with his band for a living instead. I think it’s admirable people are willing to throw things away in order to follow their true passion.

    PS: 322. Coranon silaria, ozoo mahoke!

  • Drewcifer

    I’ve gotta say I find it pretty disheartening sometimes. Especially when you read about a band that you had presupposed had a pretty comfortable level of success, kings of their craft, who get all their shit stolen form a van and have to cancel eating for a few weeks while they pay to replace their shit, just to deal with snarky half composed comments on the internets. One thing about the technology age + the inherent glaring down the nose judgement of most of the metal scene, (present company excluded,) is that while its made it easy to consume and fall spellbound under new artists, its just a easy to dismiss them and write them off.

  • Nine Inch Males

    Absolutely. I haven’t released any metal yet, but I just went on my first tour abroad playing classical music. I teach lessons and work a shitty service industry job, and though it certainly sucks at times, I could honestly see myself on this path forever, because the music itself is a spiritual experience that kills all the other pain of a minimum wage life. This is true of both performing on stage, and even during solo practice time.

    I think it’s key to ask not “is my contribution to the body of art meaningful?” but rather, “is my art’s contribution to myself meaningful?”

    “The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” – Glenn Gould

    • W.

      You’re right. I probably didn’t word that question correctly, and I definitely think art must be meaningful to oneself. Thanks for the response.

      • Nine Inch Males

        In retrospect they are equal and complementary questions!

    • Stockhausen

      Love that Glenn Gould quote. What do you play?

      • Nine Inch Males

        Classical guitar. I’m assuming you’re involved in that realm too, what-with your Karlheinz persona?

        • Stockhausen

          Awesome! I’m a percussionist, I did my undergrad in music ed and master’s in performance. I was lucky enough to just land a job as a percussion director at a high school, so I can work a full-time job without it sucking my soul away. I spent many years teaching lessons and working a part-time job, and honestly, I would have no problem going right back to that if traveling and playing music become a more frequent possibility.

          • Nine Inch Males

            Word! I’m on the tail end of that same academic path right now. Haha yeah there’s certainly not much of difference in pay between a music teacher salary and decent wage part-time. You best be teaching those young’ns how to blast.

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      great stuff man…

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      I was in middle management for 18 years and eventually realized how much I disliked the game. I’m in sales now and stepped out of the mgmt scene. I played Tuba and Trumpet as a kid. I started playing the bass in 2009 because work was sucking the life out of me. I became immediately hooked. I have no shot of going on tour now with a family and all the life stuff. I went back to school 2 years ago to get my bachelors for my own personal satisfaction and decided to do it in Music Performance. I take one or two classes a semester. I have about 20 hours to go to finish.

      You nailed it: “is my art’s contribution to myself meaningful?” and “The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” – Glenn Gould.

      To be honest as I learn more about the reality of touring and the industry I don’t have any regrets about not starting earlier. We have a great life, I have my music and if I eventually get in a cool band…IM GOOD!

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        Hey man, i am thinking of moving to the states, you got a couch and some free vittles to support your buddy conan for a few months, no more than a year, just til i get on my feet. I am at a phone booth in detroit now and frankly i am afraid and don’t know where i am. Can you come and pick me up, its like escape from NY up in here. Do me a solid bro.

        • TrickleDownTacoRiff

          King hang tough. The baphomet tattoo should scare aware any non realistic threats. The others will have to be dealt with accordingly. Do as you wish. Snake and I will jump in a cab (with a chandelier on the hood) and be there in about 12 hours…HANG TOUGH!

      • Nine Inch Males

        Nice dude! You doing more double bass or electric/jazz stuff in your program?

        • TrickleDownTacoRiff

          Thanks man. I play electric bass. I really want to get a double bass. I’m taking lessons with one of the professors and I was able to try hers. I loved the sound and the feel of the double bass. What do you play?

  • CyberneticOrganism

    If you never achieved anything more than underground success, would you consider your contribution to the body of art meaningful?

    FUCK YEAH

    • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

      Lol. I’d be happy if I achieved even an underground level of success. You can only get friends and family to come out to a finite number of shows before you start to realize that you just don’t have very many independent fans who know you for your music.

  • Paris Hilton

    In a band in your 20s girls will absolutely love you. After you hit thirty it becomes sort of sad, unless your band is doing very, very well (protip: people are fickle, yours probably won’t).

    • Poop Mango

      Patrick Kindlon from Self Defense Family recently said the opposite. He likes to date women in their early 20’s or so, and says none of them are impressed by him being in a band because almost every guy they know is in one. But women in their 30’s are intrigued by it because it shows you have a hobby and interests besides sports and small engine repair.

      • Paris Hilton

        Yes, it’s all applicable if just a hobby. A smart girl would run for the hills and never look back on most band dudes haha.

    • Haha, if you’re like me, being in a band still won’t do anything.

      • Paris Hilton

        “Friendzoned again!!!”

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      i saw a guns n roses cover band at the dive bar i worked in and people were so into it. There was this one woman who was coming on to the guy who played slash (badly i might add) after the show. It was killer funny. The guy just looked terrible too, it was like a bizarro world guns show, weird how people get so stoned they don’t know what is real after a while. hahahhahaa

  • I played in bands in my 20’s, and gave it another shot in my 30’s. I came fairly close to a record deal at one point, but it was mainly due to who I knew, which is just an unfortunate reality of the industry. It’s the industry of it that sucks, not the artistry.

    Now in my 40’s, happily married, good job, house, baby on the way, I can honestly say that if I had made it, I think I would have been miserable. Life on the road just isn’t for me. Plus, I generally hate people and need sanctuary and solitude often. That being said, if you’re an artist of any kind, I think if you don’t create, you regret it in a different way.

    Now anything like that I do, I just do for myself and for fun. Unfortunately, as you age (at least in my case), it can fall by the wayside. I haven’t played or written anything in a year now. Comfort in this life definitely comes at the cost of losing small bits of yourself slowly over time. The flip side though (to keep this from being completely depressing), is that you also gain small bits from outside yourself as you mature in life and relationships. Balance in all things.

    • W.

      I appreciate that last sentiment. Both my wife and I have career aspirations, and we both have had to sacrifice a little of what we originally anticipated, but I would totally say it’s been worth it.

  • FeelTheDarkness

    I have played in bands since 1987,put out a shit ton of recordings,did all the drugs,drank all the drink and traveled all over the world on tour. I’m retired and broke but it was a helluva ride!!!!!

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      Sounds like a great life man. Better to go for it than have regrets like so many people do.

      • FeelTheDarkness

        No fucking regrets ever!!!
        Put myself through culinary school became a chef so when I retired from playing full time I had a career to fall back on.

    • Cheers!

  • Stockhausen

    I’ve done a few national tours with my band (we’re not big, we just plan things well), and so far it’s been while I was either in school or teaching part time at a university. That meant wide open summers, long winter breaks, and a luckily stable income back home from my wife. Having recently landed a full-time teaching job, my grand tour visions are going to be really limited to summers. While I know this job is going to be fulfilling and exactly in line with my long term career goals, there’s a voice in my head that is seriously bumming out. I can envision a day when I may have to either turn down a big opportunity or quit my job. Part of me says that I’ll just quit and do this while I’m young, but if that comes along when we’re building a family, I may not be able to justify it. Then again, I may be facing a gnawing regret for the rest of my life.
    Long story short, I know that I could never completely walk away. I would have to have some sort of outlet, whether that’s blowing money on home recording stuff or blowing money on short tours that may or may not even be good. Even if what I’m doing is only heard by a few people, I just want to have something out that I’m proud of.

    • Gloryhole Castration

      Nailed it 🙂

    • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

      not to mention an excuse to get away from the wife from time to time…

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      very cool man…

    • Hey man congratulations are in order nonetheless. In the end you’ve still actually done it!

  • mouseporn

    yes

  • Keegan Lavern Still

    I’d be very hard-pressed to ever pursue playing in a band full-time. I absolutely loathe traveling in any capacity and I enjoy the comfort of having a bed to sleep in and a shower to bathe in on a regular basis. Talking with bands as I’ve gone to shows over the years really drove home the fact that many of those people, while genuinely enjoying making and playing music, would be thrilled to break even in profits when weighed against the costs and rigors of full-time touring. It also motivates me to buy as much music and merch from them as is financially (ir)responsible for me.

    As of now, I’m perfectly content writing music on my cheap-ass keyboard while finishing school and saving up for instruments and recording equipment. In the next year or so, when I (hopefully) have a stable living situation and a halfway decent job, I’m hoping to at least have shitty-sounding demo under my belt. I’d consider any kind of success or positive attention, no matter how small it is, meaningful.

  • Max

    There’s a really interesting chapter in a book called “Freakonomics” – the chapter is entitled “Why Do Crack Dealers Live With Their Moms?”

    It describes research showing that in the late ’80s, most gangsters living in the Chicago slums were making less than the minimum wage and often supplementing their income with legitimate jobs. It also showed that street corner dealing was statistically more dangerous to life and limb than working in a lumber yard or mine. In other words – a far cry from the glamorous image of the drug kingpin.

    In passing it made the same point about the music, film, sporting and publishing industries: They are all shaped like pyramids that people are motivated to climb by a facade of glamour.

    At the apex is a small group of people who are making the movies/albums/books they want to make, raking in the dough, collaborating with other great peers, and having flattering profiles written about them. Further down the pyramid are a larger number also doing that, but having to work a bit harder to maintain their position: tour longer, be interviewed by journos they don’t like, make silly popcorn movies from time to time to stay visible, etc.

    Further down is a tranche of character actors, session musos, music video directors and others who aren’t as artistically fulfilled on a personal level, but hey, it still beats having a real job.

    Below that are the cover bands, romance novel writers and the theatre restaurant circuit.

    At the bottom of pyramid are those who are not only not earning any sort of living from their artistic endeavours, they are literally paying for the privilege of being involved in the action somehow – filling up their sheds and bedrooms with overpriced backline gear, bankrolled by whatever real-job work they can find that doesn’t interfere too much with the level of involvement they settle for. This is where most underground metal bands reside.

    There’s also a pyramid for each of the auxillary industries – technicians, journalists, record labels, etc. As an audio operator, I’m on the pyramid that’s got Rick Rubin at the apex and the guy who mixes local bands at the pub on Friday nights for beer money at the base. I’m a couple rungs above that guy – just.

    I once related all this to my father, who had a real profession. I was expecting him to be judgmental about it in the way fathers usually are. Instead, he just said “Actually, you’d find the same thing in the corporate world. The only difference is that there, the pyramid is based mainly on nepotism rather than skill, luck and hard work like yours is. And at least you’re doing something you enjoy.”

    But I will say this: If you’re going to go for it, you have to go for it ALL THE WAY. And still be prepared to lose.

    • W.

      I work in academia, and we basically have a pyramid here too. You have to play by the Dean’s rules and make sure your numbers are right. You’d be surprised how many terrible professors there are with tenure because they had the right connections and were able to string a lot of publications together.

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      Ahhh the nugget! “Actually, you’d find the same thing in the corporate world. The only difference is that there, the pyramid is based mainly on nepotism rather than skill, luck and hard work like yours is. And at least you’re doing something you enjoy.” Awesome!

  • geddy

    I played in a band many years ago. We played up and down Toronto to Montreal and many a shithole in between.I am proud of having played at Le Spectrum (R.I.P.) in Montreal – that place was great. I also played at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto – a seriously fucked up joint that made CBGB’s look almost clean by comparison. A lot of very cool bands played Larrys.

    Anyways – we ranted and raved all through those years – never made much money (sometimes none) but still managed to share a whole lot of good times along with some very shitty days and nights on the road. But through it all – the riffage…the jams – we were able to sound really, really good – locked in and fuck, man – savagery in motion.

    Things got pretty fucked up there towards the end. John (does every fucking band have someone named John in it?) OD’d – died before the ambulance showed up. Some motherfucker stole his bass that night – it was leaning against his rig – I saw it it there. Asshole thief. Losing John really did me in – he was a good friend. Never really felt the same playing music without him.

    Lot of fighting after that – drinking all the time – shitty gig after shit gig. I got ripped off for two guitars and a really sweet amp. And then the coke and heroin. Band fell apart. I had stopped playing for almost ten years before I finally got all that shit. I own a few guitars now, but have no interest in ever playing in a band again. I fucked myself up but good – the damage is more than evident.

    Was it worth it – years of hardship for a few years of magic? Sometimes I say yes. Most of the time I look back on those years and wonder if it was not all a weird, fucked up dream – that John will be coming over soon; that we will be throwing riffs back and forth.

    If you are in a band or plan on being in one, here is some advice about drugs: if you are going to do drugs, do them – don’t let the drugs do you.

    • Damn. That is intense.

    • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

      a fellow canadian, what decade are we talking , 90’s ?

    • RomuluxX

      Holy shit, man. This is a story that will stick with me

    • Deputy Dipshit

      That was heavy. Thanks for sharing this, geddy.

    • KJM

      Nothing good ever comes from white/beige powder unless you’re a dealer.

    • W.

      It seems like that was a hard story to share, but thanks for putting it out there. I’m glad that it sounds like you’ve found some healing from the tragedy.

    • TrickleDownTacoRiff

      Great post man. I took a ride on that train but couldn’t play an instrument.I can relate to the dream (nightmare) analogy. I have zero ability to control that shit and for me total avoidance is the answer today. i used to think that was a death sentence for me and my life but now I know different.

    • I can relate. . why is it that the bass is always the first thing to get jacked?

  • Happily for me I can play no instruments. The only thing I sing is German drinking songs in the shower.

    • W.

      You still owe King some footage of that.

  • RomuluxX

    I’ve always wanted to play music, but the fact that it’s such an unsustainable way to live has kind of kept me on the outside of it. Sure, I hope to have a good, stable job, but I’d also like it to be something flexible enough to where I can have a band a tour a few times a year. If people like it, that’s icing on the cake.

    A man can dream…

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    I’m guessing for most it’ll be like teaching Taekwon-Do is for me; you do it first and foremost because of your passion and if some money comes out of it, then great. Otherwise it’s probably better to treat it as a hobby/side-job at most and not expecting/demanding huge fame/money.

    Success is relative, I feel successful when a student is able to perform a technique etc. due to my teaching, a musician probably feels the same when the melodies come together and you see a listener’s/fan’s positive reaction to them. I’m not a musician by the way, so I’m guessing here.

  • In the end it depends what is important to someone in life. I told my boss to take a hike several years ago. Working in a factory though it provided me with a comfortable lifestyle still lacked meaning. Since then what one would define as success has been an up and down thing. Looking back the only things I can say for sure is that the business of music no matter what ones music may be has no baring on how talented or un talented someone is. Ego’s are a dime a dozen, and the delusion of fame and fortune does bizarre things to people. There are a million things I could have done differently in hindsight. A little planning and business sense goes a long way.