We just got finished playing our set. I was looking out from the merch table, and saw a girl pushing through the sea of avid music lovers towards us. She seemed to be in a fantastic mood, smiling and belting out "EXCUSE ME! THANK YOU!" as she ninja'ed through the crowd. Finally approaching us, handing me a sharpie while she put her leg up on the table. "SIGN IT!" she commanded. I smile and grab the sharpie, to sign yet another appendage for this night. Her finger pointed right back at me.... and she charged with "Make it a good one."
The band is a interesting story. It's a fairy-tale tragedy, with a snow white beginning and a Hamlet end. I got to experience a dream most music fan fanatics all have: Fan-turned-member. From the front row, to playing drums in my favorite band ever. It taught me a lot about being in entertainment and I gift the experience with my success as a actor now. But there's one part of this experience nobody can prepare you for.
We would sit down in the band room at the house and go through mail. Letter after letter, piece after piece, story after story. First there were a few letters posted to the walls, and slowly that became dozens to hundreds. The walls of the room literally wallpapered with messages from our fans. From a far, I'm sure that sounds like messages of 'Ya'll ROCK!' 'Love you guys! xoxo', 'Kick ass show!'.... And those are there, those are fun, I was prepared for those. However, real fan mail goes something like this...
... I wanted to let you know how important you are to my life. That night back on valentine's day, your show at Room 710 changed my life forever. I woke up that morning and decided that life wasn't worth living anymore and made plans to kill myself that night. I went out to walk down Red River one more time before heading home. But I ended up at your show and you gave me the courage to live again. I'm not alone anymore.
Love, ---The singer handed that one to me, "You might want to read this..." I hung it above her guitar amp and both of us sat down and stared at it for an hour, neither of us saying a single word. What could you say?
... you gave me the strength to tell mom what dad has been doing to me. Mom and I are moving away now. Please come and see me soon in Iowa.
Your biggest fan, --
I couldn't sleep for a few days after reading that. And that's really what nobody can prepare you for, the humbling obligation of love towards others. When your art turns from 'we're doing this for us' to 'she is alive because of us', 'she's no longer abused because of us', it changes things a lot. We continue on so she can live, so she can heal, so she can love. The art becomes healing, filled with love. We become a family of healers. Then art becomes 'we're doing this so [people] can live', 'so [people] can heal', 'so [people] can love' and become a living entity made up of artist and fan. A living entity that can now heal and help millions.
The fans are what make this possible. The fans are what make a artist. And I think that some forget this...
I drive for UBER, and have had many-a-people in my car. From the IT worker getting off at 3am from work, to the people who walked across the stage at the Oscars to receive their award. And I'm shocked by how some view their respective fans. One person I wanted to backhand in my car for calling their fans, 'retarded shmucks'.
This is a dead-beat dad, whom is only around when it benefits them, not caring at all for their children. You are a parent because you have a child. And I firmly believe that you are a artist because you have a fan, and that fan deserves that highest level of gratitude. They've placed so much trust and love in you, that it's your obligation to treat them the same back.
A fan is the child of a artist. And that cannot be abused.
The fan smiled after I finished the autograph on her leg. She screamed out "PERFECT!", kissed me on the cheek and ran off. I thought it odd, but much stranger things have happened... .....
...before I continue this story, I want you to scroll back up and look at that photo for a while.
seriously, I'm not kidding....
That's a tattoo.
Unbeknownst to me that fan ran down the street to a tattoo parlor, where a tattoo artist was already waiting for her to come in. She showed up at a show a few weeks later, "Hey Number 3! Remember this..." I looked and saw it, "Yeah... wait... is that Sharpie?" "I had it tattoo'ed". Everyone at the merch table froze. She smiled, said "Oh yeah. Bye!" turned, and walked off. I was speechless, and gratitude is all I could feel.
I'm a artist 'because' of her, my fan. And that gratitude is what my child deserves.
Much Love to All of You,
--Paul Jacob Evans