Guest Post: Toothgrinder Bassist Matt Arensdorf on the Importance of Video Games for Touring Musicians
Every one of us has gone to a show and has seen a band look miserable on stage. It’s depressing at first, and your mind starts to question the band’s motives. Before you know it, you find yourself pissed at them for wasting your precious ear drums.
As a performer, you are hired to entertain. It is a very simple concept to lose track of while touring, but one must always remember that your fans pay your bills. My band is a firm believer in the “switch” mentality, the concept of psychologically “turning on” the second you walk on stage. This state of mind allows us to disregard everything outside of the performance and focus solely on one brief moment in time. Sometimes a particular performance is more taxing, be it mentally or physically, but still that switch must go on. So when the performer isn’t on stage and that switch is off for the next 23 hours, what does one do to recharge?
Everyone figures out what works best for themselves, be it drugs, alcohol, working out, family or any combination of things. The main goal is to find something that lets your brain completely shut off to the world, a type of meditation if you will, to make sure the switch is ready to be turned on again when it’s time.
With a new generation of metal musicians coming up, many have found this meditation in something that has shaped a lot of their childhoods: gone are the days where a couple of neighborhood kids would meet up for a pickup game of kickball, because this generation was raised on video games.
The advancements in video game consoles have grown exponentially in my lifetime. While I spent hours staring into a three-foot deep Zenith television with an O.G. Nintendo, I can now sit in bed and slay dragons wirelessly with my 13″ macbook. The ease and convenience of playing video games makes it a common hobby during those “switch off” times, a habit I see with more and more younger bands.
I have found two things that are guaranteed to shut my brain off to the world: first, Bob Ross. When that gentle soul hits the screen of my laptop, I lose all control of my basic motor skills. Second: World of Warcraft. That’s right, I said it, it’s my drug of choice and I’m a long time MMO fan. While some like the short term fixes (Counterstrike for the boys in Auras, Super Smash Bros. for Chon and The Contortionist and Destiny and Halo for Periphery) I find enjoyment in the immersion of an MMORPG. Those who are familiar with the game understand that the term “World” in the title is a pretty accurate scale. There are so many layers to the game to let your brain melt into, but for me it’s always been PvP. Refining skills and gear over time — to go toe to toe in an arena and smash other players virtual faces in — relieves stress and allows me to let my mind wonder elsewhere for a short length of time.
How a performer spends their time during the “switch-off” period is all in the preference of the individual. Regardless of how it’s spent, when its time for the switch to go on, my band mates and I make damn sure it’s full throttle. I remember seeing Valient Thorr put on an insanely awesome performance in front of 1,000 people and than later that year I saw them put on an insanely awesome performance in front of 25 people. It was in that exact moment that I knew the people who pay your bills deserve you at your absolute best, regardless of whats going on in your personal world. Figure out your own balance to make that switch work and rock n’ roll.
Lok’tar Ogar you fuckin’ nerds,