I am writing this from a depressing casino in Black Hawk CO. It was a good point to stop on i-70 heading west on our way to California (yep. Driving from Denver to San Francisco). Silver lining here is the lovely man behind the check-in counter said: "we don't get many Brits here, I will upgrade you". Marvelous gesture, incredibly kind of him. I do, however, wonder what the rooms I booked looked like...
What an ungrateful sod I am.
I've done a few interviews recently for some of these shows this tour, and I get asked a lot "where do you see your career in 5 years?" and "what advice would you offer younger musicians coming up?" Thought I'd share my (perhaps) unwanted views and advice.
Answer to Q #1. My goal throughout all of this, every show, recording session, late night jam, and sleepless night with my mind whirring about music, has all been about being the best musician I can be. Chasing an inward vision of how you picture yourself sounding. It's hard to vocalise what that is, but each day is about striving towards it. My 5 year plan? To still be doing it. Flat out. Would I like to play to big crowds every night? Sure! But sometimes the small, sweaty clubs are way more fun. Would I like a little more recognition? I'd be lying if I said no, I think anyone likes a good pat on the back for hard work. But as soon as you think you deserve more, there is something catastrophically wrong. Work hard, and enjoy yourself doing it.
Answer to Q#2. Make sure your motives are in the right place. Don't do it for that proverbial pat on the back, or for the dreams of rock-star grandeur. You will be on an emotional rollercoaster in your career. You will play incredible shows in front of thousands cheering you on, then spend the same night in a motel on top of the blankets in fear of bed bugs. The next day you may drive for 5 hours, to play a dingy room for 3 people. Again, don't think you deserve better. Work for better.
If you write music, make sure you write honestly. If you don't believe what you are doing whole heartedly, how can you expect anyone else to? Personal relationships are hard to maintain (unless you get very lucky with an understanding spouse!), and you start to regret not paying more attention to your Maths teachers at school. It's exhausting (I sporadically suffer from Sleep Paralysis in times of high stress, low sleep touring), and at times demoralizing.
But my god. Do it the hard way and love every aspect. Don't try and fast track yourself into reality television. That's not being a musician. That's thinking you deserve more than what you haven't earned. Let's not make that the new normal for artists. 2 or 3 years in the clubs is not 'slogging it'. That's the bare minimum.
Play because you simply can't bear NOT to, sing because you think you have something to say, and become a musician because, quite simply, in your heart of hearts you have absolutely no other choice.