The road ahead is long and dark, but there’s always a light. Even if it’s just the smallest of specks, it’ll always shine through the darkness. This is where my story begins: on that very dark road, searching for the light.
I was always into music; trying to find that spark was a challenge, though. I used to do nothing but play video games and skateboard from time to time. I felt empty no matter what I had done. I tried getting into film production, sports, video games, and art. I didn’t have a direction to cling onto. Middle school and freshman year of high school were extremely tough, being picked on for how I looked and dressed. It didn’t help the fact that I went to a private school, so I had to wear dress clothes all the time. The longer I spent there, the more isolated I became. It got to the point of me not wanting to go at all.
So comes the summer of 2005 and Gigantour. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t much of a metalhead. Strangely enough, my metal knowledge back then consisted of Dream Theater, Skid Row, Savatage, and all of the glam metal bands from the 80s. I know, pretty embarrassing, right? But hey, I was 15 at the time and had no clue about what else was out there musically. At the venue, I saw something I never thought I’d ever see. Gothic girls wearing Children of Bodom shirts, and dudes with super long hair. Everyone was wearing black, and then there was me – a young kid who was completely out of his element. I remember being welcomed, though, by everyone at that show. They looked at me as an equal, which is something that I’d never felt before. I remember when Nevermore took the stage; I was sitting there watching, in awe. Jeff’s guitar playing really impressed me; at the time, I’d never heard anything like that before. I knew right then and there that I wanted to pick up a guitar and do whatever I could to get to that level. Needless to say, I went back to school the following year dressed in all black with my hair grown a little longer, listening to Megadeth, Nevermore, Symphony X, all of my favorite groups. Surprisingly, I made new metalhead friends and the bullying stopped all together. I finally felt that I was starting to find myself.
A few months later, my dad bought me an inexpensive Ibanez for my birthday and a small Peavey practice amp. I would spend 10 hours a day playing. I would come home from school and ignore my homework just to play guitar. I refused to go on family trips in order to stay home and practice. I’d hang out with my friends from time to time, but most of the time, I was playing guitar. I saved up as much money as I could and bought my first 7 string. I loved that guitar. I was almost like a real-life version of Skwisgaar from Metalocalypse, always carrying a guitar around with me no matter where I went.
Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a turn down a dark path and everything in my world flipped upside down. Once my father heard that I wanted to be a professional musician and that was all I wanted to do, he wasn’t happy. He said that I needed a back up plan and being a professional musician couldn’t be my full time job, even going as far as to question the style of music I was writing and playing. I had to move away from my friends and family to a new state and go to a new school. My stepdad and I weren’t getting along well at home, and the girl I was dating a the time thought my dream of being a full time musician was “childish” so she left me. As soon as I went to the new school, the bullying started up again, this time from jocks who thought it would be fun to pick on the new kid for his taste in music and his looks. I became super depressed and had no idea where I was going. That feeling of total isolation came back and my depression skyrocketed, so I kept playing my guitar, even falling asleep with it at night, because that was the only thing in my life that I was certain of. The mental abuse and bullying really took its toll, so I found a sanctuary in the band Nevermore. Listening to their songs really helped me get through everything, all the pain and anguish in my life. The words they sang and music they played made me feel like there was someone else out there who understood my struggles.
I know it’s a sad story so far, but guess what? It gets better!
Luckily, we moved back home and I was around my family again. I was able to find a band to jam with, which lead to the opportunity to join the Detroit heavy metal band Halloween, where I worked closely with my mentor and friend, Brian Thomas. He showed me the business and taught me a lot along the way. I still dealt with girlfriends who didn’t believe in my dream and who were abusive, but I refused to let that stop me. I eventually found myself a girl who believes in and supports my musical endeavors. After leaving Halloween to focus on Salvation’s End, I’m still really good friends with those guys. My dad is now very supportive and helps along the way as I try to push this band as far as I can while giving really helpful advice. My stepdad and I are super close now; we always enjoy talking to each other and hanging out. The amount of support that I get from him and my mother is amazing.
Even when things seem dark and there’s no going up, believe me when I say that it will. There’s always a light within the darkness. It’s your will and determination that will always guide you. Never give up, my friends. Your dreams matter.