Throughout my life, change has never felt like a gentle breeze lightly guiding me into the next chapter. It usually feels like a raging wind sweeping me up into the sky and dropping me haphazardly into unknown territory. I suppose that knowing this is how my life works would have prepared me for how 2016 would end, but once again, I felt shocked and dazed by how this last season came to a close.
If you've never lived in Los Angeles, then it's hard to realize how beautiful and daunting that city can be. Beautiful because...Perfect weather year around. Every element of entertainment you could ever want right at your finger tips. Depending on where you live, you can literally walk to some of the best restaurants, pubs and music venues in the world. You are surrounded by talented people who are driven to succeed. It can be an inspiring place.
And daunting because...money. It's an unbelievably expensive place to call home. I am sure some people are able to separate their emotions from their finances, but I have yet to learn that skill. During our last two years in LA, we paid $1642/month for a 650 sq. ft. apartment...and that was the cheapest rent we had during our four years in the city. The fear and stress of those expenses consumed me most days. Even when I wasn't thinking about it, I could feel the stress being carried in my shoulders. I would pay rent on the 1st of the month, and on the 2nd I was already thinking about how I could make my next rent check.
As you can imagine, this became horribly detrimental to my songwriting and creativity. Don't get me wrong, I wrote songs during my time in Los Angeles and I am very proud of what I accomplished. But many times, when I'd sit down to write, the financial struggle choked out the flow of creativity and left me with only a trickle of what I believe my heart truly wanted to release.
November 2016. My band, The Wilder Society, headed out on our first tour. We had booked a string of shows in the Pacific Northwest. We spent a good two or three days in Portland. Our gig in NE Portland at McMeniman's White Eagle was one of our favorite shows to date. A couple of the guys made passing comments to me..."So, should we all move to Portland?" - or more directly - "We need to live here." The guys knew that my wife, Lauren and I have always considered moving there, but as the financial pressures back home mounted, we knew that heading Northward was approaching much more quickly than we anticipated.
Some of you may know that I also work as a graphic designer. This has helped me pay the bills over the years as I pursue a career in music. Consistent clients are the absolute life blood of a freelance designer. We returned home from tour, and began to discuss plans of moving to Portland with my wife and some of my bandmates, when an unexpected phone call brought the raging wind of abrupt change into our lives. My one consistent client of two years called to let me know they'd be hiring a full time, in-house designer to replace me. It wasn't personal and it wasn't about my abilities. It was just time for them to move from working with a freelancer to hiring an in-house person. That phone call rocked me. I was in tears after we hung up the phone, because I knew the time had come to leave LA. Without that client (or a miracle that would have to come in four weeks or less) we wouldn't be able to afford to stay.
With that in mind, we put in our notice with our landlord and made plans to stay with Lauren's family in Spokane, WA for a while until we figured out our move to Portland. I announced to my bandmates what was going on, and obviously they were shocked at how quickly this all had happened. Initially we were discussing ways to "make the band work" with me being 1000+ miles away. I think a part of us didn't want to let it go, and the other part of us knew the end was here. At times I believe that raging wind is providential and other times it can feel cruel and random. In this case, I am beginning to think the former is the case. As the dust began to settle, my bandmates all had opportunities and new passions come to the surface in their lives that were drawing them away from being in a full time band. Was this because my move most likely meant the band's end anyways? - or was this fate and would that have happened either way? I really don't know, but the timing was bizarre and incredible.
After Lauren and I settled in to our temporary home here in Spokane, I spoke with the guys about what the future looked like and we all agreed that The Wilder Society was done.
In a matter of two months, I found myself without my biggest client, my home in Los Angeles, and my band. Change is never easy, but damn...
In the twilight all of that happened, I can now look back and appreciate the good parts of our season in Los Angeles - my favorite pub where I know the bartender by name, being able to catch incredible artists whenever you wish, the friends that stayed true throughout the busyness of life - and I now can also appreciate being 1000 miles away from sky high rent prices, parking tickets and grid lock. There is a season for everything, and as I look to the future I believe we are right where we're supposed to be.
I am sad that The Wilder Society has ended. The camaraderie of a band is truly so special. I loved my guys and still do. It was like a family. I am so proud of what we accomplished as a band. Our album, Lion's Den EP, is my favorite project I've worked on to date. We had something special, but that doesn't always mean it's forever.
OK...so what's next for me? I've thought a lot about it, and I am reigniting my solo career. From 2012 to early 2015, I had been pursuing this, and now looking back I can see some of the mistakes I made that I believe kept me from seeing more success. Being in the band taught me so much about what it takes to make it in the music business, and I look forward to applying that to my solo career. I have been looking at all of my material that I've been writing over the last few years, and I found that I have around thirty songs that have never been released. I feel that some of these songs are the best I've ever written and I feel that now is the time to do that. So I'll be working on my first solo project in over four years. I believe it will be a full length album, but we will see...hopefully being released in Summer 2017.
So for now, Lauren and I are staying in Spokane, WA, enjoying the simplicity we have found here, and I will be pushing and working to make my dreams of being a full time musician come true. I will be sharing more and more music, videos and posts this year here on my site, but more frequently on my instagram account, @ChrisMolitor, or Facebook page, Chris Molitor.
Thanks for reading this and supporting me. Seriously means the world.
Love you guys,