"It's Not About You"
Being in a band is truly an incredible thing.
Playing music offers this unique sense of spontaneous communication, and is a language otherwise unspoken by most people. Music allows us to say the things that can't be said, and gives a voice to those who feel like theirs isn't being heard. With as much touring as we do, we have traveled tens of thousands of miles all across the country, and have heard many voices. At this stage of being in Waker, our venues vary from small clubs, to theatres, to huge music festivals, so we end up interacting with a very diverse group. It is truly an adventure being in this band, but sometimes traveling around to these shows can be very emotionally and physically exhausting. This last year for example, we played one 45 minute set at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, which was 12 long hours from Nashville and 12 long hours back, with school the next day (fun fact: this was our first ever show with drummer Dave Czuba)! Making this whole thing work is a very crazy process, and sometimes it seems it would be easier to pass on events like this in the long run. What truly keeps us going however, is remembering one simple phrase:
It's not about you.
The miles that we travel and the hours that we spend working in this band are blessing. We realize that, and we also realize that people who come see us play want to experience something special. They want to be moved, to be taken away from the hardships of their lives, and to hear something new. Even if it's for only a few hours, we take the stage every night keeping that in mind. You can never truly know the struggles that someone is dealing with at a given moment, especially if it's someone you have never met. This is something that bands all across the world deal with every single night, and it's something that we don't take lightly.
I recall one experience a few years ago that truly put this notion of “it's not about you” into perspective. Towards the end of summer tour, we played at a place called Short’s Brewing Company, which was restaurant / brewery in Bellaire, Michigan. It was a really cool venue and a great show, but we were all so exhausted from all of the traveling in the weeks prior and not getting enough sleep. I was definitely out of it and didn't really approach that show with the best attitude. I walked on stage not really feeling my best, and I didn't really expect the show to be anything super special. Anyways, we played much better than I had expected and after we got off stage, I met this older man named John. I noticed him throughout the night because he was sitting on the stage left side and he walked in kinda groggy looking and "blue". I remember at the start of our show he looked very sad, but by the end of the last song he had the biggest smile on his face, and was even dancing. When I was packing my things, he gestured me toward the front of the stage and told me that he lost his wife Linda last December, and that our show brought him the most joy in his life all year. I remember him choking on his words, explaining to me some of the psychological turmoil he was experiencing, feeling like he would go through the last phase of his life alone. I think about John all the time, and it was in that moment that I realized coming up to Michigan and playing this show was so much bigger than me or any of us in the band. All of the “struggles” of getting in the car and driving a few hours to play somewhere suddenly went away. It helped me understand just how lucky I am to have my family, friends, bandmates, and fans. Our conversations taught me so much about myself and helped put so much of my own life into perspective.
Meeting this man was no coincidence, and the reason that I wanted to share this is because it was a great reminder as to why we got into playing music in the first place. People like this are all around us, and it is so important to remember that when playing in front of an audience. After all, it's the fans that carry the weight of your career! I feel a great sense of responsibility because of this, and will always strive to give the audience everything we've got. They deserve that much, and all of us in Waker are honored to have that opportunity.