About 7 years ago I played in a rock and roll band called Russell Square, the name came from a place in London, aptly named… Russell Square. One our major influences was U2, lots of delay on my electric guitar, obscure lyrics about angels and religion… Two albums were put out under that name, Copacetic and Sometimes Angels sing as a warning.
The time that I spent with RS was my first foray into a full band that played originals. I had done the singer/songwriter thing and the cover band but never had I played with a group of guys who wrote and performed there own stuff, it was pretty killer! Since it was my first time there were quite a few things that I needed to learn, I had toured before, I had lived in vans before, but this… this was a totally different kind of animal.
In the past, if something broke, someone else would fix it. we had a guitar tech to do that. we had sound guys on tour with us, we had drivers, it was all taken care of. This time, if something broke (which it often did) we had to fix it ourselves. There was a Fourth of July show near San Francisco that we were supposed to play and hours before the set my strap lock on the butt of my guitar fell off… just… fell off. I had no idea what to do, I was lost, I pictured my self sitting on my amp for the entire set because my strap didn’t have anything to lock to! Luckily enough the lead singer had experienced this dilemma before and after he found a small enough dowel to fit in the hole he screwed to lock back into place, good as new, it’s still in there to this day holding the lock in place.
I honestly never would have thought of that.
But, that can be said about so many things, if we do not have someone around us who can teach us, shape us, give confidence and suggestions too, we can never really grow that much can we? That lesson I learned was less about fixing a guitar, and more about looking for guidance and advice from those around me who have traveled a similar path before.
There is an old Zen Proverb that states “It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes, but an even wiser man to learn from others.” I would take that one step further and add the word “mature” to that sentence, I believe it takes an awful lot of maturity to learn from someone else’s trials and tribulations. In my life personally this has always been a tough one, I have not been very good at taking “suggestions” very well, there is something in my nature that says “you can do this on your own, you don’t need anyone else’s opinion” which is a very comfortable thing for me to align myself with… BUT lets jump back to that show in San Fran shall we??
I was stuck, I had no clue how to move forward to make the event successful, while someone else had the exact answer that I needed to make it through, not just that show, but far far into the future (now 5 years later) all that I had to do was ask, to lower myself and not just ask… but accept help from someone wiser, with more knowledge than me. It worked out too, and in most cases if you are willing to ask for help, there is someone who is willing to offer said help, and it might just save you a bit of stress in the long run.
While that tour with the band was the last one I was on, and shortly after they disbanded to pursue other things in life I still keep in touch with the guys, there were a lot of lessons learned on that trip…
1. Transmissions are expensive to fix, but there is almost always a cheap chinese restaurant near by the repair shop.
2. It may seem like a good idea to buy dart guns at a california swap meet until you are the driver AND target.
3. Free pit bulls from walmart parking lots do more damage then you would expect when you have 2000 miles left on your trip. no matter HOW cute they are
4. Bring a long board on every tour you go on, you never know when you need to get away for half an hour and carve a sick hill in the hills of Southern California
5. When asked if you want to go on a float trip down a rough California river, make sure you have more than a $5 inner tube from Wallgreens.
I believe all of these lessons would have come much easier if we would have just asked before hand… but the Pit Bull still lives happily ever after somewhere in Washington, the van however, is dead. I still desire a long board on certain sunny days, and even though my inner tube popped twenty min before the end of the float trip, I still enjoyed it immensely, and every time I see a little kid with a dart gun I think of that stretch of I-5 coming home with a little free parking lot puppy nipping at our heals in a torn up van with a couch for a back seat.
Those were the days.