How far a distance are you willing to go to do what you really want? Sam Tore traveled a 30 year journey to pursue his childhood dream; the release of his debut album entitled “Haunted House”. In this post, Sam shares how just having a passion is not enough. He talks about the effort, time and perseverance that are involved in achieving success.
When we spend our present living with our negative memories from the past, our mind becomes a haunted house; a place inhabited by feelings, thoughts and emotions. This was me ten years ago.
It had been my dirty little secret for many years. I had a passion, a dream that my family considered absurd for any ordinary person to undertake. But, my friends would surely understand and encourage it, at least I thought so.
“Have you guys thought about what field you want to enroll in?” I felt my stomach tremble. This was my chance to finally come out in the open and have people excited for me. I mean these were my closest friends, we shared everything together. That night, we gathered in the park, playing music, drinking beer, enjoying each other’s company. It was the perfect setting.
“My dream is to put together a band, play music and one day record my own album.” Right there, I began drowning in their laughter. I looked around, hoping that at least one of them would come to my rescue, stop this from happening. As the laughter died down, a voice spoke in a piercing, authoritative tone, “you can’t make it as a rock star. Do you think, you’ll be the next Ozzy Osbourne? Sam, you have to WORK.” I became the running gag from then on. When I gave suggestions or my opinion on topics of discussion, I was mocked. After a while, every time we got together, I was in my own little bubble. No longer sharing my thoughts and just followed them in whatever they did.
Then I met Maureen Cooney. After four years, she was the first person I confided in about my dream. “You don’t have an outlet for your creativity and artistry” she said. “I host an Irish radio show. Come with me, I will introduce you to your kind of people.”
They taught me everything about sound engineering. At first, I had no idea what I was doing. The more questions I had, the more they showed me. With every mistake I made, I learned. This was new to me. I came from a world where if you made a mistake, you were laughed at and expected to give up.
One day, Maureen said something very intriguing. “If you leave, you can come back, you will always be welcomed here.” I couldn’t understand why she thought I would leave, I loved it there. After six months of having these people turn my mistakes into a learning experience, I thought “what the hell are they up to? This is impossible, don’t they ever get mad? They must be planning some horrible way to humiliate and betray me. This is worse than being with my friends, at least they did it to my face. There is no way I will let them do this to me.” So, I left.
I went back to my friends, my comfort zone. Something very strange happened. With all the knowledge I gained, I had become more assertive. I was giving my opinions in a more confident approach. My friends became defensive, like they lost a control they once had. They started calling me, “artsy fartsy”. I thought, “these are the people I missed being around? These were my friends?” This time, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I remembered Maureen’s words, “if you leave, you are always welcome here.” She knew this would happen. She was preparing me for it. So, I went back to the radio station. Maureen opened the door, saw me standing there and said “get back in there.”
Within a few months, I was hosting my own show called “Exposure”, inviting local bands to talk about their upcoming tours and their new releases. Those few months turned into seven years of doing radio. I still had my dream with no idea where to start, but, I knew this was the road that would take me there. Sure enough, I started meeting people and formed a band. Soon, we were jamming in small bars and recording demos. Nothing serious came of it, they each moved on to other priorities in their lives. For me, it was taking a few steps closer to my dream.
I left the radio station with another opportunity to promote local bands. Watching them playing live on stage left me wanting more. At every show, I envisioned myself up on that stage. These bands were fantastic, they made it look so easy. After three years of promoting, I decided that it was my turn. I wanted to perform and record my own album.
Getting in Shape
What appeared to be easy, what seemed like something that I could just pick up from where I left off a few years back, was NOT at all the case. I had to take a few steps back. I put together a band and we started practicing, practicing and then we practiced some MORE! There is a whole training process involved before going live, just like playing a sport. Watching it on TV seems so easy, actually playing it is a whole different ball game. I had to get in shape physically, mentally and creatively. It was not easy. We only started playing live performing covers after one year of practicing almost every night. Slowly, we started performing originals. From one song to a show to two, to three. After receiving positive response, I was ready to go in the studio and record my album.
Out of Control
WOW, the moment I had been waiting for was finally here. I was going to have my very own album in five months. This was true in a world where a month is actually the equivalent of a year. Not long after going in the studio, there was a flood. Everything was destroyed. Nick Moretti, my guitar player and producer and I stayed up endless nights for almost a year cleaning up and getting the studio back together. As we continued, other incidents kept delaying the recording. Computers crashing, having to replace the control board, family crisis, finding a replacement for the drummer. It just seemed like it was never going to happen. It was border line depression for me. I decided to take some time and go away for a while. When I got back, Nick was still there, ready to continue.
We managed to reach the final stage, recording the vocals. Dissecting every single note, doing the same one over and over, 15 to 30 times, was just too hard! It had me punching the walls and storming out of the studio every time. This was nothing like performing live. Every freakin’ note had to be spot on. I was convinced, “I can’t do this, what the hell was I thinking?” Old memories creeping up in my thoughts making me feel out of control. I could hear my friends laughing at me and thought, “maybe they were right.” I went to see Nick, “I think we need to stop here.” He looked down, took a deep breath and raised his head. “Are you stupid? Do you realize all the effort and money you put in this? Think about why you were doing this, all the hard work and money you put into it. You swam half way, why would you swim all that way back? You got to go the other way, you got to keep going, it is the same distance.”
It started out as a fantasy, it had become my dream, I was going to turn it into a reality.
The only enemy I was fighting with now was myself, the enemy within. This enemy is tougher to beat than any external force out there. I had to find a way to confront it. I remembered, back when I started at the radio station, I had left, ready to quit and go back to my comfort zone. I had become a different person and build a whole new comfort zone, one that involved challenges, learning new things and that brought me to this point in my life. I realized, I was doing the same now. I was searching for a comfort zone. Trying to get away from challenges and the frustrations that came along with them. So, I decided to make the present moment my new comfort zone. I would take a one way road towards following my dream and not turn back. There was only one way to go, no matter what, I would keep going until I could clench my dream in my hands, my CD.
I went back to the studio. This time with an awareness of the challenges ahead. I mean, hitting every note and having to start over were just as hard and frustrating, however, I was aware. It was like a deja Vu. I would tell myself, “I have been here before, this is familiar to me, but, now I know all the tricks to get myself out of it.” If I couldn’t sing a certain part, instead of getting frustrated at myself, I would stop and tell Nick, “I am not feeling this part now, let’s work on another song and do an easy part.” Once it would be complete, I would be ready to go back to the harder one. So, I learned to be in control of myself and my emotions by taking another approach. It was liberating when I started feeling the element, when I was in my element and felt, “Hey! I am actually doing this.”
It has been a long, hard and bumpy journey, there were moments were I truly believed I would never reach my destination. Those pit stops made it worth the trip. I needed them to help me understand myself and teach me valuable lessons. Had I given up, I would have never gotten to enjoy the ride and arrive at my destination, the day I held my CD “Haunted House” in my hands for the first time!
I learned, there are no failures when following your dream, sometimes you need to make a pit stop, but always keep going. The only way you can fail is if you give up!
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