Quitting Your Job At 35 to Join A Band: Best or Worst Idea Ever?

Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Fan, I currently have a steady job, a mortgage and an awesome girlfriend. However, I want to fuck my shit up by making the switch to being a musician full time again. How do I find balance in this transition? Patrick

Dear Pat, It sounds like you are barely in the transition. You are astride your transition; you made the choice but have not yet ceded anything on one side or the other. You seem to be aware of the issues of giving up straight life for the music grind, but something is holding you back from fully committing to either.

We went to high school together (full disclosure/word to Minnesota Center for Arts Education alumnus everywhere) and I know that you are a talented drummer who has been playing for decades, so it's not surprising that a 9-to-5 isn't quite keeping your interest. That said, that you didn't up and quit your life for your band speaks to the quality of your grown-up-dude life and your interest in maintaining that, as much as it does the inherent risk of being dependent on drumming to pay your bills.

Your set up on the question tells me this is not about feeling hectic; this is about the fear of the consequences of doing something that probably looks like backstepping to other people. Or like you feel like you cannot hack being an adult, which is hopefully is not the case. I am a staunch advocate that success is doing life/art on your terms--but circa 35 is usually when most people are quitting their bands and settling down, not the other way around, so you are likely going to have to deal with some judgement from other people about this choice. Sounds like you are already dealing with some of your own.

Quitting your job to be in at band at 35 could either be the best or worst idea ever. Let's walk it out: What is holding you back from jumping all in? Do you not have reasonable savings? Are you scared of having to play in shitty jobber restaurant bands or roadie to make your mortgage payments? Or are you scared of being settled in your grown-up life where music is just a hobby? Is this a work-around on a broaching-40 freakout? Do you just super hate your job? You have to go there with these questions and be really honest about what is motivating you.

Before you start tweaking either side of your life, you need to get to the marrow, because this is big and you cannot be lying to yourself about it, or up-selling your motivations to the people in your life. Hash it out on paper if need be, but do not burden your woman with this too much--she needn't be the one trying to pep talk you in or out of it.

You need to reach out to someone who is in a position to tell you what the greener grass is like. I'm tasking you with talking to a handful (say three or four) people who are older than, you who do music as their job, about what it is really like. One of them needs to be someone with a family and a mortgage--someone with a spectrum of real world responsibilities--not just 50-year-old bachelors who play in blues bands,.And not people who are just in bands as a way to continue a high-functioning stoner lifestyle. Famous people do not count, either.

Scroll to read more Music News & Interviews articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.