Originally written and appeared at:
Written by Mike Damante
Working while making music is a juggling act many Houston bands and artists struggle with on a daily basis. Whether the goal is to make the band a career or keep on playing just for fun, there are many obstacles in the way.
“No job, or lack of a job, will ever hinder that inner drive to pick up a guitar and belt your heart out,” said Jason Bancroft of Jason Bancroft and the Wealthy Beggars, who is a logistic loss-prevention supervisor for CVS.
Some stay close to the music scene, like Christian Larson, who plays guitar for Venomous Maximus and works at Warehouse Live. Larson books shows and gets to discover new bands and interact with touring musicians, which comes in handy for networking purposes.
Needing time off to tour can be a problem for many employers, but Buxton’s Chris Wise applauds his bosses at Cactus Music for understanding the necessity and difficulty that comes with touring and holding down a job.
Other musicians work with supportive co-workers who are willing to pick up the slack when needed.
“I am mercilessly at the whims of our customers at the sign installation shop I work for,” said a Thousand Colours’ Kenyon Puntenney. “When they need a job done at night, day or weekend, I have to be there to do it. My company has a small staff of seven employees, and all credit to them and my boss for picking up slack for me when I have a show. I’m fortunate enough to work for people who know and care that my dreams lie elsewhere.”
There are those who have jobs that go hand-in-hand with rock ’n’ roll. Randy Rost of Blackmarket Syndicate teaches music at School of Rock in Katy. And the American Heist’s Alex Cetina is a tattoo artist at Gaslight Gallery. He is also the owner, making it easier to book his own schedule.
“Playing in a band and running the shop both deserve my full attention, and I’m very passionate about both,” Cetina said. “When and if the band takes off, I’ll be in a good situation, because if you are decent at tattooing, it wouldn’t be an issue setting up guest spots at different tattoo shops along the route of a tour. That way I don’t have to sacrifice one passion for the other.”
Then there are those with jobs that aren’t related to the music scene but still require a creative mind. Jack Sananikone from Square and Compass is a visual FX artist and has worked on films such as “Project X,” “The Losers” and “Orphan.” Rapper Hollywood Floss is a special-education teacher at Killough Middle School and is a big fan of the flexibility of his schedule as well as the chance to stay plugged in to what’s popular with the kids.
“Having set hours allows for planning of studio time and shows, and having summer vacation/spring break allows for great tour planning,” Hollywood Floss said. “Working with youth also allows you to see what trends are in and what the future holds, which is great for inspiration.”
Ultimately, reality keeps many bands local, especially those who have families to support. Although some may never hit it big, they are still keeping the dream alive on their own terms.
“(Being in a band) makes choosing to use vacation days to record, tour or spend time with the family hard,” Bancroft said. “So, how does my job allow me to play music? It doesn’t, but I do anyway.”