You knew something was coming…
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Okay. I stand corrected. When I first played in Prague (with my solo project), it was a miserable affair. I played for a private party. They paid well, but the audience was godawful. Completely disinterested, closed-off and rude. They made snide remarks during my performance, they didn’t applaud and they sat with their backs to me.
But I’m not somebody who lets defeat define who they are. A quote from Winston Churchill that I quite like is “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. Everyone fails at some point or another. Every artist has shitty shows.
My instinct at first was to say that Czech Republic just isn’t a good match for me. However, the night that I played, Nastasia and i ran into a charming writer/ musician named Lucien who then put me in touch with other Czech promoters/ bookers. He didn’t actually see my show. We ran into him in the street and asked him for directions to our hostel.
So, with certain trepidations, I agreed to play a few shows organized by a fellow named Marek.
And I returned. I returned determined to not let my previous experience taint me. I would throw myself whole-heartedly into my show.
I played at Cross Club in Prague. It’s a steam-punk-type venue with lots of blinking lights embedded in the wall behind the stage and iron sculptures everywhere.
I had a blast! Faith was restored! It was one of those shows where everyone is on board from the get go. Applauding, dancing, screaming, jumping onstage and dancing behind me. They asked for two encores. It was a perfect concert. It was a little too short, as the DJs playing after me were waiting impatiently in the wings to play for four hours, but it was a great experience, nonetheless.
I am now sitting on the steps of Prague’s Main Railway Station. I played a show last night in Olomouc. I played in a basement-venue that was jam packed. Getting there was a bitch. I had problems with the bus company and travelled to and fro ZOB (Berlin Central Bus Station) 3 times, but in the end, I made it.
Once again, the crowd was amazing. They had so much energy, dancing nonstop. When I arrived, the bar burst into cheers. It was a beautifully warm welcome. The ceiling was low (yes, I smacked my head and ended up with a goose egg), but the room was full of smiles and good vibes.
My faith in Czech audiences has been restored. They loved me. I loved them. We partied til dawn.
This experience goes to show that sometimes a bad experience is just that, an isolated bad experience. It happens. You can’t let these things get you down. You gotta get up, dust yourself off, get back on the horse and ride into the sunset.
Big thanks to Marek, Thereza and Petr for being total rockstars and helping make this happen
It’s pretty clear that almost everyone has some sort of addiction. Whether it be drugs, shopping, gambling, iphones, sex, relationships: many people seem to be addicted to one thing or another. We also live in a society that also seems to foster addictions. Advertising itself is built around the concept of telling people they’re not fulfilled until they have the newest car, outfit or coffee bean. Don’t even get me started on the addictive nature of Social Media. Even Facebook itself is designed to prey on the pleasure centre in the brain. When we see the little red notification, we get a little more excited, the blood pumps a little faster and the addiction kicks in. We get that little dose of Seratonin we’ve been craving. And then, once we log off, our high drops a little. We feel a little more insignificant.
I just kicked one of my addictions. I stopped smoking weed a week ago. So far so good.
Why, you ask? A few reasons. The main one is this:
My ritual was this. I would go buy some herb. I’d bring it home. I’d roll a J-dawg. I’d smoke it. It’d feel nice. I’d feel relaxed. Spacey. I’d probably utter a slow, languid “Oooh yeeeahhh”. I’d finish the J.
And then, without fail, I’d almost immediately start thinking of rolling another one.
I’d usually hold off for a bit. Ten minutes, perhaps half an hour. But I’d roll another.
Inevitably, within a few hours, I’d be totally stoned out of my mind. I’d make music for a bit. I’d get some interesting ideas (at least interesting at the time). I’d play around with my songs. After a bit of time, I’d get bored and graduate to watching YouTube videos. I’d mourn the fact that I ran out of weed and I’d go to bed.
Or, if I was with friends, I’d roll a J-dawg. We’d chat. I would often totally lose the thread of what we’re talking about and my mind would drift around. I’d nod my head sympathetically, and try really hard until I jumped back on the conversation train. I’d start sentences without finishing them.
It wasn’t all half-finished sentences and forgotten thoughts. Of course, I’d wax poetically at times about film or music. I’d make some silly jokes.
But in the end, I was addicted. A lot of people from where I come from (BC, Canada) refuse to admit that weed is a drug. “It’s not a drug, doood. Maaaannn… chilllllll… netflix and chill, dooooood”.
But it IS a drug. Not only that, but it CAN have negative effects, especially if you’re an addict, like me. I bought it EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail. Sure, I’d miss the occasional day to convince myself I had control, but the fact is, I didn’t. I didn’t have control. It controlled me. Some days I didn’t really feel like buying it, but I would, out of habit.
Even sitting here in the Prague Main Railway Station writing this (I play a show in a few hours at Cross Club), I can recall how it felt to go pick up a bag. It’s the process. Leaving the house, making the trek, talking to the dudes, slapping down a tenner, and picking up the bag of green goodness.
But it’s a trap. Because what I was really doing was a) alienating people close to me by constantly being in a foggy daze, b) procrastinating all the things I needed to do and c) operating on a fraction of the potential I have.
How do I know I was operating on a fraction of the potential I have? Because the day after I quit, I not only had abundantly more energy, but I was actually feeling super ambitious about life. In the last week, I have been using my day timer (and filling it with things to do), booking shows (I never book shows), I found a band to play with, and I opened all of the letters I have been dreading opening for months. I started working out what I need to get my Residency permit so that I can continue living in Berlin. I made plans with all sorts of friends. I’ve been reading books I’ve been putting off. I made a list of wishes and desires for my life. I’ve responded to emails I’ve been ignoring. In short, I started fully living my life. And it feels amazing.
I don’t blame weed. Weed is fine, if you can control it. Anything is fine if you can control it. But the moment a substance controls you, you’ve lost the game. I won’t sit here and say that I’ll never smoke again, but if I do, even if I say to myself “I’ll smoke once a week”, I know it won’t work that way. It may start off once a week, but in two weeks, it’ll become twice a week, then three times a week, then eventually I’m an every day smoker again. And I know myself. I know that I have an addictive personality. No, I’ve never been addicted to the big scary things like Heroin, but weed, coffee and, in the past, alcohol, have been my vices. They’ve taken a large presence in my life.
My last week has been wonderful. Yes, I’ve had insomnia. My moods have been sporatic. My girlfriend and I have been on a bit of a rollercoaster. But overall, I feel this incredible sense of invincibility and optimism. I feel like I can take on the world. I feel like 2017 is my year and I am going to do great things. This is next level shit.
Some of you may have noticed my battle with alcohol over the last few years. I’ve stopped, started again, stopped again. The truth is, after all of my starts and stops, I’ve developed a moderation. I’m generally a non-drinker. This means that I’m not “cold turkey” but I have control over it. I have a few glasses of red wine a week. That’s it. I have control. And that feels like a real accomplishment. I’m an occasional social drinker who never loses control when he drinks. That’s a far cry from the Stephen of yore.
But I don’t have the same control over Mary Jane. It controls me. This is why it has to go. And sobriety, right now, feels pretty amazing.
POSTSCRIPT: Here are some pics from my show at Cross Club tonight:
I play tonight at Gangeviertel!
Text from the event:
“Tja, unsere Kneipenserie Gäywatch wurde zugunsten David Hasselhoffs neuer Reality Soap abgesetzt. Doch ab jetzt wird zurück getanzt – denn wir erstrahlen in alter Tradition, sanierten Gewölben und neuer Fassung um dem Frevel frei zu fröhnen. Japolitisch, hochsexuell und endlos begabt mit den Plattendreherinnen Hans van der Fleteren, niik, Vik Whatever sowie Fräulein Esshar. Außerdem hoffen wir, dass ein Wunder kommt, und zwar ein echtes von Youtube.
Also kommt vorbei und macht euch bei uns warme Gedanken!”
Jesus Christ. Watch this:
Here we go! This is my collaboration with Nastasia Beausejour. We wrote the song together and made the clip.
We actually wrote the song in five minutes. A week later, we decided it was time to make the song and video and release it as a single and music video.
You can buy the song on Bandcamp, either on it’s own or with the B-side, “Fight The Dragons”
Thank you to everyone who participated in this. You know who you are.