Hustle The Most Episode 18: How perception is always more pleasant.
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?
In episode 16 I talked about Banding In Europe and what it was like to tour Europe for the first time in hardcore band. At the end of that episode I talked about how my band Earthmover broke up and play our last show. This was a pretty difficult time in my life but ya know with every great tragedy comes an opportunity for great triumph. I think at the time we were all just on different pages and wanted to go down different paths. This happens a lot when you are in your 20’s. I think there are so many variables kind of swirling around that just made our minds wander. I mean the grass is always greener right. We would see other bands doing well and just crushing it and you always wonder how and why it’s happening for them but not for us. But the reality is that it’s all about perception. Everyone always seems to judge themselves against someone else to see how you size up but the variables never make it apples to apples.
This is why things like Instagram are so dangerous because it always looks so much more amazing than it is. There are so many people and companies that are doing a fake it till you make it a strategy and all you’re getting is just a glimpse of what’s happening in their life. It’s almost like watching a movie where you never see like the main character stop to eat or go to the bathroom or fill up their car with gas unless it’s somehow relevant to the story. Most of these things are kind of rooted in reality but it’s like an alternate 1985 type reality. It’s like you’re getting a story but just a part of it and the rest of it we just make up in our heads.
So anyway back to the band, when Earthmover came home from Europe a few of us decided to start a new band. We had all done Earthmover for a bunch of years even though it was still pretty fun it just came down different kinds of dudes want to do different kinds of things. It’s funny we decided to start a new band like it was the only option. No one was like yeah I’m going to get this job or start a family. All we wanted to do was being a touring band. When Earthmover broke up 3 new bands came out of it. Andy started a band called Bloodpact, Lenny started a band called Cast In Fire and Mike and Aaron and I started a band called Walls Of Jericho. A few weeks after we got home from Europe we started talking about the new project. We wrote a few songs then we started auditioning members of the band. Earthmover had a good name in Detroit so the new “Earthmover” band had people excited. We had a handful of people that were interested in trying out. Most of them had no idea what we were doing they just knew that they wanted to be a part of what we were doing next and that was a pretty cool feeling. One thing that Earthmover did really well before I was in the band was making things more communal. An Earthmover show in Detroit was always an event. It was almost like a party and everyone just showed up and it was usually pretty awesome. Of course we would have occasional fights or a dude getting pepper sprayed and thrown down the stairs but overall it was usually pretty cool. Earthmover had a lot of friends. Some of them were in bands but most of them were just dudes that we hung out with. This lead to a bunch of calls from people wanting to try out for the new band. We were trying out guitar players and singers. I won’t go into the who tried out for what but in the end we had 5 of us. This was my first time ever auditioning someone for a spot in a band. Since everyone we auditioned were out friends it was nice because we generally only had people in that we liked so it was more about their ability than their personality so I think that made it a little easier. We got our friend Kevin on Guitar who played guitar in this Detroit band called Tank and then we got Candace to sing. Candace was a girl that sang in this cool local band called Apathemy. We didn’t plan on having a girl singer she just happened to crush everyone else that tried out.
So we officially had a band and we quickly wrote 4 or 5 songs and jumped in the studio recorded a Demo. It came out pretty sweet. It was raw and gritty and angry it was everything that it should have been at the time. Our first run of cassettes was 250 with maybe blue, yellow and red tape covers. Of course we did them at Kinkos at 3AM this was when all the genius happened. The goal was to get the tapes ready to sell at the last Earthmover show. This was a great strategy because we knew there would be hundreds and hundreds of kids there to see Earthmover so it was a perfect time to drop the new stuff.
I talked a little about the last show a few episodes ago and how the show was just absolutely crazy. I think there were 8 bands that were playing but only 7 of them showed up. This is where the stars aligned. We had our demos in the back and were selling a good amount. Then once we heard that one of the bands weren’t going to make it, we had a small meeting and decided that we would have Walls of Jericho jump up and play 4 quick songs. We didn’t plan on having the new band play but it just worked out so we got up and played. From the opening note the place just went nuts. It was hot and sweaty and there were bodies flying everywhere. We played 4 songs and after that we sold every demo that we made. 250 demos were gone!
We thought we had something good so we put it out into the world and performed like it was the last show we were ever going to play in the world and people were stoked. We played one show and got offers for 3 or 4 more, then weekend shows on the East Coast then we recorded a 7” and CD EP and tour offers started coming in. Then we got signed to a record label and recorded a full length. Then more tour offers came in. Things just kind of snowballed. This is where you wish that you had a crystal ball to see what was coming next.
You can only make decisions based on the knowledge that you have obtained right up until that point of decision time. There are some things of course that you can assume like getting hit in the face with a hammer, you know it’s probably going to hurt. But like matrix stuff like Red Pill Blue Pill you just don’t always know what’s coming next. Our goal was to keep the machine moving. These decisions came quick and often and you just have to roll with it. Our goal was to play as much as we could. The more we were out on the road the more we didn’t have to be at home working our crappy jobs. Touring obviously takes a huge told on your personal life, it’s hard on relationships, friendships, family events, you miss weddings, funerals, births of babies and pretty much anything that’s really important because you are grinding it out on the road. The booking agents kept calling and so we kept going out. I think the more variables you have in your life the more difficult it is to keep the dream alive especially if you are trying to balance it all. These variables of course being relationships, friends, family, kids, jobs and so on. Once you start questioning yourself and asking is it all worth it you are usually halfway out the door. Most of the bands that are out touring and playing small venues aren’t doing it for the money so when the bad outweighs the good the choices get much easier. Your PMA is a hard thing to keep alive when it’s no longer fun and your belly is more empty than not.
For me, I had a lot of variables and I was still trying to do everything at once. I lived in a cool house in Detroit with amazing roomates, I had a girlfriend that was fantastic, I still had my job at FedEx whenever I was home and I was still trying to go to school on top of playing in a full time band. It really didn’t make sense for me to really burn every candle at every end possible so I had to start making hard choices.
I realized that I needed to do something different. I needed a change. My drive had been replaced with the feeling that playing on stage was no longer fun, long van rides and arguments on the phone were taxing and awful. I needed a change. I had a plan to move out to Seattle and finish school but then quickly realized that I still just wasn’t ready. Even though I moved out there with the idea that I wanted to finish school I still had the same itch to play music, and tour and do everything but that.
I think I had this perception that If I eliminated all of the distractions in my life I would be able to focus and finish school and start a “career”. The distractions were not the problem. I was the problem. I hadn’t found the things that made me happy. It took me a lot longer than others to find the things that truly made me happy. What makes you happy and how long did it take you to find it?
So let’s talk about what did I really learn from all this
I learned that if you try to go down 10 paths at once you are not setting yourself up for success and you will fail before you even think about starting. It probably will not be a fail forward where you learn something unless you are really able to get out of the forrest to see where things really went wrong.
I learned how to better navigate change. I think when I was younger I wasn’t very good at change. I think kind of starting over gives you a new perspective but with more knowledge behind you so you at least have a chance to not make the same mistakes over and over again.
I learned that my drive now comes from a place that incorporates my variables instead of working the variables working against me and that burning the candle at both ends is ok if you understand how to prioritize and manage your time as well as understanding your primary, secondary and tertiary goals.
I think lastly I learned that sometimes you need to get out of your own way to be happy.
So are a few questions for you. What did you learn? What’s makes you happy? Why do you do what you do?
Shoot me your answers at hustlethemost.com