BY Erik “E-Rock” Rogers

This time around I want to focus on the “pro” part of SoundProLive.

Recently I was contacted for a job that should keep me busy for the bulk of the year.  It’s a good gig with good people and I was/am honored and proud that my talents have impressed the people charged with hiring crew.  After the initial interview and subsequent follow-up interview over the phone I was hired.  It was a lock, or so I thought… 

We’ll get back to that…

A few years ago, while going through a rather painful divorce, I was also overseas with a very high-profile artist.  I was very proud of myself for landing the gig but my heart and mind were 14,000 miles away with my family that was falling apart

No one wants to work around people with a poor attitude.  In my case I carried myself with an overinflated ego and a sense of entitlement.  My shit didn’t stink.  Anyone around me would know my resume because I would tell them.  Rather than demonstrate my skills I was happy to tell anyone who would listen how great I was.  I used my mouth to boost my ego in order to compensate for the reality that everything that I loved was falling apart.  How were my coworkers to know that I really wasn’t that guy that they were growing to hate, rather I was someone who was in the middle of a tragedy needing emotional support and probably shouldn’t have been out there in the first place because of it?

Over the years I have tried to distance myself from that gig.  My divorce is long past and I actually have a very good parenting relationship with my ex-wife.  Some counseling, a few good friends, and a renewed faith in God have me centered and balanced.  I am confident in my talents and skills and I carry myself with professionalism and humility (mixed with a bit of sass and sarcasm when appropriate) when on a gig.  I’ve actually made amends with some of the crew mates from that old client and have good working relationships with them to this day.

But there’s a reason that artist isn’t on my resume.  I know I made more enemies than friends out there.

Back to the present…

My flight and hotel is already booked.  I’ve been hired, welcomed aboard, given the nickel tour, and the tour is looking forward to my arrival in 2 weeks.  Then the text message comes: “Hey, did you ever tour with _________?”  I find myself reliving the hell I went through 4 years ago explaining myself and my actions to my new employer(s) who were only looking out for their client.  Then the big bomb is dropped on me.  “Thanks for explaining, Erik.  If you can get me three more references so I can have your back, we’ll put this to bed.”

I thought I had references.  Looking over my perfectly manicured resume I realize that I know a lot of people in this industry.  Then it dawns on me… I’m not the only person who knows a lot of people.  This business of ours has a relatively small community and word travels fast.  Bad news travels extremely fast and, evidently, has a long shelf life.

While revisiting all of the debilitating feelings that resurfaced I now find myself reaching out to my references.  Some of them are close friends but all of them are respected in their field within this business.  I’m not one to mix my business and personal lives so it was very humbling and embarrassing to reach out to these people and explain to them that I need a specific reference in regards to my character and explain why to them.  I have never felt so weak. …so exposed

Fortunately for me, my work before and after that low point is solid enough to warrant a good reference and my friendships in the business are strong enough to see beyond my embarrassing faults.  I’m proud to still have the gig and I’m looking forward to a long relationship with them.

As an added bonus this story comes with an epilogue.  Less than a day after the references that I needed came through for me I was called by a friend with another high profile artist who is looking for crew.  As fortune would have it, my name was a reference for someone interested in the gig.  I was happy to give a glowing referral and honored that I’m held in enough regard to be someone else’s reference.

Stay grounded.  Stay humble.  Remember, your actions and your attitude define who you are.  You job title is meaningless if you’re an asshole.