How I fell out of love with metal, and the gig that brought me back

It has been mused upon by many throughout time that ‘if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’. In my experiences, this isn’t true.

When you chase your dreams for so long, the unexpected outcome can be that your dreams become routine. I can still remember the day that I decided I wanted to work in heavy metal: 15 years old, listening to nu-metal, sweating it out in the kitchen of a fast food chain that provided my first ever employment, and deciding that normal employment was not the path for me. It started with writing album reviews for shitty webzines, and now at the age of 31, I can safely say I covered a lot of ground, made my teenage dreams a reality, and spent the majority of the last decade making a good honest living from a life of 24/7 metal and hardcore.
Bring it forward to 2018. The suicide of an old friend back in February pushed me over the brink, and into an alcoholic spiral – a natural inclination worsened by years spent getting paid to drink at venues all around the globe. With my world touring fill-in roles having come to an end, the subsequent collapse of yet another band of my own left me bewildered and incredibly angered. I decided to sober up.
I dealt with demons I’d previously used heavy metal to temper, but not eradicate. I felt myself growing calmer, and mentally stepping away from metal, while still needing to be involved in a professional capacity more than ever. What was once driven by pure passion had turned into at-times begrudging work, and I shied away from live music.
I felt burned by the closing of stage doors. Instead of ‘chasing the dream’, which had somehow become the metaphorical nine-to-five along the way, I turned my focus to simplicity: new proper adult house, less angry styles of music to listen to, a shedding of possessions, new hobbies, new love, and after being driven to my wits end by the pure toxicity of our online community, no more Facebook account. For the first time in a long time, I felt pretty good about everything, but there was still brewing resentment to a ride that had previously lifted me up so high.
Bring it forward to last weekend. I went to see Tasmanian death metal legends Psycroptic – a band that has basically become family to me – headline a sold-out show at Max Watt’s.
Having passed my six-month goal of sobriety, and feeling mentally healthier than ever, I decided to drink a beer. And then another. And then some shots. Before I realised what was happening, I was banging my head and raising the horns to the sky for the first time in many, many months. Once my fingers were locked in that position, something clicked back into place – a feeling I’d truly missed, and I subsequently blasted my way through one of the most fun nights I’ve had all year. My focus became calm, no longer urging to turn away, and maybe even wanting to be back up on that stage on entirely my own terms.
Taking a break? Good for your focus. Expansion? Healthy and necessary. Abandonment? Never – this is where I belong, and I’ve worked hard to have the privilege of being able to call heavy metal my job.