I’m about to go on tour. You probably don’t know me, you probably don’t know my band. We’re not famous, hell we’re not even quasi famous. But that’s ok, it’s still once more into the breech and it’s still totally worth it.
I’ve done this a lot. If you count all three of my bands, it’s been 11 years now. Hundreds of shows playing to hundreds of people and to nearly nobody, almost certainly more of the latter than the former. And here I come for more with my 3 brothers from another mother, 3 monsters of rock so rad I still get a little surprised I was able to talk them into associating with me. We’re storming the northwest and getting in the van like thousands of bands before us. Still, it’s not so bad. For 20 or so days out of the year I get to be this guy:
instead of this guy:
Not bad at all.
Yet, after a certain point careening against the brick wall stops being a laudable expression of perseverance, and more of a sign of mental illness. As my peers and friends settle into domestic living, bearing and raising children. Advancing in their careers. I’m somewhere in between, I live, breathe and exude rock, but I have a day job and â€œcareerâ€ that pays me a living wage. I’m luckier than most, compared to many other folks who play music I have it soft. Honestly, if not for some a few costly bad calls in my personal history and some bad happenstance (including a lengthy and costly stint of unemployment) I’d actually probably be comfortable. I don’t think you have to give up music to do “real life”, but it can be difficult sometimes.
The only time I was even reasonably striking distance for getting out to the musical â€œnext level of successâ€ or whatever. I fucked up, pushed way too hard, too fast and I ended up hurting some people that didn’t deserve it and breaking the whole thing apart. That sucks, and it’s something that I have to live with every day. I’ve tried to take ownership of that without letting it rule me completely, all of the also ran, near miss and â€œalmost got himâ€ stories in the world doesn’t amount to much but the appearance of pettiness if you aren’t careful. It’s humbling to start over. Yes, humbling.
To most people I do not appear like a very humble kind of guy, but believe me, I’ve taken some punches and taken some kicks. I have been knocked down off my high horse and trampled by it too. I just refuse to wallow in it and tend to answer pain and failure with more action. Because of that I can sometimes come off like some domineering runaway id, or like an Asperger’s stricken raving lunatic. I promise you that is not the case. If you prick me, I bleed. Sometimes clarity of purpose is easily mistaken for pomposity and irritation at overexposure can give way to outright annoyance. I’m not a an easy guy to be around sometimes, even those closest to me will say so. Nonetheless, I do try to bring the Awexome.
Hence, Victory and Associates. And our record These Things are Facts… which tend to be almost relentlessly positive and earnest (even when it’s being smart assed) because: That’s what I need to hear right now myself and what we think the world needs to hear. It’s a about finding what you love in life and doing it and loving it as hard as you can. Which is what we try to do. We’ve grown, we’ve changed, we’ve improved as a band, as players. And I think what we’re doing is worthwhile, some other people agree. Obviously, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of leaving your comfortable home to try and bring that out into the world. And even so, there’s always the thought, â€œI’m wasting my time, I’m wasting my lifeâ€ But then you realize that it’s a fine line between idiocy and awexomeness, and you get ok with it. And it makes a difference, whether you’re making music for 3 people or 3,000. A changed or bettered life is a changed or bettered life. Plain and simple. Even if there are 53452912878972342 crappy bands with no purpose, direction, function or competing for the space and attention as yours, I still believe music makes a difference. Hell, I know it does.
I’m always astounded by famous people that talk about the hassles and hardships of the road, people that earn a living from it and still complain. “Oh, you’re just jealous”. You’re god damn right I am. They don’t have to save money to tour, they don’t need to worry if anybody will show up. They maybe have to deal with the strain it puts on their relationships, but also: Fuck them. Anybody in the upper class of music should strongly considering shutting the hell up, a minimum wage janitor that busts his ass 10 hours a night on the swing shift doesn’t think you should be complaining and neither do I. Being able to present your art to a willing audience and be paid from it is such an incredible thing. Breaking even is usually the best that a band at our level can hope for. To be honest though, these huge bands are a whole lot of not my thing anyway. It’s not my oeuvre. I’m comfortable where I am at: You probably don’t know me, you probably don’t know my band. But if you listen to our album or see a show we play, you just might love it. Maybe not too, and that’s fine. It’s not for everybody. But it does matter. Just because it isn’t known by everybody doesn’t mean it holds less merit, just that it’s known by less people. We’ve been fooled to equate fame with value, and it’s good to be able to to divorce those from each other.
For me, the way the world has changed touring has become more like strike team missions than entrenched campaigns. This tour consists of three shows in 2 states, hardly a tour at all to some of the road warriors I am peers and friends with, but they are shows with great bands. Some of my favorite bands actually, Police Teeth, Virgin Islands, X’s For I’s, great bands that aren’t famous…. but are really good, and it’s going to push us to play as hard as we can and be the best that we can be. And we’ll sell a few records or cds, a few t-shirts, spend an obscene amount of money on gas, have some laughs and do something that matters(tm). Even if it’s just too a few people. I’m going to heave up my soul, take every frustration born of politics, the world, injustice, aggravation at my own personal shortcomings and foibles, mix it with all of the joy, love, idealism and downright elation the world can bring and do my thing as hard as I can. With three other guys that completely bring it, it will look something like this:
It’s such a rarified treat. So few people ever get to make music at all, and those that do, don’t always form bands. Those bands may never record, or release a record, or have people like it. And the ability to tour at all is an even greater level. It’s not something to be taken for granted. I truly try not to. Or as I said in the song lyrics on the ratty piece of paper I just cleaned out of the tour van:
â€œSo here’s a kiss for the last ones picked, who soldier on no matter who gets it.
Why would you do something if you can’t profit?
Why waste your time on something so foolish?
The secret to success is just as simple as this, you just hang tough and have fun with it.
So waste our time on something so foolish?
Well if you have to ask, you’ll never… know.â€
So here we go.
My name is: Conan Neutron
My band is: Victory and Associates
There are others stories, but this one’s ours.