So in the last episode we talked about making something out of nothing and then wanting to start over again. Craving instability and just being a nomad. I feel like I am always trying to make something out of nothing. When I decided to pack up and leave South Florida I was ready to hit the road. I was ready to tour and travel. I was headed back to the west coast.
In the last episode I talked about kind of making choices in order to chase your passion, follow your dreams and make it happen. I talked about how I packed up my drums and headed down to Florida to live and play in a band called Until The End.
We all know that having passion and drive is important. We all know that it takes work and dedication to pursue your dreams. There is always a turning back point that exists that’s different for everyone and it’s usually based on a number of variables. How far will you go to chase your dream? Entrepreneurs often go broke chasing their dream. The dream to be a business owner and be self employed. Lots of barriers become very apparent when taking that entrepreneurial leap becomes a reality. Things like time, money, family, bills, age, and knowledge all the sudden become larger than life. Sure you can go open up a cupcake stand and make some money if you already have things like a house, a car, a home kitchen, and resources. These things are usually being supplemented by the day job. But the question is could you do it if this was your only gig? Your cupcake stand now has to pay for things like space, supplies, industrial kitchen, staff members, advertising. Could you still do it?
This podcast has been interesting looking back at things through this adult kind of retrospective lens. Sometimes when I look back I see mistakes or maybe other choices that could have been more beneficial. I am a pretty big fan of the phrase: “you don’t know what you don’t know”. It’s easy to look back and think to yourself “well that was dumb”. But ya know its like hindsight is 20/20 and ya know forrest through the trees and any other cliches you can think of for being ignorant. short sighted probably just young and foolish.
Years ago while on tour I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Washington is one of my favorite places in the entire world. The views are from the I-5 bridge are some of the most amazing views I have ever seen. The people are great, the food is fantastic and rain is absolutely brilliant. I really moved there just looking for something different. I had these visions at one point of being stuck in Flint or Detroit, working a job and playing in some band. I think it just wasn’t for me. I have said this before that If I had never picked up a set of drum sticks when I was 14 years old I would probably be in Flint at 40 years old working at a fast food place or something equally as outlandish. I mean maybe not because I like to hustle and try to make something out of the nothing but I think that part of successful hustling is having a positive attitude and when I was living in Flint and Detroit I don’t think I had the right attitude or outlook to successfully hustle the most. I remember when I was talking to my Dad about moving out west and I said that I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want to be so far away from him and he told me to just go. He said I got stuck in this town years ago. He was talking about Flint. He said he wished that he had moved out of the city years ago but he got stuck there. He got married and had kids and we were in school and he just settled down there and he kind of always regretted it so it said If I had an opportunity to leave I should take it.
So let me start out with a few questions. How do you stack up to your friends? How does your career compare to your colleagues? How does your life look when it’s placed next to someone else’s? Any here is the most important question. Does any of that really matter?
Here is what I am getting at. There is always this perception that someone that has more than you or they are are happier than you or better than you. People place a lot of emphasis on how they stack up against blips that they are seeing on instagram. But the truth is that you never know what happens behind closed doors. When the camera is off that game is much different but the fantasy lives forever on the internet. So what my question is are you happy and what makes you happy?
Not too long after coming home from Europe I was about to move into my first apartment and start school at Eastern Michigan University. I’d spent the 2 years prior going to Mott Community College in Flint and trying to get all my basic classes out of the way. This was the plan that I had kind of proposed to my Dad a few years back. Community college was just highschool but not my highschool it was more like what we saw on TV shows where you rarely saw people in class but you would always see them sitting out in the quad. Of course since I went to school in Michigan and not California people were only hanging out on the quad about a quarter of the time. Community college was fun because there were a lot of high schools around town and if people went to community college then they probably went to Mott. The classes were good and I felt like I had a pretty firm grasp on what was going for and which classes I was taking and why. I was going to school for Marketing.
Hustle The Most Episode 16: Banding In Europe
So in 1998 which was the summer before I moved in with Phil I was drummining in a band called Earthmover. We were a hardcore band from Detroit and we had a few records out and done a handful of small tours and bunch of weekends all over the east coast. We had just released a new record a few months earlier and were about to head out on our first European tour. I can’t tell you how stoked I was. I was going to Europe to travel and play drums! had this record label in Europe that we working with that was pressing all of our vinyl. In hardcore this was pretty standard that bands would have a record label in the states that put out there cassettes and CD’s and then in have a label in Europe that pressed all vinyl then it would be distributed to other distros or record stores. It was pretty cool because sometimes you would see records that made it back here to the states from other bands or distros and it would be strange because it would be something that you had never seen before. It would be CD’s that you own but everything just looks bigger. I think the weirdest would be when you would see a record of your own band that you had never seen before. Something about seeing the artwork in a different medium it just really cool.
So the label we were working with was called Genet records and they were based out of Belgium. They were pressing all of our vinyl for the new record. The label also had a big hand in this big festival in Belgium called “Ieper Fest”. This fest was great because people from all over Europe would come to this show. Usually on the bill were a few American Bands, and then a bunch of different Euro bands from places like Italy, German, Holland, the UK and all over the place. This was the first time Earthmover had been there so people were pretty excited. Generally people over there were pretty stoked on most american bands. The label put us on the fest and then we worked with a few other companies, promoters and bands to basically book a tour around the fest. So 1 big festival and then a handful of supporting shows. This tour had lots of crazy adventures from the very beginning. We started the tour by driving our van from Detroit to Orlando so we could catch our flight. At the time there was an airline called City Bird that flew from like 5 destinations out of the US and only went to Brussels International Airport in Belgium and only on Wednesdays. The tickets were cheap I think it was like $330 roundtrip.
I think you can find deals like this now for cheap but at the time this was a pretty good deal. I think one of the reasons we booked with them was because they had less restrictions on luggage so we could bring guitars and drum stuff without paying crazy amounts of fees.
So we drove to 24 hours to Orlando and left our van with our friends in the band Drag Body. We headed off to Europe. It was like an 8 hour flight. The flight was pretty uneventful for the most part. I remember we got there and our driver was waiting for us at the airport and we went right to the label. We didn’t really have anywhere to go so we just went there. We got in like 2 or 3 days early. Since the flight came in on a Wednesday and the first day of the fest was Friday we had a few days to kill. The guy that owned the label was a dude named Bruno and he and his wife owned record store in Gent Belgium called Pryuss and they also had an apartment above the store where they lived. We were shacked up there for few days and we would go out and explore the city and just hang around the front of the store looking like weirdo Americans that completely didn’t fit in. Fun fact: This was the first place that I had ever had the ability to buy waffles in a vending machine on the street.
The record store was cool. There was so much cool stuff in there. Lots of vinyl and CD’s cool Euro posters and banners of bands that had come over. As far as records stores go this store was the place to be. About a year before we came over our guitar player Andy started swapping records with Bruno. Andy ran a distro and record label called Plus Minus Records. So real quick in punk and hardcore we they used to have these things called “Dirstos” which are basically small record stores but without actually having a store. So when Earthmover released a record like 10% of them would be traded to distro and in return he would get records from other bands and he would sell them at shows. Back before everyones music was online or the bands were small bands and their records weren’t carried in stores this is how we all got new records. He would trade like 10 CD’s to Bruno and Bruno would send Andy 10 CD from his bands. This is how we learned about bands like Liar, Congress, Facedown, Arkangel and all kinds of other euro bands. One of the first dudes we met in Belgium was a guy named Hans who was the singer of a cool Belgian metal band called Lair. They were pretty rad. Hans worked at the store and he was awesome.
Most of the younger people that we came across in Belgium spoke some sort of English. The older people usually spoke Flemish which is this weird Dutch, French, German hybrid language. I can’t believe how many people I met over there that learned to speak English by listening and singing along with Iron Maiden records! The store had a lot regulars that would just come by to hang out so we got to meet a handful of people right off the bat which was pretty cool. I remember being upstairs in the apartment watching some weird Belgian TV show and our guitar player Andy came up stairs and told me that someone was downstairs looking for me and I was kind of like “what” and he’s like yeah come down stairs. I went down totally thinking there would be some half naked drunken homeless guy dancing in the street. So I get downstairs and my friend Jay Parkin from Flint Michigan was standing in the middle of the record store with his arms out waiting for a hug.
My mind was completely blown!
I guess at the time his girlfriend lived in Belgium and he was there visiting her and they were looking for this record store that we happened to be staying above. The world definitely got a lot smaller that day!
So Friday finally comes and we head to the fest and when we get there it’s total chaos there are tents and busses, and sprinter vans and trailers. It’s totally crazy but like a good kind of crazy. I remember freaking out a little because they had these weird outdoor urinal things for dudes that were designed for you to just pee in them but out in the open.
They are designed so 4 people can be peeing at the same time. It was pretty weird but when you gotta go you gotta go. I’ll throw a photo of one up on the hustlethemost.com blog. Anyway, we got the fest early in the day and we didn’t play until like 10:00 on Saturday so we just hung out around the fest, watched a few bands. There was another American band that we new from Florida that was headlining Friday night. They were called Culture. We had played a handful of shows with them in the states over the years but they were rolling with a different line up that we had seen before. Actually now that I think about it, they were actually on our flight on the way over and the pilot had to turn on the seat belt sign because we were all congregating around each other’s seats and just talking shopThey were on the same flight as us so when we saw them at the fest it was like we were old friends! They headlined Friday night and when they played it was absolute chaos.
They were huge in Europe I was standing on the stage when they played and it was like 2000 people going nuts and probably half of them had cameras. There were so many flashes I felt like I was watching Rocky 4 when they have that press conference scene with Ivan Drago. It was completely awesome.
I honestly don’t remember where we stayed that night I think they had a place for the bands to stay but I can’t even remember where it was or what it looked like. Saturday came around and we spent another day hanging at the fest. We played at like 10 PM Saturday night as a headliner and it was crazy. I remember trying to carry out gear through this massive crowd of people.
The place was called VORT’N VIS which in Flemsh translated to “The Rotten Fish”. It was actually an old fish market so it smelled not the best and when the heat got up there from having 2000 people moshing it up in this place it smelled like straight up death. We get on stage, it’s super hot and sweaty and we just let loose! 24 hours in van, 9 hours on a plane and 48 hours of sitting around a record store and 2 days waiting at the fest to play and we just ripped it. People were flying all over the place and it was pretty awesome!
Once the glory was over then we started the real tour where just like in the states a Monday show is just OK compared to a Friday or Saturday.
We started in Belgium then off to places like Germany, Holland, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Most of the shows were OK at best but was fun because we kept jumping from country to country and there was so much to see. We were traveling in a full size Mercedes Sprinter Van with a big sleeping loft built into the back of it. Aside from the backdoors flying open once and us spilling like 500 CD’s all over the autobahn it was pretty sweet. We had a few shows set up in Italy but just before them we had 2 days off. We met up with the guy that was putting on the show his name was Marco and asked us if we wanted to go to the beach. We of course were like YEAH we were in Italy in the middle of summer and it was hot! This guy took us to the beach and we all were so stoked. We all ran out of the van and jumped right in the Adriatic Sea. It was so amazing. We all turned immediately into little kids just splashing each other and being dumb. The beach was cool it was white sand and it like an on the sand restaurant and all these chairs with the umbrellas it was cool. The little restaurant sold like burgers and fries and other sandwiches. So we were all swimming for a few hours and we came out of the water and Marco who had come to the beach with us was gone.
We followed him there in our van and then he just bounced. So we’re all sitting around kind of waiting for him to come back and then we hear this girl yell out from the restaurant “Americans, Food” so we walked up there and there was a huge spread of pasta and breads and drinks. We were all like uhhh, for us. She said “yes for you” and we all sat down and ate then said thank you and went back out to the chairs and just kind of hung out. Right around dark the placed closed down and everyone left. We were still hanging around waiting for Marco to show back you but he never did. Instead they opened the bar back up for us and started up music and we had this dance party with the people that ran the restaurant and a bunch of their friends and us. We were playing foosball and ping pong and playing frisbee it was awesome. About 3 in the morning we finally called it a night and we all climbed in the van and went to sleep. The people that worked there stayed in these yurt kind of houses that were next to the restaurant on the beach. I think a few of the “Friends” just slept in their cars. The next morning we woke up in our steaming hot van and ran out in the sea again. 10 minutes we hear again “Americans, food” and we walked up and there was a huge spread again of breads and jellies and jams. The girls name that ran the place was Sylvia and her best friend was also called Sylvia. They were pretty great and apparently they were friends of Marco and he told them to take care of us and that he would be back in 2 days to pick us up. No one told us that. Once again we hung out there all day and at night the party started again. That night we ate lots of weird ice creams and listen to lots of obscure Italian punk bands. The next morning Marco rolls up in his little Italian car and asked if we were ready to go. We all piled in the van and headed out to play a show.
The show we played was funny because it was at some place that no one really cared that we were there and no one really paid attention. The entire tour we were using backline equipment with basically means that we brought our essentials like I brought cymbals, snare, sticks and my pedal and I would just use what ever house drums were laying around. Andy had to play out this little combo amp that was so small that when we were playing we actually started having a conversation in the middle of the song just because we could. The rest of the tour was fine we were all pretty strapped for cash toward the end. I think touring is tough in general because you have 4, 5, or 6 dudes in a tight space and people just get cranky. It’s really difficult to navigate. People get hot or hungry or tired and other people are yelling when others are trying to sleep and it just get’s tough. The goal sometimes is to just hold it together. You’re in an emotional pressure cooker and you have to try to be empathetic and understanding and also keep calm and just not blow up in every situation. With a bunch of dudes in their 20’s it’s definitely a challenge. Lots of bands break up in Europe. It happens all the time. People get left there, people quit, people get into fights, or go to jail or just get plain sick of each other. Either way it happens it happens. Earthmover was no exception, we went over and basically called it quits before we got on the plane back home. With so many variables that we are trying to navigate it’s much harder to stay in and keep it going. It’s a weird balance of working crappy jobs so you can go on tour and play shows but when you play shows and come home broke you wonder what is it all for. These questions come up over and over again when you are in a band trying to grind it out on the road.
We came home from Europe and played our last show in Detroit a few months after that tour. It was an amazing show and lot’s of friends came from all over the place to be there. We crammed about 1000 people into a place that holds about 400 and it was hot and sweaty and pretty awesome.
What did I learn from this:
I think the first thing I learned that you have to be open to new things and new experiences. I think we spend a lot of time being safe and sticking with what’s in our comfort zone. Sometimes you have to just say yes and don’t think about it. Once you start thinking about you will start selling yourself on all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it. I think I said this before, its lie trying new foods. The first question is: am I going to die? Hopefully the answer is no and then you can just get to gettin.
This is the band where I really learned the ins and outs of touring and traveling. It seems like common sense but you would be surprised. You need little systems and routines for things like keeping your self occupied, or keeping your headphones close, keep food in your bag or having a book handy at all times. These are little things that keep you sane and keep you together. I think you have to know how and when to retreat into yourself for a while and then come back out when its time to play. Being in a band and traveling around the world isn’t for everyone. You just have take care of your mental and physical state at all times.
I think the last thing that I learned was navigating a band is really no different than navigating a group of co workers or members of your team. There are always people that you gel more with than others. There are always the ones that are the loudest or the most demanding. It takes all kinds of people to make the machine work. I think sometimes in our careers we get thrown into that emotional pressure cooker but I think the goal is the same you have try to be empathetic and understanding and also you just have to just stay calm and try not to blow up.
So as you know or if you are listening for the first time the Hustle The Most podcast is a series of short stories that talk about all things heart, hustle, innovation and design and more. One of my favorite parts of the podcast is talking about what I have learned from these adventures and the talking with the guests that I have had in to share and partake in the memories. Some of these stories are 30 years old. It’s weird the things that we remember. The things that stick out in our head as relevant. How is something that happened to 30 years ago still living in my head where I can just access them anytime I want. It’s weird to me that memories that are 30 years old can be just as relevant and as impactful as memories from last week.
In this episode Phil and I talk about the differences between the kids that he teaches now and the kids that he taught early in his teaching career. We talk about distractions and how technology really hasn’t really created more distractions they are merely just different types of distractions.
We talk about our first computers, dial up and some of the odd piercings that Phil has a young piercer. After 20 years Phil finally apologized for breaking my favorite bowl that I hand crafted while in high school.
Hustle The Most Episode 13: Side Hustle + Passion = Career
So on the last episode I talked a little about transitions and how to kind of attack some of those things head on. We talked a little about jobs, and what it’s really like to be in a touring band and how you have to be really good at waiting. We also talked little about my good friend Phil and how he used to make body jewelry and sell it at punk and hardcore shows while he was in college.
Here is my question of the day:
What if you could take your side hustle and your passion and turn it into a job that you could do for the rest of your life?
I am super excited to share this story with you guys today about how this happened for an amazing friend of mine that we talked about in the last episode. I brought him in today to be my guest on the Hustle The Most Podcast. Phil Rento is here in the flesh and we are going to talk about turning your passion into a career.
Phil welcome to the hustle the most podcast!
Listen to the episode to hear the a great sit down I had with Phil Renato.
Hustle The Most Episode 12: Transitions
Can you remember a time in your life when you had a conversation with someone that changed everything for you. I don’t mean like a someone died or I’m pregnant conversation but a conversation that just blows your mind. I have a been pretty fortunate enough to have a few of these conversations in my life and I walk away from the conversation just rethinking any path or plan that i may have had in my life.
Hustle The Most Episode 11: Putting In The Effort
I really feel like putting in the effort will get you anywhere you want to go. I remember when I was kid I would always rush through my chores or whatever work I was doing just so I could do nothing. I think even when I started my first job I didn’t really understand what working was all about. My first job ever was at KFC. I was 16 and Eric who played in Jive and Spit with me got me a job there. Minimum wage at the time was $4.25 an hour. Which even to this day still blown my mind. My dad used to tell me how lucky I was because he used to pump gas in the freezing cold for a Nickel. I still don’t know if there was any real truth to that it seems a little low. I remember getting hired to work at KFC, I had to go to orientation. The orientation was help in this little out building the was painted like a small KFC. I seem to remember people calling it the chicken coop but I could totally be making that up. I was hired to be a cook I was going to cook chicken. The orientation was a lot more geared toward people working in the front. I remember there being some sort of customer roll playing around upselling and I remember me being super uncomfortable and bad at it. I wasn’t going to be anywhere near the front counter or dealing with customers but I still had to do the drill. There was one situational question where I was supposed to ask the person playing the customer if they would like to order a drink and I my response was something like “would you like something to wash down that chicken?” I can’t even believe I said that that’s probably the worst upsell in the history of upsells. Wow. What a bonehead answer! I think everyone laughed and she corrected me and we just moved on. The orientation was like 8 hours long and it was pretty much the worst thing ever but looking back on it I think that’s a right of passage that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Episode 10: Q and A With Hustle The Most
We are officially 10 episodes into the Hustle The Most Podcast. I decided to make this episode a Q and A episode. People have been listening to the podcast and they have questions so I am going to do my best to give them some answers. If you do have questions you can always contact me @ hustlethemost.com or DM me on instagram. So let’s jump in to our first round of questions. To keep in short I decided to only pick 5.
Episode 8: Being an entrepreneur is kind of scary because there is always some sort of risk involved. We know that risk and assessing risk is definitely a learned behavior.
Episode 7: What I learned from my big brother. I think that having brothers and sisters is pretty amazing I grew up with 2 bothers and 2 sisters. We all got along for the most part minus the growing up woes that happen in every house hold. This episode we are going to talk about how 2 brothers that live in the same house with the same opportunities can go down 2 different paths.
Episode 6: New Friends and Experiences (PT2): is about growing up skateboarding in the early 90’s and starting a punk band.
I knew a few kids in my school that played drums and my brother was always into drums. He air drummed a lot but I had never seen him play. He had these black lacker sticks that he used to spin and air drum with. Anyway there was a kid in my biology class that was a big Pantera fan and according to him and his electrical taped microphone he was the next Phil Anselmo.
He had an old drum set in parts and pieces around his house. I remember him telling me that he was using one of the drums as dirty clothes hamper. I told him I was looking for some drums and he told me he he would part with his clothes hamper.
This kit was an old 5 piece Ludwig kit that was pretty much the worst kit ever. There was no bottom hardware on the toms, a kick drum with no front head, a snare drum with 2 broken heads, no kick pedal, a hihat stand and warped hihats, an a ride stand with a cymbal that had been spray painted yellow.
We agreed that I would buy it for $80 and he would take payments. $20 bucks a month for the next 4 months.
I spent $80 on this kit and had no idea that this kit would change my life.
I think the day that I brought home Brandon had his guitar and little amp over at my house and we were trying to play Metallica covers. Which thinking back I didn’t have a full kit, I definitely didn’t know how to play and I am sure that it was the worst sounding thing ever.
We will talk in another episode about how playing the drums took a poor kid from Flint around the world to see things that most people only get to read about in books.
Bandon and I started playing music together over 25 years ago and I can still remember bringing home the my drums and the “music” that we tried to play that day. I remember not having a full set of drums and this super tiny amp that he had but we were crushing it anyways. Well we thought we were crushing it.
Our first band that ever played a show was called JIVE and we were pretty awful. We did have a few other band names before that but they were just as bad if not worse. Brandon seemed to me remember me teasing him about this band name that he came up with but I think it was really the kid that I bought the drums from that came up with this name. It was Rehabilitated Hamster. This is probably one of the worst band names ever but I think that’s what happens when you are 14. At one point the name Farmers Lung came into play. I think I was just looking through one of my Mom’s medical dictionaries just trying to come up with something that sounded cool. This name was also not the best.
Our friend Christ Roark was our original bass player. Chris the best best, he was definitely one of the funniest dudes around. He always had jokes and usually a pretty upbeat and out going outlook on things. It’s awesome if you liked something and he didn’t and you told him to try it again he would totally try it. If it was music or a food or whatever. It was pretty awesome. I feel like people now are pretty set in their ways and most people wouldn’t give a thing another shot but he would. If you told something that didn’t like pickles to try this new people most of the time they will say “I don’t like pickles” but with Chris he would go “really”, I’ll try it. Even if he didn’t like it he would try it. He didn’t want to miss out on anything in life and I think that’s so amazing and admirable.
Chris passed away well after the band stuff happened but we will never forget his smile and the impact that he had on us. Good dude an is and will forever be missed.
Brandon and I started these bands together and this is was a new and weird thing to us. As kids I don’t think that any of us really knew how to communicate very well as people let alone with instruments and convey to someone else what we liked or didn’t like and why. I think that it’s almost like jumping into a new career field you have to learn the language and all speak the common language to get ideas across. When we were kids we were all in different places as far as our understanding of music. It’s almost like communicating with people that kind of speak your language you are always putting bits and pieces together to create a full something.
I think when you add creativity to it along with putting effort into something it can get pretty sketchy. When someone puts a lot of work into something and then puts it out into the world you become vulnerable. I think that’s tough for anyone. Even in my career now I can working on a project for 20-30 hours and then present it and someone will say yeah that’s pretty good. You are putting something out there to be judged. Just because you put a lot of effort into something doesn’t make it awesome. It just means more or less that you worked on something and here it is.
Being in a band when you are young is like being on a sports team with no manager – Brandon Trammell
Looking back 25 years later we kind of equate it to the Metallica “Some Kind Of Monster” experience. A bunch of guys that were friends for years that had a lot of history together that were all on the some journey but on different paths.
So what did I learn from growing up and trying all these new things?
I learned that sometimes when you jump in with both feet it can really surprise you on where it could take you. Had I not taken a chance and jumped into playing drums I have no idea where my life would have taken me. I could have ended up working in the shop, working a dead end job or even dead.
I also learned that it’s much harder to come up with reasons not to do something opposed to just jumping in and doing it. The way I look at it is the only real question you should ask yourself is: Ok am I going to die. No, Ok lets give it a go. Take a chance.
I really that that the most valuable thing that I learned is that you should always be open to trying something new. It can make you more rounded, it can expose you to new places, friends and experiences. It can take you places that you would never imagine.
Episode 5: New Friends and Experiences (PT1): is about growing up skateboarding in the early 90’s and starting a punk band.
I think like most other kids I went through my share of fads and interests. I feel like it was always whatever the next thing was. Whatever your friends were into it was like we all just fell into it together. If it was sports, or music, or hackey sack or whatever we all kind of did it together.
I was so lucky and thankful to have my life long friend drive 2 hours across the state to join me for this podcast episode.
Personal Note: Brandon and I have been friends for 29 years and have a lot of amazing history together. Aside from our stories together Brandon has played guitar in a number of amazing bands like Kid Brother Collective, Spit, Braided Veins and many more. He is a food enthusiast, a great guitar player, songs writer and arranger, a dad, husband and more. I am so grateful to have met him all those years ago.
One of my childhood best friends named Brandon lived outside of my neighborhood. Before we were friends i would see him cruising down my street on his skateboard he was coming to pick up his sister. She used to hang out with my nextdoor neighbor. He was this skater kid that was a few years older than me. I would see him on street and he would always be rocking these skate clothes and like Airwalks or something I remember he had of his head shaved with something shaved into the back and sides of his head. I think sometimes it was an H-Street logo which was a skateboard company and sometimes said DRI which was an acronym for the band Dirty Rotten Imbeciles.
Brandon lived on the other side of atherton road about a half mile from my dad’s house. Thinking back I don’t really remember how we actually met but I remember that we quickly became good friends. We pretty much lived at eachothers houses for years. We mostly stayed at my house because his family had small house that he shared with his mom, brother, sister and new born sister.
He was my first real skater friend. He’s the one that got me really hard core into skateboarding. He was way better than me so it’s like I was always learning how to do and try new stuff from watching him. There were a few other friends that I hung out with in the neighborhood that were semi into skating. It wasn’t before too long that we all started hanging out together. We started a club that was called USA! The United Skaters Association. We had stickers made that were probably the worst stickers of all time. Paper stickers that just said USA and under it it said United Skaters Association of course. Black and white, paper stickers that were printed on a sheet of 8. We actually had a made a little hang out spot in my basement where were had a table for working on our boards and where we kept our skate journals. These were little books where we documented our progress. Hahaha looking back it it’s actually pretty funny that we did this. We even had a “trick of the month” where everyone in the club had to learn the trick of the month.
USA started having sleep overs where we would watch skate videos on VHS and watch 120 minutes on MTV where we would see all these random and obscure videos from punk bands like Bad Religion, The Cure and Ministry that they didn’t play during the day time.
We would sometimes plan on skating one day and we would wake up and it was be raining or wet outside or sometimes it would even snow. We we wait and watch skate videos until it dried up or we would walk our boards to a dry place like under an overhang or something. We just wanted to skate.
Watching these videos would get us pumped that we would leave the house at 4 AM to go and skate parking lots that we could only skate when the bars and businesses were closed and there were no cars in the parking lot. We had this thing we called the Fenton Road Modeal. We had a line of places all the way down this road that ran through the south side of Flint called Fenton road.
It was lot after lot each having different curbs, banks, parking blocks and drop offs that we would just shred for hours and hours. We would often up at Taco Bell looking for something to drink. This was about the time that Free Refills stated to become a thing but they were still behind the counter. We would all pile into a booth and get one small drink and pass it around. Last person had to go up and ask for a refill. Eventually they cut us off and we would head back out to thrash some more curbs.
We would skate like 8 miles down the road and then have to skate back. The route back was more direct. More like a “just get home” already kind of route. Sometimes we would cut through neighborhoods or fields that would get us home quicker.
We would skate from like 4 AM until about 4 PM and just come home dragging bruised, sometimes bloody.
I remember one time were skating this parking lot of the FOX66 office and there was this giant stair set that was like an 8 stair. And he said “if anyone ollies down these stairs and lands it first try I’ll shave my head” I grabbed my board and just flew down the sidewalk and just popped it. I floated down the stairs and landed it and did a power slide and was just like “were gonna shave your head” !!!!
I was stoked!
I talked a little earlier about friends all kind following the same trends together. Brandon and I were no different. I remember we had this conversation on the phone about how he had just got a guitar. I guess he had been playing it a lot while babysitting at his neighbors house that owned the guitar, and how he had learned a few songs. Anyway we were talking on the phone and he told me about getting the guitar and I said “dude, I’ll get some drums and we will start a band”. Now keep in mind I didn’t play the drums nor did I know anything about drums. I think I played a set once at one of my neighbors house but I didn’t gravitate toward it or anything. It just came out. I was going to be a drummer.
In a matter of days we formed a band. We were jamming in our friends Chris’ living room, my basement, his garage and anywhere we could make noise and not have the cops called on us. The cops were called on us a few times but more than likely it was because we were an awful sounding band!
Coming up with a band name is always the best/worst part of being in a band. Some of the best bands have the worst band names. Think of your favorite band and think about the name and then ask yourself what does that really even mean?
So what did I learn from spending 2 hours hanging out with Brandon?
I learned that we are still the same silly kids we were when we were 13 but now we have kids and careers and do adult stuff. When you have a 20-30 years of history with someone looking back can be awesome, eye opening, funny and even a bit frightening.
I think that when you get older you still have friends but you see them less often and they are replaced with things like work, running kids to practice and other daily task oriented stuff. This has always been a tough one for me to handle as I have gotten older because I love my friends so much and I want to always see them as much as I can but life just happens.
Lastly I really think that getting old is more awesome than I would have ever imagined when looking back at it. All the knowledge we have acquired and the relationships that we have forged over the years are all the things that make us who we are today.
When you watch your dreams fall apart in front you it’s a very trying time. There are lots of questions, emotions and sometimes feeling of anger. What do you do when this happens? I had my rug ripped out from under more than once in my life but this one hurt.
We all have ideas on a daily basis. Some of the idea are probably amazing and some of them are the exact opposite. What happens when you don’t follow through? What about the ideas that you forget about? My dad bet against me and even cheered me on to move forward with an idea that he thought was a pipe dream.
Episode 2 of Hustle The Most Podcast is about how kids can be so cruel and how to navigate barriers in your life.I feel that we all have some things about ourselves that we are not exactly stoked on. We all do our best to hide them from the world. Some people may have a belly, or acne or weird looking feet. Some things we can’t change so we just do our best to navigate them. When you are young these things seem to be directly out in the open for other kids see, judge and make fun of. When you are weird or different looking you are seemingly an easy target.
What happens when you take a poor kid from Flint MI that had to learn the hard way to navigate the barriers around him at a very young age in order to succeed?