Hustle The Most Episode 22: Sometimes Things Just Don’t Work Out
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. I shipped my drums and packed the rest of my stuff into the back of my old Porsche and was ready to hit the road. This is when the unthinkable happened. I was literally at the end of my street then my car just died. Car packed, Cat inside the car, Car dead! I pushed it back into a parking spot on the side of the road and popped the hood. This car had pretty much been completely redone under the hood so I was completely baffled. It wasn’t redone because I was like “I am fixing up this old car” it was more because stuff seemed to break on that car all the time. It was one thing after another. It’s one of those cars that when you buy one used the previous owner will give you the keys along with a huge manilla folder with all the receipts and repairs that they had done to it while they owned it. I had a similar folder. It was a giant folder just chalked full of receipts from repair after repair after repair. Anyway. I did some of the work myself so I was pretty familiar with the car. But why it was not running and just died kind of left me scratching my head. I called my buddy Danny that worked with me at Whole Foods.
He was a total gear head. He was the dude that had one of those Toyota Supra with the big wing on the back and he drove 100 miles an hour everywhere he went! When I tried to leave it was like 9am and I finally got him to my house at like 10 at night. He came over and we tried to get it started and nothing. Finally at like midnight we got it started and seemed to be running fine. We didn’t really do anything different, it just kind of started working on it’s own. I let it sit for the night and rolled back into my apartment for another night and then took off in the morning. I rolled out the next morning and I went out and the car started right up so I took off back to Michigan. My plan was to head to Michigan and drop my car and my stuff at my parents house and fly out to Orange County to start a tour with a band called Throwdown.
Throwdown was this really heavy straightedge band out of Orange Country California that I had met while I was touring in Walls of Jericho. Meeting other bands while touring on the road was the best thing ever. It’s like a bunch of dudes that are on the same kind of journey just in a different order. It seems like touring bands always bro down when they meet up on the road. We never toured with them but we played a handful of fests and shows with them and they were awesome! Orange county was a totally different world compared to living in Detroit. I think California in general is pretty different but OC in particular was pretty cool and very band insestious. Throwdown had members of other bands like 18 Visions, Wrench, Death By Stereo, Bleeding Through and a few more that I am probably forgetting. I guess other scenes were the same way but it seemed way more glamorous with good hair and palm trees!
Anyway I got on the road and headed up I-75 toward Atlanta. I planned on stopping at my friend Jeff’s house. He lived in this warehouse complex where they used to have all kinds of punk and hardcore shows. I think I went through on a Friday night and there was a show happening in town. It wasn’t at the warehouse but at another club down the road. I rolled up and the band Bleeding Through was playing which was awesome! They were all friends of mine so it was awesome to catch up with them and hang out for a bit. Plus we were all staying at Jeff’s house! I remember talking to the singer Brandon and he was pretty stoked that I was going out to OC to play with Throwdown. He played guitar for them and 18 visions for a long time before breaking off to do Bleeding Through full time.
He and I always got along really well. He’s one of those dudes that I have ran into in like 15 different states just randomly. Anyway, so I hung out in Atlanta for the night then got up early and got on the road. I remember walking out into the warehouse to leave and there were band dudes on every couch in that place just crashed out! It’s so weird to say this but I was stoked because I knew that in a few weeks that was going to be me. Just a side note, who looks forward to sleeping on random couches and waking up just feeling gross and ready to do it all over again.
The trip from Atlanta to Flint was pretty uneventful just the normal passing of Krystals and Waffle Houses every other exit. I got to my parents house and hung out with my dad for about a week before I headed out to California.
This is pretty bizarre remembering this: When I left I left my car in the driveway at my dad’s house. I parked it way up in the front by the garage so no one would have to move it until I got back. My Dad at some point was going to take it for a ride and he went to start it and it was dead again. He messed with it for a bit and couldn’t get it to start. Eventually while I was on tour he had it towed in and come to find out that it had a bad fuel relay. This meant basically that the car was not getting any gas. Apparently it was working intermittently so in reality at any time during my trip from Florida to Michigan it could have just stopped working and I would have been stranded wherever I was.
So I flew out to OC to meet up with the Throwdown dudes and start practicing for the tour. When I got there they were in the studio finishing up the final touches on the Haymaker record.
This was their first release on Trustkill Records which was pretty cool. This was also the first record where Dave and Keith switched places. Dave was now on vocals and Keith was on guitar. Keith also played in 18 Visions. So I think we did 3 or 4 practices without Keith because he was on tour still. I think 18 visions got home form tour the night before and we literally picked him up the day after on the way to the airport. He literally went from their van then to his bed for 1 night and then back into a van with all new dudes. It was kind of weird being jumping into a whole new situation with new dudes. It’s kind of like starting a new job. But a job that you have done before just a different company but doing the same job. You have new dudes, new jokes, new personalities, the same kind of conversations and the same kind of arguments about which Hatebreed or Madball record was the best. We rolled up to LAX and we hopped a plane to Newark to get ready for a quick East Coast run with Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and Biohazard. This was a great tour and super fun! I had done tons of shows with Hatebreed over the years so I knew those dudes but this was my first time with AF and Biohazard. Growing up I was a total Biohazard fan so this was it for me.
Every night I would stand on the side stage and watch them play hit after hit and I was just beyond stoked! Hanging with Evan and Danny and Vinnie Stigma and Roger day after day was just rad! They always had so many crazy stories. We had a rental van and Jamie from Hatebreed road with us most of the time. It’s fun to switch it up sometimes and just roll with other dudes. These shows were warm up shows for the Hatebreed / Throwdown European tour that was next! I wasn’t super stoked to go back to Europe because I was just there 6 months earlier but that’s part of the gig.
After the tour we had a few days off so we stayed with and hung out with Josh Trustkill at his house in NJ before flying to Europe. Josh was a dude that owned a record label called Trustkill records that Throwdown was on. I had met him a few years before this when I was in Walls of Jericho and we were looking for a label to put out our record. Walls signed with Trustkill in like 2000 and we released a full length and then they did a few more after I left the band. When we met Josh he was going to law school in Syracuse and he lived in this tiny 1 bedroom apartment not too far from campus. He ran this label and put out records pre and post law school which was pretty crazy. His label started out as a black and white Fanzine where he did interviews with bands and record reviews and eventually became a record label that did pretty well. Trustkill put out some of my favorite hardcore records so I was pretty stoked to be back on the team. Since then he’s transformed it now into a new company/label called Bullet Tooth. He and I always got along really well. I always liked catching up with him.
So we hung there at his house for a few days and then headed for Europe. I talked a little about this earlier but It’s always interesting playing with an entire new group of people. I think this is something that only musicians think about. It’s almost like you have to learn a new language. I mean everyone is speaking english but a lot of the key words are different. Once you adapt it’s great but there is always this short transition period where you are both saying the same thing about a song but calling it 2 different things. There are these terms that band members use and depending on the band they mean different things. When someone says “yeah it’s a rock beat for 4 then and choke then it plays out with a punk beat into the outro”. Same words just different meanings from band to band.
This tour was about 4 weeks long which is just about the right amount of time for a European tour. It’s about a week in that you are stoked to be out. Then, the second week it gets a little draining. The next week, week 3 it’s like I’m over it. Then, the last week you are pumped because you are going home. I think it’s about the same way when you get home. You are stoked to be home for about 10 days then you are ready to go back out again. I think it was about halfway through the second week of the Europe tour and things just weren’t clicking. I got along with everyone ok but I just didn’t fit in with them. Those dudes had been friends for all of their lives and I was just this dude kind of filling the space. I was just a cog in the wheel that allowed those dudes to continue to play in a band with their friends. It’s not a whoa is me thing. I signed up for it. That was a pretty lonely tour for me actually. I did a lot of soul searching on that trip. Those dudes kind of went off and did their own thing and I would wake up on the bus and everyone would be gone. I remember waking up at this festival in Belgium and coming downstairs to a laminate for the day and my per diem. I walked off and out bus was parked on the side of the road in a row of busses that stretched for about a mile heading down the road toward the festival. I followed the busses and eventually met up with everyone backstage.
Eventually we talked about the future of the band and the next tours and I decided that after the tour I would part ways with them when we got back to the states. We didn’t dislike each other, it just wasn’t the right fit. I know they blew through a handful of drummers after me as well so I didn’t feel so bad. There is something about a core group that writes good records and holds it all together. Once the core group is broken and someone leaves it’s only a matter of time until the wheels fall off. This happens to bands all the time. The rest of the tour I spent trying to figure out my next move. I basically had 2 weeks in Europe to figure out where I was going to go and what I was going to do. I remember being at the Full Force Festival in German and they had these huge catering tents and in the back of the tents they had 2 random computers for bands to check their email and correspond with their agents and labels. I had all day to do nothing that day so I just sat at the computer and talked to my friends on AIM Express.
I was just trying to sort out what the heck I was going to do. Since there were 2 computers and I was sitting on one of them people kept sitting down on the one next to me and they would get up and leave then someone else would come and sit down. At one point Scott Ian from Anthrax was sitting next to me and I was typing to my friend “DUDE SCOTT IAN IS SITTING NEXT TO ME”. then I would delete the window so he didn’t look over and think I was weird or some superfan ! I sat there just thinking to myself: where am I going to live and what I was going to do. I could go anywhere in the world. It was wide open. I had a totally blank canvas.
So let’s talk about what did I really learn from all this
I learned that sometimes things don’t work. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes the puzzle pieces just don’t fit together. I learned that you can be at a festival with 65,000 people and feel completely alone. Don’t get me wrong there was 45 minutes on stage where I felt at peace with the world and all was right but the rest of the day I was dead inside. When things don’t work you can’t lay in the wake and let it take you over you just have to dust yourself off and move along. I was so excited to get back on the road and when it didn’t work out for me I was crushed. But again, I signed up for it. The grass isn’t always softer on the other side but if you don’t jump the fence you will never know for sure.
Top 3 things I learned from all this:
The first thing I learned looking back at this is that sometimes you have to chase your dreams at any cost and if the wheels fall off then you can say that you tried. You gave it a shot! You will never have to sit there in your golden years wondering what would have happened if…
I think I really learned that being alone isn’t always a bad thing. Being alone gives you time to reflect and time to plan. It’s a good time to be really truly objective with yourself and with your future plans and goals.
Lastly I learned that starting over can be liberating. Having no bounds and no agenda gives you the ability to think creatively about what you want to do and where you want to focus. Imagine if you could start over tomorrow. What would you do? Where would you go? What would you be?