Friday, April 18, 2014


Oi, pigs.

You'll have to excuse me, if you please. I'm working on me English accent. I dun't know if you remembah, but back in the early Oities ('80s), all us hahd wohking Amehican bands had to put on fake English accents and pretend to be poofy tossers just to get any recognition. Back then it was all about accents and haihdos, if you can believe it. Well, Van Hammah is bringing that particulah aesthetic back to the masses.

My new band will be called Public Image Seagulls. We will have the poofiest haih and the wohst accents you evah heard. And we will take the wohld by stohm. We ah looking for keyboard playahs at the moment. P.I.S. will have at least fouh keyboard playahs.

It may be that this is a bad decision. Well, I won't be the first one around here to make a bad decision.

* * *

Dear Van Hammersmith,

I'm not sure if I made the right decision. I'm a 16 year old guitarist in a band with an 18 year old drummer and 21 year old singer. The problem was that my singer keeps showing up late to rehearsals (which we all pay for) and is unprofessional. He once got drunk and wasted during a rehearsal wasting 30 dollars and our time, and was late two hours to a thing in St. Mark's where we'd all play and brought equipment (he suggested it).

Our material is good. It's rock, blues, soul and he makes good lyrics. But this keeps happening too many times and me and my drummer were finally like screw this and just told him look you have to get your shit together, so you're out for now and I told him good luck in the future and maybe we can work again later on just not now.

One other thing he doesn't keep a steady job and sleeps around other people's houses because he doesn't have an apartment, so I think it'd be better for him to take a break and straighten out his personal life first, then come back to the band. Anyway I feel really bad because it all started with me and him and I love the material me and him made, and I feel like a traitor because he found the drummer.

So now me and my drummer (who is very good) are gonna do another project with people who are serious and wanna get good and wanna be rockers (an issue resolved because my singer didn't like us too playing too heavy). Now, I think my singer doesn't wanna work with me anymore as long as I'm with the drummer or in general. So what do you think Van Hammersmith? Right move or stupid choice? P.S. In church the day after this, the priest talked about work ethic and it's importance so maybe it's a sign.

God Bless and Good luck for the future,

Conrad Z.

* * *

That's a long freaking letter, C-Z, but who cares, right? Tell me your life story. I'm listening. Is anyone else listening anymore? Maybe, maybe not. Anyway, let's get to my answer.

Ha ha ha ha! Is that guy's name Van Hammersmith? Ha ha ha ha!

No kidding. Okay, let's get to the straight facts. So he's a talented guy, but he has substance abuse issues and he's basically homeless.

Homeless. Substance abuse issues. These are very real, big-ass problems. Let's get all super-serious for a minute here.

People don't end up homeless by accident. They either come from unstable or abusive homes, or have underlying mental health problems that make it impossible to deal with life in a responsible way. If you've really got everything going RIGHT for you, you just go back to your parents place when your living situation falls apart. People who don't go home to their parents either feel that they CAN'T, or they are dealing with something else as well.

And blah blah, I'm not saying all homeless people are crazy or were abused. There are always exceptions and everyone's circumstance is different. But I am saying that nobody in their right mind DECIDES to be homeless, and if someone is a homeless alcoholic at 21, they've got some serious, heavy shit going on in their lives. People aren't homeless alcoholics at 21 without REASONS.

RE: substance abuse issues. A lot of us can have beers when we want them (and ooo baby do we want them), but we can identify when it is and isn't okay to drink. We don't get wrecked all the time, and we don't screw up things that we've worked hard to create because we can't live without being loaded all the time.

Maybe this guy is homeless because of his substance abuse. Maybe his substance abuse is a result of his upbringing or mental health situation, which ties in with his homelessness. I don't know. There's a lot at work here that I can only speculate on. All I can say is that a lot of people use substances to self-medicate and treat other problems. This guy has some really serious problems in his life, and they are way too heavy for a sixteen year old kid to deal with.

Your friend needs help. Real, serious help, and he needs to realise it himself and go looking for it. Others can talk to him, but he needs to see for himself where he is and where his life is going. He probably has a lot of pain inside, and it's not going away anytime soon.

And sad but true, being in your band is not going to be the magic thing that "cures" him. He might not like being kicked out of your band, but there's no way in hell that being in a band with a guy like this is going to be any good for you guys, and it's not going to help him any in the long run either. You'd be better off getting together with some other guys who are stable and positive influences in your life.

Now let me be clear: I am not advocating bouncing people out of your life if they have problems. Stand by them. Support them. Encourage them. Try to guide them toward help. But you do not need to make their problems into your problems.


On that note I'd like to tell you all that I'm getting to work on a rock and roll novel about a young rock band, a grizzled rock veteran, and ALIENS. Lots of aliens. Not the one from the movie ALIENS though. Different aliens.

As always, send me you questions at mistervanhammersmith *at* Connect with me on twitter @vanhammersmith and on


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