On December 9th 1995 I was 14 years old and a freshman in High School. I was an aspiring bass player. I was growing my hair long and wearing combat boots with shorts. I stood in the wings of my high school auditorium preparing to take the stage to an audience of about 200 of my peers. We shut off all the lights to make the entire auditorium pitch black. We opened with an original song my brother wrote called, “Edge of the World.” The first four bars were a solo slap bass line. It was the kind of thing that emulated Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I started the song as the curtain opened. Four bars later the band hit the down beat and the lights came up. The response from the audience was both positive and loud. From that moment I was hooked. This is what I have wanted to do ever since. It’s been almost 19 years since that night. The high school garage band I played with that evening has long since broken up. I have moved countless times through multiple states. I have written hundreds of songs about my experiences. I have recorded four full-length albums and one EP. I have toured 16 of these United States. I have traveled over 100,000 miles. I have played hundreds of live performances. I have played with countless talented musicians. I have seen bands come and go. I have met some incredible people and built some life-long friendships. I have given up and started over an infinite amount of times. I have been given the rare opportunity to document my story on film. There have been a lot of ups and downs and through it all, I keep coming back to the same thing: this is what I want to do. Many times throughout my journey I have heard the common expression "if you want to make it, you have to pay your dues." I am "paying my dues" because I do want to "make it," but “making it,” is a relative term. I used to think it meant playing a certain venue to a certain number of people or selling a certain number of albums. If this could happen or if that could happen then I would feel successful. Once and for all I am letting go of that paradigm. Laozi was a philosopher and poet of ancient China. He is best known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching. He is quoted as saying, “there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” I truly believe that grateful and happy walk hand in hand and to always want is to always be in want. These are three definitions I have been pondering. Want /wänt,wônt/ verb; to lack or be short of something desirable or essential. Thankful /ˈTHaNGkfəl/ adjective; pleased and relieved. Happy /ˈhapē/ adjective; feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. I have spent a great deal of the past 19 years in want or thinking I lack something essential. I have made the mistake of not being thankful for all that I have been given and therefore I have not always been as happy as I could have been. I am left recognizing that my mistakes are a form of currency that have allowed me to purchase so many lessons. I can admit that in my life thankful has always been an underdog to want. I miss out on what I have because I am focused on wanting more. I am tired of wanting more; instead, I am thankful for what I have and I am happy. Somehow This sure didn’t turn out the way I saw it in my head Not ready to throw in the towel or give up just yet I never said I thought it would be easy I guess I don’t know what I thought But I know I’ve paid with all these mistakes for the lessons that I bought I sure need to learn how to live outside of my own head I’ve had my fair share of being down and full of regret I never said I thought it would be easy but I finally know what I want To live in a place of genuine thanks for everything I’ve got
Letting go of the past and forgetting the future... For 58 days I lived in a giant pink tent in my friends front yard in Oceanside, CA. Let's just say I had hit a rough patch. Or rather, a fork in the road. This was one of many attempts albeit a long shot to keep my band Soup together. My wife had to move back to Kansas to help her family through a hard time. Once again, we put all of our worldly possessions in a storage unit. We gave up our apartment in Carlsbad she headed home and I opted to keep my good job and live with friends until she could rejoin me. The main purpose of staying behind was so that I could continue pursuing a career with a band that was moments away from imploding. It would be impossible to relate just how much I loved the band Soup and all the musicians who would come and go. I loved this band so much. I put all of my creative energies into her. I was willing to allow her to have every song I was able to write. And this time in my life -- alone, living in this tent was a very fruitful time of writing some the best songs I would ever write. What I couldn't see then was that Soup and her demise was performing a perfect work in my mind and spirit and ultimately my music. It was so hard to let Soup go. I remember sitting alone in the wee hours of the morning (I think it was 3am) playing a chord progression that would become "Pipe Dreams." The words and the melody began to spew from my lips effortlessly. It became a song in literally 5 minutes or less. "No going backwards, and the sides are no good. I refuse to do those things that I know I should." These lines to the last verse have become a mantra in my life. You can't go back and you can't sit on the sidelines anymore. At some point you are going to have to muster the courage to face the big obstacles in your life preventing you from being who you want to be. I recently read a quote that said, "if you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you: You will be unhappy for the rest of your life." "Love your Neighbor as you love your Self." To me, the "big obstacle," the only obstacle is loving my Self. Discontinuing old habits, ways of thinking, attitudes and perceptions of the world that put limits on my Self is what this life is all about. It's what your life is all about as well. I would eventually leave the tent. Soup would break up. I would head back to Kansas to live for a while. Being back in Kansas has proven to be another giant pink tent. She is whittling me down even further. I am letting go of more and I am learning to forget about the future. I am still in pursuit of the pipe dream though. I am breaking my body one day at a time. I'm purging my soul from all my crimes.
Currently I am working on a new record called Strange Caravan. Jim Morrison once said, "this is the strangest life I've ever known."
After so many years in California it was a bitter sweet parting back to my native land of Kansas. Don't get me wrong. It is hard to beat California. Besides the crazy rent, traffic and people as far as the eye can see it's a nice place to be. However, Kansas has it's own charm and there are no doubt things about this place that even California can not boast about. Open spaces, low rent, seasons and stars you can actually see at night. I am glad the road has lead me home for now.
Recording a new record is always a fun, challenging and very stressful thing to do. I have a lot of great new songs and I can't wait to make sense of them all. And when it is done...highway time. Once again, I quote the late great Jim Morrison: "this is the best part of the trip...the part I really like...