Year end review and final confessions
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to starting yet another New Year! It seems like the years are going by faster and faster for me, must be a sign of getting old. One minute you are changing diapers and leaving cookies for Santy Claus, the next your kids are pre-teens with cell phones and are dodging your attempts for “snuggle pits” Enjoy it parents, it goes by with a blink of an eye!
So as usual, once the year closes I like to always reflect on how things went for me both in my personal life, as well as musically and sort of do a “New Year Resolution” for myself with things I want to try to achieve for the new year.
If you’ve been following and have read some of the past entries this year, I can honestly say although there were a lot of tough obstacles and things that I had to overcome, this year actually finished up on a pretty positive note for me music wise and am excited to see what’s in store!
After dealing with some tough lineup changes, gig booking struggling and what not through it all I was able to release my THIRD full length album “Glamour & Filth” within less than a year after “Elephants…”! Thanks to the help of our drummer Gary, he was able to take the songs I had been working on that year, record his live drums, mix and master with me so I was able to release in Mid Sept 2018.
Listening to it now, I am extremely proud of it. I tackled a subject matter that some would find controversial (sex, fetishes and sexuality). The overall mix/master and having live drums on the songs this time made it sound way better than “Elephants” and I honestly felt like I upped my game as far as songwriting and overall performance this time.
Also the response for the album was better than I expected! In about 3 months since it was released It’s been streamed almost half as much as the last album and the past catalog seems to still be getting plays monthly which is good to see. too. Even saw a few download sales from places like I-Tunes and Amazon!
This is just the Spotify stats…It amazes me 197 cities in 27 countries have listened!
So although I didn’t get to play a lot of gigs this year with the CAB, I really feel that I have finally solidified the lineup now and am really excited to get back out there in the Spring to not only promote this album, but also to release our live album in early 2019 and work on some new music as well!
I already have @ 9 new songs I’ve been kicking around in my home studio recording demos, so I’m hoping to finish up the ideas that I have and work on them with the band starting in January.
As I mentioned in one of my prior entries the idea is for all of us to rent some remote cabin somewhere, record the songs live as a unit, then finish up at home and release. As much as I like to release new stuff the minute I finish it, I still want to give “Glamour” a good cycle in 2019 and we will also have the live album out, so I want to try and take my time. for album #4. We shall see…
The last show we played in Sept for the album release (which is where the live album was recorded) when I listen back the whole band is firing on all cylinders sounding better than ever right now, so when we get back to the stage in Spring 2019, I’m hoping to really concentrate on production too and put on a SHOW. Not a bunch of people standing there jamming looking at their shoes. Since G&F lends itself to a visual element (I think) I want us to put that across live now as well.
So, lots to work on and looking forward to a lot of things in 2019 like getting out there with the band to promote “Glamour & Filth” properly, releasing the live album, work on recording the next one and just having FUN so STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES IN 2019!
OK so This brings me to the more personal stuff I wanted to talk about now……If you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole this is your warning!
So like I said above I was happy I was able to record, release and perform at some live shows when we could, but the beginning of 2018 for your hero personally was not an easy one.
Winter time is never a happy time for me. Where people like my friends and bandmates Gary and Helene like to hit the slopes, ski and enjoy it, during the Winter not only does it keep me from ever venturing outside and doing things since I HATE the cold but the majority of my elder family members take off to warmer climates and I feel like I am kept in hyernation.
Of course I have my wife, work, music and my awesome children to keep me occupied, but for some reason I tend to sink into a “cold weather depression” I would much rather be living in some dry warm desert somewhere than be up to my neck in snow and ice and single digit temps.
To be honest It’s something that has plagued me half my adult life and it’s funny when I look back at some of the other album blogs it always seems like the most dramatic changes in my life tend to happen to me in the first quarter:
Q1 2015 - Started my journey to HEAL at @ 300lbs and got to as low as 225 lbs by the end of the year!
Q1 2016 - Was checked into the ER, was diagnosed with anxiety/depression after having a severe panic attack, was put on medication and started therapy.
Q1 2017 - Struggled all year to keep a band, marriage, job and family under control and ended up releasing EBTD at the end of the year as a result of trying to shake away those negative things and put them to rest (definitely what I like to call my dark/lost year)
Q1 2018 - I took my last drink of alcohol and haven’t touched a drop since. March
You see, ever since I was a teenager, I was always having issues with alcohol on and off my whole life.. When you are young, going into your 20’s and beyond sometimes people will drink to excess maybe on a weekend or at a party and will chalk it up as an isolated incident. It happens to the best of us through our lives. You brush it off, deal with the hangover the next day and say to yourself “man, that was stupid I will NEVER do that again!”
But for some, especially if you tend to have an “addictive personality” like myself you start to see it happen more and more. Binge weekends become frequent occurrences, almost expected the minute you ingest that first drink. Those next day hangover blues can last for days as you get older too. I can remember getting hammered as all hell in my early 20’s, waking up, shaking it off and going to work at 9am the next day no problem. When those 20’s become your 40’s It gets harder and harder to bounce back and the party just isn’t fun anymore. Plus for some only way to feel better after a bad night of drinking? More alcohol…
Now thank goodness I never got to the point of drinking every day, but given the opportunity I probably would have. It got close before I started HEAL I was drinking in excess easily 2-3 nights a week either at my band rehearsals, gigs or “free weekends” at home alone when the girls were away. It was getting to the point where I needed rides back and forth from practices because once I drank that first beer, I was off to the races and couldn’t stop. This was literally during the work week and it was affecting my job, my music, my home life, all of it.
When I did start writing/recording for the HEAL record, I did try to cut down considerably. As I mentioned in past entries I ended up quitting Split Decision and The Dalliance was finished so when I “went solo” I promised myself I wouldn’t drink anymore at practices and gigs. I would only save my drinking binges for “special occasions” or “perfect storms” but being the good addict I was, that promise didn’t last long.
In the beginning of that “Dark/Lost year” of 2017 I tried to end my marriage, family, everything because I claimed I was so tired of being pushed around, feeling needed but not wanted and just like the album’s theme I released at the end of that year I just wanted to bury the “negativity” in my life and move on.
To be 100% honest? a lot of that was I just wanted to live my life and do what I wanted without someone standing over me judging me and to have zero consequences for my actions. I was willing to give up EVERYTHING I worked my ass off for just to be able to get loaded whenever I wanted that’s how powerful addiction can be.
Now mind you, the year before this when I went into the ER for a panic attack, I was prescribed medication to take on a daily basis. Zoloft 100mg and they gave me a prescription of Xanax to take only when needed for panic attacks. To be honest, these medications along with therapy in the beginning were game changers for me with helping me cope, but at the same time you toss in a 12 pack of cheap beers on top of that stuff? That’s a recipe for disaster.
I am lucky I was smart enough to only take the Xanax if I absolutely need it for things like flying, stressful situations like business meetings or big gatherings. Even things like taking your kids to Disney having a calm, laid back dad is WAY better than one yelling and freaking out because they are anxious. The meds don’t make me a zombie, I still get “the feels” but it doesn’t ruin my day like It used to before.
But once I pushed past my mid 40’s, it just wasn’t fun anymore. In 2017 I actually convinced myself I was a “professional drinker” and had “a system” for how I drank. I even wrote about it a bit if you want to go back and read. This was on the friggin HEAL BLOG and to look back on it now it seems so stupid. That year I could easily count a number of times I found myself in situations where I was vomiting, blacking out, passing out, driving when I shouldn’t have been, just a bunch of stupid, stupid stuff. Once I started, I would not stop until I drank everything I could get my hands on or passed out trying. I’m surprised this behavior mixed with the medications I was on that I didn’t kill myself or others in the tsunami of my actions.
Now I won’t get into the night of my last drink here, but it was after yet another rough night of my actions where I FINALLY looked at myself, my wife and my beautiful children and said to myself “I have a problem I can’t do this alone, I need help”
I resisted and was scared to do so for years and years committing to becoming sober, but once I decided I finally had enough and was willing to go to any length to do so? It was like a gigantic weight was lifted off my shoulders immediately and I jumped in with as much vigor and passion as I did when I first picked up a Kiss record and strummed my first guitar.
I had never felt or had been more happier when I heard those words said to me “It’s OK, you are not alone and It’s going to get better I promise”. This was said to me almost verbatim by a psychiatrist in her office when I first got on meds, but this was way different. This other person who said this to me had zero agenda, he had zero to gain personally or financially from me quitting drinking. He just knew exactly what I was going through and just wanted to help and be of service to another alcoholic.
Sure 2018 had a lot of challenges It wasn’t all great stuff (not by a long shot) but I was able to and am STILL able to face these things now with a clear mind, body and spirit. No more playing gigs looking at the setlist thinking “fuck when is this over so I can go back to the bar?”. No more looking over my shoulder hoping not to see a cop or flashing lights behind me. No more trying to chew a bunch of altoids and wiping myself with Wet Ones before I walked in the door so she doesn’t smell beer on me trying to act sober (which by the way NEVER works…ha!).
My wife doesn’t have to stay up worrying when I walk in to see what state I’m in on gig/practice day. My girls will NEVER see me in a drunken state at a family gathering or wonder where I am when I am sitting in the basement pounding beers and smoking 100 cigarettes. I’ve dealt with massive loss, disappointments, challenges with finances/relationships and other hardships the majority of 2018 WITHOUT having to get loaded or escape in a bottle to deal with them and it feels amazing.
Plus anyone who says musicians write their best when they are fucked up are 100% full of shit. I have never played/sang better and I am amazed at how creative I’ve been.!
To anyone out there who reads this blog for whatever reason and are dealing with addiction whether it’s booze, drugs, cake, sex whatever either personally or with someone you care about PLEASE feel free to reach out to me personally if you have my cell number or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can keep it completely between you and me (which is how it should be). Trust me, I’m no guru or expert I am still and will always be a “work in progress” (I’m still in my first year!) but I’m a good listener and if anything I can try and help point you in the right direction like others did for me if you are serious.
All I wanted to do by writing all this is to is to tell everyone that no matter how bad it is for you right now IT CAN GET BETTER if you are ready to make it so. It took me 30+ years of trial and many errors to finally admit to myself and the people around me that I love that I am and will always be an alcoholic and will try to lead by example moving forward because that’s all I can do.
When people see me now when I’m out and I’m drinking my tonic water If they ask me why I’m not drinking? My response is always “I’m just not that good at it”