Rob, the resident drummer here!
The other day I had this conversation with my 8 year old:
Her: Daddy do you get nervous when you are getting ready to play for people?
Me: Not even a tiny little bit.
Her: What if you make a mistake?
Me: I make mistakes almost every single time.
Her: Doesn’t that make you scared?
Me: Scared? No. Does it drive me freakin’ crazy almost to the point of insanity where I want to change the beater on my bass pedal to one made of stone, attach it to my ear, and have someone stomp on it over and over and over again thumping me into a state of oblivion? Absolutely! (Ok, I actually just said no to her and the rest of that was just in my head)
Her: Wow, I would be scared.
Me: Making mistakes is going to happen…for me at least, but I believe that the key is recovering from the mistake quickly and not letting it cause a train-wreck.
Her: Why would a train crash???
So that got me thinking about it all. I know that many musicians get really nervous before playing and that it is a normal thing. Ozzy said “To say that I suffer from pre-show nerves is like saying that when you get hit by an atom bomb it hurts a bit,”, and word has it that Adele ralphs before almost every performance. I know, I can hear you, “but dude, you are playing in little clubs and bars for tiny crowds. Are you trying to compare yourself to Ozzy and Adele? Try playing for 20,000 people!”. But I honestly don’t think the venue or the numbers would change anything for me. I feel intensely excited on gig days. It builds and builds from the moment that I wake up. Someone thought it was funny that I like to take pre-gig naps when I can, but it is because I find that it helps bring me back to a calmer state before heading to wherever we are playing. Otherwise I tend to get a bit crazy. Not a nervous crazy though, more of a “I can’t wait another second to start playing tunes with these awesome people that I get to share the stage with!!!” crazy.
For me there is not any rush in the world quite like playing music, and doing it in front of people takes that to another level. On multi-band nights when we aren’t first up I struggle to concentrate on the band(s) before us. Not because I don’t love, respect, and enjoy what they are doing. It is just because I can’t think of anything but getting up there and doing it myself. Do I make mistakes? Of course, and yes they bug me, and I remember every single one. Like the time we were playing “Talking In Your Sleep” at Brass Monkey back in 2013. I had got distracted (aahhhhh that is a whole other story!) and thought that we were in the 2nd verse, but were actually in the 3rd verse which is only half a verse and then back to the pre-chorus. It felt like a disaster and it drove me crazy for the rest of the night. Turned out that I covered it quick enough and well enough that nobody noticed it, and when I watched the video it really wasn’t all that bad. But I knew. It was ingrained on my brain forever and after watching it I have never made that mistake again.
Anyhow, how did I get sidetracked into talking about my mistakes?? I hate my mistakes! I meant to talk about how much I freaking LOVE playing for people. I feel really lucky that I get to do it, and even luckier that I get to do it with the people that I get to do it with. Once I get started I hate to even stop for a break. I would play all night long if I could. Yep, I am a Stage Whore! I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Come out to The Carleton Tavern on July 8th to see if I make any more mistakes! I’ll try my best not to.