The Email That Made My Day

The Email That Made My Day

Last week, I received an email from one of the Bullfighters (fan club members). Her name is Heather, and she lives in Houston, TX.

“Good morning!

“Haven’t seen a blog email in a bit, so I hope it’s because you’ve got just s***loads of irons in all kinds’a fires, and that 2017 has, so far, been kind to you. Had your music in the rotation more lately, if that means anything to you.  🙂

“Hope you and your queen are doing well, and still enjoying homeownership! 🙂 It’s not without its faults, when you realize that, when something breaks, no onsite maintenance crew is coming right away, but I think it still means more to have your very own place. 🙂

“Take care of yourself, mister, and have a great f***ing weekend! :D”

That email made my day!

First, she’s right, I hadn’t blogged in a bit. Since Inauguration Day, I haven’t been compelled to write until the shenanigans regarding the layoffs at 89X.

I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes grinding, but not every single thing I have been excited about came to pass. I’m tired of blogging and telling people what’s going to happen, and then having it not come to fruition, which erodes trust and credibility. I don’t want to be the king of empty promises — the world is already filled with talkers; we need more doers.

Instead of blogging about every small advancement, development, wrinkle or hurdle along my path, I’d rather wait and talk about what is actually happening.

Second, Heather in Houston must be clairvoyant, because I indeed have many irons in many fires . . .

When it comes to new music, I’ve got three songs, each in different stages of production, to share with the Bullfighters for feedback before deciding whether to release and perform them. Those will be sent out as they are finished.

Also, I’m excited to announce that band rehearsals will begin on April 13!

I spent much of the past year meeting with and interviewing potential members, and we had our first official band meeting last week, during which we clarified our long-term vision as a group. There are seven of us getting ready to rehearse, and we are all multi-instrumentalists. (It’s funny sometimes how things work out — I’ve known all but one member since they were teenagers.)

Here’s another special announcement: my podcast Get After It with John Kay is now on iTunes!

Three new episodes will be uploaded in April, including my conversations with:

– Danny Muggs — Guitarist and vocalist from acclaimed Detroit blues-rock band The Muggs
– Don Slater — Bassist of Battlecross, a fast-rising Detroit metal band on Metal Blade Records
– Rocco Ambrose — Founder of the Ambrose Academy of Wing Chun Do and Grandmaster of the Wing Chun Do system of martial arts, a system whose lineage descends straight from Bruce Lee

Available as of now are my conversations with entrepreneur and InkAddict founder Jim Doyon, and drummer Matt Puhy from Detroit hard rock band Wilson. I’ve received great responses from people about the wisdom shared on the podcast by these two gents. Please subscribe to Get After It, download the episodes, and let me know if you learned anything by listening to them talk about their journeys.

[iPhone users: open your podcasts app, select “My Podcasts”, and click the “+” at the top of the screen. Select “Add Podcast”, and enter the following URL: http://getafterit.libsyn.com/rss.]

Speaking of journeys . . .

On January 21 my queen, mother, and sister-in-law traveled to Washington D.C. for the International Women’s March.

When my queen returned home, she expressed how much she wished I could have been there. I told her that if they have another march, I’ll go with her next time, to which she said that they will be having several different marches, including a march on April 29 for climate change.

SOLD. The queen and I will be traveling to D.C. at the end of April!

The thing is . . . I don’t wanna take a trip only to the nation’s capital.

There are Bullfighters in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Portland (ME), and I want to book an intimate house show in each area on the way to D.C.!***

And that’s not all! In addition to potential house shows, I have scheduled podcast interviews along the way with two people I have huge respect for — Adam Ayan, mastering engineer at Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland, and Patrick “Seton” O’Connor, Director of Operations for The Dan Patrick Show in Milford, CTI’m very excited to connect with these two, hear their stories, and share practical wisdom.

Like Heather said, irons in all kinds’a fires!

Finally, it means everything to me that my music is in rotation in people’s lives. Now that a group is ready to rehearse, we’re that much closer to getting out on the road. Consider this update to mean the wheels are in motion!

2017 has been kind to me so far, and I hope the same for you. As I look outside right now, gray skies are clearing, and the sun is peeking through the clouds.

The best is yet to come! 😀

 

John Kay
jk@therealjohnkay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @TheRealJohnKay
Instagram: @TheRealJohnKay
Facebook: /TheRealJohnKay

 

***If you’re in any of these areas, and are interested in what hosting an “intimate house show” involves (it’s easy!), email me at houseshow@therealjohnkay.com so we can discuss the simple details. The plan is to be in the area of Pittsburgh on April 25, Boston on April 26, and Portland on April 27. I’ve reached out to all of the Bullfighters in these cities already, and they are stoked!***

P.S. As far as home ownership is concerned . . . we have water coming in the basement. We thought we fixed it by sloping the grading underneath our deck, but nope. We may put in a French drain(?) this year if it’s not too expensive a task. If so, yikes. Other than that, we love our home, and may be adding a dog to the family soon. We shall see. 🙂

P.P.S. Speaking of journeys again . . . I like the shoe store Journeys, because they stock Onitsuka Tiger, my favorite brand of sneakers. But I hate the band Journey because of what Steve Perry did to my mom back in the day. He’s a jerk. And there is no “South Detroit” — that’s Canada.

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Kurt Cobain

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Kurt Cobain

We weren’t allowed to have MTV on in the house when I was a kid — MTV didn’t play country music or classical or oldies; it was forbidden.

Nirvana changed that. They were our Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

I brought home Nirvana’s Nevermind and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger on the same day. My dad allowed me to play them each in full, back-to-back, on the home stereo while I did homework. Afterward, I asked him which he preferred, and he said “I like the Nirvana album better.”

That became my permission to watch MTV when Mom protested: Nirvana was undeniable.

But they weren’t that way before Dave Grohl joined the band.

Beyond being a powerhouse drummer, his backup vocal harmonies added more colors to the band’s sonic palette. Plus, Krist Novaselic finally had a drummer who understood groove, the rhythm section was locked in. Kurt, from what I could tell at the time, only enjoyed being a brat and was a drug addict.

My love affair with Nirvana began and ended with Dave Grohl, and continues with Foo Fighters.

With that, I have to admit, as much as I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our current cultural zeitgeist, I’m late to the party on some things. One of these things was Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

I watched it a couple of weeks ago, and while my first impressions of Cobain were validated, I made a list of ten things I learned from the documentary. They each resonated with me.

1. Divorce irrevocably changed his life.

Touré, in his book I Would Die 4 U: How Prince Became an Icon, explains that divorce was the cultural zeitgeist of Gen X, and even people whose parents remain married feel fallout from the divorce of relatives, friends, et al. Cobain would not have become an icon if he, much like Prince, didn’t experience being a child of divorced parents.

2. His girlfriend before Courtney Love supported him 100% while he lived an artist’s life.

How does anyone make it in our current culture without a support system? Anyone who says they became successful through their own hard work alone is deluded.

It’s true, hard work is the first requirement when it comes to achieving goals, and using time and resources wisely is important, too. But without a support system of people who believe in you, who see how hard you’re working, who help pick you up when you’re down, who have your best interests at heart, who know you appreciate them…you are doomed.

3. There is still bad blood when it comes to Dave Grohl.

Although I gained respect for Cobain while watching MOH, there is obviously still a grudge with Dave Grohl.

He wasn’t featured as Novaselic and Love were, and it was not acknowledged that the band got better when he joined, or how Kurt felt about him joining. Seems weird to me, considering his post-Nirvana success and celebrity.

4. He was constantly studying and learning and experimenting.

Cobain would sit alone in his room, playing his guitar, reading, writing lyrics and poetry, performing audio engineering experiments with his tape recorder, and more, all day long. He became what James Altucher refers to as an “idea machine”, filling notebook after notebook with his thoughts.

5. Marijuana expanded his mind and artistic capabilities.

DUH!

6. He kept his super-ambitiousness hidden.

I heard Dave Grohl say in an interview once that when the Nirvana was in their first meeting at Geffen Records, a label rep asked “What do you guys want?”

Cobain replied, “We want to be the biggest band in the world.”

That’s the only occasion I can think of when Kurt said anything about wanting fame. I assumed he was trying to be flippant.

Nope. He wanted to be the biggest band in the world. He just didn’t know what fame (and heroin) was going to do him.

7. He sacrificed everything for his band.

His band and his music were his top priorities. Everything else was dismissible — relationships, material things (except music equipment), etc. If it didn’t help his band get to the next level, it didn’t matter.

8. He was incredibly self-conscious, and thin-skinned when it came to critics.

As most true artists feel about their creative output, Kurt’s songs were like his babies. When critics were negative about his music, Kurt took it personally. His songs were him, he poured his soul out. His soul was under attack.

9. He was much better-looking than I gave him credit for.

Handsome dude, when not on drugs.

10. He thought a band needed to practice five times a week.

I found this fascinating because it revealed the true intensity of his drive and discipline.

Also, it showed that he was willing to grind, to hone, to perfect the performance, getting it down to a science, where the rules are known, and can therefore be broken at will. All musicians and entrepreneurs can learn from his example.

 

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Music: johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay

What I’ll Bring Up at Therapy Today

What I’ll Bring Up at Therapy Today

I am very confused right now.

A band that I gave my blood sweat and tears to is calling it quits. I found out on Facebook when I saw a post from one of the members about a farewell show.

I put a great deal of trust and faith in this band. We made great music together for a few years, then we had a falling out. We reconnected nearly ten years later, and we started making new music, and it was well received.

But then I told them I wanted the band to grow, and they said, ‘No, we’re not trying to grow, we’re just trying to have fun,’ and I said ‘Well, I can’t be a part of that. I’m trying to always grow. Growing is fun to me.’

That’s actually the same reason that things didn’t work out with Koffin Kats. I wanted to grow more than they wanted to grow. Our ambitions did not align. That’s been the story of every band I’ve been in. I’m tired of it.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last 10 months. I started seeing a therapist because I wanted someone in my life who I knew was intelligent and would ask me questions that no one else in my life would think to ask me, who is professionally certified to ask me these questions, and has my best interests totally at heart. A stranger, someone unbiased, to whom I can talk about the things that concern me most and get to the root of the issue.

Frankly, what concerns me most are my relationships with other people.

If it isn’t obvious by listening to my songs, I care about people. I care about making them happy. I care about being and doing my best.

When I first joined the band which is now having a farewell show, I knew that I was going to make them happy with my drumming. But I also looked at where they were at and asked ‘How can this band be better?’ and instantly it was obvious that the quality of their recordings needed to be better. The songwriting was on point, it always was, but they needed a better presentation of those songs.

So I talk everyone into driving to Indiana to record at a legitimate recording studio, with a producer who had worked on albums that we all loved.

Out of that recording experience came opportunities for pretty much everyone in the band: I got offered (and turned down) the drumming job for Rise Against, who at the time was first forming. Our guitarist went on to be guitar technician for bands like Queens Of The Stone Age. Our other guitarist ended up touring in a band with the producer. Our singer ended up joining a band and touring with them, and this particular band was the reason we recorded with this particular producer.

We all got to see our dreams starting to come true, and then we had the falling out, and we didn’t talk for years.

We reconnected in 2011 and recorded in my home studio an EP of songs that we had played live but had never recorded, plus a brand-new song that summed up our journey as a band. Things looked promising. It seemed as though we were going to start doing it again for real. We all seemed excited.

But everyone in the band had wives and children and lives and responsibilities, like we all do (well, I have an ex-wife and no kids, but definitely a life and responsibilities). For the other guys, the band was more about having fun and letting loose and relieving pressure from their lives than it was about moving forward, creating new things, picking up where we left off.

But we could have.

It’s easy to write new music. I do it often. And I know that one of the guitarists of the band does it often as well. He even formed another band which performs from time to time, and he’s the principal songwriter for the band, but he’s complained to me and shared with me his frustrations about working with that band. He wants more from them.

I think he wants, deep down, what I want. But I don’t think he believes that he is allowed. I wanted him to be part of the new band that I’ve been putting together, a band that is excited about where we’re going to be in 10 years, not just in 10 days or in 10 hours.

There’s part of me that regrets certain things that were said or done within the context of the dissolving band, but ultimately we are all where we are today because of the decisions that we made yesterday. It really pains me to see that a band that I put so much faith in is calling it quits, and not only am I not a part of the last hurrah, it’s not even a conversation that the rest of the band felt needed to happen with me, and that makes me sad, because some of the best memories I have as a musician involve being in this band.

I love these guys like brothers. I’m very confused.

 

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com

Twitter: @therealjohnkay
Instagram: @therealjohnkay
Facebook: /therealjohnkay