10 years ago today, Of Military and Mathematics released "Wake (From This Dream.)" Now I could go on and on about the cruelty of time, the unforeseen circumstances, and the mistakes I've made in between (and oh my God, did I make mistakes.) I think it goes without saying that I never imagined any of my records turning 10, let alone several of them. And if you asked 10-years-ago-Josh where he'd be now, he would definitely answer incorrectly.
WFTD wasn't a record of historical music significance. Some people liked it, and that made it worth doing. It's a naïvety I still try to hold on to; that art is worth doing simply because you enjoy it. It's something every artist has heard ad nauseam, and half heartedly agrees with. It's hard to behave that way because it's bullshit and we all know it.
I went on my first tour when I was 17 years old. We had no idea what we were doing, we were horrible at it, and it cost us a fortune. But I had the time of my life, and it was then I decided that I never wanted to do anything else but music. Sure, if you enjoy something, the joy you receive from doing that thing should make it worth doing. But everyone forgets one important detail; the joy should outweigh the sorrow. For every moment of pleasure creativity gives you there are often equal, if not greater, moments of doubt, fear, failure. The scales are always moving.
Im standing in the Home Depot parking lot, watching Chuck struggle to get my van on the back of his tow truck. As he gets the back wheels closer to the flat bed, the trailer hitch digs into the pavement below and makes that unmistakable noise. When OMAM toured extensively, we bought a 1978 Ford RV. An absolute rust bucket of blatant disregard for safety. We called it "The Juggernaut," and any time we'd enter a steep driveway, the trailer post would drag along the pavement so obnoxiously that it would draw the confused and often angry stares of anyone within earshot.
Juggs was impractical, dangerous, and irresponsible, but it was the only thing we could afford. We really wanted a van, but the insurance rates in New York were just way too high. At one point I priced out insurance at a friends house in Ohio. The difference in premiums meant I could take a small loan and buy a van. All I'd have to do was commit a little insurance fraud. But the RV was an even better deal. RV insurance was ridiculously cheap (less than $200 a year.) And with a RV, we could essentially eliminate any lodging costs.
The Juggernaut's maintenance was easy. Every couple of thousand miles all the oil burned off, so we didn't have to change the oil as much as we just had to fill it. Occasionally we'd dump half a can of ether into the carburetor if she was too cranky to start. I'll never forget the night we played in Omaha. It was 110 degrees out and remains the hottest weather I've ever experienced. We came out of the venue late at night to find our gas cap missing. I started the engine and black smoke poured out of the side. Everyone started talking about bleach or sugar in the gas tank and none of it was out of the question. A man passing by who appeared to be homeless overheard us and assured us it would be safe to drive because he saw it debunked on "Myth Busters." I love that memory because it makes me feel like I was humble enough to trust a stranger. (But really it was probably just the heat.)
Chuck is putting some wood blocks in front of the back tires of the van as he continues to pull it on to his flat bed. As the grinding of the trailer hitch fades, I remember the last time it happened with the Juggernaut. We told Dan "The Ragg" that if he could start it, he could have it, but it never ran again. Every junkyard I called wouldn't take an old RV, so instead of selling it I ended up paying someone $30 to take it from me. As the tow truck pulled down the end of Cheshire Street, Juggs gave us one last drag on the pavement, and with that it was gone forever. Of Military and Mathematics never toured again.
Call it luck, call it persistence, but I've been blessed with opportunities to tour and play music for the last 10 years since that have meant everything to me. I bought the van when I joined Our Own Ghosts, and I picked it up the same week I proposed to me wife. That period of time in my life remains just as much weird as it is precious. An unimaginable set of circumstances. Obliterated relationships restored, only to eventually be again unassembled.
My van carried Lights Divide on The Camp Anawantour. Probably the most rock and roll tour I've ever been a part of, and to date my last. And as Chuck drives away with my van swaying on the back of his truck, I start to question if this is where it all ends. Maybe my van is just a slightly smaller version of the Juggernaut. Maybe I'm just driving an old dangerous impractical rust machine and believing it somehow makes sense.
I've anticipated today's anniversary for a while now. I had intentions to re-release our music, including the rarer stuff re-mixed. I started going through the dozens of camcorder tapes we filmed over the years and editing it down. But if I'm being honest, as I sat there watching the hours of footage digitally convert, I was overcome with sorrow. The relationships I've obliterated in the interest of pursuing the things I hold dear is a guilt that I will live with all of my life. The person I was, young, inspired, driven, outspoken, doesn't even feel like me anymore. I'm grateful for all of the experiences I've had, and given the chance I'd do it all over again the same. But even 10 years later, while it feels like in most ways everyone else has moved on, I haven't fully recovered.
These days I spend more time debating if I should sell all of my gear and find another hobby than I do actually playing music. Maybe with the money I could afford a vehicle that doesn’t breakdown every few months, something with a working air conditioner. Friday’s used to be rehearsal days but now I'm at Home Depot watching my van get towed. I'm not sure I actually have the guts to quit music, but I'll be damned if a day doesn't pass where I don't consider it. Ultimately I'm all talk. I'll move on, as I always have. Maybe I'll find enormous success, or maybe I'll begin to fade like metal scoring concrete. Maybe one day the joy will outweigh the sorrow, or maybe one day I will finally wake from this dream.