Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Past, Present, and Future

I felt so old walking into the beat-up venue in the middle of nowhere.  I stretched my wrist out to be wrapped with that awful tacky neon wristband which would prove to the suspicious security guards I had in fact paid for a ticket. The music started playing. I heard crashing and hi-frequency splashes of noise. In fact, there wasn't much of a difference between the sound of the band on stage through that horrendous sound system and the 80 mph winds mixed with "tornado warning" sirens that took place the night before.

The loud crowd,  full of energy, scurried about the room like a new litter of pups rolling over and under each other, fighting ruthlessly for their mother's limited supply of milk. I saw young girls walking around hiding behind their bangs with the same harsh haircut I used to wear only a few years ago: shoulder length, side bangs, choppy-dramatic layers. The hairstyle of the rebellious young female. 

The lead singer danced about on stage, theatrically using tense hand gestures to accentuate her punchy vocal phrases. The band released a steady explosion of discordant movements and sound, crashing into each other both sonically and physically.

Out of place. Slightly irritated. I desperately wanted to be back in our corny hotel room (which I recently just found out is basically vacant. Hmmm… I wonder why?), watching comedy central, and eating one of Nick's vegan cookies that I'm pretty sure I could snag without him noticing. 

And then I realized that…the girl on stage used to be me! That band used to be us! We used to look like that, and believe it or not, we used to sound like that. 

While watching their performance, I found myself transported back to the time when we didn't use fancy "in-ear monitors", when we loaded and set up our own gear and toured around in a stinky van.

Nick's voice brought me back from "la la land". "The drummer plays so loose. I used to play like that. What happened?"

We escaped the loudness and found a warm, cozy coffee house down the street. Over a cup of joe we discussed the change in our recent musical circumstances.



"Well, maybe it's just nerves?" I offered. "The stakes are up. We are playing in arenas now." "Yeah, maybe you're right. I just feel so rigid. I haven't had a good show in awhile. There are so many thousands of people sitting in the audience. What if I mess up? I feel like I am letting everyone down…" I've never seen Nick so serious and so deep in thought. He continued, "I feel as though I have to…"

"Earn it." I replied. I knew where he was coming from. 

Uncomfortable thoughts started to creep up in the silence that followed, thoughts that we haven't allowed to show their ugly faces until now that we have time to let them: " Are we still on the right track? Are we still doing what we started out trying to do? Are we Making a difference? Are we being true to our musician's hearts?"

Back in the hotel room, Jonathan, Nick, and I continued to discuss our concerns and growing excitement about the new whirlwind of a tour we are part of compared to the journey we have been on over the past 6 years, and our humble beginnings. 

I  shared, to counter the worry swirling about the room, that for some reason, once we started playing these giant arenas, I found (surprisingly) that I love the energy of being in front of that many people! I love performing. I haven't always felt like that. In fact, when we started rehearsing for the "Blake" tour, my skin would crawl whenever Dia mentioned moving around stage, and dancing, and moving. My comfort zone has always been standing still on stage. The whole "professionalism" of the tour set off a fire in me. Hopefully if these guys could see that even a person as reserved as myself has embraced our new situation, that they too can find a comfortable and joyful place in it as well.

All throughout the conversation Carlo sat silently in a corner with peaceful monk-like expression on his face as he listened to the conversation come to a decrescendo. Then he spoke, and in his way of offering to a conversation words that don't have much to do with the topic at hand, but at the same time words that tie together everything we have been trying to say:

 "I don't play music for the fame or the glory. I am a musician. It's my career, my responsibility." 

He stuck a cigarette in between his lips, and stepped out into the night to light it.

Honestly,
Meg

21 comments:

  1. Very interesting post Meg. I was so fascinated in this post! I loved reading it and never wanted it to end. Nick and the band shouldn't worry about the performance because you guys always do great. :). Also loved the cover and I can't wait for the preorder!

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    1. That's what I've been telling them! I can't wait for the pre-order either:)

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  2. Haha, Carlo ...
    Anyways, I enjoy your music now as much as I did before. I think your sis and you are amazing songwriters. As long as you keep writing and playing from your heart everything should be okay yea ?
    Hope to see you soon in France ;)

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  3. I really appreciate your posts! They make me feel like I'm really there with you guys.

    Maybe part of what Carlo meant was what drives your little group is motivation from within yourselves.

    It's like the transitions from elementary school to high school and beyond. Each jump is thrilling, scary, and disorienting all at the same time, and the expectations keep getting higher. But hopefully quickly you find your footing in each new environment and build on the skills you started with, and that gives you pride and confidence in yourself.

    Maybe the scale is different, but it's still positive reinforcement whether it's 7 or 7,000 people cheering while you're doing what you love to do alone or with your group. If you don't want to do it, then that's a problem of a different kind.

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    1. Judging from the video clips from this tour that I've seen on Youtube, everyone in your band looks and sounds terrific! No worries at all. Can't wait to see your show live.

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    2. Thank you. I love your comment. That is exactly what we are going through...growing pains.

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  4. haha I remember that haircut too...

    I guess you feel like it's almost impossible to let loose and truly have a good time if you're worried about messing up. It's like when I click 'record' on a video camera and I become so tense. I find myself doing a much better job when it doesn't matter...

    Carlo seems to be speaking some words of wisdom...

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  5. I always find myself having a good time and enjoying myself when I have to be nervous about something. I immediately think that I should be worrying.


    I think everyone works better when they're not worried about messing up.

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  6. Meg, your band is amazing, don't you forget that! You deserve and have earned this opportunity more so than all those mediocre singers/bands who play big venues and make millions on tour. Whether you know it or not, you have been prepping yourselves for this the last six years. Play from your heart and all will fall into place. Can't wait to see you in New York!

    *This is your 2012 Chinese Horoscope for Ox:

    CAREER
    Adaptability is probably not one of your strongest traits, but it may be time to augment your flexibility skills. You might not be comfortable with the sudden changes that occur in a Dragon year. Circumstances at work could shift, whether that means a reorganization of the company, new colleagues or a set of unfamiliar responsibilities. All the upheaval could throw you for a loop. Can you manage your expectations and be a team player anyway? It's probably your best approach. Show a willingness to adjust and compromise. If you're finally ready to make a career leap, do it. You'll need to take action and be completely self-motivated, though. Remember that success usually follows a period of change and concentrated effort. You can do it. Just continue to be dependable and hard-working.
    (*from astrology.com)

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  7. haha Carlo is such a guru.
    And I love that cup of coffee photo! Cafe art is just too lovely.

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  8. Ahh! Carlo! he's sounds amazing!
    Well anyway all of you guys are great, and there's no reason why you guys should be worried about playing big arenas or feeling like you don't deserve or haven't earned it. I remember seeing you guys at warped tour in 2007 and 2009, you guys were playing a show for 50 or less people and it was like you were playing for thousands. So theres no reason why you guys wouldn't sound great or look like your not enjoying it now that your playing in arenas. I'm really excited to see you guys for the 3rd time at the troubadour show.
    Much Love,
    Elizabeth

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  9. I LOVED OHPSHAW'S RESPONSE,KUDOS TO THEM AND TO YOU.I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO ADD MY PERSPECTIVE.I AM A SELF TAUGHT ARTIST AND I WOULD DRAW IN MY BOOKS EVERY DAY GOING TO AND COMING HOME FROM WORK,AND EVEN ON MY BREAKS AT WORK.I WORKED AT A SMALL PRIVATE LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE.PEOPLE ON THE BUS OR AT WORK WOULD ASK ME IF THEY COULD SEE MY STUFF AND I WOULD HAND THE BOOK OVER TO THEM.THEY WOULD SAY "YOUR IN THE MIDDLE OF DOING SOMETHING WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME THIS TO LOOK AT?" I WOULD ALWAYS TELL THEM - I CAN DO THIS WHENEVER OR WHEREVER I AM AT BUT THIS MIGHT BE THE ONLY TIME YOU MIGHT GET TO SEE THESE,SO GO RIGHT AHEAD AND LOOK AT THEM.I SOMETIMES WOULD SEE THEM AGAIN AND I WAS INFORMED THAT BECAUSE THEY NOT ONLY SAW ME DOING THE ARTWORK BUT SHARED IT WITH THEM THAT THEY TOO TRIED THEIR HAND AT IT AND LOVED IT.THERE COULD BE SOMEONE IN THOSE AUDIENCES THAT ARE INSPIRED BY YOU TO PLAY AND SING AS WELL.I NEVER WENT PUBLIC WITH MY ART BUT I DREW EVERY DAY FOR 6 AND A HALF YEARS BUT THE BEST PART WAS INSPIRING OTHERS TO TRY THEIR HAND AT IT.THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT,SHARING YOURSELF WHEN YOU CAN AND BEING YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES WHILE DOING WHAT EVER YOU'RE DOING.<3 :) <3

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  10. 1) Being out of your comfort zone is good. It means you're growing as a musician.

    2) Take a shot of whiskey before performing. Nerves will be gone.

    3) Carlo's a G.

    P.S. Just remember, whether it's in front of 10,000 people or 10, you're still doing what you love. It's better than working a 9-5 job. Let loose and have fun.

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  11. Wow, a well written and thought provoking blog again. I especially like the description of the crowd: as a “new litter of pups rolling over and under each other, fighting ruthlessly for their mother's limited supply of milk.” Great line.

    I think seeing that band must have been a little like holding up a mirror and causing you to reflect on what you were and how you have changed. You know you are no longer them, but what have you become?

    It is no secret that for a long time now your future as a band was uncertain, and when I read your blogs I sense that there is a shadow hanging over the band. Something between the lines gives me a sinking feeling. Even with this new opportunity, although super fantastic, I can sense that you still feel uneasy. I get a sense that you feel your future has been handed to you, and that you didn’t earn it. I know you don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Still, it seems to me that you got up on that stage in Ohio, and you felt that you were home, but you had to enter that home through the side door. You maybe feeling that playing pop music on a country tour is a strange turn of events and that you may have “traded your heroes for ghosts.” I would say don’t think that way.

    It is clear that Carlo feels like you guys should take a professional approach which I agree would be pragmatic. However, I also feel that an artist should have one foot in reality and the other in the ether. I urge you to always stoke your creative fires and feed the drive that brought you here, because I think you have musical gifts that are extraordinary that are worth sharing. I would take this opportunity and enjoy it thoroughly; but use it and don’t let it stop you from becoming the artist that you want to be.

    I hope that I have not read too much into your blogs and what I have said did not cast doubt on your career. I only wish to inspire as you inspire me. I have seen too many people lose their passion. I don’t want that to happen to anyone especially you guys.

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  12. “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra


    Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.

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  13. Over the years you guys have evolved, refined your music which is quite evident in your Coccon and Be Careful, I Love You, Stay in Touch album. My two favorite albums, the great Mike Ditka coach of the super bowl winning Chicago Bears said it best "you live in the past you die in the past, this team needs to evolve to be great!" And he went on to win a super bowl with some of most eccentric and fun players ever. They were the first team to do a video titled Super Bowl shuffle. Yeah I'm going back a few years, however I think it's great example of what you guys have become.

    Tell Nick to relax and enjoy he's a great drummer and fans love to see the drummer have a great time beating the crap out of them drums!

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