In a post from earlier this year I talked a little bit about reading interviews with people that I really look up to. Usually I go in to it with an expectation that after reading I’ll have some new knowledge or new thing I’ll be able to apply to my life that will help me have the same success that they have.
But that never happens.
Usually the person talks about some important relationship that they had or that their success “just kind of happened” and they can’t say exactly how. It’s frustrating because there’s not a whole lot that you and I can take away from that.
But I had a pretty big break recently, and I want to tell you about it. Out of nowhere I got this message on Facebook:
I’m working for future of forestry with Eric and he said you play good guitar and wanted to talk to you about touring!
Could I get your number to give to him?
To make a long story short, I sent in a resume, got asked to audition in LA, and I got the gig. So now I’m preparing for two tours this year with a band that I’ve been admiring/listening to since high school. It’s ridiculous.
So how did this happen? For a while I had no idea. I thought it was one of two things: my YouTube videos or the fact that I was in a band that opened up for Future of Forestry last fall. But as it turns out, it was neither. I have a good friend here in Albuquerque who is good friends with one of the former drummers of Future of Forestry. I’ve met him a few times when he’s come through town and we’ve even jammed a little bit. One time we talked about my music and I gave him a CD. Eric (the leader of Future of Forestry) reached out to this guy and some other people for recommendations for a touring guitarist, and that’s how my name got brought up, which led to that seemingly out-of-nowhere message above.
So that’s the story.
I bet there are at least a few of you out there who aspire to be a touring musician in this kind of situation who are slightly disappointed by that story. I know I would be. What can you take away from this? What can you learn from this story to increase your chances of having this happen to you? I actually think there are a few things.
1. Be Ready
I didn’t (and still don’t) know if I want touring to be a big part of my musical career. But I knew that I at least wanted to try it, so I wanted to make sure that I was ready to take the opportunity should one present itself. What does that mean? Well the obvious answer in my case is just in guitar playing and practice. I feel confident in my ability to be able to get the parts down and play them well. But honestly another big factor is gear.
Bedroom musicians have a certain mentality that drives their gear choices. There are certain things they don’t have to buy, like high wattage amps or hard cases for equipment. But even though it felt silly, I always wanted my gear to be “tour ready”. So I have a nice hard case for my amp and pedalboard and quality gear that will hold up to touring and sound good. Bottom line: whatever your goal is, try to be ready for it even if the preparation seems silly in the context of what you’re currently doing.
2. Don’t Force Relationships
Ultimately the reason I got this gig is because of a relationship I have. Relationships aren’t something you can plan or predict, but I do think the way you handle them greatly affects how your name gets spread. In this case, I could have tried to force more of a relationship with this drummer. I could have tried to force a conversation about my music or my goals, but I held off and our mutual friend was actually the one who brought it up first. I could have tried to follow up and exploit some of his contacts on the west coast and see if I could get something to happen, but I didn’t. I was content with letting our time together and the music I gave him speak for itself. I think if I would have come off more forceful or greedy he may not have been as quick to bring my name up.
So that’s that. I hope you can see my story as an inspiration and not a frustration. If anything, I hope you are encouraged that a bedroom YouTube guitarist in a very musically dead city can get picked to go on a nationwide tour with an awesome band. If I can do it then I think a lot of other people can too!
PS, I would love to see/meet some of you while I’m touring in September and December. For a list of dates, click here.