It’s been an eventful ten days or so, many zany happenings and benign fever-induced hallucinations, but before diving into the highlights I’d like to share a recent conversation I enjoyed with a friend here in LA. She’s been struggling recently she says, forced to work at a restaurant again, feeling like a failure. If only she could play music full-time!
Firstly, there’s zero shame, ZERO, in working a day job. In fact, I encourage it. Trust me, there’s no quicker route to disillusionment than cranking out wedding gig after wedding gig, casino date after casino date, your energetic and creative reserves rapidly depleting, wondering where it all went wrong. All this, just to say you’re playing music full-time.
I never ask people what they do for a living. It doesn’t interest me, and I find those who are overly eager in sharing this information to be, well, douchebags. To me, there’s zero difference between slinging drinks, bussing tables or playing in the Allen Stone Band. The goal is making great art. Provided you're doing that, you're on the righteous path.
When I lived in Seattle, I worked as a guitar instructor at an incredible shop called A Sharp Music Company. It was a sweet gig. I taught three days a week and made enough money to keep the lights on, so I was able to turn down bullshit gigs and focus on launching several spectacularly unsuccessful bands. I learned a lot. When the Allen project started picking up steam, A Sharp happily accommodated my loony schedule, and when the time came to jump on the Al train full-time in 2012 it was a stress-free transition. Had I felt the need to be a full-time performer right out of the gate, I doubt I’d have enjoyed the flexibility and financial stability to say yes to those early Allen tours when there was zero money. My life would undeniably look very different.
But the key is pushing yourself artistically all the time. Unrelentingly. When you're making great art, you care a whole lot less about how the lights stay on and a whole lot more about sharing your story with unfailing integrity. That's our gift to the world.