Don't Strum! 

You can bank your hard-earned money on failure

When rock stars — real, bona fide rock stars — get interviewed, they never mention playing air guitar in Mom's den. They never mention the Behind The Music narrators in their skulls that glorify them even as some kid puts duct tape in their hair during a lull in 9th-grade drama class. They generally make it sound like they never even wanted to be rock stars. Like they never saw it coming. Like Providence just dropped stomping riffs on their heads and they, the vessels, took it from there, leaving all you simpering dreamers catching flying gravel in the teeth.

It's a tad too late for you to take that approach, Johnny. With the fantasy life you've got, you have about as much of a chance at going pro as the kids in Hoop Dreams. You couldn't handle the strain anyway, considering how little you practice. Too busy picturing your face on the cover of Rolling Stone, eh?

There are other options. Since you aren't going to be a rock star, why not set your sights on going down in a blaze of glory, showering hot sparks on all those who care for you and impressing all and sundry with your self-destructive hubris? Tragedy is the new success.

Rock stars have a lot of responsibility, a lot of hassle. They have to stay on top, which involves plowing through writer's block and soul-crushing personal problems. Often, lawyers and tax auditors get involved. Rock 'n' roll failures, on the other hand, live in a swirl of drama that doesn't involve much work. Just make sure you don't accidentally succeed and fuck it all up.

It all starts with the name. The name is everything. Make sure yours is a prepositional phrase that includes at least eight syllables and at least one popular swear word. Then, keep it simple. Don't overwork yourself. If you're cursed with manic ambition, complement it with a strong dose of good old-fashioned incompetence. If a club likes you too much, you might be in for the numbing, repetitive strain of a regular gig. Don't let it happen.

A good rock 'n' roll failure never wakes up on the same couch twice. Don't hang around and, ugh, establish yourself.

Struggle for attention in your hometown, then never forget that you're a local celebrity and must be treated as such. Take yourself very seriously when you start getting acknowledged at home, and folks in other towns will be less inclined to offer you the yoke of national prominence. Your 50 best outer-orbit friends in your town worship your band. Why shouldn't the guy that books clubs a few counties over feel the same way?

Most rock stars, even somewhat defensive or hostile ones like Nikki Sixx and Johnny Rzeznik, come off as almost human in interviews. You want to get to know 'em. They don't really seem like rock stars. Which means, to avoid their fate, you have to act like a real rocker. Be not half-assed.

If you want to be another simple soul that rises with the sun and slows down now so he doesn't have to quit later, you can avoid bratty diva bullshit. But that's not you. Don't you know that you are a shooting star? Don't you know?


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