|The Untold Life Of A Local Musician|
There is so much in the everyday life of a local musician that people just do not know. Practice, addiction, affairs, and all around being a crappy person. Here is my story in hopes that it might help someone, somewhere, someday, in their musical career and life.
When I was in the city of Lost Angels, we moved to Hollywood. We picked up some girls at a local club and brought them back to our place. All of a sudden, all the ladies came out to the pool where I was, saying they were scared because the guitarist had a gun. They left in a hurry, and I went inside. The guitarist decided they had left because I told them to. He took the safety off the gun, pointed it at me, and said, "What am I going to do now?"After thinking about it, I decided that everything I worked for in my entire life is out the window because he broke the brother-ship bond that we had. I came back to Maryland with my head low, saying to myself "never again." Never again will I play music in hopes of going somewhere with it. Many years later, I joined my last band PUSH. We played for just the sake of having fun. I never cared what music we played; I just liked watching people have a good time in the audience. I have never been a drinker, or a drug using type of person. It has always been about the music. Music, THEN family. My wife has to put up with a lot. We have a deal that I am single at gigs. If for one second while I am playing I think I am married, I would not do some of the stuff onstage that I do; I would second-guess myself. Being onstage is acting, and then thinking about what you just did. After time, this "being single" state of mind got the best of me, and I took it to new levels that I should not have. I started forgetting that I am married even when I wasn't at gigs. My wife deserves someone better than me. I tell my daughters all the time that I am sorry they have a father like me when they deserve a real dad that does real dad things. Not me, who can barely move the day after a gig. Me, making promises of not having a gig on a birthday, and one week before, a gig coming up that we just could not pass on. So I have to leave the house with my daughter saying, "It's ok daddy, I understand" meanwhile tears are running down her face. New Years Eve after promises of not having a show that night so we could spend family time together, only to have one booked a day in advance. I overheard both my children crying in a bathroom saying how unfair it was, only to have them tell me to my face "it's ok daddy, have a good show".
In 2009, I injured my leg onstage. I could barely walk (but still would move my ass off onstage), thought I would have surgery and discovered pain pills. Even though when the doctor(s) prescribed them to me I let them know that I am scared to death of pain pills because of all the stories I've heard about them, it didn't stop them from getting a pen out and giving me a huge prescription. So I took them only every once in a while. But, at this time, I discovered other drugs that actually helped me become numb and forget about the pain I was in. Then I injured my hand at another gig from one of the stage moves that I was doing; slamming my fist into the bass so the "E" string would still ring. It gave a great visual effect, while still keeping the bass line going. I have a huge lump on the side of my hand made of bone, ligament damage, numbness and pain in my pinky and ring fingers. But I kept doing it night after night. The audience deserved it, even the nights that only five people were watching; they still deserved the best show I personally could give.
The thing about being in a band is, the audience does not care if you are hurt or not, they want to have a good time at the club or they will never see that band again. So I sucked it up every single show, still slammed my hand into my bass and jumped like a crazy person with all my stage moves, and put on the best show every night that I could. I paid for it all every night after the shows. I would then take as much stuff as I could to kill the pain, and often take them all at once. I found with the pills that taking them every once in a while does nothing, you have to take many of them all the time to help with the pain. Mixed with anything and everything else that I could take, they left me in a comatose state often, but at least my mind wasn't on the physical pain I was in. It came to the point that I would take them onstage in late 2010, literally before a gig and during songs while onstage. After several months, my body became addicted to the pain pills.
I have surgery in 2 weeks and will have to worry about getting off those AFTER the surgery because I just can't deal with the pain in my hand right now. All these drugs have left me not myself for many months now. I never leave the house- 3 times in the past 4 months I actually got into a car and went somewhere. I can't play guitar or bass, pick up things, remember anything from day to day, or hour by hour. I can't turn a doorknob, getting a shower is very hard; I can't lift a coffee cup... I even dropped a baby because my hand gave out while holding him. I just do not want people to see me like this, unshowered, unshaven, with an angry look on my face even though it's actually just me hurting. As funny as it might sound to people, I, like all musicians, have an image. If anyone saw me like I am right now, I would lose what image I have and it would become an image that I do not want to have.
Throughout all of this self-destruction, I have to deal with real life stuff. I still work fifty two hours a week (for eleven years now) as a pre-school teacher. People that saw me onstage would never believe that, just like my clients would be shocked if they saw me in a music setting. I have to deal with my old band thinking that every single thing I do is a slam against them, when actually all I have ever said about that band is "best of luck". I really do not care, even though I left on good terms, I am too busy with my life trying to get it all worked out. I have been trying to keep good memories about my tour of duty with them. I have been trying to be a better father and husband, but with all the pain I am in, and still taking stuff to kill the pain, I know I am failing both at being a father and a husband, still. Music is all I've ever known that I was good at.
Then I find that a musician I really respected died last week, took his own life, and I thought to myself, how did he do it; did it hurt? I thought maybe that was the way to go. It would give my wife a chance to have a real husband, my kids to have a real father. My life seems like it will never be what it was. Thankfully, my wife kicks ass. She explained that because of all the pills I am taking, it is making my mind all fucked up. Once I have the surgery she said, everything should be good again in my brain. Pain free, pill free, drug free. I will be able to go out in public again, and, hopefully, play music again. All of these things seem like just a dream now though, like none of them will ever happen again.
Drugs are all over the music scene in every city, and I have stayed away from it all in my musical life until 2 years ago. Now I need to get back to what I was. I will never be the husband that my wife deserves, never be the father my kids need, but I can still be the best that I can be at everything I do. I can try...