From gross to just plain shady, musicians reflect on the best and worst jobs they’ve ever had
From the good to the bad to the just plain weird, everyone has memorable life moments. In AP #308, we asked some your favorite musicians what their best and worst jobs were. Here are their stories:
TOM WILLIAMS, Stray From The Path
I used to work in illegal poker clubs on Long Island, New York, as a dealer. I started doing this with James Vitalo from Backtrack. We did this to get by while our bands were starting to take off. In fact, he was working one night when it was raided by the police and had a shotgun pointed at him for a bit. To this day when I gamble with my friends on tour, whenever it’s my turn to shuffle, people are pretty surprised with how fast I can shuffle a deck of cards. It was pretty sick, but now seeing some people stuck in that lifestyle, I am so glad I got out of it. I was making really great money, but you eventually get stuck.
MATTY ARSENAULT, A Loss For Words
The best jobs I’ve ever had are the jobs I have now! The first is the obvious one: singing for A Loss For Words, and getting to travel the world and do what I love with my best friends. The second one is being a ground man for the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local 104. I work for a company called Northeast Power Line, and I have worked many natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. I’ve been on major emergency calls where I’ve had to restore the power in locations such hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire stations under really wild circumstances. I’m really thankful to be doing what I do and making a difference in the ways I know how.
BRIAN SELLA, The Front Bottoms
One of the best jobs I ever had came about when we had gotten off tour and were going to be home for a bit. I met a man named “Flosser” [name has been changed to protect the guilty. –ed.] at the Checkers drive-thru. He was giving me my food and started talking about the music we were listening to in the car. After a short conversation, he asked if I wanted to make some quick money. I knew it was shady but whatever; I needed the cash, and Flosser seemed like a real cool dude. He gave me $20 and another bag of “food” then told me to bring it to an address a few blocks away, drop it in the mail box and leave. “Don’t look in the bag. Don’t ask questions,” he said. It was so easy. I went back the next day and asked if he needed anything else delivered. Fortunately for me, he did. For the next three weeks, I delivered about four bags a day for Flosser. He would give me $20 each time. One day, I went to Checkers and asked if Flosser was around and if he had any work for me, like I always did. But this time, no one really wanted to talk to me. Finally after a few minutes of people ignoring me, one employee told me Flosser had stopped showing up for work and I should probably just forget about Flosser because he had gotten himself into some trouble and wouldn’t be around much anymore. I was sad because I never really got to say goodbye, and I have a feeling I’ll never see Flosser again. He was the best boss I ever had. In the end, I learned that crime pays—only till you get caught. Then, it’s a bummer.
RYAN NEFF, Miss May I
The best job I've ever had is being a part of Miss May I. A lot of people don't know that I left MMI for a stint in 2008-2009 to take another touring opportunity. When that fell apart, I was pretty miserable and didn't have much going for me. The guys picked me back up on my birthday in 2009 to begin touring with them on their first run with Impending Doom and Carnifex. The band also saved me from my worst job, which was the maintenance guy for a pet store, which pretty much meant I was cleaning animal poop five days a week. I was doing that for about three months just saving money to get my own band going again until the call came from MMI. I went from low to high in a matter of days.
BRENT RAMBLER, August Burns Red
The worst job I ever had was collecting garbage at a huge farmers market called Roots. We had to deal with all of the rotten food—and, of course, all of the gross rodents that came with it. Also, it wasn’t like a garbage man that you see around town, who actually gets paid decently; I’m pretty sure I earned minimum wage. Sometimes you have to do gross things to make ends meet. Luckily, I only did it for a short period of time while I was waiting for ABR to get their first tour offer. Hopefully when ABR tanks, I don’t have to move back into the garbage-man lifestyle.
ANDREW NEUFELD, Comeback Kid
When I first started touring, I didn’t really have time to get real, lasting jobs in between tours, but I needed money. I decided to join a day-labor program, where you show up at 5 a.m. and hope to get placed somewhere for the day. I assumed I would be able to do something menial but legit, perhaps a courier job. I had a shitty car but thought I could use it to my advantage. They ended up piling a few strangers in my car so I could drive us to this factory outside of the city. Upon arrival, I was told my position there would be to vacuum up water/sewage from the basement. From the looks of it, I was the first person ever given this position as the basement was basically a swamp, complete with frogs, shit (both human and animal) and waste everywhere. I would try to avoid vacuuming a frog or lizard and then back the vacuum up with shit and garbage. As I mentioned, I was hoping for courier, so I clearly wasn’t dressed for this position either. One of the sadder times I’ve ever had.
One of the worst jobs I’ve had was when [Hot Water Music guitarist/vocalist] and I worked for a construction company that built waste-management facilities in Florida. The job entailed carpentry, welding, cutting and recycling scrap steel and operating heavy machinery. When I joined the crew, the company was under investigation by the EPA. One of my many jobs in the stockyard was to “clean up” any discriminating evidence. A lot of it was very toxic waste. The owner cleaned much of it up, but we were ordered to cover up a lot of it, which we did. Not proud of it as it weighed heavy on the conscience, but I was young and the cupboards needed Ramen.