I get asked all of the time, “what was it like when you met [insert musician here]?” My answer is always the same, “they’re a person like you and me.”
You see, when some people find out that I used to work in radio (and that sometimes this allowed me to meet some pretty cool musicians), they get stars in their eyes and think the whole thing was glamorous. Well, it could be. It definitely wasn’t always glamorous though.
The truth; other than interacting with listeners, my favorite part of the job was meeting musicians and fellow creatives – especially ones that I admired.
I wanted to be like them. I felt like we had the same goal: we both just wanted to leave the world a little better than we found it, and we wanted to spread that message in ways which we were skilled to. Who wouldn’t bond over that?
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Phil Demmel (formerly of Machine Head), Björn Strid (Soilwork), all of Halestorm, Chris Jericho, Mikeal Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Russell Allen and Michael Romeo (Symphony X), Andrew W.K., all of Mastodon, all of Amon Amarth, Jordan Buckley (Every Time I Die), Eric (I Prevail), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Tony and Jaime (Pierce The Veil), and my all time favorite – Joe Perry (Aerosmith) who really was a sweetheart and genuine person that took his time with anyone he met. I can say with full honesty that these people were all pleasures to deal with, for real.
There are still plenty of musicians I’d love to meet yet too. My dream is to speak the little Italian that I do know with Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), thank Demi Lovato personally for being a mental health advocate, and meet the remaining members of Type O Negative and thank them for making it okay to be dark and creepy with a sense of humor. Steven Tyler or Stevie Nicks would be a bonus too.
I got to speak with Lzzy Hale about women empowerment for a little bit, and that felt like heaven. It was so comforting to know that about six years before I did, she was also being made fun of in school for wearing platform shoes and Mötley Crüe t-shirts well after they were mainstream. She’s only six years older than me.
When you meet a musician knowing full well that you aren’t one, you can kind of feel a little bit embarrassed at first because they have a skill that you don’t – at least, that’s how it felt for me. I felt like they were above me because of this. I always felt like the loser who was finally/maybe “cool enough” to get invited into their world for a little bit. The irony in that is when you meet them, you start to realize that they watch as much Rick & Morty as you do. You find out that some of their favorite bands and artists are yours too. You bond over those things.
It’s almost even easier to bond with local musicians, because you know the area and you can either bitch about it or take pride in it together. You bond over eating similar types of food, and coming from similar backgrounds.
It really is the managers and “team” around these artists that are their gatekeepers. They are the key. You really only get access to them if you’ve got an “in” with someone connected to them or their label – that’s the truth. If I didn’t have certain contacts, or have access to interview them at places like Northern Invasion because my radio station was recognized by them, you couldn’t dream of coming into contact with them.
My point in writing this is to bring things down to earth. We cherish these people. We love and appreciate the effect that they have on our souls. Remember that, and remember that they’re human too.