Work. / by Marcell Marias

It’s been weeks since I reported on Shai Azul.  Which is lame.  There’s lots going on.  We go into the studio next weekend to lay down vocal tracks.  The instruments are done.  Vic, Oily, and I are already talking about CD number 3 and side projects.  We’ve decided on a new image for the band which, while not wildly different from the present look, fits us way better. 

I’ve just been too exhausted of late to write, blog, or Tweet about it. 

Like most aspiring musicians, I am presently working a day job.

And like most aspiring musicians, there’s a part of me that hates it.

It’s not like working a day job is anything new.  Being a full-time musician, for most of us, is taking a vow of poverty.  Sure, the top-earners are wearing Versace and vacation in Paris. Ain’t reality for most of us. Even a top-drawing local band is only making play money in the grand scheme of things.  And music costs money.  Want a guitar that doesn’t go out of tune?  Pony up $600 at a minimum.  Want a good, reliable amp?  Kick in a grand.  And don’t get me started on studio costs. The second disc is going to set me back about 3-5 large.  And that’s with the friend discount. 

So yes, after almost three years, I have returned to corporate America for a while.  By choice.  I’m in a situation where I don’t “have” to work…but the extra income is the tipping point in my little family.  Even if I were to walk away from the job right now (that won’t happen), it’s generated enough resources to pay for the next recording and upgrade some gear.  I dig my new synth.  It’s going to be all over CD number 3. 

I even really like the place I am working at and the people I am working with.  Learning lots of useful skills and staying out of trouble.  Being a contractor, however, isn’t so much fun.  Ever wonder why companies are reporting record profits and unemployment is still at 9%+?  Part of that, in my less than humble, is that many entities have discovered that they can get the same amount of work out of a contractor for half of what an employee would cost.  My Other (another contractor) encounters this at her workplace as well. Contractors don’t get much in the way of benefits, and sometimes, it almost feels like your nose is getting rubbed in it. It’s also hard to shake the occasional feeling that people in other departments know I have a limited shelf life, and maybe aren’t as civil as they normally would be because of it.

Still.  My immediate co-workers are a hundred different levels of awesome, and they take care of me.  And I reciprocate the best way I know how – work hard, solve problems, and kick ass.

I am reminded, though, of how hard it is to balance full-time work and full-time musical aspirations.  Work demands brainpower, focus, and attention to detail.  Music demands creativity, forward motion, and technical excellence.  And last time I checked, there was still only 24 hours in a day. 

I used to work a full-time job and be in 4 bands.  My Other and my friends also remind me that I was miserable, prickly, and never had time to do anything fun.  And that was also 10 years ago.

You know, I can’t really complain.  All things being equal, things are good. Shai Azul is moving forward, I can pay for it, I get to work at a place I’ve always wanted to work at, and I’ve even figured out how to cycle in (at least to downtown) a few times a week. Even if that does mean a 5:15am alarm.

But if you and I are at a party, and I should nod off on you…nothing personal. Just tired.  That alarm goes off awfully early most days. 

Because, like most aspiring musicians, I am presently working a day job.