Overcoming Musician's Guilt

After many years spent running a live band on both US coasts, learning drums, guitar and bass, and learning audio production, my latest record represents my best—the current state and culmination of my music life. It's a true, two-year labor of love. But making art is never easy, and in this case came after a long period of musical inactivity. 

After I let the last incarnation of my live band dissolve more than 10 years ago, I was ready to take a break from music. I met a girl I loved who'd eventually become my wife. As supportive as she was and has always been, I'd reached a point where I was ready to explore things other than my development as an artist, and putting out a steady stream of work. 

I worked to save the sharks, went vegan, worked with PETA, took up scuba diving, and played drums in someone else's band for once. Time went by and I realized I hadn't touched guitar for something like two years. I recorded a couple of songs, and then had another period where I didn't touch guitar for another five, six years. Along the way we bought a house and had our first child. I spent most of that time writing a novel. But that wasn't the only reason I didn't write or play. I just didn't have anything musical in me—at least, not on the surface.

Eventually, after settling into our new life as suburban parents and in Marin County, CA, the Beast (what I like to call my creative drives) stated to stir. I kept my guitar within reach in my home office and started to noodle on a new song. I took guitar lessons for several months and focused on just playing to get better, for pleasure... not to "make it" anymore. It was a happy time.

Then something cool happened—a new song started to surface that eventually became "Bigfoot's an Alien." I struggled to find a rehearsal space in Marin to practice drums, got my guitar parts down at home, and recorded with an amazing Marin-based producer, Scott Llamas. I was pretty rusty after such a long dormant period, but something happened during those two sessions with Scott, and it captured lightning in a bottle.

The song went on to place at #38 on San Francisco-based BAGeL Radio's Top 100 Songs of 2015, beating out new releases by Sleater-Kinney, Built to Spill, and Modest Mouse. The song also got airplay on SiriusXM's Little Steven's Underground Garage on DJ Genya Ravan's show, "Goldie's Garage." And Finding Bigfoot's Cliff Barackman was cool enough to post it on his Facebook page


These milestones meant a lot to me in terms of validation and encouragement. They opened up the floodgate, and I kept going until fairly recently, to the point where I got enough material together to put together the new record. 

Soon after I recorded "Bigfoot" and starting guitar lessons, I told my buddy at my local music shop that I felt guilty for not playing guitar or being a musician for so long. In his mellow way, he told me, hey, things happen. Priorities shift. People want to focus on different things. "It's OK," he told me," in so many words. I thought that was really cool of him, and it made me feel better. In hindsight, the long break may have made me a better, more well rounded person, and in some ways maybe even a better musician.

If you're reading this, thank you for your time. If you listen to the record from front to back, which I encourage you to do, I thank you again. I hope you like it.