9 Signs You Played In A Punk Band Through Your 20s and Are Now A Clueless Adult
The idea was seemingly simple: after years as a fan, you were going to give music a shot. So you bought a secondhand guitar, learned a few chords, and started writing some tunes – mostly sad tunes about your broken heart, and angry songs about how greedy/selfish/superficial society can be.
Soon enough, a cool label had put out your music on 180 gram colored wax, and you’d cobbled together enough cash to get that third-rate 1992 Econoline van roadworthy. For months on months you slept on floors or in mop closets, ate slop (whether promoter pasta, lentils and rice, or “vegan chunks in sauce”), and maybe even got some European distribution to do it all over again across The Pond. You played the anarchist squats, the underground clubs, every Jugdenhaus in Germany — and you had real adventures: You attended killer parties in different cities all over the world, had more run-ins with the cops that you would care to admit, and even got to make a record with one or two of your musical heroes. You were living the dream.
But now, at 32 years old, having achieved far more than you ever thought you could by making noise in your drummer’s mom’s basement, you think it might be a good time to wind down a little bit. Only problem is that just as no one ever taught you how to tour, now one taught you how to operate as a grown-up, either.
Here are nine signs that you played in a punk, indie, or hardcore band and are now a hopeless adult:
1. You’ve played hundreds of shows in rooms no bigger (or cleaner) than a dumpster, and you still have zero long-term work experience. All those late night shifts you pulled at Burrito King or Ice Cream Sam’s when you were home for a few weeks don’t impress potential employers much, and your resume has holes the sizes of album cycles.
2. You have loads of international photographer friends with plenty of shots of you playing in great lighting in front of oodles of fans — but one of your square friends from high school just posted on Facebook about his 401K and 529 college savings plans for his kids, and you have no idea whether those numbers are the names of funds or the amounts of money he’s stashed away.
3. Your vegan diet and nightly on-stage cardio workout have kept you looking 24-years-old, but inside you feel twice as old. And while all those kick flips off the drum riser have taken a toll on your knees, and lifting that Ampeg SVT bass cab up three flights of stairs every night has done a number on your lower back, you don’t have a shred of health care.
4. Several geeky magazines and blogs have praised your stunning guitar tone that “both chimes and crunches,” but that incredible collection of vintage/boutique guitar pedals you’d assembled over the years has little to no resale value on the secondhand market because you accidentally spilled a bottle of Jack Daniels on them after your Los Angeles show.
5. Sadly, the same goes for your beloved colored vinyl 7-inches of bands everyone stopped caring about five years ago.
6. You’re still writing and recording music, but the internationally distributed record label that put out your metal/screamo/punk catalogue really isn’t so into your new alt-country/EDM/blues direction, so that second chapter of a musical career you’d always imagined might not be in the cards.
7. You learned how to play a Gsus4 chord and appropriately implement a key modulation — but you weren’t particularly paying attention when your drummer was setting up his silk screening business and your bass player was teaching himself Pro Tools. Meanwhile, you’d shoot yourself before you start restringing the guitar of some dude in a more popular band than yours (sellouts!), so a future in any corner of the music business might not be happening anytime soon, either.
8. Your lyrics worked very well in song form, but truth be told, you’re no Blake from Jawbreaker, so you won’t be teaching Collegiate English any time soon.
9. Your significant other just mentioned the idea of children, and you thought he/she was talking about two decades from now — until it dawns on you that if you wait that long, you’ll be dead before they graduate college.
So, here you are: realizing for the first time in your like that Dad might have been onto something when he asked you about a “backup plan.”
But hey — you got to travel to places you’d never have been able to visit on your own, and met people who will be your best friends for life. You released your art and thoughts to the world, and some of your work still even exists on Spotify. You never became one of those people who was too afraid to live their dream, spending their mid-life crisis wondering “what if.” You took should be proud and satisfied knowing that life is short and you grabbed it by the horns early on. And you’ll continue to do so, too.
…As soon as you can afford to get out of this ramshackle apartment with four roommates and three cats.
WORDS: Sid Jagger
ILLUSTRATIONS: Dan Freeman
Zao will be on the road in August with Hollow Earth and Wolf King.
Death metal pioneers Possessed have released an unholy new music video.