The road ahead….

Comments: 19

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.

-TJ

19 Comments

  • Rick T says:

    Great comeback story. There us something magical about Nevermore and Warrel Dane’s lyrics that permeate the soul. Glad you stuck to your guns and guitars and didn’t allow others to change your path or crush your dreams. Stay Metal…. Nevermore Forevermore 🤟🎸

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thank you! Yeah Warrel Dane had a way with expression pure emotion through his lyrics. I try to put my own emotions into the lyrics I write. Thanks again for the kind words! Stay metal.

  • Jeff says:

    Awesome story! Music kicks ass!Halloween is a awesome band !definitely will get cd! You should contract George neal from Halloween hes a dj on sonic asylum radio! Or on of the other djs definitely will play your music!\m/

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thank you so much for your support! That is a great idea, I will reach out to sonic asylum radio and see what we can do!

  • carl says:

    We all start somewhere musically,then find metal.I jokingly say playing music is the longest/best relationship I have been in.BTW,love the songs you sent.

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Oh absolutely! Music tends to give you this feeling of belonging. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoy the songs! 😀

  • Jonny Paton says:

    Songs are awesome mate!

  • Tony Barfield says:

    That’s definitely a heartfelt story TJ.I definitely can relate.Iam really diggin Salvations End!!

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thank you my friend, I’m really glad you enjoy the music! You’ll hear within the tracks a lot of emotion went into it. Thanks for the support! 😀

  • Martin Jacques says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us TJ. I’m glad you found yourself in music eventually. Also, thanks for the tracks which I’m enjoying listening to. When I was a teenager (long time ago back in the 80s. I started off to listening to pop/chart music at the time (which was much better in those days) moving into goth, indie, prog and metal as I got older and my taste widened.Love music today and going to gigs and collecting CDs and vinyl. It’s also helped me get thorough mental health issues along the way. Now in my fifties and still rockin’! Good luck with your career!

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thank you for the kind words! It’s amazing how music can really impact someone on such an emotional level. It’s very inspiring to read all the positive feedback and hear that others much like yourself have gone through similar things that I myself have gone through and continue to go through.

      Thank you for your support!

      P.S.
      80’s pop rules!

      \m/

  • Mike Sallee says:

    That’s an encouraging Story TJ, way to persevere! I’ve only heard the three songs so far from Salvations End, but I really dig them. You guys got so much talent and insane musical chops. I can’t cetianly tell the amount of time you put into your craft, that’s how you get good. Dream Theater is probably my favorite band of all time, and you guys are playing up that standard. I’ll keep checking out your music and would like to get a cd. Thanks for sharing your story.I’m a guitar player too in my mid forties, I had a nice go at it for a while in a couple different bands. Life got in the way and sadly music got pushed aside, but I talk play and write songs from time to time..

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words and support Mike! Dream Theater is one of my favorite groups as well. The great thing about music is it’s a continuous learning experience and you keep developing your playing/writing. I Would love to check out some of your music sometime dude!

      Thanks again for the support!

  • David Anthony Rees says:

    Wow! You really have been through some tough times. Yes! There is a light within the darkness. You searched for that light and you found it. You came back fighting against your personal Demons and won. There is a song by Disturbed called, A reason to fight. It deals with mental health issues. Very strong and uplifting. So glad and really happy for you, that you came out on top. Really looking forward to hearing your material 😀👍👍

    • TJ Richardson says:

      Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to read. 😀 Be sure to let me know what you think of the music once you have had a chance to listen!

  • Maria Schatz says:

    I know what you mean about being bullied. I was from 10th-12th grade,I was so sad that I wanted to quit school. My parents wouldn’t let me. I was bullied by 2 different groups of people,a group of guys said that I looked like an ape. And the other group was of girls because I was a fan of Phil Collins. I even got punched in the face for liking him. They had some dumb rumor going around he was dead in 1983-1985 for some crazy reason. I submerged myself in music.

    • TJ Richardson says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, getting picked on for your taste in music is really unsettling. I was a metal head all through high school but I also love classical music and jazz. I found myself drawn to gothic orchestral music which influenced the metal I tend to write. Kids in high school always try to pick on people who they don’t understand. It helps them cope with the trouble in their own lives. It’s unfortunate and something I’ll never truly understand. Thank you for the support and I’m glad you like the music. 😀

  • Willie Toro says:

    Awesome!

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