I'm listening to the first Archers Of Loaf album, Icky Mettle, as I write this post. It's a little after 10:00 p.m. and the episode is finally finished and scheduled to publish at 6:30 a.m. This is the relentless wheel of podcasting. You go through all the steps and it publishes on Wednesday morning and then you do all the publicity steps and breathe for a second and then begin working on the next episode, which ramps up and up until you're sitting at the computer on Tuesday night ready to end and begin the process all over again.
There are many times when I wonder if my process could be streamlined. Then there are times like this week when the broader question of simplicity came up and I wondered if the podcast in its entirety could be simplified right out of my life. It's a fine line sometimes. All of this stems from my struggle to tune a drum last weekend - a toxic hour when a lot of my not-so-latent insecurities came out to play once again. It's interesting how much your anger and frustration (or at least my anger and frustration) can get poured into empty vessels like a drum or another driver on the road or a stubbed toe.
Do you ever have disproportionate reactions to things like that? Are they really about the situation at hand or do those situations just provide a nice way to avoid the real problem? And if so, what are you really angry (or more likely afraid) about?
I got really flustered trying to tune this drum, and I realized at a point that my frustration wasn't about the drum. It was about feeling inadequate as a drummer. I go through this all the time. Tuning is representative for me of drumming more generally, and when I struggled at this fundamental part of the game, the voice of insecurity rose up in me. If you've read my blog in the past, you'll know that I call the voice of my insecurity (and fear and judgment and anxiety) Little John. Little John is my ego. He can be fragile. He says things like, "You're a fraud. You can't even tune a drum. What sort of drummer can't tune a damn drum? Stop embarrassing yourself. Give it up. Quit. Protect me from your inadequacy already!"
Little John is terrified of being judged. Little John measures his value by what other people think of him. It's an exhausting way to live, but to a certain extent many people live that way. Ego serves a useful purpose in terms of staying alive, but when Little John goes unchecked he brings everything down. That's why it's best to let Big John - the ancient, patient, cosmic, wise, spiritual, connected part of me - take the lead. Problem is he's not as noisy as Little John.
And so the cycle goes.
Anyway, this is a curious way to do show notes about the topic of simplicity. The incident with the drum reminded me that I prefer to play a much simpler three-piece set-up. If I was listening to my true inner voice, following what feels best, the drum in question wouldn't have been in question and now I'm thinking about that. I've toured several times playing a stripped down kit and I just love the lightness of it (physically and existentially). It's an unusual set-up and I suppose I have insecurity about that, even though I've had loads of compliments about playing that kind of kit over the years. Little John again. Don't stand out. Don't do anything unconventional.
But I love how that set-up feels and I need to consider it again. And if I'm simplifying that, what else can be simplified? What else can be simplified for all of us? Our physical space? Our schedules? Our busyness? And why are our lives as complicated and congested as they are? Is it a means of avoiding the bigger questions about purpose and dreams? All of this is on my mind as I release this week's episode. If you have thoughts on the topic, send them to me here!
Oh, and I'm listening to the Archers Of Loaf because they released a brand new album last week for the first time in 22 years and I'm stoked about it. I talked about it on the episode and I'll include one of the new songs below.
Thanks as ever for listening. It's always much appreciated!
Archers Of Loaf - In The Surface Noise