Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tour Log #5: Jesters

I'll be honest with you. Sometimes I wonder if this is really worth it. When will this stop? This beating the streets like they owe us something. To what end?

I do not need pity, encouraging words, sympathy or even empathy. I only need to vent. I've never been one to polish myself up or adopt and portray the illusional lifestyle of the rock star or the scene star, or whoever people want me to be. I'm just me. I'm well aware of where I am, and I believe the truth in the quote by Gary Hamel that says, "The longer you're down in the trenches the easier it is to mistake the edge of your rut for the horizon." Perhaps that is where I am now, the trenches, and for the life of me I can't see passed the rut.

Does any one night make a difference when the next we do it all over again? We live without consequence and leave with only one regret; that we didn't have more. More of our fair share? More of what we're owed? Maybe some reassurance that this is the right path? We are owed nothing. We are the jesters of this country. Cheap entertainment for the outcasts, by the outcasts. 

Fitting, but to what end?

Is this a pipe dream? A projection of ego? Will it all come crashing down, taking casualties with it, proving itself a mistake? Sometimes I feel it slipping...

Two years ago I tapped something I was feeling into my phone, it never made it into a song but occasionally the feeling returns to me:

I can't hold this world together anymore
It's tearing at the seams
The pressure's building soon it will explode
And nothing will remain but me
Like chopper blades the things I can't control
Have cut me down and left me here to bleed
The pressure's building soon I will explode
And chase away the people close to me

It's not the deepest or most original piece of poetry I've written, I know that, but it's honest. I suppose it reflects anger for how brutal the things out of our control can be to us... self destructive anger. Why? Because as much as struggling for years has built my character I will always at my core hate it. Even when I rejoice in my struggles, those few moments of unwavering joy and peace are fleeting. I always return to the constant, the thing that never changes (see blog post: The Struggle). I want to ignore it, to run from it, because I don't like it.

I always return to the reality that I'm broke at twenty-seven, with no current future outside of writing songs that on a great night two hundred people will show up to listen to live, paying us enough money for gas and a hotel and a few hundred bucks at the end of a six week tour. We take that money and we try to save it, but bills and debt pile up and we're forced back out on the road. I've damaged my voice so many times that the slightest thing will cause me to lose it. Without in-ear monitors I have no chance of saving it, especially at the tiny venues with the terrible sound systems and the incompetent sound people, but we can't afford an in-ear monitoring system. We can't afford a tour manager to take care of the things we currently struggle to take care of. We can't afford a sound person to make sure we can hear ourselves so we don't lose our voices or sound terrible live. We can't afford any luxury that would make us perform better, feel better, sound better, or stay healthier. We can't afford anything good in the trenches.

I wouldn't wish this life on anyone. It's groundhog day every day, with seemingly no headway made in any practical way. Sometimes when I'm on stage I feel like an aerobics instructor at best, dancing and sweating to the beat and trying desperately to encourage the audience to do the same. When I feel that way I start to resent our music. I start to hate it. We're just one band in a sea of bands, and we're running out of the naivete required to plug away like this for years to come. 

Again I don't want pity, or any sympathetic response you may feel inclined to type. I especially don't need people to tell me that I'm lucky, and that I should feel blessed and that they would kill to be in my shoes. The truth is, most people wouldn't last one tour before their first mental breakdown. I've seen it. Most people are far more domesticated than they realize. Me? I'm built for this constant moving, I'm not a nester at all, and my struggle has been made obvious to you via this blog.

The only people that I've been able to relate to outside of touring are military people. They too leave their loved ones for months on end, putting themselves in harms way for a certain set of ideals in an attempt to be a part of something bigger than themselves. In the end, most military people justify it because of the paycheck. The ideals fade, the sense of duty becomes clouded and they get jaded too. But the paycheck keeps coming, so they keep re-signing with the hope of early retirement and financial freedom. 

I suppose money is a piss-poor motive on the grand scheme of things, but it sure would be a nice thing to fall back on!


P.S - Please know that I do not feel this way all the time, and that most of the time I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be the voice of change in the lives of our listeners. I just felt like it was high time I wrote this feeling down so I can keep it contained in clear view.


  1. Honest thoughts Matt,
    For myself, living in a foreign county, without the comforts of "home" or North America I have myself felt the same things you just wrote down.
    For me, the thought often comes... "Am I making any difference?" Often times caught in the middle of a scene we forget what is actually being done around us.
    All the victories, encouragement, blessing all that seems to fade into nothingness but when we step back we see the grand picture.
    Being caught in the middle can be a tough place to be.

    God bless,


  2. people in our family are straight-up unlucky. we have zero hookups or connections to grease any wheels. every opportunity that's come my way i've created and forced open for myself, on my own. good thing we've all got lots of character--thanks mom and dad.

    on the other hand, who gives a shit? what would we rather be doing? i've long looked to the left and to the right and seen the kids who didn't go to college get married and start shoring up houses, plugging away at desk jobs and saving up to consume on behalf of their kids. this past decade, i've been broke and practically living out of my car at times, but i did a ton of stuff that some ppl never do in a lifetime. i'll take the lessons, insight and growth i gleaned from those experiences over the nest eggs, mall trips and SUVs any day. living in a floating dumpster? close-up encounters with America's sleaziest dives? driving across the US in july with no a/c, cell phone service, radio or CD player? priceless. Some ppl never venture beyond a Days Inn.

    the only chance any of us ever have of succeeding is a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic and sheer blind luck. that's the macdonald legacy.


    haha, no. Leah.

  3. Keep on ranting Matt, you deserve it. I won't empathize with you, since I obviously can't understand everything you go through, but just know that your music means a heck of a lot to me, and I hope you continue to do what you do, because you're great at it.


  4. And that right there is the reason I will always continue to follow and love your music ... it's your honesty ...

  5. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

    1 Corinthians 15:56-58

  6. That gave me something to think about yesterday when i read this. I started to think about "my ten year plan" in school they tell us to ask our selves were we would like to be in ten years. Since i was little i have always wanted to become a doctor. And so I would say well I'll probably be getting my degree in medicin at the end of my 10 years. But then i thought Why? Why do i wanna go to college spend 10 years of my life there to get a medical degree and then be a doctor for the rest of my life. Why serve a another dream for "soicety's lifestyle" so to speak.
    I dont think I really actually want to be a doctor i think it was just always in my head that you were suppose to go to college and suppose to have a great job and live out life doing somethingn you might not like but pays the bills....

  7. Hm, the world can be cruel.

    Philippians 4:19
    And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

    It's good to know we serve a God who cares.

  8. God is the Master of all things and He never promised us an easy life on earth, but He has promised to provide all that we could ever need! Although 2 years without any income, can really suck! But the Lord came through again, He hath willed that idle hands shall have work! So it will be sweet to get a paycheck again. Life is ever changing, only God remains the same forever!

  9. One time at a show in AZ, I sat next to you merch table and you and I started up a conversation.

    I told you tour was something I wanted more than anything, though I'm not at all adequet for it, but for whatever reason, it was what I felt most passionate about- my "calling" if you will.

    I'd told people this before, and they either laughed or told me horror stories to convince me I didn't want it.

    You, though, you had a conversation with me about it. You said it was silly, and that I had no idea what I was asking for. You asked me hypothetic questions for situations that tour causes, you challenged the idea I had of tour in my head, etc.

    You told me your own version of 'horror' stories just like the other people had.

    BUT. At some point in this conversation, I realized you weren't at all condescending or really laughing at me for being so ignorant.

    Matt, that was close to five years ago. And tour is still the one thing God uses the most as far as shaping my heart and making me feel fullfilled (no, i haven't actually gone yet, but the point still stands that I love tour because I love God and he uses tour the most).

    I've stumbled across your blog three days ago after randomly stumbling onto you twitter.

    Reading your blog did the same thing your music and that conversation about touring did. You've been pivitol in what God uses to encourage me in this CRAZY idea He has a purpose for me, and that purpose is something as silly as tour when I have nothing to offer in that situation.

    It made me want the horror stories as my own, because nothing seems more beautiful or perfect fitting.

    You said you didn't want encouragement or sympathy or "You're lucky to be where you are".

    Thats not why I told you all this. I simply told you all this because what you do is something God used to bring me closer to Him and it simply went along with this topic.

  10. i can't comprehend anything you are going through, but i know that we serve an amazing God who can and will provide for us. praying for you and your amazing, honest, and gifted band.

    God Bless

  11. It's really a shame that your band can't be rewarded more handsomely for what it does. Adoration from your fans alone doesn't pay the bills - but I can assure you that TCC has some of the most passionate fans that I've ever come across.. me included.

    I've seen TCC three times. In an ideal world for myself that number would be increased ten-fold.. but unfortunately, I live on the east coast.

    I had the pleasure to see your show in Richmond, VA on the evening that you made this post and the talent of your band never ceases to amaze me. To be honest, when I heard that Madina Lake had backed out of the tour.. I was stoked. Despite also enjoying their music, I was there to see TCC and no set could have been long enough. You were the real headliner of that tour.

    I'll do anything and everything I can to support your band and I truly hope you keep making music for a long, long time. It may sound selfish on my part but I will be really bummed when TCC ultimately decides it ran its course. I've bought every one of your albums on release day and there isn't a single song that I've grown remotely tired of.

    I don't know if I envy your daily grind, but for what it's worth: I sure do appreciate it.

  12. For the record, Matt, I've been to two Classic Crime shows (Portland), and at one of them i could feel the resentment from you as you sang or played. You just seemed kind of sad you aren't as successful as you should be.

    Just be sure not to let these feelings affect you when you're on stage. You've got one hell of a live show. And don't be discouraged when people kind of stay in the back or just cross their arms and watch you play instead of do a mosh pit or whatever. Thats kind of the new trend in audiences. I saw Spoon live (great show) and it was impossible to get people to do anything but stand there haha.

    Keep on keepin on my man! And do more acoustic stuff! That could be the key to your success in the future imo