A year ago today, I livestreamed an acoustic show on Nugs.tv with my son Wyatt on cello. It was a loose, fun, short online show, and while I can't remember the entire set, I do remember playing "Circle The Drain" (for the first time) maybe "Deafening Silence", and "Darkness Within”.
I never get nervous onstage, and yet, considering there was no audience in the room, I found myself extraordinarily nervous. It was made all the more bizarre that I was streaming it through an app I had never used, where I could not see any comments or interaction of any kind, including if anyone was even watching. I kept on telling myself “dude, what the fuck are you nervous for, no one is even watching!?”
A big part of it with the fact that I was nervous was that for the last 30 years, I’ve sang heavy, brutal, vocals, and here I am clean-singing an entirely acoustic show. Looking back, it was pretty bad. But at the time I didn’t give a fuck, the world had just went on lockdown and life was crazy, and I needed to play music. Plus jamming with my son was priceless, seriously… one of the proudest, coolest moments of my life.
In the end I had about 75 people watch it which was cool. But I felt completely disconnected, and so much of the reason that I do what I do is to feel a connection. Having done a Facebook live on every Friday at noon, and Instagram-lives from the jam room regularly since August 2017, it was definitely a bit of a head fuck. At least on those platforms you can see how many people are watching, can interact with people in the comments, see people laughing with emoji’s, likes, hearts... It sounds ridiculous to say, but it feels like something. There’s a connection.
And so I determined to start doing an acoustic show every week. At first I did them on radio stations Instagram pages or Facebook pages where I did a “takeover”, as we were still promoting “circle the drain". I enjoyed that, especially because if I sucked, most people probably wouldn’t even see the damn thing, kind of like “woodshedding". I decided pretty quickly I would just start drinking beer during them to kind of turn it more into a “party“ so it didn’t feel so “formal" or “professional“. I began to call it a happy hour.
Then I started regularly doing them on Facebook live. And turned it officially turned into "acoustic happy hour” and by April had figured out a way to monetize it with Facebook “stars” and PayPalMe links for “beer money”. The money isn’t earth-shattering, but it keeps the lights on, and has purchased some especially delicious Coffee Stouts and Peanut Butter Stouts.
At the time, I was the only person allowed in my building, so I would head down there, drink some beers, play some acoustic songs, talk to the people through comments and joke around. It was such a goddamn fun time, it made the lockdown (which was especially strict here in the beginning) so much more enjoyable.
I made a point to learn and/or re-imagine 3 new songs a week, and between the rehearsals for them, and the 2 hours for the show, has kept me in top playing shape, not to mention kept me sane!
As restrictions starting to ease up and more people were allowed into my building, Jared started coming down around September. And it morphed into an "electric happy hour/acoustic happy hour".
It’s kind of amazing to think that I’ve done 46 “online shows” since then, but yeah, here we are.
And week after week I read your comments saying the same thing… “These two hours every Friday get me through the week", that you “look forward to this so much during these completely insane times”.
I tell you what… it means the world reading and hearing that.
On a bigger note, it’s giving me a sense of purpose. Knowing my clean singing needed to improve, I strived to better my clean singing voice, I ended up taking vocal lessons from Mellisa Cross to work on just that, and I’ve made leaps and bounds. Still got a long way to go, but fuck… if there was ever a time to better ourselves, we’ve all got the time to do it now!
One of the coolest parts of the Happy Hours, was that we started doing full-album-play-throughs. We started with “Locust" in September, and have now done “ through the ashes of empires“, “bloodstone & diamonds“, “catharsis“, and as of yesterday for the first time in it’s entirety, “the more things change“.
Some people have commented, that it would be better with a drummer, and we’re working on that. But since there is no one local who knows the back-catalog like that, and Matt currently resides in Germany, we’re trying to figure out a way to either get someone down, or live stream them into our feed.
But I tell you what… there may be A LOT of shitty things about the pandemic, but Electric Happy Hour has been one of the most fulfilling parts of it. As a musician to just be able to do a spontaneous jam once a week, no set lists, no order, just calling songs out off the top of my head, as well as focusing on album anniversaries… it is really, really rewarding.
We never would have done this type of stuff had the pandemic not hit. It's important to acknowledge the good stuff.
And we’ve reinvested that “beer money” you all have been supporting us with into the Happy Hour itself. We upped our production value, incorporated our live sound rig into the show, as well as our pro-cameras and lighting. Yesterday for the first time we live-streamed to three different platforms at the same time, my Twitch channel, our Facebook page, and our YouTube page, and had our biggest viewership to date.
So a year later… yeah... what can I say… it’s been a fucking wild, at-time-shitty-and frustrating year, BUT there’s have been some really amazing things that came out of the pandemic, and to all of you who continue to spread the word about these Happy Hour's, who tune in every Friday, who support us and stand with us, who sing, and dance, and vent, and laugh, and sometimes cry, and headbang and circle pit in your living rooms, and who host Happy Hour “watching parties” with 25 people all drinking and hanging, thank you all so much.
In case you missed it… Here is last nights full album-play-through of our second album “The More Things Change”.
Below that is a snippet from the first show a year ago.
Keep your head up!