Life In the Bubble

(Editor’s Note: It’s always great to welcome a new face to the family. Recently we published the first blog on SPL from Toby Francis and we hope it will be the first of many. Now, the emotional fallout from the death of industry legend ML Procise has—in a roundabout way—brought in another new voice in the person of Tim “Quake” Mark. This is not another remembrance of ML, but Pooch's words and Toby’s--especially about keeping a family while working in a business that can demand every ounce of energy and time that a human can give--hit many of us very hard. Quake was amongst those so hit. I made the unusual decision to present this blog in the way it originally came in. This is the largely unedited email thread. Mail went from Quake to Pooch and Toby. Pooch replied and asked if he could send it to me and, well, here ya go. There is an intimacy and honesty to this presentation that seemed lacking in any other format. Enjoy…)

On Mar 14, 2015, at 1:58 PM, Ken / POOCH / Van Druten wrote:
Hey Bill,
I don't know if you know Quake. But he is an FOH engineer / production manager who was here before the dawn of time. HA. No literally--I was probably playing punk kid in high school when Quake was mixing huge bands. ANYWAY - he is a great guy and also has more stories than anyone one I know (certain mutual friends included). He wrote this really great email to Toby and I (read from the bottom up) and as I was reading it, I thought - this would be a great blog for for SPL. I also think that Quake would be an awesome addition to the SPL stable of guys. Quake has agreed to let you use any of the stuff from below and I think you guys should get to know each other.

Hey Quake,
Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Toby and I have talked a lot about a "softer, easier, way" and paying it forward to the next generation of those that choose to put their career ahead of their families. It is a hard juggling match to keep current and prominent in this cutthroat industry, and yet have the wherewithal to realize that it SHOULD be family first. I have not succeeded, but I am lucky as you are, to have someone in my life (Shellie and I have been together for 17 years) who keeps me grounded. (Another Editor’s Note. Pooch speaks truth. Linda and I are looking at 27 years on April 30th. I would likely be dead in a ditch without her.) Looks like Toby finally found that someone recently, too. TRUTH - Behind every great man, stands a strong woman. Someone wrote this, specifically meaning us, I think.

I am happy that you have figured out how to keep your own sanity and have enough time with your family, it's the hardest thing for us to do.

Bill e-meet Quake. Quake e-meet Bill. Friends of mine should be friends.

Hope you are well.

Cheers,

POOCH

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On Mar 14, 2015, at 3:48 PM, Quake wrote: Hi Pooch, Feel free to share this with SPL… More than happy to do it. I would love to meet Bill as well. I hate South America Peace Production Manager / FOH Engineer Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators</p>

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On Mar 12, 2015, at 10:13 PM, Quake wrote:

Hi Toby and Pooch,

I wish I could share what I am about to say with more folks. Please feel free to share what I am about to say with anyone you deem worthy.

I read your farewells to ML online the other day. Through this, I have come to understand you both shared a special relationship with him. I know ML shared similar relationships with several others. He had a gift and was willing to share it with many.

I did not know ML very well, as he came up in the ranks of Showco after I had left to pursue a career as an independent, which eventually led to my affiliation with Ultra Sound and a long friendship with Derek Featherstone and--equally important--a very educational relationship with Dr. Don Pearson, although my relationship with Don was in no way as personal nor as close as either of yours was with ML.

Actually, in many ways ML was my “Competition.” I never benefitted from the infamous Dinners and Nights on the Town, as we ran in different circles.

Having said that, in my limited exposure to him (when he was not trying to get an account of mine away from me), he always treated me with respect, forever had a smile and a firm handshake, was willing to look me in the eye, treated me as a peer, and always, always, had a great story or funny joke to share. He has been memorialized as a legendary engineer. He was also a fantastic salesman and a wonderful face for Showco.

I know how devastated I was when Dr. Don passed, and I was not nearly as close to him as the two of you were to ML.

I offer my condolences to you both for the loss of a friend.

I also want to thank both of you, and in particular, you Toby, for sharing some incredibly intense and personal emotions, experiences and insights on, as my wife calls it… “Life in the Bubble.” As an aging engineer who has somehow managed to stay married to an amazing woman for nearly 25 years and who has a fantastic soon-to-be 22-year-old daughter...

Your words struck home. Hard.

I have watched from the sidelines as my wife raised our soon-to-be college graduate daughter. I missed her first words, her first steps, and many a bedtime story. I missed her cuts and scrapes, her first day of kindergarten, a few birthdays, many of her concerts, and so much more. It has been and still is very difficult. It is a high price we pay in pursuit of our art.

There is many a time when I am at home in social settings that I feel uncomfortable, as I have not as much in common with family and friends as I sometimes wish…

Welcome to "Life in the Bubble.”

There are books on basic audio principles, schools that teach the ins and outs of consoles, lessons in business, etc… Yet there is not and perhaps never can be a manual, class or guidance on how to survive and walk the tightrope between our careers and still maintain some sense of a “normal” personal life and relationships. Even if there were, each person and each situation is unique.

The fact is we love what we do, but also long for love and normalcy.

If I may, I would like to share a couple of stories of mine with you.

I grew up in a small farm community between Rochester and Buffalo. My first tour was mixing Billy Sheehan’s band TALAS. I did my first tour with them in 1980 when we opened for Van Halen on the Woman and Children First Tour. I was 19. It was AWESOME! The sound Company was Showco and I met Rusty. He was shocked at my skill level and knowledge at such an early age. I did some work for them a year later, and after that tour I made enough money to try my hand at college…

But I had an itch. The touring bug had bit me hard.

As you may or may not know, I am a sober drug addict. I got in to the music business for the Music, got sucked in to the Party, and returned to the Music.

Because of that path, I do not remember sections of the '80s very well.

I went to rehab in 1988. I was one of the first to receive treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic for substance abuse, not alcohol.

I was lucky. It was my time, and I had one of the best reasons to clean up my act. You see, I knew I wanted to marry the woman who is now my wife. But I knew deep down that I could not put her through NOT the person I was… the person I was becoming.

After rehab I married Kim in 1990. In September it will be 25 years.

At the same time, My career changed and I started to do more “Double Duty” tours, mostly as a TM/FOH for acts such as Circus of Power, Dangerous Toys, The Scream, Jane’s Addiction as PM/FOH on the Ritual Tour, and was the PM when Perry and Ted Gardner came up with Lollapalooza

But I had a developed new problem. I had cross addicted into something entirely new

I became a “Workaholic”.

A few years after our daughter was born, I was working with Toad the Wet Sprocket as TM/PM/FOH. I started with them and the band had grown from the gear in the bay of a bus playing small 200 seat rooms to--in less than three years—two buses, one semi, 2000-5000 seat venues with us headlining and support acts such as the Gin Blossoms, Dave Matthews Band, Rusted Root, and Hootie and the Blowfish to name a few. It was an amazing experience and a wonderful thing to be a part of.

My wife Kim returned home from work one day, after picking up our daughter Victoria from day care. I was on the phone, working as normal. Kim put Barney on the VCR for Victoria, and began to prepare dinner for us. I came out of my office long enough to eat dinner with them, and to kiss Victoria goodnight.

Then… Back to work. That was the way it was, and had been since Kim and I had married and since Victoria had been born.

About an hour later, Kim came in to my office and asked if I would stop work for the night and join her in the living room for a glass of wine. Something was different about her… I could tell she was pre-occupied, and very upset.

What she said to me that night devastated me. I cannot recall the entire conversation, but here are the nuts and bolts.

“We as a family cannot continue like this. YOU cannot continue like this. YOU have to be a part of our Lives. PERIOD.” 1) YOU’RE killing yourself. 2) And if you don’t die, you are killing our relationship. YOU WILL lose us both.

A few days passed and I was speaking with Dr. Don. I casually mentioned this conversation. He told me to heed her words, and that I was a lucky man, that I had married a wise woman.

Two months later… I was at a show in Ottawa, Ontario. I had little sleep in three days, felt ill and I collapsed at soundcheck, went to a hospital where it was discovered that I had an enzyme in my blood called a CPK and the EKG pointed to the fact had suffered a “cardiac incident." I seemed okay so they allowed me to check out; under the conditions I get checked out Immediately and find out what caused the CPK levels.

NO WAY! I WAS 33 YEARS OLD! WTF!

The next morning, after dealing with the border crossing back to the USA and heading to Brown University, it happened again. This time I was paralyzed from the waist down for six hours.

After extensive tests and a cardiac catheter, I was diagnosed with myocarditis and pericarditis, essentially caused by a flu like infection in my heart, and what happened were NOT heart attacks, but cardiac arrests. My heart actually stopped twice in 24 hours.

The cardiologist told me that I should NOT have survived.

Since then I have had myocarditis two other times, but now I know what to look for and have not had any more cardiac incidents.

My wife was right.

“Hello Mr. Mark, this is your wake up call!”

If you read my e-mail signature you will read the line Home (10am - 4pm EST): and I list my Home telephone number. That is the story behind where it comes from. I made a conscious decision that My Job was an important PART of my life, BUT I had to find a way to make it so My LIFE was NOT MY JOB. I had to find a way to make it work so I could have a life to share with my wife and daughter.

I began to treat my time at home more like a business, leaving my office at a normal time and enjoying evenings with my family and friends. I passed on many a big tour to make sure I could be around to be a part of my family’s lives. It was, and still is a daily struggle to do this. As you both know, in our industry, for one reason or another, it is easy for people to allow their job to consume them. And many do not understand, nor do they respect, why I have created these boundaries and treat my job as I do.

As I mentioned above, we love what we do, but we also strive to feel love and be loved. Sometimes that is hard for others to understand, particularly those in this industry.

Fast forward a few years. I was with the Goo Goo Dolls as PM/FOH. We had moved back from Los Angeles to Rochester, where my wife and I had met. When we lived in LA I would leave for the road while my daughter was at day care. In Rochester she and my wife would take me to the airport. Each time my daughter would fall apart and become a basket case.

It was getting tougher and tougher for them and for me every time I had to leave.

One day, Kim and Victoria had dropped me at the airport and Victoria was beside herself. Kim pulled in to a parking lot to try to console her. She told me of the following conversation.

“You miss daddy a lot when he leaves?… “

“Yeah, real bad. I really love him, Mommy”

“Honey, so do I… You know what?"

“What?"

“Daddy loves you so much and really misses you real bad too.. And you know what else? He loves me and misses me real bad too… That means as much as it hurts us, HE hurts two times more than we do… Sweetheart we cannot do this to him…”

The next time I went to the airport you could see Victoria fighting to hold back the tears.

Dr. Don was Right. Kim is a wise woman...

Now when I leave I get “Cool, how long you gonna be gone and oh, can I get $100?”

I do not tell these stories to make either of you feel uncomfortable, or to feel as though you have failed in any way shape or form in your personal lives. In fact it is the complete opposite,

I tell you these to let you know you are not alone.

You are BOTH survivors and have grown to be leaders not only in a cutthroat industry, but in life in general. You, as many of us, have paid a hefty price for your art.

Dr. Don was right, I got lucky.

It is hard to deal with feeling left out of our family’s lives, to miss so much, and at times to feel like a stranger in your own home.

From the stories you both have shared about him, it seems like ML struggled as we all did/ do with all that and in the end… after losing his wife... his struggled with his own mortality, and the price he paid.

It has been an honor and privilege to come to know both of you in the past couple of years, and to have developed a casual friendship with you. I want to extend my deep appreciation to you for your leadership in our industry, and the fact that you both are willing to share tips and tales in conversation, blogs and articles, and any avenue available. I applaud you both for your maturity to see things as they really are; and more importantly, your COURAGE to share some very tough personal feelings and insights on “Life in the Bubble”.

I pray that the next generation can read and hear stories such as ours and come to realize that ultimately “Roadies” are PEOPLE too.

I offer this one last thought for your consideration.

Perhaps in a very unusual way, ML unknowingly gave ALL OF US one last gift. Perhaps the greatest gift of all… In his passing he has provided us the opportunity, reason, and forum to share and expose our emotions, share our insights into life, confront our fears and face the price we have paid.

A wise man recently told me that We are all in this together and we need to watch over each other.

I join you both and mourn the loss of a true leader in our industry.

Rest well ML.

Thank you for your time.

I wish you peace, T. "Quake" Mark Production Manager / FOH Engineer Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators