Photo taken by Ryan Schweitzer at Rhythm Records in Bismarck, ND
Hi there, my little Unis,
I have now finished telling you all about my 2011 Summer tour. Are you satisfied with the information? Well, if you aren’t, I’ve got a little bit more for you before I start posting about recording my upcoming album, “Heavy Jugs To the Moon.”
1. I would like to add a little bit to part one of this summer’s JU blog tour posts:
I wanted it to be clear that [the post] was intended as informational for those who imagine traveling around and performing music as some sort of a non-work-party-thing. I love performing, and while sometimes it can turn into a party, it is most certainly work. It’s composing, recording, contacting people, mailing stuff, making artwork, putting together stuff to be printed, driving, carrying equipment, and for a wonderful 45 minutes a night, performing. There is little time for fun adventures…i save that for my days off (just like when i have an office job during the other part of the year). There is no time for drinking or drugs…I certainly would not be able to do what I’ve been asked to do if I were intoxicated, and it would be difficult to make it to the next gig in a punctual fashion if I were intoxicated after I performed. I am absolutely in love with making music, and I’m slowly learning how to make it work as a career. I don’t want the fact that I live on the road for a few months and “get weird” for 45 minutes a night instead of working a job to be confused for laziness on my part. Soon, I will learn how to streamline some of the work, or perhaps delegate it, and then I’ll be spending just as much time working on something else that I’ve been neglecting. I’m working on turning my music into a smoothly running machine. At some point in the future, I might be able to afford the party lifestyle that goes with some musical careers, but I will not choose it. I will use that time and energy to develop art and other things in my life. Please do not read my explanation of what it’s like as a no-name touring act as a complaint. I’m bringing this on myself for the purpose of learning; learning how to do what I want to do, and learning what other people think, and I don’t even know what else.
2. In the interest of continuing being transparent about things, I will let you in on a little secret about my performing: I always play music that’s easier to play than I am capable of. A short search on youtube will reveal that I often make horrifying mistakes on stage. Many of these mistakes are indelibly archived by people who happened to be in the room at the time. These days, I try for perfection…and that means only playing that which I am sure I can successfully pull off. I do leave about 20% room for experimental material, though. Another trick is that I get the audience involved. Once they are complicit in the performance, I can shift blame to them if anything goes wrong. “Why did I sing a crap note? Because there were at least two guys in sector 3 of the audience who could not hold a tune!” The other good thing about involving the audience is that it lightens my work load. And having an audience do some of my work for me is more cost-efficient. At the end of the tour, when I add up the numbers, I find that I’ve made more money if I subtract the minutes saved by making the audience sing. Also, you may notice that there are times when I stop doing anything for long periods. This serves two purposes: a. it’s my break time, and b. it creates tension for the audience. and when that tension is released, the audience feels like it got something from it. At the end of the show, I have done 30 minutes of work, and the audience has got 45 minutes of entertainment. Now that’s efficiency! And it’s necessary when, like me, you’re working on a very tight budget.
3. I’m a “multi-instrumentalist.” That means, I play many instruments badly. A lot of people come up to me and ask “what’s your main instrument?” Well, that’s a really hard question to answer, because they all seem like secondary instruments to me. I mostly just try to keep my head above water as I struggle to make my fingers press the buttons that will simulate most closely the music I have written. So, I suppose my main instrument is my own brain. In my head, I play music that will blow your mind. By the time it gets to my stupid fingers, it turns into something a little less amazing. Even if I can get one section from my brain to my fingers, by the time I have learned it, I have forgotten the other parts. I guess maybe I can’t answer that question properly. Maybe singing is my main instrument. I wouldn’t have said so a couple of years ago, but it seems to be the thing I have the most control over. It’s certainly the thing I “feature” at my shows. But I’m hardly a “singer.”
4. My second tour is over. It was twice as big as last year, with bigger audiences, and it seems like I even have a fanbase in a few places. The situation looks very optimistic for this music making venture. If you are a fan of my music, please be on the lookout for shows in your area in the next decade. And wear a horn to the show.
Johnald Hibiscus Unicornopoulos