The funny thing though is where all this can take you. The way you know where you're going, but the path to get there isn't really what you expected.
I've found myself behind the scenes. A lot. Well, ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.
I never thought I'd go to college. Truth be told, I never wanted to. I wanted to go straight into a life of traveling, performing, acting, and just all around living an exciting, interesting, adventuresome life. But I also wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to do what I was supposed to do. So imagine my surprise and dismay when I found myself in a 4x4 practice room running through classical etudes.
As I have said before, what ensued was one of the hardest times of my life. You have to understand, it wasn't just college. I really contemplated day by day if what I was doing was just going to derail my life, or maybe just put it back four years. Was I going to become one of these "collegiate" types and forget what it was like to sling a guitar or take command of a microphone? And the demands of my cumulative existence were really beyond what anyone in one sphere of my life had any concept of. Homework (yeah, lots of it), practice for two ensembles and private lessons, commuting from just inside the allowable distance sometimes up to 7 times a week. Going to required concerts. And that was all aside from church participation, directing Impact at the time (oo buddy, the work involved in that alone), teaching private music lessons, and trying to continue my own artistic endeavors. Oh, you know, just that stuff that was really important to me like my own music, not to mention mixing and producing work for other artists. Now, bear in mind, this isn't about complaining, if you know me, you know I'm going somewhere with this.
It took me places though. I was learning to be a better audio engineer than I ever was before. I was doing more live sound gigs. I toured to Washington DC with a saxophone quartet, and to New York City with a jazz big band (performing, that is). It's funny too, because I barely made the cut. That's right. I was good in my town, but here in music major land, I seriously nearly failed the audition, save for one guy who felt he could do something with me.
So don't misunderstand what I said in the beginning. I've performed. I've gotten called to fill in at jazz combo gigs, Impact played around the scene some. I've played metalpoprockworship with WatersEdge, I've played funk and blues with Customer Service. I've even played some hip hop with J. Crum.
But even so, such things have felt fleeting. Not the whole picture.
I've always felt this purpose to what I do. That I'm not just making some art (whatever it may be), but that I have something worth saying and doing with it, and the world around me just continues to prove that to me. And sometimes it's felt like, "Man, how may years have I been in this basement? almost ten? How may late nights solving computer problems?" The artists I've worked with are going places. Doing a tour here, playing a festival there. And you know what? I'm happy for them, and I've had the privelege of sharing some of those experiences with them. But for a guy who has pursued a dream for as long as I can remember, sometimes I find myself shutting down the computer after a day of school, driving, and hours of work tweaking audio, still having practice and homework to do, due dates to meet, and a gym session to do (if I really want to meet my goals), knowing I need to do it all again the next day, and the thought comes from somewhere, "Where's mine? How did I go from chasing my dream to making everyone else's come true? And when does all this seemingly endless effort into my own endeavors really become worth it beyond being able to say that my mom and a few close friends enjoy my stuff? Are you even happy with your stuff? You're a senior in college, you know. You should have made a name by now....And is anyone reading your blog anyway? " (don't worry, this is going somewhere good, not depressing.)
But that's when I realized something. I've asked for a lot. I don't just want to "tour" or something. How is that even big enough to be a dream? We've got sweaty, poor musicians "touring" all over the place, like that's the end of the grimey yellow brick road or something. I want the biggest of the big. The best of the best in everything I do. And to get a crop like that, it was going to take good seed. Seed that was substantial.
I've been the guy looping the same 5 seconds of audio over and over, splicing takes, running automation, and eating in front of my work. I've been the guy practicing when he didn't want to (haven't a lot of us?). I've been the guy doing tons of pushups, drinking stuff he didn't want to, the guy moving equipment in the cold, designing, cutting and distributing flyers on the weekend by driving from place to place. Making phone calls, sending emails, rolling cables, sleeping in the back seat of a car, coaching the singer in the vocal booth, setting up mics, running on and off the stage for a soundcheck I was in charge of, showing that guitarist how to set up his own rig 30 minutes before a show, making backing tracks, doing graphic design, arranging a medley, consulting on songwriting, covering for that certain individual who didn't do their job correctly. And you know what? I don't think I'm above doing what needs to be done. Nope. Not at all. I have felt beyond exacerbated at times, but then I look at this and think, "Wow, I've been able to do just about everything connected with at least one of the things I want to do. Nobody will ever be able to pull one over on me. No one should ever be able to feed me a line."
And I look at the things happening to the artists I am working with and for. Those are connections, man. And the proof is bleeding through. Who would have thought the guy who barely made the cut would end up playing for the Student Showcase? And when I need to call somebody, I've got that number.
I've been doing some things. Things in the studio, and things beyond that to prepare for what is inevitably about to happen. You're gonna like this. And it's a whole lot more than you think.
I guess what I'm saying is, I'm not quitting, despite the real feelings that come and say that's exactly what I should do. The goal still hasn't changed, the path was just different than I first imagined. One day very, very soon you're not going to be able to get away from me. And chances are, you won't mind, because I really just want to make your life better. But I have a feeling that maybe you'll wish you had paid more attention in the beginning.