february 10th, 2016
You're listening to the album you and your band spent the past year working on, in fits and starts. You're alone in your room at home, knowing you shouldn't stay up too late because you've got work in the morning. You're feeling a little on edge; you have been lately. But you need to hear this.
There's 19 songs here, amounting to around 30 minutes; you're that kind of rock band. "Music for the distracted listener," your Twitter bio reads; "like the '90s if it knew when to shut up," somebody once described you. It took 14 months to get to a final mixdown because:
• you and your two bandmates all have full-time jobs;
• a series of blizzards left your city unparkable and incapacitated for several months last year;
• two months ago, your audio engineer decided to pack up his home studio and cats in his early-model Prius and bring everything to L.A.;
• the three of you make no attempt to conceal the less-than-serious attitude you take towards music at this point.
The band, about to celebrate its two-year anniversary with the current lineup (featuring you), has played a whopping total of three times ever. Your drummer muses on occasion about buying a van and doing some mini-tours around New England, nothing crazy, just a long weekend here and there when you've all got enough vacation days in the bank. Your frontman is ready to settle down and start a family. You went to grad school with the latter, and you're six or seven years younger; you feel a long way away from settling down, or even deciding on which ~life goals~ to prioritize in the short term.
You tried to make the whole musician-slash-artist thing work a few years back, tried in earnest. Mostly during grad school, when you were still cushioned from workaday and financial reality by a hefty chunk of unsubsidized loans. During your second-to-last semester, you went to SXSW over spring break; you spent a depressing amount of weekends in Bushwick and Greenpoint; you met lots of people who get featured on The Dinner Party Download; you dated a trust fund-ish kid making it big with his retro VHS-tape-heavy psychedelic videography who shoots high budget things for documentarians or something now.
But you quickly realized there was no place for you, attitudinally, socioeconomically in that world. So you went home and got to work. And when you went from part- to full-time, and as you took on more and more responsibilities, and invested more and more in your profession and career, you started to let the music slide. You went from leading a project, singlehandedly composing and calling the shots, to joining somebody else's and playing the parts written for you (or, more accurately, your predecessor). You went from playing half a dozen shows a month to playing half a half-dozen shows over the course of two years.
Nevertheless, you're happy, mostly. The record sounds great, well worth the struggle; you'll have to decide on how to get it out into the world, whether your lifelong desire to press something to vinyl is worth the pricetag. You do like your chosen profession; you like it more and more, in fact. You finally feel you understand why it appealed to you in the first place (funnily enough, not a thing you much concerned yourself with when deciding to shell out the big bucks for grad school).
As time goes by, you're finding it easier to not obsessively compare what you're doing now with what you dreamt of a decade ago. You're doing what you can to cross-polinate dayjob and nightlife. But you wonder if you'll ever let go of your mid-2000s what-ifs, the childish fantasy of being a public figure, a poet worth quoting in an AIM profile, a speaker for your generation (as if that means anything anymore, but hey, you thought a lot about Nirvana in those days).
You doubt it.
You replay your 26-minute proto-album again and mouth the lyrics in between 11 p.m. yawns.
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Hey Cal, why is there no comments section? Comments sections have a tendency to devolve into nasty little spaces, teeming with spam & ad hominem attacks. I also have a fondness for the 1.0 Web (props to Neocities, powerer of this site). If you'd like to share your thoughts, find me on Twitter or fire off an email. Thanks!