Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Can Understand Completely

This was a comment I made on a thread at Blabbermouth, about Soulfly drummer David Kinkade's decision to leave the group and retire from music:

Hell, I've been through just as much if not more. I'm 43. I've been married to the same wonderful woman for eighteen years, with fifteen of those being a professional drummer and vocalist, with 98% of that on cover-band and cabaret circuits in the western US. We couldn't have kids together, so I helped raise her three kids from her first marriage, and have been a doting grandfather to four wonderful grandchildren.

I've missed every major holiday you can think of a dozen times or more in my fifteen years on the road. As of this moment I'm scheduled to have Christmas off (driving home from Nevada on Christmas Eve) for the first time in five or six years. There are few feelings worse than being alone on Christmas Day, folks. I've missed countless birthdays, graduations, and other milestones in the lives of my loved ones. But I keep going. Why?

Hope. Hope that a better-paying gig is in my future. Hope that I can travel less and work more. In some ways, hope is all I have left, and if I lost hope I know I'd be in trouble - the kind that ends with a funeral. I have hope, plus something else very special - the unquestioned love of a woman who completely understands my drive, my compulsion, my obsession to succeed in the field of my choice no matter the cost. The irony is that now I support her when she used to support me. And now my music gives her the inspiration and strength she might not have had otherwise to fight a phalanx of severe illnesses, such as sarcoidosis, COPD, fibromyalgia, severe kidney disease, and a whole lot more.

It's clear to me that David Kinkade reached his burnout point, where he just looked at his life and thought 'what the fuck have I done to myself?' he assessed his situation, and made the decision that's best for him. I've been there - many times. But since I don't really have any skills to fall back on (though being an touring, self-sustaining musician gives you a surprisingly large skill-set), I just move forward. Eventually, I know there will come a time when I just can't move forward any longer. But hope and love give me the courage to keep moving.

David, I wish you the best of luck in whatever future endeavors you have. But know this - the odds are that nothing you'll ever do professionally for the rest of your life will equal what you've already accomplished. Be proud of those accomplishments. And don't just walk away from your kit - you'll never really be able to. Eventually, you'll find yourself longing for the the rehearsal room, the stage, even the road. But you'll be smarter about it the next time that urge hits - just jam with a few friends here and there, or find (or start) a band that just plays around your hometown once in a while, that's more for fun than for a living. Learning to balance the love of music with the need to have a real life is a tricky thing, and in time you'll figure out that balance. But now you need to rest your mind, your body, and your soul, then build the foundations you'll need for the next stage of your life's journey.

Best of luck, David. We'll see you on the flipside sooner or later.

And he will be back eventually - that's just the nature of the beast. Music is an addiction to me, as it is to most working musicians, even if they'd never personally admit it. Fortunately, my habit feeds me as much as I feed it. But now I need to write a little more. Things always stay the same in my life - weird.