It’s been months, but we’re so glad to have JR Wasilewski of Less Than Jake back to do a new Contributor Blog for PropertyOfZack. In his new blog, JR discusses the true toll life on the road can take on any musician regardless of how well they’re living the dream, friends wanting to trade places and not realizing the downsides of tour life, loss of sleep, and much more. Check it out below and enjoy!
It’s inevitable. I always have a few days on tour where I go to bed at 4 am, only to wake up (for no apparent reason) around 8 am and can’t fall back to sleep. I’m not sure exactly why it is that this happens: too much coffee, not enough beer, too much beer, it’s hot in the bunks, the driver is doing his best impersonation of Dale Earnhardt? I just decided that I must be a person with poor sleeping habits.
I have always had a battle with slumber. Its never ending. When I lay down, I can’t quiet my mind. Its like my brain says ‘GET UP ASSHOLE! ITS MY TIME NOW!’ Every little thing I could possibly think of has a full on bumper car session in my brain for what seems like hours. Because of this I have a nearly impossible time falling asleep in a quiet room. I need the sound of something. But NO MUSIC. Music makes my brain work even faster. A lot of people say ‘Oh! Just turn on some classical music! So easy to fall asleep to.’ Not for me. While it’s playing along I actually see the composer’s score in my head. My arm wants to conduct the piece so I sometimes actually start doing it. My tour roommate usually tends to think I’m insane, and I am, but sometimes I think this self-diagnosed insomnia is like some sort of punishment.
The worst part is when I have an idea that causes me to get out of bed to start pursuing it. The most common “offenders” are a lyric idea, chord progression or a melody that pops into my head. I lay there and try to convince myself that the idea is shit and to go to sleep. Then my brain says ‘…but what if you don’t record it and you forget it?’ In life, I always would rather have a shitty idea than no idea at all, so I always get up and then “the game” starts:
The game is called: Sleep or No Sleep.
There are no winners at this game. It’s the lesser of two evils, frankly. As I continue to stay up and watch the hours dwindle away to the witching hour where I actually have to do something of consequence, I start the conversation with myself:
“Maybe I should just stay up until I have to go.”
“Dude, that is a STUPID idea.”
“But if I sleep now it’s like…what…2 hours? I’ll feel like shit.”
“You’ll feel worse if you don’t and you know it.”
“Just have some coffee…”
It’s always something like that. The internal conversation between the 16 year old version of me and the 36 year old version of me. Basically, The Kid wants to stay up all night. The Adult knows that is a stupid idea. Yet, The Kid idea seems to always win out in this argument. Sadly, The Adult body of mine has to pay the price.