I have things to do. A list of seven things in fact, which is sure to expand and contract as I simultaneously accomplish tasks and forget things to buy, forget what to pack, and figure out where to store my things I'll be leaving at home in Nashville. On Friday I leave for Charlotte, NC, somewhere I've been before several times, but this time to play at a venue I've never heard of.
I haven't looked at what time my flight leaves and I don't know where I'll be past the second stop of the tour. Getting on a plane and leaving for three months has become normal to me now. It doesn't phase me.
I'm 26 years old and I play music for a living. Since 2010, I've been doing something most people only see in movies — driving around the country in a van and playing shows.
I was 20 the first time I told my college professors I would have to miss a week of school to drive down to Austin, TX with my band, Air Dubai, to play the yearly music industry festival, SXSW. Several conversations and a hefty amount of persuasion later, they allowed me to leave desolate Greeley, CO to drive cars we borrowed from our parents and sleep on cheap hotel room floors all the way to southern Texas.
At that point in my "career," that was all I ever wanted to do. Despite my parents telling me I needed a plan B and my college professors discouraging me from taking gigs, I was completely absorbed by the elusiveness of being in a successful band.
Over the next five years, Air Dubai went on to sign a record deal, release three albums, play hundreds of shows across the U.S. and Canada, sign with a booking agent, a business manager, a lawyer, and the biggest management company in the world. For two years we rented a nice house in south Denver that band money paid for. Not bad for some dudes that met on Craigslist.
We were young, not rich by any means, but supporting six people on money we were making from playing music. In 2014, I accomplished one of my pre-teen dreams by playing Warped Tour with my best friends. We had our own bus and played alongside pop-punk bands I idolized as a young drummer.
During that same year, we released our first full-length album on Hopeless Records and (drumroll..) nothing happened. The label told us the budget for promotion had been used up before the album came out and we were dead in the water. The album we had spent two years working on and promoting was stillborn.
Later that summer, we split ways with our management and the label. After reaching our touring peak on Warped Tour, we returned home to Denver, with nothing but a $40,000 bill for our tour bus and boxes full of hundreds of copies of our album that we didn't know what to do with.
The glamour was gone and reality hit like a ton of bricks. This part wasn't supposed to happen. We were a pop band that saw nothing but the Top 40 for ourselves, but our mid-twenties came up quick and we questioned everything.