How do you keep your personal problems off the stage?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jfsjbb, Sep 25, 2000.

  1. jfsjbb


    Aug 29, 2000
    For your information: That thread started with Stanley Clarke, what people think about him, etc.

    I wrote about the first (and only, so far) concert I saw with SC, and that I was very disappointed about his performance. I was told that he might have had serious personal problems (I dont' want to dig deeper into that, that's nobody else's business but his own).

    I would like to know (and so would Deynn) how you deal with a situation when you have to play when you feel to bad to do it.
  2. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I would think that anyone who has played in front of people, be it as a professional, or perhaps even in church..
    has had to put aside some personal problem and perform as best possible. So, is it a matter of "the show must go on"?
    How has everyone else dealt with this?
  3. Well, I have taken the stage quite a few times while I was in the midst of breaking up with a girl, or something else bad, and this may sound simple.. but I just love playing so much that it just takes over.. the experience of being on-stage and (hopefully) entertaining people overcomes everything else, at least for those 45 minutes.
  4. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    I'll have to agree with Dave Siff on this one. My personal problems seem to disappear after taking the stage. Perhaps it's the fact that I love doing what I do. Performance is a type of "stress relief" for me. I get jumpy if I haven't gigged for a long time.

    With my day job, I don't bring my problems home, they stay at work. The same goes for personal dilemas, I leave them at home when it's showtime.
  5. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Another one backing up Dave. Once I start playing, I'm a part of the music, and it seems to make me forget about the troubles, at least for a while. I've been through some rough times while playing and hopefully it's never showed in my playing.

    The one thing that will come through is if you're using any substances to hide from your troubles, THAT will certainly affect your playing. Contrary to popular belief, you DO NOT play better stoned (I don't know how many times I've heard that line of BS!!! :rolleyes: ). I've quit gigs because of bandleaders that got too drunk or stoned at gigs, I won't work with unprofessional people. I hate being made to look bad because someone else is out of control, I work hard and expect those around me to do so as well. Once I had a bandleader who would get high on breaks, then start screwing up onstage, and holler at me ( :mad: ), when all the while HE was screwing up :rolleyes: . That is unforgivable. I tried reasoning with him for quite a while, and finally just found another gig. He was astounded, he just couldn't believe I quit HIS gig. ;) Sorry about getting off's a genetic defect I think... ;)
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Another "personal problem" that can and does effect playing negatively is poor physical health...anything from cancer to a high fever to stomach trouble like food poisoning or exhaustion from extensive touring or jet lag.

    I saw Junior Wells, the blues harpist, play not too long before his death. AT that time I felt he was in a great deal of pain, but he soldiered on and I loved the concert. But it was evident that it was costing him a great deal phyiscally to even be there.

    I also saw John Popper and Blues Traveler perform at one of those alternative music tours they had a few years back. He played a little with every band in the tour and played tremendously with his own band on a hot, hot day, but I had just read days before that he had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and it was so severe, he had to take little blood samples several times a day to monitor his blood sugar levels! Yet, he soldered on. Geez, you have to admire that.

    A musician who performs under par due to illness I can forgive, but I totally agree that one who is giving a subpar performance due to drugs or alcohol abuse, that I can't forgive. It shows utter lack of respect for the paying public. Musicians like that can just stay home and shoot up there.

    Jason Oldsted
  7. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    This one is a tough one. Part of my reason for playing was as an emotional outlet, so there were times when I was in a bad mood, and played great (so my bandmates would tell me). If the problems are your own, and personal, the time on stage can sometimes serve as a buffer, or a cooling off period, and is a good thing. If you have substance problems, well that can get in the way of your playing (duh!), but more importantly, it will eventually get in the way of your enjoyment of playing. I've worked with people that hit that stage, and it's hard to deal with.
    Now for the really difficult part. If the problems are within the band, then the stage is where they tend to flare up. If the gig is REALLY important, then you might be able to put it aside (we did a huge job once, in front of a few thousand, where we did great, but weren't even talking to each other off-stage), but more than likely this is where your worst nightmare will erupt. If you are in a band that condones casual drinking on-stage, be prepared for sudden mood changes and confrontations during the show. Get ready for shouting and broken glass in the dressing room. Everyone tries to be a professional (well, the bass players mostly :D), but when frail egos are involved, things get out of control. Best to be an observer when this starts; once it does, you can only hope to survive it.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'm laughing ... this is exactly WHY I play bass ... to get off of my personal problems. Dave hit it on the head.

    Also, I, like John Popper, like to solder on when I have personal problems. I make my own patch cords, and they are bullet proof. I've never had a cord failure with one of my cords. I attribute this to superior soldering skills. So solder on!
  9. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Great topic!!!

    I'll have to go along with the rest of you on this one. I've recently had some marriage trouble, which is currently being worked through. During every practice and gig for the last year or so, I show up either depressed or angry. Once the music starts, I forget all those problems and enjoy what I am doing, at that time. It really has become an outlet for me, more than I ever thought it would be. I'll agree that if your'e sick and not up to par with your playing, that is excusable, but under the influence of drugs or high levels of alcohol, is not. I tend to drink a few beers when playing, but I would never let myself reach the point where I would embarass my bandmates or myself.
  10. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    As being one of the persons who posed this question...I guess that I should answer it as well.:)
    I agree with what has already been said. I always believed that when the time came to play....that I should put aside my problems and give it my all. has always been a haven for me...and as others have said...once I started playing....I was lost in the music.
    Even now....when I want "escape" for a while...I spend some time playing my bass....and somehow...things don't seem as bad.:)
  11. WoW!!! This is a serious subject.I battle constantly with depression and low self esteem.I hate to sound like the typical moody musician,but, I have to work hard with dealing with personal problems whether they are my own or between my band mates.I regret the times I let it affect performance.I know that playing on stage or wherever doesn't solve your problems,but it should be one of the few places were you can find small refuge.I wish I could go back and fix those gigs I screwed up,but I can't.Those moments are gone forever.I robbed myself and my band members of what could have been an enjoyable gig.If you need help(counseling), get it!!! The pros do it and it's worth it,just ask Dave Mustaine(sp?).Megadeth has been through alot but they're still around too.
  12. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Its easy to say that personal probs should be kept out off the stage or used as a reason to be on the stage. I agree with both those viewpoints very strongly. But, I also wonder if its possible to keep ALL personal probs at bay. For example if my kids or wife died or something equally as horrible I dont think I could contain it. The show might meant thousand of dollars in revenue and thousands of anxious fans then "the show must go on" as they say. But there are times when it could effect your performance negatively.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The ability to compartmentalize has been very useful for me. I've had to deal with death, divorce, a sudden layoff, businesses trying to screw me, etc. know, the usual stuff anyone might have to deal with as long as you're above ground. I've also had to play with indivuals who are total d***s because someone else contracted them.

    Everybody deals with things their own way. When both of my parents died (about 11 months apart), both after spending about a month incapacitated in the hospital I'm not sure how I balanced things but some kind of way I got through it because I "had" to. YMMV

    What I do is focus. I've made a commitment to do something and I do the best I can because, the bottom line is, "I" know when I'm giving less than 100%. Plus, you never know who is in the audience. Would you want your "bad day" to screw that up? I've definitely had gigs on "bad days" that lead to better things. The same is true for the day job.

    [Edited by Brad Johnson on 09-26-2000 at 11:53 PM]
  14. Jennifer


    Jul 31, 2000
    Erie, Illinois
    Brad, thank you for bringing up the day job. I haven't been gigging long enough to really deal with a real problem on the stage. However, I can really relate now that you mention the day job. For me, it's an almost separation of mind and body kind of thing. Compartmentalzing is an excellent description.
  15. Jennifer


    Jul 31, 2000
    Erie, Illinois
    And Willie, you hit the nail on the head. If you need counseling or help of any kind-GET IT. You'll never do youself a bigger favor.
  16. Thanks Jennifer!!I recently went to a doctor to see if my depression was also a chemical imbalance.I took some tests and found out I needed a combination of "things" to boost my mental health.As long as I use those remedies,I'm pretty stable.There is no single cure that work for everyone.We all have to do what it takes to "fix" our situation.I've learned that I have no right to condemn anyone who is struggling with whatever it may be.It isn't my place to JUDGE another person.Well,thanks for letting me rant and rave, has been a real blessing to me!!!
  17. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Easy. I never go on stage...

    Seriously, though, when I'm playing, I'm too busy making sure I'm playing the right thing to have any other thought in my mind. I should point out that most of my gigs as of late have been the kind in which someone calls out a tune, I open the Real Book and just play. That's enough stress as it is.

    Other than that, it's a matter of focus. I set time aside to play. It is my playing time. The other things will be taken care of in their own good time.

    Will C.:cool: