For a six-month stretch in 2009, I was a pretty miserable person to be around.
I was out of college and unfocused. I had lost both the jobs I had gotten since graduation: a tech-writing job I was never really qualified for and sandwich making job at a semi-national chain that I was fired from because I was suspected of stealing $300 from the safe in the back.
I was living with two guys who, quite rightly, didn’t like living with me. I was a self-centered, sloppy, inconsiderate roommate. I was drinking a lot and blacking out more than any 23-year-old has the right to. I was stoned four out of the seven days a week.
I made a little money writing record reviews and selling CDs. I pawed a few things to make some money. I usually had to call my parents to get month for rent at the end of the month.
Perhaps worst of all, I didn’t see a way out of it. I was a self-pitying blob of entitlement: convinced of my superiority with nothing to back it up and no drive to prove my boasts. Constantly talking a big game, never being big.
There are a few things that got me out of the tailspin: an unbelievably supportive girlfriend, a low-paying food service job that presented its own set of problems but at least allowed me to pay the fucking rent, a personal realization that came after a particularly bad drinking and smoking session and playing covers of Against Me! and Mountain Goats songs with Joe in his living room, to name a few.
The soundtrack for this bottoming out was Scrambles by Bomb the Music Industry! It is an album that is about a lot of things, but I always thought of it as an album about not reaching one’s potential but continuing to try anyway. There is a ton of frustration and impotent rage on the record, but it always ends on earned positive notes. It is, to me, an album that captures the depression of feeling like a leech while realize that little victories can mean a whole lot to people who aren’t used to them.
I’ve got it pretty good now. Science Club has grown from a bunch of bad poetry in my notebooks to a full-grown band that plays shows and puts out records. I’m still with that supportive girlfriend. I have good job and a little money put away. I don’t drink as much as I used to. I’m working on repairing the relationship I damaged when I was a destructive shithead.
I still get depressed. I still feel like I’m a constant fuck-up sometimes. Right now, for example, I can’t seem to write a good song no matter how hard I try. Things are better, but they are still hard.
Its at those times that I can still put on Scrambles and it means as much to me now as it did when things were at their worst. Little victories are still victories and they still mean some kind of forward motion.
Bomb the Music Industry! offers all its albums for free on its website. If you are a person who tends to get down on themselves, I cannot suggest this album enough. It didn’t save my life, but it was a comfort to me in a particularly bad time.