When I read interviews with other musicians and artists, I always want to ask, "How do you do it? How do you fit everything into your life - job, family, etc..." I'm going to try to ask other artists these questions, and I'm looking for volunteers, but I figured I should ask myself first.
How do you fit music into family life and working full-time?
It is a lot of things. My son is the drummer in the band, and my wife is an accomplished musician who will play with us on occasion. My daughter is starting to play the flute. If music was something that I did apart from the family, I don’t think I could do it. But since it is rolled up into what we do as a family, it tends to work. It isn’t without strain, and my wife is very understanding. Also, the other guys in the band are very flexible and accommodating for our family schedule. I'll admit that I don't practice enough and that I have about ten news songs that are "almost" finished.
How has your formal education helped? (Where did you go to school and what did you study?)
I have an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Scranton. I took several poetry writing classes from Jay Hill, who has an MFA from the prestigious Iowa Writers work shop, where Flannery O’Connor went. He is a published poet. I started writing songs when I was in his classes. He taught me the process. I’m still unpacking what I learned there. I also have a Master’s of Arts in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon. When I graduated from there, the job market was slow so I formed my own company and hired myself. (How CMU is that?) I learned how the money flows. What goods and services are needed and who has the money to pay for it. Even though my goal was to be a professional musician, like John Hiatt, I could see the music business model wasn’t good. I was better off buying lottery tickets. The local and national bands I liked that looked like they were making it were actually running up huge debts.
Does your professional work overlap at all with your music?
I'm an IT project manager. I tell my team that everything I learned about project management I learned playing in loud rock and roll bands. I shouldn't say this out loud, but IT and rock and roll have one thing in common - you have to plug it in and see what happens. If I ask the guys in the band for status, I would hope that they would use my head as a percussion instrument.
What role did your family play in pursuing your music?
My parents are both teaches and have always been really encouraging of artistic endeavors. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are also extremely supportive. On my mom’s side of the family, starting with my oldest uncle and continuing through my cousins there have been a lot of us in rock bands over the past 50 years.
How often do you play out and where?
Usually we play five to ten shows per year at community events – usually outside. I prefer to play where people are. I’ve played too many club gigs for a handful of people who would have been there if there was a band or not - yes, social distancing before it was cool! There are also other ways to get exercise than carrying gear.
How are you able to record?
Through miracle of digital software, Presonus Studio One, and our guitarist Ryan Kerr! I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out the software, but Ryan was able to do it and he taught the rest of us. We record in our basement, but everyone in the band has the capability of recording at home and share files with Dropbox.
Any final thoughts?
The Deep Roots went electric the other night, socially distant of course, for the first time in four months. I just kept thinking, “This is what I do.”