In some ways, being a touring musician is like being a member of a secret society. A club populated by people on the fringes, who often feel alienated from the normalcy of life back home; a club whose members are bound by an unspoken understanding about living under their shared circumstances; an understanding that makes for true camaraderie and fast, but lasting, friendships. We are all familiar with popular conceptions about band culture, but these depictions are usually focused through a narrow window, something equivalent to Lifestyles of the Rich and Debaucherous. But what about the bands that didn't quite make it, and, for them, what comes next?
Until we broke up in 2008, I played bass and wrote songs with an Ottawa-based band called The Fully Down. We had our share of successes: a record deal in Los Angeles, the opportunity to play in famous venues and on big festival circuits like Vans Warped Tour. We toured North America and Japan extensively with bands that we had grown up idolizing, and achieved local celebrity status back home as a result. When it all came to an end, still filled with ego and aspiration, I held on and started a new band called The Bad Ideas. Still driven by the craving for that same feeling I had in high school, when playing in the school cafeteria felt akin to headlining Madison Square Gardens, I again jumped in with two feet. Although, I was back at square one, I felt that I was reaching a creative peak and producing the best music that I ever had. But after tasting success, the wear of being back on the road and playing to the same empty bars that I had when I started out at 17 felt like a step backwards. Weary and with a fading sense of self-worth, I entered into a dangerous thought process: I began to think about my future objectively and where I was really headed.
After some time spent pining over my partially realized dream, I decided to make a change. Now I’m a 28-year-old full-time student with a part-time job, carrying as much regret as I do warm, nostalgic feelings about my past. But as I face the challenges of re-integrating into “normal life,” I’m also discovering the hidden value of my experiences on the road. This is a blog about change and culture shock; about the transition from band life to real life. Tour-mode turned off.