On December 8, 2012, I turned 50-years-old. Yeah, that’s right: 50.
Like most people my age, I don’t feel 50. I'm not sure what age I feel, but it’s not 50.
Admittedly, I’m out of shape but that’s only because I had hernia surgery in the summer and I wasn’t able to do anything physical for about two months. Also, my energy level isn’t what is used to be when I was 20 and I make grunty noises, the same noise my dad used to make (still does make,) when I climb out of bed.
That said, at the playground with my 8-year-old, I’m the dad climbing all over the equipment, playing tag with all the neighbourhood kids. I’m the dad diving headfirst on the toboggan to fly down the hill. I’m the dad who is also a drummer in a rock band.
The rock band is nothing new. I’ve been playing drums for several decades. In the 90s, I was in punk rock band and we tried to make it big. We released two CDs, printed t-shirts and stickers, played many gigs and even toured for a bit.
We didn’t make it big, but we had a lot of fun.
Like the times in Banff. Those shows were held a country bar that allowed a snowboarding shop to put on a punk rock show one Monday a month. Somehow we became the regular opening band. Every show was total mayhem, over 400 or so snowboarders moshing like crazy to our music. Once and awhile there was a stage diver and we always sold a lot of merch.
Sitting behind the drums, watching that kind of chaos, was thrilling. We never got that kind of reaction back home in Edmonton. People liked us, but there was never any mayhem. For those brief sets in Banff, I felt a bit like a rock star. Or at the very least, a member of a well-known punk rock band.
Getting to those show in Banff was something else, though. Since the other guys in the band worked shifts, they could adjust their work hours to compensate. So they usually left early in the day to give themselves more time in Banff. I wasn’t so lucky, even though I work for advertising company that allowed us to drink beer on Fridays.
In order to make these incredibly frenetic shows, I would leave work at 3:30 pm, drive the five hours to Banff (regardless of the weather), set up my drums as soon as I arrived, grab something to eat and drink, and by 9:30 or 10, we would play our set.
After the craziness, I’d have to tear down my drums immediately after our last song in order to make room for the headliner. Then a quick sinkside wash to scrape off the sweat, and back into my car.
Instead of driving the full five hours back to Edmonton at night, I would usually stop at my parents house in Calgary. I’d arrive just after midnight, take a quick shower to completely get rid of the sweat and crash in the spare bedroom. I’d wake up at five and be out of the house, never even seeing my parents.
A drive back to Edmonton, with a quick breakfast drive-thru on the way, and I’d be at my desk by nine, ready to write ad copy. I did that trip about five times in six months. And even though I was much younger, around 35-years-old, it almost killed me.
I’m too old now to attempt such a feat again. Still, I can rock out on the drums the same way I could when I was 35. I’m playing in a different band now, a bunch of old family guys with kids. We call ourselves Beerbelly and we would love the name to be ironic, but it’s not. We all like beer and our metabolism has slowed.
Now that I'm 50, I wonder if it’s too late; if it’s too late to become a rock star? I’ve had success as a writer, in fact, all the dreams I had as a 20-year-old writer have all come true before I turned 50. I have new writer dreams now.
But I also have musician dreams.
I know there are a lot of rock stars my age, many much older. Heck, the Rolling Stones have been a band as long as I have been alive. But those folks became rock stars in their 20s, even earlier.
But to become a rock star at 50 when you haven’t been a rock star before, would be, well... not just cool but a life changing experience.
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t some mid-life crisis or pathetic attempt to recapture my youth because I’ve been working in a dead end job and life sucks at 50. I love my life because it’s exactly what I dreamt it would be. I’ve pursued and succeeded in my dreams to be a writer/novelist and will continue to do so. I have a beautiful and intelligent wife and daughter. There is no way I’m going to give that up to live some kind of hedonist rock and roll lifestyle because I’m worried about my mortality.
I don’t even have to become a rock star. It would be great to be a member of a band that gets mentioned, even briefly, in a major music magazine. A band that’s big enough so that when we play a show, there’s some other guy setting up and tearing down my drums. And another guy driving the bus.
A band that no matter which town we play in, there’s about 400-500 folks itching to see us; just like those punk rock shows I used to play in Banff when I was in my 30s.