WWU - Band Life

I’ve always thought about being in a band, touring, having fans shout my lyrics, wearing a black leather jacket, you know, the usual band stuff. There’s just something so appealing about choosing that path in life and not settling for a corporate job and not having to chat about ‘invoices’ with some guy named Dave.  For musicians, people actively consume and use what they create. We all listen to music, sometimes for distraction, motivation, to find peace, or because it reminds of us a specific time in our lives. I admire creative people. They take risks and are working to create a physical representation of something they feel inside. That’s goddamn beautiful. I respect musicians or people in a band because as a group, they can create a unique sound, which will ultimately have an influence on a large part of the population. If a song on YouTube only has 50,000 views, we think, “Well that’s not very much”. I don’t think I could speak to 50,000 individual people even if I had a whole month to try to do so.


We've all seen the videos of bands performing live and there are thousands of people chanting your lyrics, and going crazy simply because the band walked onstage. What other profession can give you instant gratification like that? Movies aren't live, and even during broadway plays, the applause is saved until the end. Comedians get immediate laughs, and although comedy is an art, I don't think it's comparable to music. However, I guarantee you people lost their mind at an AC/DC concert when the opening strums to Thunderstuck were first played. Or who doesn't sing along at an Aerosmith or Blink 182 or Bon Jovi, or Imagine Dragons concert? Or what about those moments when the lead singer holds the microphone out to the audience and thousands of people sing the words that you once wrote on a piece of paper? Incredible. All I'm saying is, being in a band would be amazing, and yet, from the recent deaths within the music industry, also extremely challenging.


I think people like musicians because the risk they take is personal. They aren’t producing something for anyone else besides themselves. The music they create reflects themselves and their body of work is largely a story about themselves. Songs about relationships, breakups, heartache, adventure, and life are generally drawn from real experiences. Now this isn’t true for all music. Movie scores are created to suit a scene and intended to evoke a certain response. Other music is created based on a demand from the music label or the ‘powers that be’. Pop music is manufactured based on what the masses want. But bands, in my opinion, at least start out with pure intentions. 

When I refer to a band, I’m talking about a group of people who got together at a young age and said, “Let’s make music for us”. They had nothing to lose, no label to answer to, and no pressure besides creating something unique. I respect that. It’s hard for many people to turn down a paid job to make music without the promise of a future. It’s a risk, and as someone who was never willing to pursue my fantasy of being an actor, I salute you. 

My friend is in a band and although I hate his music, I respect that he plays shows in dirty dive bars and he gives it his all. I should clarify that he plays experimental-punk-noise-metal. It’s unexplainable; I’m struggling to describe what I’ve witnessed at the many shows I’ve been to. It’s one of those bands whereas they play, I look at the person next to me and ask, “Do you they suck or are they genius?” But that’s not the question my friend asks himself. He enjoys playing music, the people he plays with are super cool dudes, and each week they go onstage and play for the sake of playing; mostly because they only get paid in drink tickets. And regardless of my lack of enthusiasm for his music, the fact he has a full-time job, but still finds time to play in a band, that’s something I can support. 

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City).