That’s a lot to put on a drummer

I used that phrase when talking about the band lately with Jay. We were sitting by the river drinking tequila. He asked what the ultimate goal was for me and I said I know what I truly want from a band is a surrogate family, a sense of belonging, mutual investment in one another because I had a typically awful childhood with a neglectful home and bullies at school, both among the students and faculty.

…And said that’s a lot to put on a drummer.

I have great comedic timing, even – no especially when I’m being painfully serious.

I’ve been in a state of emotional starvation my whole life. I never felt particularly welcome anywhere in my early life including my own family. As a result I’m always searching for a sense of inclusion then I don’t always trust it when I find it. If my friends say that I’m one of the group I wonder why. That’s why I like a bit of meritocracy like working in a kitchen or being in a band. Nothing gives me long-term nourishment like being in a band. I can have a good day at work or hang out with friends and my mood could tank immediately after. I can leave the gateway feeling elated and be suicidal by the time I step off the train.

Because my life needs a sense of narrative. I’m terrified of wasted time. If I have fun and nothing else in life changes I feel guilty. It’s probably why I like having serious conversations, at least I came away from hanging out and drinking with new ideas given and received.

Being in a band though means I’m vital in a meritocratic group that has long term goals to work towards (ideally) so it really can give me everything I need when it’s going well. Which sadly means quite extreme lows when it’s not going well and I’m back to starvation level.

And that emotional starvation has served a purpose, it has made me who I am. The same emptiness and yearning that causes me to write songs people like is the same emptiness and yearning that makes me a difficult friend and band mate. It’s the weakness of a strength, as Alain de Botton would say.

And I know the easy impression is that I’m overly sensitive, self involved, and complaining about the normal human condition. And sure, i won’t deny that. the fact is I know I have to be careful about hopelessness. Other people’s normal is my suicidal. Everything with me is all or nothing, I don’t really know why yet. But I know I can’t live mediocre ever after.

Music is usually there to give me a sense of purpose, the band and the scene are there to give me belonging. I can write songs people might find in thirty years, that’s comforting. But the downside of that is if the band is practicing just enough to not lose their edge completely then that’s not enough for me. It’s too mediocre.

Talking with Jay we agreed it’s really unlikely I’m going to get my A-1 goal of a hardworking band-of-brothers at this point in my life and so it’s time to shift gears and focus on the more pragmatic stuff.

In Greystone I did everything I could to push the idea it was an all-for-one democracy and I danced around everyone’s feelings for fear they’d give up or think I’m being a dictator. And I guess they were dancing around mine too, rob told me things after the last show that he’d been sitting on that were so trivial I laughed that he hesitated to say something at the time. Meanwhile underneath I hated how much pressure I was under to be the driving force. I was hoping that by putting a team together I could focus more on what I’m good at, songwriting, and less on what I’m not, everything else in life.

Instead as a songwriter I felt like a beached whale. I wrote 3 albums of material in our 16 month run, to the point where I gave up my schedule of writing a song every weekend because it just felt futile.

The fact is though we’re not kids anymore. The idea of four friends starting a band they all cherish through thick and thin is a teenage idea. And maybe even if I got that my childhood bullshit would fuck that up too.

Somehow without settling I’ve got to start thinking thinking less idealistically.

I’ve said a hundred times that achieved my bottom rung goal as a musician. Which is writing songs that people identity with and care about. I’ve only ever looked at the bottom and the top of those hopes. The next bit of serious thinking I have to do figure out what my middle goals are and what ideals I may have to wrestle with to make them realistic at my age.


Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Depression & Suicide, Pragmatism, Songwriting

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