Rock-n-Roll Dreams: What's It Really Like To Be In A Band???Serge Bielanko
Maybe you languish at your desk in those dull mid-afternoon hours, slugging at your cup of office coffee, staring out across the parking lot at the horizon.
Perhaps you finally get your kids down for the afternoon nap and you collapse on the couch, a beam of sunlight shining down through the window, and you imagine the hot glow of the arena lights, the rising roar of the crowd before you.
Or, sitting there in rush hour traffic, listening to the guitars soaring and tumbling out of your car stereo, you simply sigh and wonder what life might have been like if you had landed in a garage band back when you were a junior in high school, a band that took the world by storm.
Whatever your personal scenario is, it’s cool.
Life has a way of zipping us through the factory on a conveyor belt of weird randomness, never quite sure of what the hell comes next, momentum driving us to make decisions when we’re barely old enough to drive that will shape the very rest of our days on Earth.
And, when it’s all said and done, when the years have swallowed us up and then spit us out two or three decades down the line, the truth of the matter is: very very few of us ended up as rock stars.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, most of us probably wouldn’t trade in our lives now, in our thirties or forties or even later, to hop in a crappy van and start driving towards Des Moines or Atlanta or Bozeman in the middle of the night just so we could start paying our rock’n’roll dues now, now would we?
That ship has sailed, we tell ourselves. The kids would miss me, and so would my husband/wife – on occasion. My boss wouldn’t understand. Hell, no one would understand.
Those days are over.
Well, take it from me. You probably wouldn’t have lasted three days in the rock world anyways.
See, for a good portion of my adult life, from the time I was 24 until the time I was about 37, I played in a rock’n’roll band. It wasn’t a hobby. It wasn’t something I did on Friday nights a few times a month. It was my full-time job for over a decade and it was, by far, the hardest freakin’ work I have ever done. (FYI: I have also worked tough construction labor, landscaping, and all sorts of crazy crap that pays next to nothing and makes your hands look like raw meat.)
Being in a band has it’s glory moments, don’t get me wrong. And there are lots of hijinks and stuff like that to enjoy too, if that’s your thing. But day in and day out anyone who has never set out on a low-budget extensive tour of The United States of America is typically a person with no clue as to the thing they are fantasizing about.
Of course, you might say to me, “Serge, dude, my fantasy is to be a rock STAR, bro. Not some wanna-be putzing around the mid-west in an Econo-line, trying to Scotch tape a broken cigarette back together.
And that’s fine.
But then I would submit to you that your fantasy is sort of cheating you in a way. Because, see, along with all of those years spent running down a dream and working incredibly hard for the most elusive of breaks, the years that I spent, and that nearly anyone who did what I did spent…or still spends, traveling jillions of miles and sweating it out in sparsely packed clubs and lugging our own heavy amps and drum kits down two or three flights of suicide steps and back out to a vehicle where there was no one waiting to meet you or help you or even try and bum money off of you, those years are the ones that define real rock’n’roll stardom.
That music, rock’n’roll music, built on the backs of the grease spots on the cinder blocks that make up the walls of the little clubs where bands crank it out, night after night, year after year, mostly because they love playing and they have allowed themselves no other options in life, that music is defined by struggle and camaraderie and a galaxy of hope and ambition in a world that has little practical use for it.
When I think back on the hours I spent driving a van up and down every major highway, every bypass, and damn near half the city streets in this gargantuan country, I am amazed that I survived it all myself. I was a ragtag hobo; dehydrated, broke, exhausted, lonely, and bored; I was addicted to the life because I was addicted to my selfish dreams.
God, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it was one hell of a way to spend some years. And I had the time of my life.
Still, if you went off to college and enjoyed intramural sports and ‘wild’ keg parties and got your B’s and managed to chisel yourself out a bachelor’s degree or even more, than be glad you did that, my friend. You made your choices along with most of your peers, when only a select few other people your age were heading out into the distant night of some far away city, to play guitars and tambourines and sing songs.
And that’s probably how it was meant to be, really. We end up where we’re needed, I say.
We end up where we were heading all along.
That said, Citi and Gene Simmons from the legendary band KISS have teamed up as part of Citi’s Private Pass program and so if you really really want to know what it’s like to be in a band without having to put in your difficult years or decades of grindstone touring, well, you’re in luck.
Because, if you act fast and reserve yourself a spot in Rock’n’Roll Fantasy Camp With Gene Simmons, in a few days you could be kissing that office goodbye as you fly out to Vegas to practice, jam, and party with the likes of Gene and Sebstian Bach and Zakk Wylde amongst others.
Of course, if I was you, when you are explaining to your spouse and kids where you’re headed, you might just wanna say you going away ‘to take care of some business.’ You can explain everything else if/when you make it home in one piece.
Rock on, rocker. And remember: what happens in Vegas STAYS in Vegas.