The Road of Heavy Metal
Looking out the window here at my studio.
I am reflecting on what I have accomplished since the day I got my first guitar, trying to think of some advices to give aspiring musicians. A quick look at the walls here unquestionably tells me I must have done something right since they’re covered with gold and platinum albums, and on each one it says “Presented to Thobbe Englund”. An ego-boost, yes, but also kind of a monument stating that anyone can make it with enough determination.
I’ve gotten tons of e-mails from young musicians, not only guitar players, asking for advice on how to succeed with their ambitions, so I decided to share some of my thoughts on this today.
To a lot of young people, obviously music has a big impression. It’s when you’re young that you build up your identity and seeking to find your future way of life. What path will you choose to walk on? What will you fill your days with once you’re a “grown up”? I put ‘grown up’ within quotation marks, because if you choose the same way I did you probably never will become one.
But also, what is expected, or is already expected from you by society, your friends, your family, and all the new faces and friends you will make later in life? Who will you become and what will your identity be in this brave new world approaching?
If I look to myself, when I was a kid I didn’t think much about the future other than that I would become successful and happy in one way or another, drive a nice car, have a fancy house and so on. When I became a bit older I started to really ponder the questions above, as you normally do when you’re in your teens.
I was a restless teenager. I didn’t want to continue the pattern I was already indoctrinated into. Get up early in the morning, spending your coming eight hours doing things you didn’t want to do, and then get back home, tired and go to sleep and start all over again the next morning.
Luckily I already had a burning fire inside that was lit by the heavy metal bands at the time. Their lyrics gave me confidence, guidance, and their music kept me strong and made me hungry to want to express myself in the same way. Heavy metal became almost a religion, but when I first heard bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, etc., it seemed like what they did musically was impossible to reach. And of course it was, because at that time I didn’t know how they did it. It’s like making a comparison to a writer who can’t read the alphabet, but really want to write.
The hunger was powerful so I chose the obvious, but it turned out to be a very long road. And so will yours, if the road of heavy metal is the one you decide to walk and you want to become a part of what’s at its end. And even when you feel confident enough, that moment when you’ve reached you personal “end” of that road, take my word for it – now the real hard work begins.
So what I’ve learned so far, and my best advice, is that wether you’re an instrumentalist or a singer what you really need if you want to break out of the internet shimmer and fuzz, because there are probably a few hundred thousand like you with the same dreams, is to be stubborn and hell bent. You have to believe in your talent in the darkest hour, when everything seems impossible and when you can’t find a single beam of light. Staying in the shadows basically, if that’s where you are at the moment – just keep on practicing, writing music, dreaming and fighting. Eventually you will come to a point in life where you have surrounded yourself with the right people and the right energy to turn things around. Believe me.
And the good thing about it is that during all those hard and tough years (yes -years) you’ve eventually built up some darn good chops and knowledge, and people will smell a good musician. So, instead of giving direct advice on how to do “this and that” – this is probably the best advice I could ever give anybody who is a young aspiring musician. After all, what style of metal you choose is really secondary to your own success.
Until next time sisters and brothers – Stay metal!