One thing that has seemed to stick with me over the past decade or so is that I am a unique spirit when it comes to the music I promote. Girls I have dated tried desperately to open me up to certain artists/genres/etc. – to no avail. It was not always that way, though. There was a time when my musical desires were manufactured by another. Perhaps that is the sole purpose for this – to truly find out where my roots begin and end?
I have been one of the lucky ones – never really having to deal with death throughout my childhood. I was at this weird age, where all my grandparents were quite young (young parents, etc.) and so throughout my entire youth, including high school – they were around, serving as a musical conscience in the back of my mind. Starting with my grandmother, who I have always referred to as Abbey – my relationship with her was always very strong as a child (as are most with their grandmothers). The prime musical relationships I took from that very “real” relationship were The Bee Gees and Michael Jackson. To this day, those roots never died or trimmed – they just collectively rested, waiting for what was next to come.
Every child has some Country & Western influence (well, maybe not), and my childhood was no different. My grandfather, known to me and my siblings as Bampie, laid the foundation for the small amount of country that would stick with me years later. A huge fan of Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Cash, I reflect back to those days at the harness (horse) races and the county fairs watching all the “not so young” people dancing the night away, drinking their Busch Light and Michelob Ultra – Good times.
The next segment will speak to my parents – both of whom had their own unique grasp on what the future would hold. I would say they both occupied a large piece of my musical identity at least until high school came.
My father and mother shared many loves for music, but they each had their own distinct element. My mother was a bit heavier – Skid Row, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Sepultura, etc. She also crossed over into many of my uncle’s favorites (her brother), including Dream Theater, Tool, Queensryche and many others. A lot of the feminine acts like Motley Crue, Guns & Roses, Poison, amongst many others, got lost in the noise. They’re power just was not enough to sit well with either the 6-year old version of me, or my family – it was a tad too girly, I suppose.
My father, on the other hand was more of the softy (when compared to my mother). Bands like Styx, Live, Toad The Wet Sprocket and U2 were mostly present when I would visit him (parents split when I was fairly young). Never did I once complain, or branch off to find my own musical identity. I was too busy soaking up all of the awesomeness that my parents handed down to me. This was of course, in a time when Boyz II Men and a lot of that garbage were “killing it” over the wavelengths – no thanks.
Unfortunately, it was late middle school/early high school when I began to branch apart from what my family had always pounded into my ear drums. This was at a time when the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync really took over. I mean, looking back – it was disgusting. But hey, something has to explain all the “-core” we are seeing today – why not this? Luckily for me, my best friend throughout my childhood opened me up to hip-hop around the same time. Aaron Farmer – God rest his soul – showed me the world of 2pac, Ruff Ryders, Nas, Eminem and Dr. Dre. I am not only thankful for his friendship and brotherly love – but for hardening me during that crucial time when “It’s Gonna Be Me” got far too many plays in the confines of my bedroom walls.
As high school progressed, so did Nu-Metal. Korn, Mudvayne, Breaking Benjamin, Staind and others in similar fashion became my go-to. This was also a time when the members of Metallica re-introduced themselves into my life. I could not help but become amazed by the band’s power and skill. My good friend, Brandon Casper, along with myself made it our life-long goal to see them together at some point in our lifetime – only took us till 18 – not bad.
This was also a time when varying forms of black/death metal starting presenting themselves to me. As a clean-cut, 3-sport athlete – this was not a commonality amongst my peers. I realized that then, and it still amuses me to this day. Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Children of Bodom, In Flames, Chthonic and many others started to appear quite frequently in my play rotation. This was also during the time that AFI and Alkaline Trio both became a very serious part of my life. While the themes of their music seemed dark to some, I was actually at my “most normal” and happiest times during the time-frame that these bands became so important to me. The change in concept and the overall theme to the music I was spinning was a concern to those closest to me, but I could not be deterred. The way I saw it, and still see it today – the bands are insanely talented and creative – so why the hell would I not enjoy what they are giving back to the world? Honestly, I think Coheed & Cambria was really the one bright spot (conceptually) the last year of high school for me. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the video for “The Favor House Atlantic” thinking, “Oh my God…what have I just found?”
So, college began. A little ways into my sophomore year at The University of Maine, my college roommate Jon Charette got to see a rather unpleasant transformation. I had a pretty serious break-up that year and whilst living in the dorms, I went through a bit of a changeover. Bands like The Used, Senses Fail, From Autumn to Ashes, Rise Against, Brand New were some that I would have never given the time of day. But their lyrical messages spoke volumes to me – most, of heartbreak and overcoming – and I loved that. This was also a time in my life where I found Paramore – a band that many of my friends said “you’ll be over this by next month.” They were this pleasant mix between No Doubt and Blink-182, and I just couldn’t help but know every little thing I could about the band. It literally became an obsession – and while I still nurture that relationship with the band, perhaps I have cooled my jets a bit, since those early days when nobody really even knew who they were.
At the same time as all of this, this was also a time in my life where The Vans Warped Tour played a pretty important role. And so, many bands that were regulars also became regulars in my playlists. My brother also formed his own identity, musically around this time – and I began to feed off of that. The Devil Wears Prada, A Day to Remember, Killswitch Engage, Underoath were a huge part of those later college years (mostly due to my younger brother). But nothing drew more importance than finding Kezia by Protest the Hero. I was a year late, 2006, but the album instantly became one of my all-time favorites – and the band themselves, did as well.
As college drew to a close, so did my relationship with the northeast. One that had lasted my entire youth, 21 years had come and gone and it was time for Jarrod to grow up a little. So, along with Drew Church (my brother/best bud), we packed up our cars and said goodbye to an overly hysterical mother. Luckily, the 30-hour adventure had a 4-day pit-stop to New York to see two outstanding ladies and a Central Park Paramore show. Not only did it have the lengthy intercession, but we were loaded with regard to our music collection. It would literally take 40 days to go through all of the music we had at our disposal (at about 50 days, now), and so the trip was a piece of cake, to be honest. While my brother will always consider me to be the best “finder” of new artists/bands – I can honestly say that he changed me in a lot of ways. He carried the load, when I was busy starting a career. Drew made it possible for me to stay in love with music – to keep that relationship firm, a commitment that took to the backseat for a few years. For that I thank him.
Over those two great years having him as a roommate (we had some serious ghetto-times thanks to Ramen and apartment floods, etc.), we became roadies in a sense. Travelling all over Oklahoma and Texas catching pretty much any show we could get our hands on. Drew turned yours truly into the oldest, youngest looking “scene kid” you ever met – minus the hair thing. Asking Alexandria, We Came As Romans, Alesana, Motionless In White, August Burns Red, I See Stars were kind of a rotating pattern during those years. I feel like one of those bands were travelling through the Midwest every month or so, making it extremely hard to save any money, oh well.
This was at the time I was a Manager for an entertainment store (music included) and so my musical tastes seemed to broaden a tad. Lydia, Shiny Toy Guns, Needtobreathe, The Format, Band Of Horses were among some that stretched their arms out to me in hopes of bringing me down a couple notches. I accepted the balance, although my brother hinted at his displeasure from time to time – suck it, Drew.
After Drew left for Maine, to return to school, I was again left in a position I knew all too well – relying solely on myself again for finding new artists to continue this life-long process of layering the old, the semi-old, the new and the future. Not that I minded, but it actually became another version of homework for me, in some ways I suppose. I think that is the reason that my musical “likes” began to seem like a clusterf@#! in more ways than one. Nicki Minaj, Laura Stevenson, Kid Cudi, Manchester Orchestra, Set Your Goals were some of the many over those two years or so. It was literally my goal to fill my mind with as much music as possible – it was a rebirth in a lot of ways – I had not had this much focus on appreciation since my days in college. As I mentioned, the responsibility was resting on my shoulders only.
Around the latter half of 2011, I was taking a few more steps toward my dream career of financial planning – it has always been my goal to be a highly sought-after and acclaimed advisor. My experience in management and the love I fell in with it left me slightly confused, in terms of what it was I was really looking for in this life. It finally occurred to me that over time I could run my own firm, overseeing not only clients, but my own crew of advisors. The problem was this – I had this itching desire to write and further my development in that area of expertise as well – solely in the area of my other love – music. So, I thought “Why can I not do both?” It then began yet another chapter or journey in my life, where it became my goal to capture two goals at once. While the two seemed infinitely separated, not only with regard to the lifestyle/appearance, but also the accomplishment just came off to me as an impossible outcome. While the primary goal seemed in reach – my education, background, etc. – it only made me work harder toward my other goal. What I lacked in education and training, I made up for with passion and writing the way I speak.
So, here I am today. Over the past year, with MindEqualsBlown, I have relocated back to the northeast for my primary occupation, and more importantly I have grown as a writer and as a listener. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? The way we all listen to music – perceive it – accept it – love it. It’s what brings us all together, a common passion that we share, but share in our own unique way. While I am still growing as a listener, mainly, it is my roots – where they begin, and where they will eventually end – that truly represent my own unique taste and appreciation. The places I have been, the people that have crossed my path and things I have seen – I am forever in debt to you, for creating this unending journey I am currently embarked upon – stay tuned.