We watched as each country locked down their borders in a frenzy of hazmat suits and flashing lights. We were determined to get to Paris as fast as we could, since we had tickets for a flight we hoped wouldn’t be canceled. No this isn’t a scene out of ‘28 days later’ but it’s what happened to a rock band trying to get home from Europe during a full-blown pandemic.
A week prior on our way to Budapest, our tour manager received a call saying that, “Budapest is canceled.” Okay well we play Prague in the next 2 days, so let’s head there. Phone call, “Prague is gone.” We all sat on the side of the road in a strange disbelief, waiting for that 3rd call to come and cancel the rest of the tour. The phone rang with calls saying, “tours canceled.” It was a hard blow for us mentally and although we wouldn’t feel it directly in the moment, we knew it was a blow financially as well.
We booked our flight home out of France and started driving east. Each country we passed was hours away from closing its borders (not exaggerating) and the roads were filled with hazmat check points. Finally, we made it to Paris and yet again, not an exaggeration, we boarded the last flight out of Charles de Gaulle airport headed for Los Angeles.
After my chaotic trip to LAX where I passed through customs and a CDC checkpoint, I was finally home and I tried my best to unwind from what had happened. When I usually get home from the road, I spend the next week and a half inside unpacking and adjusting to my current time zone so the mandatory self quarantine was pretty easy for me to accept. I took advantage of all the amenities I don’t usually have access to on the road, which included laundry, video games and a familiar bed. Needless to say I had already done years of fieldwork in the area of self quarantine. The first few weeks went by as they always did.
Then came the challenges. 3-weeks in and I had completely cleaned out my house (twice) and beaten a majority of my video game library. Maybe you’re in the same situation? Wondering what’s next? For me, I felt the days just going into one another and I began to feel frustrated. You see, I’m a very goal oriented person. I feel good when I write things down and then cross them out as the day progresses. However, after weeks of being at home my lists were getting shorter and shorter and I felt myself slipping lower and lower. Around then I decided to get my mind busy with things I hadn’t had a chance to do pre-quarantine.
Some of these things I actually wanted to do and the others I’d just put off year after year.
Here’s my list so far:
1. Chess: I was always more of a checkers man but now if a game presents itself I just may steal your queen.
2. How to make the perfect cup of Coffee: Instant coffee was okay…but now I’ve got a French press and I’m never going back.
3. How to better live in the moment and revel in the beautiful understanding that we are all one connected source (did I mention I read a lot of books on spirituality?). Looking for something to read? Check out Wayne Dyer’s “You’ll see it when you believe it”.
4. How to do my taxes: Next to learning chess the most adult thing I’ve ever done.
Like I mentioned before, I’m a touring musician and unfortunately the world of live shows is very uncertain at the moment. With that information, a lot of us in the music industry and myself included are asking the question: What’s next? I’ve always been a glass half full kind of guy and the answer came to me quite quickly. It’s no secret that a lot of people around the world are struggling and some are even battling for their lives. I believe it’s our responsibility as musicians and artists to do what we’ve always done. To bring people together under the umbrella of art and provide comfort and an escape during times of trouble.
I’m sure you’ve noticed a beautiful abundance of live streaming acoustic shows being held by a lot of your favourite artists. My band mates and myself in Charming Liars have hosted a few of these ourselves and are always humbled by the moment it creates. Not just for those tuning in but for those of us holding the instruments. We live to play music. Last year we spent 6 months on the road, it’s a part of our lives. When the virus hit, a very important part of us paused, as did a mass majority of the population.
Now if I had one takeaway from this whole situation, it’s that although we’re locked up in our homes physically separated from one another, we shouldn’t forget that just across the street or on the other side of a thin apartment wall, there are people just like you and me. People who share the same worries and concerns but most importantly people who will one day share the same joy after this virus is behind us.
If I’ve learned anything in these last few months it’s strangely that a live concert and a pandemic actually have something in common. They both have the unique ability to bond us and bring us together, to remind us that we are not alone in this world. Remember, be kind to one another because we’re all in this thing together.
Lead Vocalist, Charming Liars