About 10 years ago, Armando and I put together a band called "regular JOE 2.0. Armando and I had been together for years, and we trusted one another.
Still, with Rick (drums) and Adrian (lead guitar), who were new to us, we struggled musically, we struggled to find our audience and we struggled to find our chops. But once we got there, we did pretty well. As is typical with cover bands, eventually everyone got bored and wanted to move on. Adrian (God bless him) decided to do more challenging music and told us his days were numbered.
Still, I wanted to start doing original music, and I figured the chance to work these songs into our sets would've been fun. But the opportunity was gone. While I was sad that our band days were over, I was glad everyone moved forward with their lives. As they say, it was fun while it lasted. But let me tell you something most people don't know.
During a practice session, Adrian told me I was playing the wrong chord on a particular song. I challenged him back and said I didn't hear the chord the same way. He insisted. And I got angry. When he asked if we still had a band at that point, it dawned on me he was right. I was a control freak. I had to let go. I had to learn how to trust Adrian. From that point on, I did.
Armando stepped in and asked him if he would take over our music. From there, Adrian was our music director. He did an incredible job.
What Adrian taught me was to trust his judgement. As part of our team, I owed it to him to listen up to get things right. It takes a team to make a band work, not ego. In fact, ego is the enemy. Everyone on the team makes valuable contributions even if the audience doesn't see it directly. In this case, the audience never knew what Adrian did behind the scenes, they only saw how well he played.
As I mentioned on my last blog, everything sucked for me for a few years after the band died. My vocals, musicianship and motivation fell flat. I auditioned for bands in Albuquerque, but lost interest in them. The truth was, I was in a depression. Music wasn't fun anymore. Holding on to regular JOE 2.0 hurt.
I had to let it go. I turned inward, and started writing more seriously. I didn't want to be in a band anymore. I didn't want to tour. I wanted to create my own art. I had to move on.
My friends can attest to how many rejection letters I've gotten from Music Industry Professionals (MIP's) since I started writing my own music. My inbox is filled with them. My recordings were substandard (whatever that meant), and my hit potential was low. But I kept going. I had to move on.
It wasn't until I listened to Leah McHenry, Stuart Epps, and Phil Thomas Katt, that things started to turn around. They all heard something in my songs they liked. They encouraged me to stick with it. They encouraged me to continue educating myself, stop listening to MIP's, and most of all, keep crafting catchy tunes that I wanted to hear. What I heard from them was, "Trust yourself, Russ. Move on."
When I released Bait & Switch, I didn't know I could pull off 13 songs. Let alone sing them, or play the guitar well enough, or mix, master and finally, produce and sell the CD. I didn't trust myself. I didn't trust I could find an audience. But thankfully, by the grace of God, everything started working out. I was flying the plane as I built it. And now, I get new subscribers every week, whether I advertise or not. Today, I have over 300 fans across the globe. Mostly, thanks to you for getting the word out about my music. Just remember, last April, when I released the CD, we had zero fans!
We still have a long way to go to get to 10K fans, but if 300 of you are out there, then there must be more people just like you. So, let's keep going. The kickstarter is coming. If you can, I'd like to send you a free gift in return for your investment when it gets running. Can you help me find even more people who like authentic guitar driven power pop?
Letting go of regular JOE 2.0 was hard and depressing. But in the end, I learned resiliency. And I'm glad we didn't name the band "regular JOE 2020".
2020 was a rough year for everyone. 2021 will be a better year. One reason is that this new release will help you have fun again.
Thanks for being a fan! Happy 2021!