The World’s a Stage

Somebody told me I shouldn’t write in this blog about having a regular job while I’m an artist in the music business — it looks “less rock star like”.
Oh God.
Yeah, I’ve been told stuff like that before, or stuff like not to include any info about me as an audio engineer, or about anything that means I’m actually a human being with a life or with bills to pay. Well, whatever. I mean, there’s already so much bullshit floating around. Like calling my friend’s work (4 employees) and hearing the automated attendant say that the company is one of the WORLD LEADERS in internet service. Oh yeah? Can I shove some rocks in my brain while I listen to more?
On the other side of the coin (I’m so darn fair), it is true that some people simply do not want to know the truth about certain things. (See the first The Matrix movie for a cool conceptual story surrounding this issue.)
For example, I used to do a lot of audio mastering. You should have seen sometimes how my clients reacted when they found out I was only renting the mastering studio I was mastering their music in — that it wasn’t mine. They would suddenly lose respect for me: “Why would this guy be mastering our music out of somebody else’s studio? The owner must be the mastering guru, not this chump!” They wanted to believe that they were with the guru, not second-rate cheese ball (even though I had much more experience and ability than the owner at the time). So, should a person fake it for the sake of preserving pre-conceptions? Proponents of the strategy would say you’re simply omitting full information.
The world’s a stage…

Big Back

I’m getting a big back from all the lifting at this driving job. What a physical workout! Bending over and over all day and night. I worked 12 hours yesterday straight.
I’ve been selling some of my Christmas CD’s with mild success this week through people I know and through strangers. This makes me happy. If I had a Powerbook and an iPod, I could just walk around town, play the songs for strangers, and unload CD’s. Hmm… where’s that extra few thousand bucks? 🙂
I started rehearsing for my unplugged show next week. I suck! Not enough practice as a solo artist! At least I’m getting a big back…

One Month Left

OK, I’ve only got one month left before I finish all the recording for my 2nd album. My buddy Jon Lipton of TheAllPurpose and I agreed to have our records done by December 31st. Holy time-crunch, Batman! I have to do so much stuff before that deadline, including recording parts for Jon’s record. Let’s not mention Christmas preparations or finishing moving into my home or working my job full time or rehearsing twice weekly with The Fortunates (which I’m really enjoying, by the way). And now I’ve got a little show coming up locally on the 11th. Sheesh!

Workin’ for a Livin’

Today I started my first shift at a new job. Finally, the bills we be paid. I can’t say it’s the job of my dreams, but it’s a necessity. I’m driving a van around for a catering company. I’ll be spending most of my time loading and unloading it for local events that we’ll cater, as well as stocking it with things like utensils and coolers to also be used where the food will be. The only rough thing I encountered during my first day was the kitchen. As I entered the kitchen (where I will often be), I was bombarded by the sight and smell of many freshly dismembered chickens. I was mildly disturbed and uneasy. I’m not used to seeing that.
How brilliant it would have been for me on my first day to say, “(Ahem) Um…you know, I’m vegetarian, and I don’t really approve of all of these dismembered chickens lying around. There are other alternatives, you know?”
The prompt reply might have been something like, “Aha. Let’s think about that for a moment. Hmm. OK. You’re FIRED!”
But the boss and the owner seem like good fellas — they’ve been working the business for about 20 years. A small crew cooks in the kitchen, and there’s an office assistant. That’s it. Nice little biz. As my mom said, “You can think about your music while you’re driving around!” Indeed, that will be a major benefit.

Joe Keithley in Toronto

Tonight I went to see Joe “Shithead” Keithley, most notably of D.O.A. fame, speak about his new book at the Rivoli. Joe was a significant player in the original punk scene of yesteryear. The new book, “I, Shithead”, talks about Joe’s life in punk, and Joe entertainingly told stories on stage about things which I assumed also appear in the book. I had quite a few chuckles, and I could relate to some of it, having been in some identical band scenarios years ago. No death threats, though!
The thing I liked most and came to see was Joe’s obvious concern for the way the world works. He brought up the things I’m into: politics, environment, and anti-establishment issues. I need to hear other people talk about that stuff more often! It gives you hope and reminds you that you’re not alone in your thoughts about the planet’s problems. He mentioned the punk movement and how the lyrics at the time really meant a lot in the songs. Yeah! That’s why I do it too! Someone the other day asked me if I considered my music to be punk music when I told them about some of the lyrics. I said, “It doesn’t actually sound anything like punk music sonically, but I do believe that I write some of my songs in the spirit of what punk music originally was: expressing frustration.”

Humans offer planet warming and whale death

It’s not every day that my blood gets boiling. Sometimes I have to complain about it.
Tonight, I watched “The Arrival” with Charlie Sheen. It wasn’t bad as far as sci-fi movies go, although some of Charlie’s acting needed help. The part that got me going was when an alien said to Charlie, “You know, you’re going to kill the planet in 100 years, so we’re just speeding the process up.” The alien’s race was trying to heat up Earth so they could arrive en masse and occupy the planet. Then the alien said, “If you can’t tend to your own planet, you don’t deserve it.” Sadly, I had to agree with the damn alien! We humans just pummel away at our environment with cars and industry without a care in the world (pun intended). The movie made me re-visit my general frustration with the whole planet-warming thing.
Then I went downstairs to my computer and read an article e-mailed to me from a friend. If you recall a couple of years ago, a huge number of beached whales were found on shore in the U.S. without explanation. It turned out that the U.S. military was testing new sonar in those waters. The sonar literally destroyed the sensitive ear drums in the whales and therefore killed them. Now, after being presented to government, the sonar has been approved for unlimited military use. WHAT?! Am I living in a frigging nightmare where WE are the monsters? Boil, boil, boil…

Busy in the City

After a week of unpacking boxes here I’m still unpacking boxes. I’m trying also to set up my little studio in the basement, but there are problems — the walls are paper thin — I can hear a house mate pretty easily in the next apartment. All the pipes down here hiss and squeak. It’s not that the pipes are old or anything, just that they’re shuffling the house’s fluids around a lot. There are 5 apartments in this one house! I’m feeling shy about making too much noise in order to not disturb the house mates, which doesn’t make for confident recording. Luckily, my album is near completion and not just getting started. But the basement itself is kinda nice. I’m also seated better between my speakers and the room itself sounds nicer than my last room.
In the last week, I played squash with my old studio buddy Joao Carvalho, met with the owner of Long & McQuade‘s Burlington store about starting up a new audio class for them, talked with and e-mailed lots of old friends as they kindly welcomed me back to Toronto, and looked for regular work as well. It’s quite a jump start from the last few months of my life. I even landed a tiny gig for tonight. Busy week!

Howdy Toronto

Ah, finally. Here I am in Toronto. What insanity it was, moving from one city to another with a 7-hour truck rental (no companies rent for a full day any more on weekends so they can make more money). My girlfriend’s family was late to help load, and she accidentally mowed down our car with the rental truck (nobody was hurt, but our car bumper was destroyed), and we had to dump all of our belongings in a mad frenzy to return the truck on time in the alleyway behind the house. Then we didn’t have space to walk anywhere. There are still boxes everywhere. Yikes! Meanwhile, I’m job hunting again. I’m way over-qualified for all the “dumb” jobs. Damn! I watched Dr.Phil yesterday. There was a dude who had been looking for work for 15 months, and refused to take a “dumb” job because he was earning 100k before. Well, I wasn’t earning THAT much, but as I said to my friend Mike today, now hunting for “dumb” jobs definitely feels like I’m stepping backwards. I want to get back into my music (finishing the album is pretty close), but reality must be tackled first.

Hallowe’en Hamilton

This’ll be my last entry for at least a week until I’m settled into my new pad. (Switching internet providers, etc.) I spent 3 days commuting to Toronto to clean my new place and run errands. My girlfriend can’t stand chemicals, so I cleaned with nothing more than water, vinegar, and baking soda. Yeah, the place is clean now. We’ve pitched as much crap as we could before we move in so we can fit into this smaller and yet more expensive apartment.
Still no job (unbelievable), but whatever. Of course Bell disconnected our phone a day too early. I did some bass recording with Bobby Hebert during the week. The band I’m playing with is now called “The Fortunates”. I like that name! We’re rehearsing more regularly, which sure helps. I laughed a lot during our rehearsal last night — just one of those funny, care-free, mistake-ridden rehearsals.
As my girlfriend was explaining to me that she was worried about crime in Toronto, some dude egged our car windshield pretty hard while we were driving here in Hamilton last night. I screeched the car to a halt, but everything was fine. It just goes to show, there are always people who aren’t looking out for your best interests in ANY town.
For my last nite here, I’m going to bike in the pro-environment Critical Mass ride for one last time. I’ll be wearing a witch’s hat! Oooooo!

A new friend and job-hunt comments

I met with Hamilton musician / man-about-town Bobby Hebert here a few days ago. I got to know him when I did this talent hunt thing some months ago. What a positive fellow! We hung out for a few hours, played each other our recordings, and ate vegetarian food from he and his wife’s Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. Deee-licious, it was. Bobby will probably be playing some bass on one of the new songs I’m working on before I leave for Toronto.
Tomorrow I go visit a temp agency I used to work for in order to try and land some work. Apparently they want to re-test me after my 3 year hiatus — as if I’ve forgotten how to type or something. That should take a half-day in itself.
What an ego-drain this whole work search thing has been these past months. It really does make you question who the hell you are, and what the hell you’re doing with your life. I suppose that’s what you get after selling your soul to rock ‘n roll. I have been under-qualified or over-qualified for everything out there. All of my similarly-aged friends have done the responsible thing and found responsible jobs for responsible futures. But so many of them also complain of not making enough money, and endlessly compare themselves to their big-buck-earning comrades like they’re in a competition. I have my fingers crossed for a superb opportunity I applied for at U of T coordinating volunteers for all the things I’m into: social justice, environment, and other minority movements. THAT would be something — a day job with a real purpose!