jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2016

The equation of being a working musician

There's a big gap between playing occasionally as a hobby and try to be an entertainer,
even an amateur one. The later is a job and it needs constant time and effort.
If the entertainer don't get gigs, money or good experiences in return, nobody would
keep on practicing and exerting so hard. 

Fact: There are periods of being down, with zero motivation, not even for playing or writing.
I have gone through them all for years. Learn to deal with that is necessary.

Con:  It's hard when your work depend on people that don't give a shit.

Pro: I sure can do things better, but i'm not getting mad about excellence.

Con: Motivation and patience tends to run out.

Idea: Joining forces with other musicians can be good and productive.

Con: Finding like minded ones have revealed utopic. It's way hard to deal with others that aren't ready for not sleeping, carrying heavy loads, don't eat much and general lunacy.


Next November (2016) will be 25 years since i began playing in bands. I have recalled the date just by chance and it took me aback.
I was thinking of doing an interview for the 5 questions project and thought it was time to ask a spanish musician, someone i really liked, some friend maybe.
And boom, i realized just there and then that i have some acquaintances in the scene, but not closed friends.
Even among my ex-bandmates. No, i definitely wouldn't have beers with the guys i spent more years playing with. Not really because of bad feelings or feuds (there were lots too) but more because of we have grown up in divergent ways. Curious that most of them still play and love music, but we see things way differently and communication is poor.

A bit of regret and sorrow got me: 25 years and i can't say i have a close friend “in the scene”.
Want an instance? being Spanish but writing in English because most of my readers are from abroad. It sums the situation pretty well.
But the regret and sorrow went away soon. I chose the “rational road” and analyzed for some minutes who my mates were, why we took separate ways and what i do recall.

The first years were hard. Does it sound weird to you? Aren't youngsters supposed to have lotta fun playing together? There were good times, hopeful times, but many and assorted frustrations too. The main ones related to my ineptitude with the guitar and singing. It took me many, many years before i began feeling confident or at least comfortable with any of those.

The “middle years” were funny and promising. I went through big dissapointments, quittings and splits and i began not giving a fuck. At the begining of that “era” i got rid of most of my gear, rehearsed in a junk room inhabited by cats, spiders and mice. I made myself a guitar out of particleboard and spare parts. The cables of my amp's speaker were eaten my those gentle mice.
I played lotta crazy gigs in those times. Got frustrated too, but the internet began changing the game and it became easier to get in contact with other musicians and put things up.

Good fun until i tried to “upscale” it: I was playing in three bands at once, playing lotta shows and i didn't want it to fade out.
I really tried and worked hard, but many things happened: partners losing interest, the begining of the recession, the changes in the “leisure culture” and i could have always worked harder and smarter.

That leads me to these recent years. Without doubt, my most productive and creative period. It's curious that i haven't been in a “real band” in the last 4 years. Besides i have only played the odd gig. And i still am frustrated for not playing more, but my perspective have changed a lot.

Many venues haven't endured the crisis and most of the survivors aren't worthy: straight shitholes where no money, public or good manners are to be found. You may thing i'm fabricating, but you gotta know i live in a rural area where rock music is as alien as it is flamenco in the american Midwest.

I've got good advice from wise people, inside and outside the music scene. Some of them said that “upscale” it wasn't a good idea or wasn't possible at all. Others said i must go where the action is, look for better cities of even other countries. Some people is up for, precisely, downscaling it: play non commercial events, outside of the scene.
I have serious doubts about it all. I don't mind working hard and have always been heavy on DIY, it's almost a religion for me. But i see very little public interest for live music around here. Specially if there's cover at the door and the band is local.

Another funny thing i have noticed playing local venues is that there is almost no youngsters, the fellows are getting older. Only the diehards remain. And they get more grumpy and dick every year.
It's funny too how many events have become “family experiences” with kid zones, posh and pricey bars and features like teepees or golf carts for rent. More like Disneyland than a rock'n'roll fest.

Consider that i'm talking of my personal experience and context. I know there are better places and conditions. But i do see similarities all over the scenes.