Hi, and Yes

Chapter I – Hi

Oh, hi gentle reader!

I’m riding shotgun, just beginning our trip from Pomona to San Francisco. Bill’s driving first shift, and the radio’s off. With all the superhardcore music blasting in our faces for 10 hours a day, sometimes it’s nice to just listen to the wind through the windows. But not for too long.

California weather, man. Damn. The extra bit of humidity is definitely helping me get my voice back, but there’s still a ways to go.

Despite my continued hoarseness (and its accompanying emergency-falsetto singing style), today’s show really felt like it was happening. We’ve figured out solutions to the monitor drop-outs that severely plagued yesterday’s show, and everything on stage just felt super solid to me. Interestingly, Brian didn’t feel quite as good about it. But yesterday he felt great about the show that I thought was a bit of a mess. And that dude stands 8 feet to my right. Perception is everything.

Unfortunately the turnout for us wasn’t super huge, and quite a few kids in attendance left during our set, but that didn’t get me down today. We’ve been spoiled on other tours by playing for audiences that already know us, or at least are already tuned into the geeky side of us so we have extra leeway and holding power. When you play for so many new people like this tour you’re not gonna win ’em all, but I’d like to think with the show we put on today we’re sure to win the right ones.

Chapter II – Yes

Several years ago my friend John Geary emailed me this rant Dave Eggers wrote in 2000 on the concept of “selling out:”

http://students.ou.edu/M/Eric.C.Mai-1/DE.htm

I read it, and it floored me, then I read it again, and then I copy/pasted it into a Word document and now it resides on every computer I’ve owned ever since (all 2.5 of them!) so I can re-read it from time to time.

It’s kinda long, and gets into a bunch of different territory, and one or two people I’ve showed it to were actually angered by it, but there are some key passages that really made this rant so important for me:

“The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it’s corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon[…]you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no’s you’ve said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.”

And later:

“I say yes, and Wayne Coyne says yes, and if that makes us the enemy, then good, good, good. We are evil people because we want to live and do things. We are on the wrong side because we should be home, calculating which move would be the least damaging to our downtown reputations. But I say yes because I am curious. I want to see things. I say yes when my high school friend tells me to come out because he’s hanging with Puffy. A real story, that. I say yes when Hollywood says they’ll give me enough money to publish a hundred different books, or send twenty kids through college. Saying no is so fucking boring.”

Yes got me where I am today. Literally. When some dude in Glenview named Brian Mazzaferri cold-called me in October 2007 looking for a drummer for his acoustic singer-songwriter project, I said yes, sight unseen (or rather, Myspace unheard).

I owe everything to Yes.

And I know so many brilliant people who wallow in the No pond, lazily spinning cop-outs that make them feel superior for wasting their potential. It bums me out.

At various times, including somewhat recently, I’ve gotten out of touch with Yes. Those times left me just shut in and watching time pass, aimless and angry, pale and pudgy.

But the night before we left for tour, sitting by the creek down the street from my to-be-demolished childhood home, I submitted a spiritual request to my Dad for advice, a message, just something that would get my head in the right place to handle all this upcoming intensity.

And a couple minutes later, through the leaves and the water and the last bit of relative silence I’ll experience all summer, the answer passed through my head in a phrase.

“Give More.”

And, by extension, Say Yes.

Electricity surged up my spine. It all turned around right there. Now every moment feels new again. Now every minor happenstance feels like a launching pad.

Yes just makes a lot of sense. Especially when it doesn’t.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Hi, and Yes

  1. WST

    kinda difficult to keep a crowd when ATL is going on 30 min after the beginning of your set. don’t take it too hard!

    • Haha, yeah…I wanted to mention that there are all kinds of other factors like HUGE bands playing around our set time that can cause that. But the post seemed too long as it was!

  2. anonymous

    Selling out is only selling out if it prevents you from creating something you’re passionate about. If projects that you’re not proud of get in the way then it’s time to rethink your objective. Art is a passion that aids in raising the utility of humanity.

  3. Mike Cockrum

    I think every artist/creator whose works I love is a yes person. So it’s a good crowd to be in.

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