In yesterday’s post, I spoke specifically about harnessing one’s passion and using it as inspiration to achieve what you desire.

One of my most persistent, personal passion’s has always been music. Those who know me well, know that music has been a powerful force in my life, defining me since childhood. Growing up, all I wanted was to become a Rockstar, there was nothing else. Music and the electric guitar consumed me. I would spend hours mimicking my guitar hero’s in front of the mirror, tightly holding onto my cheap, Japanese made black Les Paul copy. I’d furiously whip my right arm in circles imagining that I was Pete Townshend from The Who doing his iconic windmill or doing the Angus Young duck walk across my bedroom floor. While I truly gave it a good shot, the truth is that none of the bands I joined or put together ever found any mainstream success. I did however, have some fantastic opportunities playing with some Internationally known bands and I’ve experienced some wonderful highlights and run-ins with genuine rockstars that I will always remember. To this day I remain an active member of a rock outfit, dare I say the tightest, most well rehearsed band I’ve been part of to date. My band, Mr Pharmacist, has been slugging away for almost ten years now. The similarities shared between being in a rock band and having a “real” day job are real. I have compiled a short list of my Top 5 similarities between the two.

1. Although you are part of a Team, it’s not a democracy…. most of the time

Being in a band, one would think that everyone has the same amount of time invested and therefore everyone would have an equal share in what goes on. In reality, as much as it pains me to say it, the singer is the one who’s holding the trump card. If he feels uncomfortable or unable to sing what you want them to, it just ain’t going to happen. A singer’s voice is your bands brand. When working in an office or work environment we are also lead to believe that working hard, as a team, will get you where you want to be however, keep in mind,  the person signing your paycheque has the ability and the right to immediately change your course of action or direction just because they want to.

2. It Doesn’t work unless everyone is participating, doing their job and giving it their all

A rock band is an ideal example of Aristotle’s claim that “The Whole is Greater Than The Sum Of It’s Parts”. If you put 5 musicians in a room together you can come out of it with something extraordinary and something far greater than just 5 instruments playing together. The same holds true with your day job. A business can only achieve their goals when the workforce is firing on all cylinders. When it truly is, you can feel it and you know it. It’s almost tangible and the exact same holds true being in a band.

3. It’s 99% work, driven by passion and 1% playing rock shows

I’m just taking a guess as to the ratio of work hours invested vs. time spent on stage performing but I think I’m pretty close. I won’t go as far as saying that rehearsals in a live band atmosphere can’t be fun, because they usually are, however what gets overlooked is what has to get done to make it all happen. A single Mr Pharmacist rehearsal on a Thursday night requires the following effort from me… A 1.5 hour drive EACH WAY, about $25 in gas, lugging a heavy amplifier, two guitars, a keyboard, a pedalboard and a bag full of cords, batteries, picks and strings out of my home studio, up stairs, to the car. Upon arriving in Toronto, navigating my way through insane traffic, I once again lug it all up another set of stairs. We set up, practice, have some fun, then I pack it all up, pay for rehearsal space rent and contribute to the beer fund, lug it all back downstairs and I then drive home, getting in at about 1 am, ready to be at work the next morning. I do this about 12 times for each time we play live. A lot of work? Definitely. Worth it? Completely. Just like the day job, the similarities are the same (except for the beer…usually). The commute, the hard work and long hours, coupled with hours of preparation and practice, the requirements are very similar.
4. Once you think you are in the groove, someone will quit or get fired

Ive been in many bands and have seen singers, bass players and numerous drummers pack it in. Sometimes the band will collectively decide to fire someone, sometimes the just leave. About a year ago I had a drummer quit citing an inability to work with another band member. You can’t try to convince them not to go, once their passion has dissolved, they will only hold you back. The disappointment of working endlessly to master the songs in the setlist and then have a member walk out is as painful in a band environment, as it is your day job. Unfortunately it’s part of the deal. One can only hope that the departure will result in a new addition that can bring some new insight, skills and positive energy to the team or the band. When we lost our drummer a year ago, he was replaced almost immediately by the amazing Glenn Miltchem.  We hand no idea that Glenn had taken great interest in the band and when we heard through the grapevine that he wanted in, we couldn’t believe our luck. Glenn has played drums for Canadian legends Blue Rodeo for the last 25 years and, is currently on tour with Ian Thornley of Big Wreck. Glenn is a monster behind the kit. To say that we landed on our feet after the unexpected departure of our previous drummer would be an understatement. We have all seen good employees leave our employers, only to be replaced with a far superior new hire. I happens.

5. You need to build and grow to keep your audience/customers engaged.

One of the most exciting things for me, functioning in a band, is when we work on new material. There is great satisfaction in mastering something new. We also know that if we want paying customers to keep coming to our shows, we must keep it fresh with new material. On the business end we also need to keep our products or services new and ahead of the competition otherwise we will become stagnant and of n interest to our customer base. You have to continually grow. I believe that at last count Mr Pharmacist had enough well rehearsed material to get through 2 one hour sets which is approximately 30 songs. It’s a lot to remember but enough practice makes a lot of it muscle memory, how our singer remembers all the words, I will never understand.

The similarities between being in a Band and working a day job are uncanny, that doesn’t mean you cant have great fun and reap great rewards doing either. Only one of these makes your ears ring. If your day job is making your ears ring you probably have an issue with an angry coworker.

You can catch Mr Pharmacist, Saturday June 11 at the Linsmore located in Toronto on Danforth Ave.

M.Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing,