“Music is my savior… but I was maimed by rock and roll.” -Jeff Tweedy
Dom asked me to write this week’s blog post. In my past life (read: prior to this year), I thought of myself primarily as a writer, but I haven’t written much lately, and that’s as good a reason as any to take a jab at a blog, complete with epigraph and all. Sorry if this is a little too personal, but I'm going to use this space to work some things out on paper, as "writers" are wont to do, and since we're still feeling out this whole band blog thing, I'm just going to go for it.
I try to go easy on myself for not writing, for walking away from my novel. To be honest, I don’t do much of anything but music lately. Madisons has sort of taken over my life, taken up my time, and energy and focus, and I don’t always know how I feel about that. I think a lot of us in the band feel that way. We love this shit, but it’s a lot of work, it takes a toll, it really gets into your head. And we aren’t even a “real” band.
But last night, during our set at Betsy’s Bar, Madisons did feel like a real band. Delusions, maybe, probably, but I do know we had eight (count ‘em, EIGHT!) talented people up on stage and we were just blasting. We were killing. We had our few loyal friends (shout out to Chris and Sal, Cara and Jerm, Kristen, friends and fam), but what was exciting was the people we didn’t know. We turned heads at the bar. We packed the place with passers-by who heard us and came in off the street. People aren’t usually so open to checking out new bands, but SXSW has been going on, so right now it’s in vogue or whatever.
SXSW has got me thinking about being a musician. It’s Sunday now, and the last of the showcases are going down. The Cult is going to close down Auditorium Shores this evening and then the street crews will come through and clean up our plastic bottles and cigarette butts and torn wristbands. Even before they finish handing out music awards tonight, the media’s proverbial “swarm of musicians” that has kindly and hopefully descended on Austin will have already begun dispersing back to their respective local music scenes where many of them will leave the bustling obscurity of SXSW for the lonelier obscurity of their hometowns. It’s no different for Madisons, for the live music capital of the world. I’ve been around enough ATX bars to know there are just as many bands playing to empty bar stools in here as anywhere.
That’s just the way it is. No one makes us do it. We choose to. Or, sometimes, we choose not to do something else, or much else, or in my case right now, anything else. We hang around. We play shows and pass out CDs. Sometimes it’s great. Other times, excuse my melodrama, it really hurts my soul. Like Dom said in the last blog post, we put a lot into this. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m getting back out of it. Great friends, for sure, the feeling of accomplishment—but that feeling’s fleeting. Sometimes I’ll be breaking down my rig at the end of the night, and the turnout might have been poor, or maybe I just wasn’t feeling it, and I’m on some continuum between buzzed and tragically drunk, and I’ll just feel like, “What am I doing? Is this all there is? Am I really choosing this as my life?" Then a few nights later I go and do it again.
The choices we make. In my experience, a lot of them are more circumstantial than we think. They’re not turning points so much as sustained patterns of behavior. If you’d have told me last year that I would spend the next year with the same group of people four, five or more nights a week trying to collaborate on the same project, any project!, I would have called you crazy. I was a serious writer, temporarily legitimized by way of academia, and I thought this band stuff, this taking it seriously, was behind me. But here I am.
CONTINUED IN NEXT/ABOVE POST