Music Lessons

My First Year as a Music Writer

In 2017 I became the resident music writer for PressureLife magazine. This position has been a lifelong dream.

What I did not expect is the side effect of getting to know so many strangers, and form friendships with them. Their stories stuck with me and I learned an important life lesson from each band I interviewed. In the spirit of the new year I would like to share some advice I’ve taken away from each band I talked to during 2017.

Harvey Pekar: My first actual interview with a band, lesson learned- Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. These guys had been together for years with member changes frequently. They never stopped making great music and pushing for what the wanted. We shared touring horror stories and empty basement show situations for hours. It taught me that doing what I wanted to do on a small stage is better than doing something I hate on a big stage. Thank you.

Slugfest: they were the first band that I saw and thought about the fact that I have music column in a magazine. I had to interview them. I was finding my bearings when we sat down and felt a strange feeling wash over me during the conversation, confidence. Talking to Slugfest made me feel a pride in my work that had been lacking everywhere else. I was going to be good at this because I cared about my new employers giving me a chance and not letting them down. A new pride inside of me. Thank you.

TCFH: I wanted to get snarky. I wanted to be edgy. I was stupid. I was turning down the wrong road. Sitting down with these two made me put all of my pretension aside, at least for a moment. Listening to their life stories, which are far too sensitive to talk about, made me realize how good I had it. My eyes swelled with tears as Sebastian and Greg shared their possible setbacks for the album release. The words cancer and heart failure can really lasso you back into reality. Needless to say thank you for all of the perspective on my own life.

The Movies: Due to a cell phone and toilet related incident I was unable to write my article about The Movies. I hope there are no hard feelings. I did however take away a very real sense of purpose from this band. What struck me more was the band knew they were about to lose their drummer. To loosely quote him, “I love this band and I want them to be where they need to be when I leave.” This spoke to me about cooperation and selflessness in a way nothing has in a very long time. Thank you.

Axioma: By far the heaviest band I interviewed this year, these dudes took me in with open arms and we still bump into each other all the time. Having the most international Cleveland transplant in their band made me focus on home a lot. The importance of home and the importance of the people that share it with you. A group of busybodies, Axioma taught me about the value of working on your art relentlessly. Craftsmanship, Branding, and Work ethic. Thank you.

Skitter: The longest interview of the year due to the fact that we became instant friends. We love Skitter and Skitter loves us. This was the first time I realized all of my jobs at the magazine could overlap and I could make the video series I wanted. Skitter was down for whatever. They still are. The story of Skitter was one of companionship. A story of community. Being invited to be part of this Cleveland music scene as a writer was priceless. Thank you.

Key to the Mint: Holy shit, this interview made me think about being in a band in a way that I never thought possible. A man with a specific desire to make a certain type of music put out a craigslist ad and found the band he was looking for. They found the singer they were looking for as well. Despite setbacks they managed to put out one of my favorite albums of the year. This in combination with my own life at the time made me contemplate the importance of timing and just how in control of that we are. Thank you.

Fawx: It’s very rare that someone skyrockets past the ceiling of your expectations. When it happens you have to relish that moment. Fawx did this to me and it was a special gift only given unintentionally. The best kind of gift. Talking to them made me realize that there is always room, for growth. As a young band they have been morphing into their own with complete enthusiasm. Somethings that elicit fear should be met with an open mind. Thank you.

Mapache: You gave me my favorite band of the year. Thank you.