Shit, has it really been a year? A year since I last posted something to this good-for-nothing blog? Almost to the day. Good thing no one reads this shit, or someone might’ve actually thought they were missing something.

So why start writing again? I don’t even know if I want to commit to that. “Writing again.” There was some self-induced pressure to post something every few week or so. I have no idea if this is going to be a one-off, or if I’m actually gonna get back to this.

Right now, I’m on a plane. With about 13 hours to kill. I started watching the first two episodes of Dave Grohl’s televised love letter to American music, “Sonic Highways.” I’d originally written off the effort as  yet another shitty way to shill the Foo Fighters’ new record. Yeah, I wasn’t completely wrong but I’m not completely right, either. While not an original endeavor, Grohl’s gone all Ken Burns on us by taking a deep dive into some pivotal points in American music history: Chicago blues, the DC punk scene, Nashville, and so on.

The second episode – the one about the ‘80s punk scene of DC – dealt a lot with the idea of DIY music. The DC punks had no one to make, press, and sell their music. So they did it themselves and that’s how Dischord Records came about. Invention being the mother of necessity and all that.

Well, it has been a year of reinvention for me. A year ago, I was at a job that was incredibly challenging – I needed to do more, but there wasn’t more to be done. So I walked across the street – quite literally – and started working at another shop, but it was ad shop to which I wasn’t accustomed. I’d cut my teeth at big Mad Men, Galactic Empire-type agencies: all TV all the time, hundreds of people with fancy titles and excruciating egos to match, and none of the creativity to back it up. Now I’d joined a shop that started life a few years ago as a modest digital ad agency that had grown up almost too quickly. At best, the median age is probably 28 (I have no idea, I guessing here) and most folks hadn’t done anything other than digital marketing. They weren’t familiar with the only world I’d even known: TV, print, radio – you know, all the shit that people used to consume before they all married their smartphones.

And that’s how I ended up on this airplane, on my way to produce the agency’s very first TV commercial. Shit, for some reason I feel like I’m taking this agency backwards.

And speaking of going backwards, what better way to embrace a midlife crisis than to start your own fucking band? For years, I’d jammed on a song or two with friends who’d play gigs around town. These friends are all crazy talented people, but they almost never played the stuff that I wanted to play. I mean, who many fucking times can you play a Marshall Tucker Band tune to a disinterested bar?

So in January, I hatched a half-baked idea to grab three of my buddies to start a band. Like a bunch of high school kids. Except we’re all old as fuck now, we all have families and responsibilities and shit, and we all have white collar jobs that we trudge to each day… but fuck it, you play the bass, you play keyboards, you play the drums, I play guitar, fuck it, let’s start a motherfucking band. DIY, motherfucker. Let’s play the shit that WE wanna play. With thundering drums. Distortion turned to 11. Yeah, my Peter Pan complex knows no bounds.

10270382_271781313032531_1058394622934270321_nAnd when we got together to play for the first time in our drummer’s dad’s basement (yeah, you read that right), we were fucking awesome. Wait, did I say awesome? No, actually, I didn’t mean that. I meant to say we were fucking awful. Yeah, we were so beyond shitty.

Half of us had played in real fucking bands back in the ‘80s. One of us played around New York in a hardcore band that once opened for GWAR, so you know he’s got his shit together. Another one of us actually went on the road with his band and a chestful of original songs. The remaining two of us had never played in an actual band setting. So, you know, what could go wrong.

The first time we played in front of a crowd, we fucking bombed.   We strutted to the stage like we were fucking rock stars and by the second verse, our whole show fell apart. We forgot entire passages to the song, my fingers knotted up on the guitar, sound levels were all over the place, and it was just a big fucking mess. Crashed and burned right away.  In front of a few hundred people.

Yet for some unexplained reason, we actually got asked to play a second time. People are either highly charitable and forgiving, or they’re all fucking deaf. Still, we were grateful for a second chance, so we took it – a two-song appearance at a commemorative screening of “Purple Rain.” We threw down two Prince covers – “Darling Nikki” and “Let’s Go Crazy” – and the crowd didn’t walk out! So, you know, SUCCESS!!

Summer came and we booked ourselves into two summer block parties. By “book,” I mean, we offered to drag our shit out to the middle of the street and play a set of covers during a large outdoor picnic, and get paid with free beers. No one’s dropping bills for our shitshow. These things were a humbling experience, so say the least. Now, outdoor sound quality is shit, no matter how good your gear is (and being a garage band and all, we have shitty gear), and no one’s really there to listen to you play. You’re auditory wallpaper, a lot of distortion and cymbals that are getting in the way of drunken conversations. But, after a couple of hours, when everyone’s a bit more tanked, it means you start to sound a bit more tolerable, and folks actually start to get into the tunes you’re playing. But you never actually stop realizing that at all times, you’re still a bit shit at this whole thing. Especially for a band that’s only been together for about 6 months.

Which is probably why we didn’t think too deep into it when our bass player got us a paying gig – an actual paying gig! – at a local dive bar. We had about 3 weeks to prep for this, and for 3 weeks, we were in our drummer’s dad’s basement rehearsing our balls off. We knew we were never going to be great, we just tried to be good enough so that people didn’t fucking walk out.

We worked the show from all angles. We told EVERYONE. We had to. This band was going to have a short shelf life if we had a paying gig and NO ONE showed up. We told everyone. We sent out dozens of emails. We abused Facebook and Twitter and every imaginable social channel. We told our friends, we told strangers. We needed to fill that tiny bar.


In the end, we’re told about 200 people packed into that little bar in our little town. Holy shit. The whole place was just a flurry of people and abuzz with friends from all over who came to see these four idiots play some cover tunes for 3 hours. I have no idea if we were any good that night, but that was the best we’d ever played. I have no idea if anyone had a good time, but we had the best fucking time ever.

That night, it didn’t matter if anyone else bought into the idea of us as a band, but we fucking believed we were finally a proper band. The training wheels had come off. We played the music we wanted to play, and we pulled our little shitshow together and we formed a fucking band.

DIY, motherfuckers. And that’s how I reinvented myself right into a(nother) fucking midlife crisis cliche.  Godamnit.