Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Paying Your Dues

Nick joined the band. We found a bass player shortly after. Dia and I considered ourselves extremely lucky to be joined with two very motivated and capable dudes. Ryan understood what he liked to call "The Scene". He knew the right bands, the right people, and the right way to butter up his connections. 

He actually booked our first tour all by himself utilizing the mysterious powers of Myspace to connect with bands such as "Lydia" from Arizona and "The Higher" from Las Vegas. (Anyone remember those guys?) We coordinated with these other bands in our region of the U.S. to "show swap" and give each other the names and numbers of local promoters and venues.

All of the pieces of our journey seemed to fall together quite nicely. We continued to sell Dia and my first demo cd. We  found a lead guitar player, Kenji, online to complete our band. (The internet is such a magical tool, wouldn't you agree?) Kenji now enjoys radical success playing guitar for Bruno Mars, which is quite incredible actually. Good for him. I'd be happy just to be Bruno Mars back up dancer! Um…o.k. let's not go too far. Ha ha. Basically, we simply packed up our belongings, our really terrible musical equipment that we didn't really know how to use yet, and hit the road in my Infiniti SUV.

Yup, no van. No trailer. I'm not even sure how we fit a whole drum set along with all those amps and our luggage in my vehicle back then. (Yes, this is the same vehicle that I drove throughout my college days and wrecked in that Smith's parking lot.)

When I think  back to those first tours we did I have to sigh a lot, and that same twirly feeling that you get in your stomach when you develop a crush on that special someone (you know the feeling!) begins to tornado through my abdomen. That first tour just seemed so simple. So happy. I don't think we hardly sold any cds. We traveled along through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and up through Washington and Oregon. We played in small coffee shops, bars,  and even a lot of parks, parking lots, and people's houses. I think  we drew 20 people at the most to each show, the average being about five to ten. Five to ten! On the last tour I played opening up for "Blake Shelton", we played for five to ten THOUSAND!

I wouldn't have traded in that experience for a cute little house with a white picket fence. (Which is what I'd like most in the world right this minute, so that's saying a lot!)  We used to sleep in Wal-Mart parking lots and wake up before the crack of dawn to use the Wally Mart restroom to brush our teeth. On the last tour I did the band on the Blake Shelton Tour had two giant green rooms complete with catering and a liquor bar. My how the times change, right?

I remember bringing out a friend on tour once, who insisted that she needed to shower. So finally, I had Nick pull the van and trailer over in a strip mall complex right up to a Starbucks where I proceeded to explain to my friend the mechanics of a "sink shower". I won't go into detail in my blog, but I'm sure you guys can imagine how this experience works…

We made so many great friends in those early days. If we had a bad show, we simply laughed it off because there wasn't any pressure. Who was there to be upset about a sour note? The two guys at the bar quarreling over who hates their construction job the most? 

Ignorance is bliss. Innocence is hard to come by these days. I will lock those first shows in a box and keep them in a safe place deep inside heart until…until forever all right! I'm sure all of you have many "first" experiences in whatever field you are in that were tough, but necessary to get you where you are today. I would love to hear about them in the comments:)



  1. Riding a horse for the first time, got me to soaring over 5 ft jumps. It's affected me SO much. If I didn't get myself out of the house on a hot 100 degree Saturday, I wouldn't be riding.

    P.S. Any hints on August's First Thursday?

    1. Yes, it has to do with that trip to Europe that I was going to take...

  2. A long time ago, in one of my early jobs on a design team, my co-worker (another young guy like me) and I were trying to figure out why these racks full of complex custom-built equipment wasn't working right. The company was trying to meet a shipping deadline, and we were the only two people available that Friday.

    Our boss walked by, we told him the status, then he shook his head and said in a slightly condescending tone, "You guys aren't going to get it working by Monday."

    I swear: I still remember how I instantly felt when I heard him say that. My buddy felt the same way. Heart rate up, some anger, insulted, surprise, aggression, and a big sense of urgency all rolled together. Maybe like what a fighter feels in the ring.

    Never before had we felt such an intense "burning desire"--to prove our boss wrong.

    We worked around the clock that weekend, not going home, emerging smug, feeling proud and exhausted, and victorious Monday morning.

    Then our boss arrived and told us the shipment didn't have to go out that week after all...

    To this day, I wonder if he did that on purpose.

    1. I would have been so upset! Ha ha. Well, at least you guys proved him wrong. Sounds like your boss wasn't the best person to have in charge. Not fun. Not fun at all.

    2. Yeah, some expletives were uttered. The funny thing is, we didn't hold a grudge against my boss because he was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

      Meg, you're right: We did have a feeling of "FU, we're smarter than you thought, ha!"

      Let's just say I had a relaxing paid "vacation" in--and sometimes out of--the office that entire week to unwind. My buddy, too. ;)

  3. Nice pictures - Did Nick dye his hair brown?

    1. Actually, Dia died his hair brown. He had no choice in the matter.

  4. Loved reading this. I was luck enough to share the stage with you guys a couple times in those early days, (as Jordan Booth's bass player at Kilby, and with my own band at the time called Lightning in Alaska at Captains Quarters.)

    You guys always sounded gray live and were so kind and friendly after shows. I loved Kenji, what a talented guy, I loved his band Best Interest and thought he really complimented your style very well.

    1. Oh yeah, loved Kilby. Hope they are still putting on shows there.

  5. My first show for Flamenco dancing. I was around 5 or 6 but I still remember it crystal clear. I was really excited so I got ready a couple hours before. My mom was the teacher so I had to pack the car with all the costumes and get the music ready (Yes age didn't matter when it came down to a show!). I wore a black and white polka-dot dress with my hair in a bun and a flower on top of that band. My dance was horrible! My earrings came flying off during it, my timing was off, and I was late coming out. I was a pro at age 12 and I currently help teach Flamenco and Folklorico dance.

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  7. I'm a photographer and a couple of months ago I had one of my pictures up at a little gallery inside of Freestyle a photography store here in L.A. Man oh man, I was so excited when my professor came to me asking for a copy of my picture so he can send it over. This was the first time I ever had one of my pictures up in a gallery. This by far has been one of the coolest things that has happened to me and I can't wait to see where my photography career will take me.

  8. well, i'll have my first college experiences in about a month so that should be interesting! eeeep. nyc bound... i hope to see you guys there sometime. i think i'll feel really cool easily going to a concert while i'm there hahah

    also i really do enjoy reading/listening to you guys talk about how you started out and what touring and all that stuff was like, such as the cosigned episode that dia was on. plus old pics are fun to look at too :)

  9. Grew up in the Mesa AZ scene playing in my band 2000-2004...saw Lydia's first show when they didn't have a full band yet. Spent all my money and waking hours playing, recording, practicing. Ive locked away in my memory vault the very first recording we ever did. I listen to the little EP now and it sounds so terrible to me but I'll never Forget recording in the dead of winter in my bedroom in my moms house. My band truly grew organically from 3 of my best friends...we all knew each other since 12 and started playing in our band around 16-17. We laughed so hard at some points recording that first EP just having so much fun. It's a forever good memory for me. The bassist of that band owns some Chandler jewelry actually!

    Anyway, it's a long post but Your blog just reminded me how simple and fun it can be without the pressure of being a grown up and trying to "make it".

    12 years later, I still speak to all 3 of the other bandmates in that first band and am grateful for the lifelong friendships built from simply playing music together. Strange thing, music is.

    Thanks for the great MaD beginnings stories. I wish all of my Fave bands would do this :)

  10. Great story, Meg! Like you... I had many same music memories which I too have lock up and kept forever! Such a great and innocent time. But one important thing I wish to share with you and everyone...you can keep creating new and special "firsts" and creating special memories to cherish forever! I think too many people forget that and lead a ho hum life. Always dreaming about the glory days. I re;boot life about every 10 years or so. Start something new and exciting. It's so not about" getting there"... but rather the awesome journey and all the peeps and relationships you make on the way.

    I am pretty sure this is how you choose to live your life also... Awesome isn't it???!!!


  11. "Youth is wasted on the young." Unless you have the capacity to relive those moments and learn from them, feel the emotion as if it were now. Unfortunately/fortunately I have a very vivid memory!

    I am a mental health professional and the first time that I was by myself with a client was scary. This client was schizophrenic and started telling me how she was the Virgin Mary and yet, she was going to be Jesus' bride soon. Also, she told me about all the celebrities she has made famous, because she has powers as a special angel...on and on this woman's delusions went. I thought, "Oh, shit! What have I gotten myself in to? How am I supposed to help her?" After talking to her a while I realized she wasn't a harm to herself or others, could manage her daily living needs, and actually just needed someone to listen to her without shutting her down telling her that she was out of her mind. All she needed was someone who CARED.

    It was scary at first but helping someone like her made it easier to handle different types of people and most of the time all you have to do is listen. It's all we all need, is someone to listen and really give a damn, right? Right.

    Keep the stories coming,Meg!Love it!

  12. The only "first" that I can recall was when I was 14. It was a few weeks before my first day of high school. I showed up to school during an early cloudy, dreary morning wearing Khakis and a plain t-shirt. I don't recall being nervous, but surprisingly calm, a quiet excitement brewing inside of me. It was my first day of football practice. While everyone else had sweats and cleats, I for some reason was standing out on the field in my khakis and tennis shoes. For some reason it didn't occur to me to dress for practice. But, once I put that helmet on for the first time and they slapped a piece of tape on the front of the helmet with my name on it, nothing else mattered. It felt good, it felt right and I was in a place I could only imagine and had only dreamed of...

    Your and Dia's passion for music is similar, if not the same, as my passion for sports. Your blogs and words are always inspiring and inspirational. I have yet to have that "first" that has guided and paved the way in my adult life, but you and Dia make me want to keep trying.

    There are always going to be excuses to not take that trip that you have been wanting to take. If the timing is right, you should do it :)

  13. haha that was a great story. i've always wondered how my favourite bands got to wear they are, these blog posts are awesome!

    my most difficult "first" was the first day of basic training. i was just barely 18, trapped in fort knox in january, and all these crazy tall guys with flying saucer hats were screaming at me to do pushups for no reason at all. i was running all over the place like a crazy person trying to get everything right but failing in so many ways. the worst part was they made me the first "platoon guide" and i was in charge of everyone screwing everything up. it was tough; no sleep, hardly any food and no idea what was going on was a huge shock to the system, but it helped me get to where i am today, which is Afghanistan. i'm loving my job and the place i'm at is pretty cool too, not to mention i'm making tons of money! (to me, anyways)

    i guess i learned what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and in my case, it had better start running. ;)

    1. Fort Knox! Years ago, I was a civilian contractor in my air conditioned car on my way to my air conditioned building. It was 90+ degrees outside. I passed a squad of soldiers in full battle dress (helmets, rifles and big heavy backpacks) who were going at a half-run the other way up a hill. Then 100 yards behind them was a lone soldier trying his best to keep up with his team.

      We looked at each other. I gave him two thumbs up in encouragement and he smiled. I had hoped to give him a little "yeah, you can do it" boost, and I think I succeeded.

      He inspired me by his example, because I would never be able to do what he was doing. And I learned that a silent 3-second encounter can be so positive.

  14. haha do you remember if the hill was agony, misery or heartbreak? they used to make us jump into full battle rattle and go up and down misery to toughen us up. it worked, surprisingly. haha.

  15. Sorry, I don't know if it was one of those hills. I do remember that part of the road was a very straight slope for a half mile and maybe a 50 foot rise over that distance. Enough to taunt you like a mirage because you can see the hilltop, but the road seems endless and you are working it the whole way.

    Then there was the time my team unintentionally got a sergeant and captain in a little trouble during an armored cav exercise because we brought lunch back for them. Haha!

  16. Wow, to think if all these things hadn't happened, I wouldn't be enjoying your music today! I love reading about all your escapades as an early group.

    Um, let me see, when I was younger, I wanted to sing so bad. I used to do it all the time, in the shower, in my room. One day, though, my mom told me I couldn't sing, and that I shouldn't even try. That put a wrench in my plans, to say the least. Today, though, I'm singing more than ever. One day, it just dawned on me that I had to do it for myself. I had to make the call on my own and persue what I loved. One day, I want to share the stage with you guys. You're my heroes, you've inspired me so much. I don't know what I would've done if you'd stopped making music. "Monster" was the song that got me going again. That song was why I decided to keep moving forward. <3

  17. "First" experience in my field? Electrocution.

    I was always curious about how things worked. So one day (age 10, stupid and ignorant) I decided to do an experiment with a light bulb. I took a light bulb socket and attached two wires made from coat hangers. (I think you know where this story is going.) Then I held the bare "wires" between index fingers and thumbs and stuck the wires into the outlet...

    Bzzzt! It felt like a helluva electric buzzer was in both arms and across the chest for maybe half a second until I jerked backward. I was lucky to be alive to eventually get a college education in electricity.

  18. "The Stage" I always loved music as a kid and I begged my parents to give me singing lessons. (Tried Clarinet and somewhat guitar and ya know where your strengths are as a musician)So I was taking the singing lessons for about a good year, and then my coach she tells me ok! It's time!! Time for what!? o.0 I ask, and she said all this practice aint just for your amusment you have to share with the world what you got!! So I was thinking Ok itll prolly be a lil performance at the music school wit my piers and no biggie right? I was sooo wrong, She booked me a slot at a Art and Wine Festival where a ton of people were going to.I was soo scared, to the point of not doing it and walking away wit my tail between my legs. But I thought to myself I have to do this! It was a big hurdle in my musical career to overcome because I never performed in front of 100 or more people. (Keep in mind this was my VERY FIRST GIG EVA!)So when the time came around I walked up on stage like how Rocky ran up the stairs in Philly (Not really but that wouldve been dope). I grabbed the mic and sang "You Found Me" by The Fray. Ohh man they loved it, after all the applauses, screams and how much I engaged the crowd I felt like I just won the Lotto! I was on clouds for about a week. Till this day Im still singing and writting music.

    Sorry if this is too long Meg, after reading yours it just made me have a total flashback.

  19. The most recent time that I had that feeling was when I listened to the original version of "Monster" all of the way though for the first time. Since then I got four albums and a bunch of acoustic, alternate, and demo versions and now my friends love you guys too!

  20. A first difficult experience of mine had to do with my favorite sport ever, skiing
    Ever since I was 8 years old a dream of mine was to be a ski instructor. I had been skiing since I was 3, and all the teenage ski instructors in their blue jackets were so admirable to me as a young girl. I knew I really wanted to do that as soon as I got old enough.
    Due to being family friends with the boss,I got the job when I was 11. I was so excited, that I didn't even care that I was to young by Massachusetts state law to be paid. I was just glad I was part of this. But then I noticed, no one really thought of me as an employee. Just some kid that helps out. They always gave me meager tasks and never anything with importance. If I ever did get teaching time, it was with someone older, and I pretty much just watched. For the next two seasons that's how it was, and it just made me more determined to be the best I could be when I could legally become a working employee.
    This past season I turned 14, making me a real employee. I was so exited to get my real lesson. My boss assigned me a young boy and I was so giddy to finally show everyone what I could do. But the boy only spoke and understood Spanish! I couldn't speak any Spanish! I looked like the biggest fool on the mountain, motioning and trying to communicate to the boy who wasn't even trying to listen. When it was done I walked into the instructors room, sure I proved everyone's expectations correct that I couldn't do it because I was to young, when everyone started clapping. Everyone was congradulating me for a good first lesson even with the conditions. And in awe at my determination with the boy. The rest of the season, I felt like a real worker there, and everyone treated me like one to.
    I know my story pales in comparison to your epic journey. But you are a true role model to me, and I look up to you in the highest respect. Your flawless and I'm a huge fan. Thanks for taking the time to read this!