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‘To be a chaser of dreams, at least some part of you must believe that those dreams can be caught.’
As I sit there in the parking lot behind the venue, a few blocks from the beach and just a short drive from the Mexican border in California, I have one of the most inspiring conversations of my life with True Press’s singer Pedro Gabriel.
You know, music is life for us. The band, the songs, the message… all of it just comes together in this beautiful whole when you put the right intention into the things you do. But lots of people don’t understand what it really takes to write music, to be in a band, and to choose this path of life. It’s not as easy as some might imagine. We truly believe in what we do, and that’s what brings us over the hurdles and anything else that might step in the way of making our dreams a reality. If you don’t really believe that it can happen, you probably won’t hang long enough to make it happen.
It Ain’t Easy, but Anything Is Possible
From the outside, sometimes it does look sort of easy to be in a band. Before I was ever in one, I would have said the same thing… play shows, celebrate before and after the show, travel cool places… but believe me, it’s not that easy. To be in a band, and to truly want to make something out of it, you have to first believe that anything is possible.
When ‘True Press’, a reggae-rock band from Monrovia California released their most recent album titled ‘Anything Is Possible’, I knew I had to write about it. Not only have I long-known and come to appreciate these guys as wonderful people, musicians and friends, but this album title struck a strong chord with me, as it should to anyone who is a dreamer and believes that they can accomplish whatever they want in life.
So here I sit, relaxed and content in True Press’s long white tour van. We’re parked outside ‘Typhoon Saloon’ in Pacific Beach San Diego. I talk, laugh and listen as the band, friends, fans and really whoever wants to steps in to unwind before their show.
Through smoky eyes we watch the world around us, the faded bench seats below providing some of the only sleep these guys ever see when they’re touring around the country with bands like Fortunate Youth. I breathe in and listen as we talk about how hard it is being in a band sometimes, and the trials and tribulations one must go through if they want to make their dreams a reality.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s amazing, and we love what we do. But lots of people don’t see the amount of work that goes into playing a 45 minute set, or a 3-hour set for that matter. Everyone here is passionate about what they do, and it can be hard to choose which way a song will go or how we’ll do one thing or another. We all have nothing but respect for each other and for every time we’re blessed enough to play and spread our music to the world… but behind all that we’re guys who work our asses off and do this every single day of our lives.
Sometimes it’s not easy compromising on things or listening to feedback, but it’s part of the process. And what brings us through the trials and tribulations every single time is realizing that there’s that one common point we all share–the dream that we’re all willing to dedicate our lives to accomplishing–and that is to play music and spread positive vibes to the world for a living. Sure, we have our hard times, but with that grand vision in mind it makes it a lot easier to overcome anything that might come our way.
Being in a band can be about a lot of things, but for bands like True Press it’s about realizing dreams. It’s about getting up every single day with a positive attitude and knowing that every chord you play and every lyric that touches the paper has the power to create positive changes and really help people.
One of the hardest parts about being in a band is starting out. Before anyone else will believe in you, you have to go ahead and believe in yourself.
As we stood outside and prepared to enter the venue there was a sort of post-Halloween daze in the air, and myself, K.P. (drums), Johnny (bass) and our amazing friends Kara Lyn of the So Cal Street Team and Edgar Gayton of ‘The Pier’ stood there getting ready for the SM Familia, True Press and Hirie show.
It’s definitely not easy getting people to come out and support you before you even really know who you are as a band. In the beginning it’s family, friends and maybe one or two drunks who happen to stumble in for a drink watching your show.
Slowly but surely though, you find the people who will support you and who are passionate about the music and stand behind the message, and these are truly the people who will never leave your side. Like you Kara Lyn… you would drive 2+ hours to see a show of ours long before we were playing anything close to a packed venue. It’s seeing support and dedication like that that really gives us the motivation and will to push on when it’s tough… there’s nothing as amazing as witnessing your music truly affect someone and shine a positive light in their life.
Ha, those were some awesome times. Seriously, it was absolutely shocking to us that someone would drive that far to see us play back then. It’s people like Kara Lyn who really start movements. And not surprisingly, she has now organized a nationwide street team of dedicated people willing to spread music and promote shows and really support bands both big and small all over the place. It’s just amazing seeing things come together like that.
Kara Lyn stood with us and smiled her big loving smile, bashfully of course, as a person of such a humble demeanor does. People like herself and Edgar Gayton can be found at almost any reggae-rock show on any given night that takes place in the lower half of California and beyond. When you’re in a newer band and you’re not so sure of yourself or your show or anything, it’s people like this who come out to support, and really lend musicians the confidence and will to push on when it seems like nothing is happening.
Perhaps the biggest part of a musician’s career can come down to one thing… fans. Without fans, there’s not really a career. And with my experience, the more you put yourself out there, connect with fans and really show an appreciation for the people coming out there to support you, the more rapidly you will find yourself surrounded by wonderful people who really stand by your message.
Chris (True Press):
It’s all about connecting with people for me. There’s a connection we feel on stage, both to the crowds and each other, and there’s nothing like that connection. But now with social media, it’s possible to truly stay connected to existing fans and friends, and also meet new ones and find out who people really are and what your music means to them.
I thrive off meeting and connecting with people all day long through various forms of social media, and it’s so awesome being able to pull that curtain down that separates the fans from the bands and really get to know people. It’s amazing to me to play in a small town across the country and have someone come up to you that you’ve never actually met but you already know their favorite song, what they do for a living and how they found out about you.
Music is about connecting with people, and I just want to take that experience to the next level. Why wait until we’re on the road to let our music heal and spread positive vibes? Why not begin by doing it every single day no matter where I am, and work to really get our message out there as much as we possibly can. We are truly blessed to do what we do, and I feel it is my responsibility to pass those blessings to everyone I speak to.
For anyone out there who knows Chris, he truly is a networking genius, and one of the friendliest and most positive guys I know. Because of his grassroots approach and the belief in every meaningful connection he establishes, the band has been able to spread their positive vibes far past their hometown and into the consciousness of good-vibes-spreaders all over the world.
You Have to Start Somewhere
Back in the van, as genuine smiles passed around between us all, I felt the joyous glow of being around a band who has put the work in, years of it, and who truly appreciates what it takes to pursue a life of music.
Before there are thousands of screaming fans, giant tour buses and sold out stadiums and amphitheaters, there are small clubs and one or two awesome people who will drive a couple of hours just to hear your songs. This is how it begins, and there’s no limit to how far it can go with a positive mindset and the purpose to make things happen.
I won’t pretend it’s easy being in a band, or for anyone following their dreams every single day. But there’s a feeling that comes when all of us look at each other on stage and truly appreciate a stunningly beautiful moment, or when you’ve been trying for hours to find the right lyric or melody and all of a sudden like a flash it comes to you, or when someone you don’t know comes up to you and tells you how much your music changed their life… that’s where the magic in music is. There will always be the ups and the downs, but at the end of the day we all love what we do, and moments like I just told you make every single bit of it worth it.
When I first began writing ‘Anything Is Possible’, I thought critically of myself: ‘Maybe it was too common a phrase for a song.’ But when you truly look at those words and believe what they stand for and what they imply, then they become anything but ordinary. And to any band who is chasing their dream of playing music for a living and changing the lives of thousands and really impacting the world with a message, those are the exact words you have to embrace and live by… those are the words that will keep you going no matter what.
To be in a band is not a simple thing. I walked through the neon doors of the club that night and witnessed three outrageously talented bands go up and rock out to a packed house of passionate fans hungry for positive music and the experience of a phenomenal show. Hirie, True Press and SM Familia truly
But next time you witness the awesome power and magic of a person or group of people working hard to bring their dreams to reality, or if it’s you yourself that is trying to do so, remember with every bit of your being the timeless words of True Press: Anything Is Possible.