The last few months have been an avalanche of emotional shrapnel. I put a dear friend in the ground, prepped / left for a seven week tour of Europe with Mark Lanegan and all the while continued shooting for the next installment in the Holy War short film series. Trying to focus on tasks for career or art while making hospital visits every other day became a heavy rotation. Smoking too much, eating on the spare. After narrowly missing our flight to Europe due to all manner of semi avoidable circumstances, my brother and I rebooked on a cheap Russian airline. We took flight a day late. Torture Device Airlines is the proper translation if I’m correct. Finally we made it to Zurich via Moscow. So far it’s been a relief to let the sorrow and anxiety of home in the rear view. It will surely be waiting with bells upon return but so will the safety of home.
Fast forward to the halfway point of the tour. Having made it through the eastern block dates and the frigid Scandinavian climate we are nearing our entry to the UK. Antwerp and Paris the last couple mainland spots. Over the course of these performances some revelations about what the fuck I am doing have appeared to me. I spent 20 years in a band where the default mode of operation was us versus them. We didn’t show up to service the room rather than assault it. The crowd reaction didn’t much matter because we were there to lay it down heavy and far out. That’s all I have known. That is gone.
Over the first few shows I had a tough time keeping it together. The set I am doing is ballad (for lack of a better term) heavy. While the exact message from the lyrical content might not be easy to pin down; the emotional content is bare and completely unobscured. At least thats how it feels to me. All the sorrow and loss of the past few months is given a fast track to the surface of my consciousness and there is little I can do to slow it’s roll. Initially I considered this a problem. No armor, no protection. Besides my sunglasses and dark uniform, I was going up naked. If someone wanted to cut me down, I would have taken it and probably let them finish me off. Many cities without sunshine in a row. A willing sacrifice to the hoard.
Something else happened though. Concert attendees started finding me after the show and thanking me for the performance. I guess this has probably happened before in my years doing this shit but honestly I can’t remember it ever happening like this. The genuine display of understanding has been been moving to say the least. Looking into their eyes I could see that many of them needed this as much as I did. For the 40 mins on stage we had a direct connection, for better or worse, they went with me. So as I delve deeper into learning who I am in this new music I have an audience to hold me up in the weary moments. In turn I can feel that I am holding them in theirs. There’s also an audience to celebrate in the seconds of triumph. I can feel myself processing things that I can’t even say out loud. Night after night, layer after layer. Strip mining to the core of what I am even doing this all for. At the moment I don’t even have the answers as to why. I just know that when Mark asked if I would be able to do this with him I said yes. Until the day I left for the trip my protective instincts dug their nails in my back saying ” don’t fucking do it”. Too much pain. Stay home and go numb. That’s my typical response and has mostly served my survival to this point. The problem is that survival, at a certain point in life, isn’t enough. It isn’t being alive.
So here I am, out on a 7 week odyssey in search of a little more understanding about my life and my purpose. This was never going to be about making ends or making fans. It has become about raw discovery and making friends. The world still falls apart while you go away but if you are lucky you might pick up some new skills to help put it back together.