College is indeed awesome!
I should really let the title speak for itself. Why write any more? I only had to update you all on how things have been, right? My time is already being taken up not only with The Owl-Eyes, but with school work and the multitude of other projects/bands I’ve found myself in since I got here. Why waste precious time in writing out some long, detailed, extravagant post about my college life when all I really need to do in order to bring you all up to speed is just say,“ I’ve been in College for two weeks and it’s been a BLAST!!!”
I should just stop here, quit typing, and go back to watching Orange is the New Black.
But…I know there’s no way I’d let something like that happen. I know myself too well. I can’t just give a simple answer for anything. I love writing, and I love incorporating my posts with pictures, embedded tweets, and all the like. I never half-ass something. I only have two speeds; all in or nothing at all. If I’m going to write something, it’s going to be BIG!
So….exactly how is college going?
Refer to title here.
My trip began back in August 28th. We loaded up the car with everything needed for the dorms, and let me tell you, it was packed tight. The picture below will speak volumes of just how much shit I had in the vehicle. Thankfully, the plan my parents had was to stay in a campground for a few days before orientation, so I could have somewhat of a grasp on my new surroundings. While Mom rode with Dad in the RV, I would drive directly behind them in the Jeep. So far so good, right?
Did I forget to mention that it was a 5 and a half hour drive, non-stop?
Now, to be fair, 5 hours is not that bad of a drive. And, the exit to St.Paul (the city where my college is located) is right off I-35. So, if there ever was an emergency and I had to get home, it would be as easy as hitting I-35 and going south. The time consumption would be terrible, but at least the drive would be an easy one, once out of the city. No strange exits; no weird streets I had to remember. It was just a straight and easy breeze of a trip.
Or, it would’ve been, had the weather decided not to be a total dick to us and torrentially downpour golfball-sized globs of rain.
I swear to God; I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me. The rain didn’t let up for over an hour. It happened somewhere in Iowa, just before Des Moines, and I had reasonable predictions that I was gonna die.
Not only was there rain, but there was also road construction AND rush hour traffic happening at the same time. All the while, I had to keep my parents’ giant RV directly in front of me so I didn’t get lost. But if I got to close, I risked accidentally running into them because I couldn’t see them through the rain.
I genuinely had a moment where I thought, “This is how I die; getting side-swiped by a powerful gust of wind during a rain storm and merging into my death while heading to college. Thanks Lord.”
THANKFULLY, I survived. And we made it up to Woodberry, Minnesota in one piece.
Now I should probably describe what sort of college I’m in.
The college is called “McNally Smith College of Music,” and it’s located in St. Paul, Minnesota; just off I-35. The school specializes in training musicians in the contemporary arts of the music field. It’s all about contemporary, modern, POPULAR music. None of the “two semesters of classical,” bullshit. You like Hip-Hop? There’s a class for that. Wanna be in a metal band? They got a metal ENSEMBLE!
The school basically got started for that reason. The two founders of the college started the school solely for guitar performance majors; but with an emphasis on the popular music of the era (The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, 70’s pop radio, etc). Why? As the founders told us the day of orientation, “That’s why most people pick up an instrument. They hear a popular song they like, and they try to imitate it. It’s not often people want to learn an instrument because they want to imitate scales, chord charts, and classical theory. They pick up the guitar to play what they hear around them, and we wanted to make a college that benefited from that natural drive. We wanted people to learn from what was popular. And that’s how this school came to be.”
The program I’m in is called “Ba in Music,” with an emphasis on performance percussion (I started off playing the drums when I was 8 years old. That was the first musical instrument I picked up and I’ll make it my solemn vow that I’ll die with a pair of sticks in my hand). It’s a Bachelor of Arts program dedicated solely to music. It’s not a performance degree or a business degree, but rather a combination of both.
I choose this as my major for one major reason: The Flexibility. In most cases, you would major in one area but minor in only one more area. Like, as a performance major, you could minor in business. Or as a business major, you could minor in production. But with the BA in music Program, you basically have “all your hands in all the pies.”
It’s a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, where all your classes you are taking amount to an Associates degree. In other words, instead of majoring in one area and minoring in one other, you get an associates degree in ALL areas. I am not only enhancing my performance capabilities, but I’m learning how to self-produce, self-mix, market, promote, work under the business, etc.
The amount of electives is what gives the BA in Music it’s noteworthy flexibility. Out of all the degrees you can obtain here at McNally, the BA in music degree has THE MOST elective credits one has to obtain. You can obtain these credits through multiple different classes that involved a business credit, a performance credit, etc. Hell, one guy was in 4 DIFFERENT ENSEMBLES one semester just because he had the option to do that credit-wise. This freedom through all the different electives is what allows people in this program to “have their hands in all the pies.”
IT’S PERFECT! Having this degree will truly help me become fully self-employed.
But enough about that. Now that you know the school, let me not only show you what it looks like, but give you a tour of my dorm room.
Fear and Loathing Poster with a drum set…….totally “The Owl-Eyes’s” room.
As you can see….it’s rather small.
Funny thing is, this is just one of two rooms that count as ONE DORM! You heard that right. There are dorms that consist of two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. This is generally the size of ONE of those rooms. Both me and my roommate have our own separate rooms with a bed. Everything else is shared. They generally run around this size, and anything that can go wrong has already went wrong. Like air-conditioning. I’ve been sweating these past few nights in my sleep. Hey, does a nice clean shower sound good to? How about instead, you get a faucet that’s just littered with rust?
But at the end of the day, I’m not complaining. Yeah, it’s not fancy. Some might consider it garbage. But for me, the living space is tolerable. I can get most of my work done and that’s all I ask for. Most of the space issue is my bad anyways. This is clearly evident by the fact that I had to bring my drum-set into the dorms just in case I got gigs.
You see, my father and I have this philosophy of “it’s better to have something and not need it, than to not have something and need it.” We would be prime hoarders if there was any psychological turmoil. We know that the prospect of getting a gig at this point in time is way off. I’ve only been in the area for three weeks, I’m not old enough to go to any of the clubs, and only three days ago have we discussed Press-Kits. A live gig seems fairly way off.
But….it would be better to have these drums rather than having to face the alternative; showing up to a club and having to cancel because they don’t have a drum set. Or having to rent a drum-set on a college budget.
We brought my church’s drum-set to the dorms with me. The only issue we had with the church’s drum set was the snare. Hit it with a cross-stick pattern, it sounds just find. But if one were to hit it on the snare itself, it would be absolutely disgusting.
So, one day, me and my mother went looking for a replacement snare at a Guitar Center. There, the guy recommended the Sound Percussion pads to us. He said they were a must have for college dorms students if they wanted to practice. The pads covered all aspects of a drum-set; snare, bass, cymbals, etc. AND, the sound the pads made when struck would be akin to an electronic drum-set when turned off. It was PERFECT!
But, the guy also sold me the worst bass beaters I’ve had ever used yet. They were so damn heavy. I should’ve had my skepticism turned on after experiencing the dissatisfaction with the bass beaters, right?
Day 1: after moving in and getting all set up, I jammed out to some Death Grips while playing the drum-set. I was IMMEDIATELY shut down by the RA supervisor. Getting chewed out on my first day in college wasn’t that pleasant, but I learned my lesson.
Even with the pads on, I was still creating so much noise that people four floors down could hear me.
Funny thing is, once I covered my cymbals with socks and muted them correctly, I haven’t heard a complaint since. I’ve been jamming on the drum set the whole time I’ve been up here, even after I got chewed out on my first day. I just modified my cymbal pads. I guess the cymbals were all that the RA’s 4 floors down could hear, because since that day, I’ve heard 0 complaints or just general conversations about my drum set in my room.
So yeah, day one, I was the subject of a major noise complaint. Not bad for my first day in college, ehh?
But enough about that. You all probably want to hear why exactly I think college is so awesome! Why do I think college is the best time I’ve had thus far? What is it not only about college, but more particularly, the McNally Smith college, that has me so psyched for my upcoming years?
There are two major reasons why I love this college.
1). The vibe.
There is such a great sense of community here at this college. We are all drawn towards music. Music is our life here at this College, and regardless of what music compels us the most individually, as a group, we can just relax and just talk for several hours…..and be glad doing so. There is no such thing as wasting time here. Even when we waste time just shooting the bullshit, we are getting music recommendations, learning about the business of the music industry, promoting our music as well as others. WE ARE NETWORKING! This is networking central. But there is no discomfort in doing so. Why? Because of the vibe. We are all musicians and we all want to make the world a better place for each other.
The vibe is simple; “No one wakes up one morning, tells their parents ‘I want to be a musician for a living,’ and everyone agrees that it’s a sensible decision. There is a talk that must occur after that. You had to fight to become a musician and you are all here because not only do you love music, but there is something about it that draws you unlike anything else before in existence, and people see it. You’re not like the others. You love and passion for music runs much deeper. And that is why you’re here.” I am paraphrasing one of the College founders here.
I can safely say, in the words of Jello Biafra, I have found my “brand of mutants,” at McNally Smith, and it’s because of the vibe that such an tremendous occasion could occur.
There I am; rocking the devil horns.
I also specifically wanted to single out the fantastic instructors that we have at the school. Not only are they fantastic teachers, but they got some inside connections to keep the networking prime and your options open as a musician.
The head of the percussion department is Gordy Knudston. For those of you who don’t recognize that name, HE IS THE DRUMMER OF STEVE MILLER BAND! One of my first CD’s I ever owned EVER, was the “Steve Miller Band’s greatest hits,” record, and it’s because of that CD in general that I got so into classic rock. Classic Rock in turn became the catalyst to my exploration, love, and total devotion to all things music.
So, let me reiterate.
I’m going to a school, where the head of the drumming department is basically the guy that (through coincidence) ignited my path into becoming what I am today.
As you can see, if they can get THAT GUY to be a teacher, every one else here is a major player in the music scene as well. And the vibe that comes off because of it is ASTOUNDING. Seriously, you only have to be here to get it.
2. The Location.
The twin cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul) are RICH with music history. Prince, Bob Dylan, and Hüsker Dü all come from the Twin City area. St.Paul also has a NICE underground punk rock scene. It’s punk rock or bust here.
But the benefits of the location are also much more sensible to some than just the rich music scene and history that the twin cities have.
The dorms are on a one way street to the school where literally ANYTHING YOU COULD EVER NEED AS A NECESSITY is on. We have a grocery store, a Walgreens…..hell, we even have a vinyl record shop AND a music club just down a couple of blocks. If I was searching for apartments, and that came up, I would just say “SOLD,” immediately.
Everything is in walking distance. Even if you don’t like the record shop on the street the dorms is on, turn right up a few blocks and walk a few more blocks and you’ll find both a guitar shop AND a different record shop.
Let me just re-iterate all I’ve just said here. The location of my dorms is a major factor in my positive college experience because I live on a street where not only are my major necessities like food, groceries, medicine, and banking are all together, but I’m also within walking distance of two fantastic record stores, A GUITAR SHOP, a music venue and even (I forgot to mention this) a graphic design store if ever I need T-shirts or posters done up.
Albums courtesy of Eclipse Records and Into the Void Records
It’s no wonder I have a smile on my face walking two and from school. Going down the street is just a constant reminder of how awesome college has been and will be.
First of all, I entered several song writers contests online in hopes of more major networking. There is one contest in particular that I need your help in winning. It’s called the “Guitar Center Singer Songwriter 4 Competition.” You may have seen a post about it on my website. *Copy and Paste URL’s below*
Well, not only do I need you all to like and share my YouTube video posted in the link above, but I also need you all to go to my profile that I set up on the Guitar Center website, like it, and follow it there. The more media traffic I receive on my Guitar Center profile, the more likely I’ll win the competition. So what are ya waiting for? Hit that link down below and do all that you can. World domination is at hand.
All my other contest are voted upon by a panel of judges, but this contest has a preliminary round phase where I have to get into the top 100 spot based off my social media performance. Only then will I get voted upon by judges. With you’re help, maybe I might be able to put out a full length album and play some shows in the near future. That would be amazing huh?!?
But let’s talk about the more immediate future and what’s happening on my end musically.
I’m in the Indie Rock Ensemble at McNally Smith College of music. Not much happening there. Picture School of Rock, but with only Indie Rock music and you get the idea. All ensembles at the School’s are classes but they feel more like an after school club. And this club is a doozy cause I’m getting turned on to so many new bands and new people that it’s awesome. But the major thing happening int he ensemble as of right now is that we have an incredible opportunity to play at the Open House of McNally Smith October 11th. If we are lucky and pass the audition, who knows? You might see “The Owl-Eyes,” live at McNally Smith campus very, VERY soon.
Also, I’ve been participating in the Open Mic jams that this school has to offer. The school’s cafe host all sorts of Open Mic nights, depending on the day of the week. My usual open mic that I perform in is the Blues Jam that happens every Tuesday. I went with the blues jam, because while the Blues is easy to play and pick up, it’s also very fun to play. I also really need to get more into the blues musically, and I figured playing at blues jams would be the best way to go about it.
But the great thing about these Open Mics is that they act as a sort of resume for young musicians if local talent is looking for another member in their band, or if they need someone for a gig. The Open Mics have given young musicians jobs for the longest time. It’s where all the scouting takes place.
And it happened to me.
On the second night of performing at the Blues Open Mic, I was met by two musicians in the crowd from River Falls, Wisconsin. They had entered this National Blues Showcase that would take place in Memphis, Tennessee around the last week in January. The only problem was that the new rules required all band members to be under 21 years of age, and their drummer and bassist were over the age limit. The audition to get into the showcase was coming up fast, and they needed a drummer to fill the shoes.
They told me they loved my style, and I was flattered. I took them up on that offer. I’ll never turn down a gig. I’m a workaholic by nature. If there’s a chance for exposure, I’ll do all that I can to make sure people can see my and that word of The Owl-Eyes spreads out faster and larger and to greater areas of people.
The Audition is October 12th. The judges are all members of The National Blues Society. If we get in, they’ll pay for part of our trip fees. But we’re still looking for a bassist. Fingers crossed.
Lastly, the most important thing that I plan on doing while in College is just to update my Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the site as much as possible. I know it will be a very difficult taks since I’m in College and whatnot, but it needs to be done. Promotion is key to make it in this business. As long as I keep things a float, I’ll manage. SO KEEP CHECKING BACK ON THE SITE FOR NEW DIGS! Who knows? I might do another “One Man Band,” using the prestigious studios at McNally Smith. I might just make a video of me goofing around in College. It’s all for the taking.
But, Overall, I’ll leave you with this pearl of wisdom.
I’m learning how to chill.
For as long as I could remember, I always felt like I had an anvil hanging over my head, that if at any second, if I screwed up with my music on even a microscopic level, the anvil would drop and my career would be dead. While I do believe in second chances, I also believe that the music industry has changed so radically fas that it’s harder now to hit the ‘reset’ button than ever before. Everything’s on the Internet. Everyone knows you.
In some respects, I still feel that dangling weight everywhere I go. I am a workaholic after all. I feel a major responsibility to give nothing more than 110% every time I perform, make a video, write a song, or update my fans (the few but might I have) with a post.
However, College has finally taught me something that I’ve been wanting to learn how to do ever since I was born.
How to live one day at a time.
I use to always think 4 steps ahead. While this was a good thing, this was always beyond my control. It was more of a curse than a blessing, because all I did was worry. I couldn’t live for the present. I always had to look ahead and constantly think about my actions that I did in the present, and the subsequent consequences that would fall out because of it.
But now…..I haven’t worried for the longest time. Even this post, I was able to say “ehh, give it a day to rest.” I’ve never been able to do that before.
It’s all thanks to College. These are really some of the best weeks of my life, and I know they’re going to lead to the best years of my life. Unlike High-School, I plan on making the most of it now before it’s too late and I find myself on a path away from just having fun. I want to just have fun, and I plan on doing that while I’m here.
I still work. There’s a time for everything and there’s absolutely no time like the present. Make no mistake; I’m more motivated now that I ever have been.
But I also want to enjoy the 4 or so years I have up here. I want to absorb as much from them as possible. I’m learning many things in College, but the biggest thing that I am learning that is aiding me as a human being, is just how to sit and be human.
Before I went to College, I always had major reminders on my phone like, “Remember to update site,” or “Don’t forget to create a YouTube video today you lazy ass.”
But now, I only have one major reminder on my phone that I have set to buzz daily.
Live for the moment. One day at a time.
Remember to relax.
It’s only a ride.
With many regards,
PS: The photo is the header is a picture taken after I won a trivia contest in a club for my group for Freshman Orientation. WHO SAYS USELESS KNOWLEDGE ISN’T USEFUL?!?