The life I have led so far as a musician transplanted to the United States from Yorkshire, England, is certainly a lot different from that of my parents'.
I was just on the phone with my dad today, telling him how great a job he had done raising a family of four kids on one salary, and getting us all through college. Hugh (my father) is 82 and is like our dearly departed Robin Williams, a Parkinsonâ€™s Disease sufferer. Williams' suicide brought acutely into focus the indignity of a condition which has the power to render you nonfunctional to all around you.
After a lifetime of supporting everyone in your family, it must be doubly humiliating to succumb to the syndrome.
So after all that it is probably hard for my folks to understand the pressures of the modern creative, but things have changed for sure. To start with, it's hard to imagine any family surviving from one salary these days.
And if oneâ€™s job requires that one is away from home for periods of time, it makes it all the more complicated. For these reasons I have to think twice before stepping away from home and onto a tour bus.
For some reason most people think that artists read from a completely different rule book: You're not a "real artist" unless you are in a constant state of purgatory. The only way to really enhance your credentials as a musical trailblazer is to jump off the nearest cliff! But I reject that completely. I am nobodyâ€™s martyr!
With my partner wholly committed to a full-time position in corporate fashion, it fell on me to leave no stone unturned before leaving town. First order of business was to interview and hire a full time nanny. Check.
After that, we had phone and Skype to reassure my 2-year-old that Daddy was, in fact, coming back. I learned this helping raise my now 16-year-old from opposite sides of the Atlantic after I broke up with my ex-wife: That a plan to meet again before you said goodbye went a long way to ease the anxiety of those months apart.
As a teenager, my eldest wound up joining my nanny as part of the team to look after my 2-year-old on her summer break! Looks like that 14-year break between them paid off after all!
Armed with these skills and with my vital team members, off I went into my other life as a rock star. Once we had rehearsals out of the way, my day in Spacehog would usually look a bit like this:
1. Wake up. Late (I'll explain why later). Eat breakfast, check emails (advancing details to shows further along the tour), make phone calls (manager, agent, missus, nanny, daughter).
2. Try to get a meditation in (doesn't always work out).
3. Walk out of the now stationary bus, figure out where the hell you are, locate venue, hotel, shower, etc.
4. Double-check on load-in/soundcheck times with other tour managers with the entourage.
5. Build my kit, maybe give the cymbals/drums a quick polish.
8. Meet and greet. Do radio or any press engagements for that day in that window between sound check and showtime.
9. Meditate (this one is the important one because it can help clear your head before we perform).
10.Warmups. I got mine -- everyoneâ€™s different -- but I have to have a pair of sticks in my hand for a bit before I go out there.
11. Showtime: Where the magic happens (or not).
12. Head straight to the merchandise table to sign T-shirts, CDs, etc.: Like most bands, we have realized that a physical presence at the merchandise table helps boost vitally needed sales and puts you in touch with those whose lives you might have touched through the music. It's easy to be aloof and disconnected, but i've gone out there so many times and my reluctance has bumped smack into the humbling moment someone tells you a story about how they met their wives/husbands at one of your concerts, or how they played one of your songs in a cover band they were in or how a lyric empowered them to do something positive for themselves. So to all those folks Iâ€™ve met out there, I say thank you for sharing those thoughts and please come back someday!
13. After that, I am straight backstage to finish up the pack down of the gear and loading into the trailer.
14. Scope out dinner and call the missus!
15. Refer to my notes and settle with the promoter according to what has been posted to our agency and whether or not I am picking up cash.
15. Drive to the next show. Depending on how much energy Iâ€™ve got left I might sit with the driver for an hour or two before retiring to bed. Our last tour as part of Summerland included an RV, which wasn't the smoothest of rides. So either way it was commonplace for me not to sleep until the vehicle had arrived at its destination, hence the late starts.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jonny Cragg
Published March 12, 2015
As a jobbing musician, talent buyer, venue manager, etc., seeing live music is a frequent occupational pastime. It's easy to get jaded, but every now and again someone or something blows your mind.
Published Jan. 17, 2015
From the Seattle bureau of OnMilwaukee.com, Spacehog drummer Jonny Cragg takes a look at Sunday's Packers-Seahawks game. Even though soccer is more his thing, he kinda gets American football. And he's rooting for the Pack.
Published Jan. 6, 2015
As much as we love our families, our roots and some of our old ways, I think there's usually a reason (besides our jobs) that we opt to live thousands of miles away from them. So, if you didn't get a chance to see those closest to you this holiday, please enjoy them from a distance; sometimes it's easier that way!
Published Dec. 4, 2014
Twenty years after Spacehog's Jonny Cragg first met Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, he found himself sharing beers, stories and music with him on the Summerland Tour. That's how he learned that Pirner has a strong Milwaukee connection.
Published Nov. 3, 2014
My band, Spacehog, was lucky: We made enough money selling our re-recorded hit "In The Meantime" to Guitar Hero and Rock Band to finance its production. But there was the small matter of promoting our new release - something we had taken for granted that would be performed by the rank and file of a large record company.
Published Oct. 16, 2014
A funny thing happened on the way to the merch tent ... This week I'm going to take you through some of my more bizarre, err, engagements over the years.
Published Oct. 2, 2014
Remember Spacehog's song, "In The Meantime?" Well, there's only one thing worse than being a "one-hit wonder," and that's being a "no-hit wonder." Over the years people keep coming back to the one thing that has so far defined Spacehog - that universal love song to the alien.
Published Sept. 19, 2014
So I guess now that U2 is giving away their record on iTunes, we have an officially sanctioned "why buy it when you can get it for free?" attitude, and not just from an impossibly wealthy rock band or some young Internet savvy Torrentheads.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
From time to time there's sufficient pause in my schedule recording and touring to contemplate some related fields and how they might put food on the table. And then there's a bit of good old-fashioned moonlighting.
Published Sept. 4, 2014
Personally, I'm not so enamored with all this celebrity BS. I've never understood why one would be so willing to put people in the public eye on a pedestal, just because they play a guitar or act in a movie. There are notable exceptions, of course: I think I was more than a little timid when Stephen Dorf introduced me to Madonna. And it was a trip telling Bono about a church we were recording in, only for him to respond dryly: "Take the pews out, Jonny, but leave God in."