Don’t believe the hype – the life of a working musician is far from the glamorous image portrayed by the media. And it’s doubly-hard if you’re still keeping up a day job to make ends meet until the world sees sense and recognises your creative genius.
While I certainly wouldn’t claim to be particularly old – and of course there’s no age limit on being a musician, just look at the Rolling Stones… – it does get harder once the wellspring of youthful energy starts to wane. Here are my thoughts on the issue:
- None of your mates come to your gigs any more, because they can’t get babysitters. At least this is an understandable excuse. The worst excuse I ever heard was from someone who couldn’t come to my gig because his girlfriend was making him watch Inspector Morse. On video.
- You dye your hair because you have to, rather than because you want to. My hair isn’t this colour because it glows under stage lights – it’s this colour because I’m going rampantly grey…
- You have a nice car for hauling your equipment to gigs, rather than a crappy van or the bus. Probably the only perk to being older – I drive a Mondeo estate nowadays. The money I save on not having it break down all the time is sucked up by London parking charges.
- The hardest drugs you take are Nurofen and caffeine. Drug dealers, here’s a tip – ditch the hard stuff and start hawking painkillers and double espressos round backstage for £10 a time. You’ll make a killing and it’s completely legal.
- Lugging equiment around becomes a literal rather than metaphorical pain in the arse, as you put your back out hefting a flight case downstairs. Or, more usually, my knees 😦
- You buy your stage-wear in M&S rather than TopShop. They may not do sequinned mini-dresses in M&S but their control-top tights are excellent.
- You ask for a receipt for your post-gig kebab, for your tax return. Equally depressing that I actually have to do a tax return, and can’t get my Dad to do it for me any more – apparently I’m “old enough to do my own”. Waaaaaah! I don’t want to!
- You demand Horlicks on the rider instead of beer. I actually asked for ginger beer on the rider when I played at the Big Chill. I didn’t get it. I got Red Stripe. Always bloody Red Stripe.
- Headlining a big night loses its appeal as you realise you have to be in a meeting at 9am for work the next day. For bonus points, make sure you forget to wash off your glitter eye-makeup and the door stamp.
- After a gig, you get mistaken for someone’s mum. This hasn’t happened yet but I’m sure it’s only time…
Have I missed any? Do you think it’s easier to be in a band if you’re older or younger? Is there a point where you just think “You know what? I’m too old for this shit!” – and have you reached it yet?