Priorities and dreams change

Vocalist Marcus Lance and fill-in bass guitarist Damian Lewin performing on stage with the band "Toy Called God" Sept. 3.
Julie Watts
Vocalist Marcus Lance, and fill-in musicians Damian Lewin on bass guitar and Larry Howe on drums, performing on stage with the band “Toy Called God” Sept. 3.

It’s no secret that priorities play an important role in life and are essential in achieving one’s goals and aspirations.
For me, music was my priority and the life of a touring musician was something I always found exciting.

Having the chance to perform in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people across the globe, was something I had always dreamed of and finally in 2008, the opportunity came. After all my tireless efforts spanning nearly half my lifetime, I was finally going to live that life on the road.

For the next four years I traveled throughout Europe and the United States, living “the dream” I had always pursued. Then, one day, reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

It wasn’t the frequent minor injuries sustained from the every day hustle of the road and demanding physical aspects of performing in a live show. This just comes with the “job.”

It wasn’t even the boredom and loneliness that often sets in after weeks on end spent gazing through the windows of a tour bus. This is when your mind dwells on those close to you who are, at that moment, so far away that even a phone call is impossible to achieve in an attempt to reach out. This too is part of the “job.”

It was the fact that this was indeed a “job,” yet I wasn’t getting paid.

Something had to change.

Finally in the summer of 2013, I decided to begin my academic studies again, enrolling at Los Medanos College. Putting my life as a touring musician aside, I had officially turned in my tour pass for a student ID.

This is no strange occurrence in the music industry right now. Members of bands from all across the country are dropping out of the scene and turning toward other sources of income to make ends meet. For some, the jobs are still there waiting for them. For others, like me, it begins with an educational process to help achieve the desired results in acquiring a position in a chosen profession.

So my priorities had indeed changed. School had ultimately become the driving force in my life. Tours were offered but, alas, turned down due to the fact that the idea of a future career and its accompanying paycheck greatly outweighed gaining a few fans over the course of a month and possibly paying a few thousand dollars out of pocket to do it as well. There was just no money in it for me.

Then something changed.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 6, as students and faculty went through their daily routines on campus, I was living the life once again, just like I had remembered from only a few years back. But there was one thing different — I was getting paid.

For 10 days, I traveled through the Pacific Northwest, an RV providing shelter and transportation through variations of extreme heat, pounding winds and, something we Californians aren’t used to seeing, substantial rainfall and hail. We raged the stage each night, made new friends, partied like rockstars with the other bands and just lived the life of the road.

But now it’s all over, and while I may be a few dollars richer, not much has changed.

The backpacks filled with cables, sundries and miscellaneous items have all been replaced once again by textbooks and notepads.
The tour pass has been hung up; an Experience press pass now resides in its place.

And the concepts of “load-ins” and “set lists” have been put out of mind to remember the more important issues of getting to class on time and completing homework.

Overall the experience was well worth it, and while it may have put a small ding in my studies, the financial gain was indeed something that outweighed missing a few classes.

Will I ever tour again?

I can definitely see myself going back out on the road, hitting that stage every night in a different city, bringing my art to the masses. But unlike before, when the thought of living the life of a touring musician was still a “dream,” the reality still exists that the important things in life — such as food, shelter and the ability to be seen by a doctor — have become greater priorities.
I guess the definite answer will come if/when an offer is made with a significant dollar amount attached.

After all, it’s no secret that money plays an important role in life and is essential in achieving one’s goals and aspirations.