Monday, May 25, 2020

Zoltan Jakab

There is a certain beauty in guesting on a blog that is called Punk Rock and Coffee. Especially that both punk rock and coffee-nerding run on street scene credit points, and I’m at 50% best case. Now why on earth would Gaz invite any random coffee nerd to blurt about coffee, so you my dear reader must have guessed I just gave myself 100% punk rock scene credit points (how brave of me to do so), while I’m still thinking coffee is one of the worst things ever and tastes like ass. Now hello there, how do you know what ass tastes like, Zoltan?

It must probably suck, just as bad as coffee, just as much as the overly romanticized quarantine isolation, that at least made me grab my pen (liar, keyboard!) to be one of my beloved Gaz’s guests of honors here.

Years ago, a bunch of like-minded individuals and myself did a talk-show kind of thing at a couple Hungarian music festivals, where we were put on a podium to talk tour stories. And that’s when it hit me how dull and boring we must be with our shitty little inside jokes on a sunny afternoon, while those who were unfortunate enough to lurk around and sit in probably wanted to hear more about the ho’s and drugs than random hopeless, washed up wannabees talk boring, subpar tour stories of which asshole got how drunk after what insignificant show / tour.

Funny I’m dissing tour stories after dissing coffee, because this blog is very much about tour stories. And I love touring and punk rock (but not coffee, I do sure as hell sound like a broken fucking record), but maybe just maybe now isn’t the time for me to tell a funny story. As previously mentioned above, a bunch of these are shitty little inside jokes anyway, totally irrelevant to those around us. Like THAT couple, that we ALL have in our circle of friends, who are so compulsive that they go a little too far on the PDA and the pet names all over and something inside of you just wants you to repeatedly punch them in their happy little faces.

I don’t think it’s happy face and/or tour story time. I certainly don’t think it’s too much complaining time right now, either. I think now is the time to reflect. To be better and more. And to do the punk rock thing (our so-called duty) and build a better world. At least a better microcosmos.

The excellent lads in Death By Stereo once sang ’Are you ready for the revolution? Cause when it comes, what are you gonna do? Are you just going to sing about it?’ Quite ironic, isn’t it? The world we have screamed about in our short and fast emotional outbursts that we commonly refer to as punk rock songs, the impending doom, the apocalypse, the nearing end of consumerist society is right around the corner – okay, maybe impending doom and apocalypse not so much, but I sure did get your attention there, didn’t I? And we sort of wallow in self-pity, want to undo this whole pandemic, and scream like entitled little babies for our commodities. And how much we want them back. How much we want the cafe-fucking-latte, our vegan burger eat outs, our Ikea record shelves. Maybe this isn’t the right time, just like it isn’t happy face and/or tour story time.

Many of us – artists, tour crew, promoters, etc. – are freelancers, making a living off of the industry and it’s a shocking revelation when taking an in-depth look behind the so-called curtains to really see how many in the industry have no backup plan, no savings, living day to day. And for some of us, isolation and quarantine are hell. Not only because we miss our commodities, but because maybe, just maybe we haven’t learned how to live. We haven’t learned how to reach deep within and face our demons. We haven’t learned to live well enough to deal with a proper, boring life in between tours. Post Tour Blues is something even the scientific world is now taking more seriously, you saw the articles, the studies dealing with the mental well-being of the touring industry, whether it’s DIY bands playing short and fast emotional outbursts that we commonly refer to as punk rock songs or significantly larger bands with a larger apparatus behind them playing music that we commonly refer to as ‘this fucking blows’. Post Tour Blues just got real, and really long at that.

I myself have a rich history of mental illness. Panic disorder, anxiety, depression – you name it. I might be lucky; I am fighting my battles one by one and manage(d) to come out stronger – for the time being anyway. Some never want to be better, as it’s just as much of a comfort zone, as many things we do in life without taking proper risks, plus it’s always so much fun to lay the blame on someone else for our very own shortcomings. Some never learned how to be better but wish to. And a whole lot of us never really learned how to listen properly.

You all saw that meme probably that says how we used to start business e-mails with ‘Hi’ and how we quickly went into starting with ‘hope you and your loved ones are safe’ nowadays. I do practice that, to be honest. We are all parts of something larger than ourselves and it’s time to give back. I also work as a booking agent and I am trying to pay extra attention to speak to all partners in a manner I’d expect any normal human being speak to me, I exercise more patience and more kindness. I text my bands, I call my bands. Right now, I know just as much as Metallica’s agent: no fucking shows are happening, and God knows (thank God I’m an atheist) until how long. So, the main thing I can do is be present to the best of my ability.

Our line of work, or I’d rather say, our passion, is deeply defined by the term perpetuum mobile. We are in never-ending cycles, we’re constantly on the move. We meet friends, fans, co-workers, artists, promoters, crew every single day. We leave some sort of impact; they leave theirs and we move on to the next city and we’re no longer physically present. I’m not saying this because I’m cold-hearted. Moving on from places / friends I hold dear is actually like leaving a piece of my soul behind. I keep feeling I have unfinished business with places and people. A very recent, untimely passing of a friend has made me realize how much I am missing out on. How he’s been a force of stunning creativity and how he saw some creativity in me, that I myself have long forgotten. It made me feel ashamed. It made me think that any time we meet a friend, we might not meet ever again. And it broke my heart.

If you still follow my hopefully not so disjointed train of thought, this brings us back to a lot of us not knowing how to live. Not knowing what to do outside our comfort zones. Not knowing how to deal with a new reality where the information highway is faster than ever and you get new, profound information not every day, but almost every hour that might have a tremendous impact on what you do – unless said, profound new info is either Plandemic, the Bakersfield doctors, or any other idiot with a doctor title in her/his name your fake ass enlightened high school friend / distant cousin / former mosher friend just shared as facts – and it changes your outlook on the future and it might give some hope, might take some away. We don’t always know how to live. We don’t always know how to love. We don’t always know how to battle our demons. And we’re definitely too proud to reach out for help, so we normally won’t.

Do the punk rock thing yourself. Connect. Reach out. Share. Build. A new microcosmos where you don’t write off your colleagues, partners, bands, friends as lunatics. Where you don’t shrug it off if they haven’t checked in with you for weeks. Reach the fuck out and speak your heart out, when someone needs to hear from you. Reach the fuck out and shut the fuck up when someone needs you to listen.

Someone who had an impact on you on one of those days you’ve spent in a city between two shit smelling gas stations, someone who you had an impact on with your witty stage banter and short and fast emotional outbursts we commonly refer to as punk rock songs might just want to hear one thing: you’re not in this alone.

Music I have listened to while crafting my half assed wisdoms (still wiser than fucking Plandemic):

Secrets Of The Moon – Black House

Death By Stereo – If Looks Could Kill I’d Watch You Die

Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury

Strike Anywhere – Change Is A Sound

Zoltan (Zoli) Jakab – based in Budapest, used to sing in Newborn, Bridge to Solace and currently fronting Ghostchant, a ghost band that hasn’t played shows or had any social situation where all members were all present in the same space and time since 2018. All three bands have subpar tour stories, but all three bands have something in common – the fight to be better, to do better, to battle my demons and to offer hope the same way my favorite bands have offered hope to me. I am a booking agent at Doomstar Bookings, and I tour manage metal bands. Links you can find via google. I am imperfect and I have many demons I face, one ugly mug at a time. I am not alone. Neither are you. 

zjakab80 at gmail dot com is where we can connect.


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