Hustle Culture

Look… I’m a “busy” dude. I have a job, I have bands, I have the ocassional freelance project… I’ve got relationships and booking and practice to tend to. I also waste plenty of time on Netflix and bullshitting over a pint.

When I talk to people casually (like strangers or loose acqauintances), the subject inevitably comes up. They see me gigging and making stuff like this, lunchbreak videos and the day job… And at some point the topic turns to time, motivation, productivity, and all that zeitgeisty jazz.

Some folks ask for advice, other “hustlers” offer it, and everybody talks about how they just don’t have time to do all the things they want to. I commiserate.

Why do we do it?

In short, it’s because of hustle culture.

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Fighting Through The Slumps

Perpetual positivity is a myth. The reality of humanity is steeped in peaks and valleys – good days and bad. This is as true for diets as it is conversations with your spouse… Dayjob performance or sleep cycles.

Sometimes the downs are brief, fleeting even. Other times they persist.

As artists and musicmakers, these pendulum swings can be even more extreme. Work you’re proud of; work you hate. Periods of fiery inspiration, and bouts of doubt so thick, you consider burning your instrument…

So, what can we do when the chips are down? When the gigs suck and we feel stuck and the whole thing feels like a chore?

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The Truth About Gear

really like gear…

I already have some piles of it, and if money were no object, I’d surely have an awful lot more.

Every cymbal has its own personality, every snare drum plays just a little bit different… The brands, the finishes, the hammer marks… There’s an infinite amount of beauty in these percussive instruments while they’re just sitting still – and at the hands of a player, they come to life!

It’s a universe of its own, with history and nuance and drama. There are loyalists and eccentrics, innovators and traditionalists and downright hoarders.

To be an instrumentalist of any kind is to have some kind of relationship with the instruments themselves. There’s no wonder we place such value on these devices, that the objects of our music making become (to us, at least) more than mere tools. They become extensions of who we are, and identifiers of our heroes.

There’s a reason we know what a “Bonham kit” is… That Jimi played Strats and Jimmy played Les Pauls…

We know the names of iconic instruments we don’t even know how to play, and underneath it all, is the desire to accumulate these things – to get to know as many of them as we can.

There are hobbyists and collectors and historians, and worse – those misguided folks who think great gear is a substitute for skill or ideas… And that, friends, is where we get to the topic at hand.

Gear is fantastic and fascinating. There IS something to be said for using the best available tools… But the moment you put the equipment above the player, you’ve gone right off the rails.

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Grind With What You’ve Got

This is as much for me as it is for you (as usual)…

If you want to do something, anything really, you gotta go for it in whatever ways you can. This isn’t one of those “get out of town or you’ll never make it” posts, or advice about dropping everything else in your life to chase your passions (well maybe a little).

It is, however, a reminder to stay vigilant, to be aware of – and focused on – what you can be doing RIGHT NOW to get closer to where you want to be, wherever that may be.

There’s a big difference between excuses and legitimate reasons. We don’t always get to choose our lot in life. We do, however, get to choose what we do with it…

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I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

So… I know a few things, but only kind of.

Broadly, though, I don’t have a god damn clue what I’m doing – on stage, at work, booking shows, teaching lessons, simply existing as a human being… It’s a work in progress at every single point, and likely always will be.

The good news is, depsite what anyone may tell you, it’s that way for everyone.

Total confidence is a spectre, and vague notion on the wind – and we should all embrace that.

Almost every day, I experience unfamiliarity, but with the right approach, it’s an adventure – a chance to refine what little information I have into something a little more actionable – or in some cases, the barely-informed actions present bits of wisdom I can add to my growing (but forever incomplete) body of knowledge.

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Falling In Love: Reconnecting With Your Instrument

I love music, I love learning about it, I love digging into the craft, studying, challenging myself, practicing and performing as much as I can… I’m pretty certifiably obsessed.

Smitten.

I’m proud of it, honestly. I kind of relish the weird comments or disbelief that I try to do as much drumming as possible. It’s part of my identity, both internally and externally.

Plenty of people don’t have that, though… A relationship with music/an instrument that helps define them. Or maybe they did, and lost it somewhere along the road.

For those of us even a little serious about musicmaking, finding and honing our creative voices, I think we have to love what we do. We should be thinking about it waiting in line or sitting on the bus…

Infatuation with your instrument and the music it makes is (or at least should be) part of the process.

Balance is important of course, but I’m looking right at those folks who play… Who want to play… But always seem to find other things to occupy their attention.

If you don’t find yourself in my camp of “I want to do this ALL THE TIME” – how can you get there?

Or, a bit more practically, how can you stoke the fires of musical passion to make time to practice (which we all know is important), to put forth more effort than you currently are – because you want to.

How do you fall back in love with your instrument?

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Giving The Gift – A Concept Worth Remembering At Each and Every Gig

Sometimes all it takes is hearing the right message. The right collection of words at the right time can coalesce with existing experiences and unarticulated thoughts…

This is the stuff real inspiration is made of.

Totally new ideas take time to sink in, have to contend with existing worldview, hurdle psychological barriers.

But the right statement in the right context can bring nebulous ideas close to a pinpoint – and I recently had one of those moments.

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Lunch Break Groove Philosophy

If we’re Facebook friends, you may have seen my series of #Lunchbreak grooves. I’m up to like 42 of them now, and it has been a fun and interesting project…

In the spirit of connecting my various paths of creativity, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about why I’m doing them, what I’ve learned so far, and the value that we can all get out of “projects” like this.

First, these videos are rough and short form, done through Instagram and shared to Facebook. Even that has its purpose – while I have some IG followers, I currently have a much larger network on Facebook, and drum stuff seems to be less diluted there… Or rather, it’s where I’m connected to more people I know and care about, and that’s part of the impact I’m trying to make.

You can find the whole dang list right here.

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GET OFF YOUR ASS!!!

Someone has to say it.

I see it way too much – up close and at a distance – the incompatible combination of wanting to do something… AND NOT ACTUALLY PURSUING IT.

Forgive me for ranting. This isn’t usually my style, and before I wander into too much lecturing, I’ll gladly concede that everyone is different. We don’t all have the same goals, energy levels, patience, and so on…

But with that said, if you really want to improve as a musician, if you want to play gigs, if you just want to have faster single strokes – you have to work for it.

Now, there’s no benchmark for “success” that applies to everyone. Maybe you can’t (or don’t want to) dedicate massive amounts of time to the practice room or hustle for gigs every day – but if you want even a fraction of whatever success means to you, it absolutely requires effort.

There is no getting around it.

If you don’t care, or are perfectly content with your playing, your musical career (whatever that may be), etc., this isn’t for you.

If, however, you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes (like I do), you have to break out your metaphorical shovel and get to digging.

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Listening to Music You Don’t Like

Art is subjective, right?

We’re not all going to like every band, every song, even every style of music we hear… And that’s a good thing!

Our preferences are what determine our sound. Like it or not, we’re all the product of our combined influences – and in order to have favorites, it’s only logical that we have to have the opposite… Songs and styles we just don’t enjoy.

…But how we deal with the stuff we don’t like can be just as important – and educational – as the music that inspires us most.

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