GUEST BLOG: ALESANA’S SHAWN MILKE ON THE TOUGH CHOICES HE’S MADE TO LAUNCH HIS CAREER
My name is Shawn Milke, and I am the creator of and singer/guitarist for the melodic-metal band Alesana. I am sitting backstage with my laptop in a very cold, small, and crowded dressing room in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have “Shock of the Lightning” by one of the greatest bands of my lifetime, Oasis, playing in my ears to drown out the indiscernible murmur of those drinking around me. Tonight marks the first show of our headlining tour in support of our new record, The Emptiness. Tonight is sold out and I have just been informed that the shows for the remainder of the first week are all expected to sell out as well. Pretty cool. I have been given a wonderful opportunity to share some of my experiences, both past and present, on a weekly basis here at Revolver. The long and winding road of a touring career certainly brings with it a lot of crazy, fun, and exciting things. What tends to get lost in the stories is the human experience; the roads traveled, the battles fought, and the dreams come true. The opportunities to meet so many people from all around the globe have taught me so much about who I am and about the human condition. So with my blog comes laughter, tears, celebration, anger, revenge, dreams, and most important, honesty. Welcome to my story…
Shawn Milke of Alesana
Growing up, I had a lot of idols, heroes, and people whom I looked up to in order to help mold myself into the person I would eventually become. Of course, if life was that scripted and easily solved then I would most likely be a Cy Young award winner for the Philadelphia Phillies while still somehow becoming a roadie for Paul McCartney and publishing a series of best-selling romantic horror stories. But let’s be honest, as beautiful as life can be, it certainly throws more curveballs than pitcher Steve Carlton in his prime. I consider myself to be a very lucky person, blessed even. I may not be in the majors, and maybe I’m not hanging out with the coolest member of the Beatles on a daily basis, but I have seen the world. I’ve eaten sushi in the heart of Tokyo, dipped my feet in the Indian Ocean on the coast of Australia, touched the remains of the Berlin wall, walked across Abbey Road, and ridden horseback through the beautiful landscape of Northern Africa. And I did all of it before the age of 30.
I remember when I sat my father down to tell him that I was no longer going to stay in college, but rather I was going to start a pop-punk band and pursue a career in music. My father is my hero and one of the most understanding people on this earth, but surely even he would lose his mind to find out that his baby boy, who had worked his butt off in high school to get an academic scholarship to college, had just decided to become a “rock star” instead. It took all of the courage I could muster to utter the words. After stuttering a lot, and nearly wetting my pants in the process, he hugged me and said, “Do what makes you happy because when you smile, I smile.” He then went on to tell me the dreams he had dreamed when he was my age, a grown man for the first time with the world at his fingertips. He told me we are nothing without our dreams and that he would lose sleep every night if he would ever try to stop me from following my heart. Ten years and a hell of a lot of hard work and sacrifice later, I am sitting in my dressing room talking to Dee Snider of Twisted Sister about to headline for a sold out theatre in New York City. Dreams are what make us who we are and I don’t know where I would be without my father and his selfless advice.
As a touring musician I am reminded every day by fans and critics alike that what I do for a living, whether good or bad, liked or disliked, is, at least on some level, a pretty special thing. The opportunities I have been given are nothing short of breathtaking. Dreaming is a good thing: dreaming is a great thing. Without dreams life would just drift by in a meaningless mélange of reality television, iPhone applications, and reflections in the bottom of a bottle. Not all dreams come true; this is not Neverland. However, does that give us the permission to simply stop dreaming? You never know when one of those dreams may come true; you never know when you might hit that hanging curveball.
Check back Tuesday for more from Shawn!