Friday, February 13, 2009

sleep, that's where I'm disgusting.

So you think being a big successful rock star is all fun and games, eh? Well, it probably is…I know one or two rockstars and I’d say their lives seem a lot like fun and/or games, for the most part. Funny thing though, and I’m not just saying this the way all plebians say shit like this to make themselves feel better about the crappy straw they all drew in life, but they really don’t seem any happier than me. In fact, the old adage that fat hillbillies tell each other over mayonnaise sandwiches and unwanted teen pregnancies is actually true. Money does not equal happiness. Not that rock stars have money. I mean, listen…MC hammer went broke. That motherfucker sang “Can’t Touch This.” That was one thousand times the hit that “Cute without the e (cut from the team)” was, or whatever…the dudes in Skid Row went broke too, even after I remember you, youth gone wild, 18 and Life, piece of me, monkey business etc. Bret Michaels has to go on VH1 and pretend he’s got hair/tan/not wearing a girdle/not wearing eyeshadow/still desirable to rabid fame skanks….Rock and roll doesn’t pay the bills forever. Not for most people. For every rolling stones, there’s about a zillion Creeds. BIG HUGE bands that do not have enough money to retire on.
Here’s the other funny thing. When I was young, I was pretty sure that I didn’t care about that shit anyway. I was like, “yeah, bro, I know the stats, but I don’t give a fuck. I’ll just rock ‘til I can’t rock no more then I’ll figure something else out.” This was a solid plan, but what I didn’t bother to consider, what almost no one who lives a peter pan fantasy of rock and roll bothers to consider is that when it spits you out on the other side, you’re not a good looking, vivacious kid anymore. You’re thirty six. You’re forty five. You’re fat, you’re bald, you’re ugly. Chicks don’t look at you the same way, at least not the young ones. You’ve got no money and no prospects and you know what’s pathetic? Getting your pizza delivered by Dave “Snake” Sabo from Skid Row or buying protein powder from the dude from Samiam down at the GNC.
I mean, I know dudes who have sold hundreds of thousands of records, and they’re forty, they’ve never had a job and they’re out of money and no one likes their band anymore. They’re not still on busses. Now they’re a bunch of dads riding around in a van like teenagers. That’s not very rock and roll, you know. It’s a little gross. God forbid these guys get laid on the road. EEEEEEEEWWWW.
SO, I guess the early talking point here, simply, is that youthful idealism is great and awesome, but as you age, it starts to look an awful lot like a combover…pathetic. I’ve talked confidence before in this space, and let me tell you what saps a motherfuckers confidence and makes them the most unfuckable dude in the world: competing against younger, stronger more talented people who don’t even realize they’re competing with you. Just saying. Not that I know anything about that myself. I mean, have you seen me? Sheeit.
Anyway, my point was that money doesn’t equal happiness. Profound, I know. But then I think I realized that that wasn’t really my point at all. My famous friends have cool jobs, but they still have crappy girlfriends, senses that they’re wasting their time, apprehension about the future, all the same crap that bums out my drug abusing friends who live with their parents. There’s no way out.
Let me tell you briefly about some of the grossest places I’ve ever slept, just to paint, with a fine, delicate brush, the picture of rock and roll greatness as clearly as I can:

Miami FL: 1995- The Rabbi’s House-
Let’s ignore that we played with a band called “who killed Bambi” that was a bunch of forty year olds…We got back to the promoter’s house, who was a Miami rasta jew named “the Rabbi”. Someone had spit loogies all over the counter, and there was shit on the floor, which made the rabbi go “that’s strange. I don’t have any pets.”
When I woke up in the morning, my face was burning. I went to wipe it and my hand came back covered in blood. My entire face had been smothered SMOTHERED in mosquitoes. I was sleeping under the kitchen table and as I looked around there was a couple and a baby sitting above me having breakfast. Apparently it was their house too. Gross.

Lublijana, Slovenia- Probably around 2001. The actual room we slept in was just a carpeted room that was pretty unremarkable, but down the stairs was a methadone clinic and outside the door were tons of human shit logs and hypodermic needles…It was like a Japanese garden, but instead of sand and round pebbles…yup. Shit and needles.

Tennessee- I don’t remember if these were both in Nashville or both in Memphis or what, but I do KNOW they were both in Tennessee. First (1994) we stayed with a Nazi skinhead and his wife in a house with no furniture except for a television and watched porn while huge rotwiellers patrolled us…We didn’t know they were Nazis and by the time we found out, we were already amongst their dogs AND we were seventeen. It wasn’t gross in the “oh there’s a shit stain on the toilet seat” sort of way…That was the other Tennessee instance. This was in probably 2000. We stayed with this band where every single dude was morbidly obese and had dreadlocks. Our roadie got scabies from the couch and there were (sorry ladies) crusty jizz patches on EVERYTHING. I don’t exactly know what their scene was, but it involved pizzas and whacking off…that’s for sure.


Chris’s and my apartment- It was called the Lawrence Arms…It was on Lawrence Avenue and it was a shitty, shitty slum of a building. We had a four bedroom apartment that was somewhere in the neighborhood of four and a half thousand feet for six fifty a month. They took down the back porches because they were condemned, but then our back door just went out to space. Thirty feet straight down. AND, they didn’t put the porches back up for six months. SO, since there was no more taking out the garbage, we did what any reasonable human beings would do: we threw the garbage in the spare bedroom and forgot about it. When Marcus moved in, we told him he could live there rent free if he cleaned out the garbage room, which he did…also, that’s where he lived. Our next apartment was even grosser, actually, because we left it for months at a time to go on tour. We literally just threw our trash on the floor. It was the most remarkably gross social experiment of all time…Also, we were young and didn’t care and the garbage everywhere didn’t stop us from meeting girls and stuff…SO, full circle, what’s absolutely fine when you’re twenty one, not so much when you’re thirty one. Fair thee warned be thee says I. Have a nice weekend.

20 comments:

Joe Costa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Costa said...

'm currently living in my first apartment, and my roommates (all of whom are total brodude, silver-spoon-in-the-mouth, republican trust-fund babies) find it privy to just leave the trash in the living room, even though there is a trash collection service that actually picks up the garbage bags right outside of our door. There are enough bottles of Michelob Ultra and Bud Light in our living room to replace the stained glass windows in a church.

amandatague said...

uh. brendan, brett michaels was in poison. he was responsible for every rose has it's thorn, fallen angel, and talk dirty to me.

sebastian bach was in skid row and is actually looking nice and healthy and not shoving himself into public spotlight much aside from commentating on vh1 countdown shows sometimes and a brief stint on the gilmore girls.

Paul said...

i want a garbage pad

Paul said...

ps, one time on tour in South Carolina we stayed at a house that this girl was house sitting for a friend and we were all covered with flea bites by morning. cool huh?

or staying at a classic punk house in texas and having to clear beer cans and garbage out of the way to have a place to lay down.

i miss the road.

you should write about more road stories, both good and bad.

Ryan said...

I've read about your stinking house with chris. and lay off the samiam come on! And brett michaels was also responsible for getting his balls out in the infamous 'brett does pammy anderson!

Eric said...

The band I just joined is booking it's second east coast tour for the summer. This will be my first time on tour, and after reading these stories and hearing countless others from my bandmates and other musician friends, I've made a decision. I will always sleep in the van. Or just not sleep. Maybe not practical, but I'm not going to get fucking scabies.

Alex Pel said...

i really hope you actually bought protein powder from the dude in Samiam.

Candice said...

one should never apologize for crusty jizz patches.

Troy said...

Whoa, you only threw garbage into another bedroom. I would have thought the smart idea was to throw it out the door that leads nowhere.

Seagull Steve said...

The worst place I ever lived was also the best. It was a tiny two bedroom apartment that was called The Ashtray, because everyone smoked inside. We put up empty boxes of cheap beer everywhere for wallpaper.....everything was covered in trash. There was a rat that lived under the sink named Barnaby (not a pet) that we refused to do anything about. Despite all this, there was a lot of topless parties and sex going on.....ahh those were the days.

Mike said...

I have my own observations relating to the indie/punk scene that I was a part of and thought I would share with all of you.

I didn't play in a band. I worked at an indie label that put out quite a few records. At its peak, we grossed $8 million in a year. Not the biggest/baddest label in the world, but I'd say we were relevant. Anyway, we had a handful of bands that made a nice run in the late 90s to the mid 00s. And by "nice run" I mean they were selling out small to mid-sized venues and were selling 50-100k records. One band even sold 250k records. That was unbelievable to us.

All of the bands and all of the people at the label were a tight knit group. We were all friends. It felt awesome to be part of something this. We were all doing something we loved and we were all making enough money to get by. The majority of us never got rich (some did, some did and squandered it), but it was comparable to a corporate job.

The shows were amazing! I can't tell you how many awesome shows I got to see. There were so many good bands living in the city and it wasn't uncommon to find them all on the same bill. Musicians and artists were relocating here every year and it really felt like something special was happening. Even when the bands got big, they still made time to play "secret" shows for us insiders which made me almost feel like a celebrity when I attended. I even remember thinking my kids will never believe that I was a part of this or that I saw such and such at this little dive bar.

But a few years ago, something changed. I don't know if it was music piracy, declining popularity, or just bad records, but we stopped making money. Bands went from touring in buses back to touring in vans. Everyone was struggling and we all felt the pinch. And suddenly, people weren't really friends anymore. It was no longer about making good music and just hoping that enough people cared. The bands started to blame the label for lack of record sales and the label started to call the bands spoiled. It sucked. By this time, many of the people in the bands and at the label had gotten married, bought houses, and some even had kids. I felt bad that their income was drying up. What's worse, I don't think many of them were enjoying music as much as they once had. Some of this is still unfolding as I write, but I fear it will only get worse from here on out. I don't blame anyone, though. I just think our time ran out and it's time for a new group of kids to start something cool.

There really isn't any other point to this story. I don't think any of us has any regrets but I think we'd by lying if we said we expected it to end like this. Eventually, the "real world" catches up with you. Some of the bands are still trying to milk as much as the can out of it, but it's getting rough. One of the bands jumped to a new label, another started their own label. The biggest band will probably self-release their next album. It's all different now.

Zac said...

sleep, that's where i'm a viking!

Wayne Michael said...

have you ever been bored enough to put your band name into pandora? The bands that they music/geneticly link you guys too actually kind of rock. I listened to about an hr straight with only having to skip the rancid songs. aside from that.. would you rather be snake sabo delivering pizzas and being some random dude or still be on tv and in the mainstream as steven addler on "sober house"???

Wayne Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

I found this blog to be one of the more interesting ones. Especially the first half. I hope to see you write about it more.

When you get to be 32 years old you start to think about this shit a lot. Where have I been? What have I accomplished? Have I wasted time doing stupid shit?

The thing is, Brendan, the grass is always greener on the other side. If you are a dude who is talented and dedicated enough to support yourself touring, you wonder what marketable skills you will have when being a full- time musician has run its course. Maybe you can be a record producer, guitar tech, band manager, studio musician, or graphic designer. Maybe not. On the other side of the coin, if you are 32 and played it safe working boring office jobs, you still are wondering what could have been. Sure you've got a steady paycheck and maybe health benefits, but at some point you go on auto-pilot and become a drone in a cubicle and not a dynamic or creative human being. Maybe you are a teacher, or maybe you help provide services to those in your community, or do something else that is personally satifying. Maybe not. Most people hate their jobs. The point is, what is the difference between the touring musician and the guy that pushed paper for 10 years? The full-time musician, if he is lucky, has created something special and has enriched peoples lives in a way that is meaningful. To the point where some person they don't know has decided to tatoo the lyrics on their arm, or not committ suicide, or even just to get them through a shitty day. Never lose sight of that fact, Brendan. Anybody that is halfway intelligent can get some stupid cubicle job tracking orders and processing invoices. Not everyone has the ability to create something in a song that gives people hope and a reason to perservere. That may not pay your rent, or put food on your kids table when you are 35, but it is pretty damn special thing to me.

Zac said...

brendan kelly is the shit! the lawrence arms are one of the greatest bands ever! rock and roll!

Andrew said...

have we been graced with the presence of mr. mike park? I believe we have. I still support your label. Every chance I get.

Andrew said...

also whoever dave is that comment was fucking brilliant

johnny tainted. said...

worst places i have slept on tour:

somewhere in sout carolina (2008):

we stayed with this dude, who told us we could drink all his beer, cause he can only drink whisky.
he also told us not to use the toilet, since something was broken and water would be running in his cellar.
after a while he told us about this girl, that had cheated on his friend. when she was over to visit, they got her shitfaced drunk, peed in her mouth and threw her out on the porch in the middle of the night.
he left early in the morning fpr his job. we all used the toilet and left the water turned on in the kitchen.

charlotte (2008)

we stayed with these dudes who had a bike gang called the rag tag armada. they were 3 people living in a huge house and had a bike shop in there.
when we arrived there, 2 of them were tripping on acid and went to the dumpster at dunkin donuts. they came back with a huge bag of about 400 donuts.
the next day, we all went out to get burritos. this kid blake, who was living there two told us, how they were prepared for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.
we thought he was joking.
when we got back to the house, i noticed a huge machete next to the toilet and the word "use this, when they com" written above it. the also had pumpguns under every sofa and bed and litte medi packs.
i shit you not.
still, they were cool dudes.

note: i am from austria. i am not used to that kinda stuff.