FINALLY. What else was there to say? 3 years earlier we stood on this stage in our home church and told them we were signing with Warner, having already finished recording half our record. Now here we were, finally releasing that record, finally free of Warner, and finally free to make what we want out of our future. I’ve spent a lot of time in this blog series telling you about how hard it was. Telling you about all the things that went wrong. Telling you how devastated and hopeless we felt. September 6, 2011 was not one of those nights.
We had just arrived home from a completely disastrous trip to Kansas City. We needed this release show to help pay back our cd production costs, but most of all, we needed a morale boost. We weren’t really sure how many people would come see us. The room seated about 800, and we didn’t expect to sell out, but we were hoping to at least make it look full. About 500 people showed up and I was moved to tears seeing the line of people outside the building. Up to that point we always wondered where we stood in our local community. We felt like we had support, and our social media sites drew more visitors than any other local band, even in the Toledo area, but we had never drawn 500 people in a hometown show before. Not where we were the headliner. This felt like validation to us. It made us feel like we were legit. A legit rock band who was good enough. And we felt like our little town showed up to support us. At the time, few people knew what we had been through. It was hard telling people that no, our record wouldn’t be available in Walmart and Best Buy. If their grandma in Kansas wanted a hard copy, they’d have to order on our website. In that moment, though, it didn’t matter to us.
You see, artists are inherently narcissists. We make things to prove to ourselves that we can do it, but also need validation from others before we are fulfilled, and then the cycle repeats. We had been forced without that validation our entire career. Having people show up to our release show helped us realize that the validation was far more meaningful coming from our local community, friends, and family than it was coming from any high level record executive. We had had that validation before, and it really only led to frustration. This was real, and tangible. What a feeling. Something I really haven’t felt since, at least to that extent. The show ended, there were cheers and appreciation. We signed autographs and spent time with our fans, friends and family. We were exhausted, but fulfilled. This was a long time coming and we enjoyed the heck out of it.
The truth was, this was a mountain that would be incredibly difficult to reach again, and we knew it. It’s part of why we enjoyed it so much. While glad to be free from Warner, we now were a bit directionless. We had recorded 4 new songs in the spring of 2011, but hadn’t paid for them yet, and didn’t know how we would. The best we could do was hit the road again, this time with an actual product to sell, and see if we could build this thing. This would be the ultimate test. Not just on us, but our wives and families. Everyone was still rooting for us, but the clock was ticking. It was all on us. If this was going to be our career, we needed to make it one, and fast.
(To Be Continued)