Hi, Doctor Nick! - Playing in a Band You're Not Vibing with and Knowing the Right Time to Go Solo

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At this point, we all know that Nick Hook is a rad dude. But he's also a sort of renaissance man for 2013, an artist who produces, records, engineers, DJs, travels the world, parties, and never ceases to stop broadening his horizons. Somehow, he also finds the time to answer questions from the XLR8R faithful, popping in every Thursday morning to shell out nuggets of wisdom he's picked up over the years. Doctor Nick is a veritable treasure trove of information, which is why our readers shouldn't be shy about dropping him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com. He's our resident advice columnist, he's here to help, and he's happy to do it.

Sup y'all? Good vibes. I'm in the studio with Zebra Katz and L-Vis 1990 right now. Shout to Tokimonsta, Suzi Analogue, and Branchez for a super fun show in Brooklyn this week. Oh yeah, I dropped a record on Classicworks this week with Vin Sol and Matrixxman. It's fun, and made to fire off fast at 5 a.m. Cop it here, okay? And send me questions. doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I play in a band/musical group that doesn't seem to understand my musical vision. Every time I try to get weird or try something new, the other members vote it back into safer territories. Should I be scared of stepping out on my own? When is the right time to leave? Music is such a blessed/rare field to earn a living in—am I being ungrateful by not sticking with the job I've already got?
Gratefully yours,

Why not do both? If the band is wifey, why not have a little side piece? If wifey leaves you, then you just keep rolling with that little side piece who lets you take it to places you weren't getting to go in that marriage.

First off, no, you are not being ungrateful—you are in whatever position you are in because of a million factors, like working hard, being in the right place at the right time, talent, and luck. Just because you are there doesn't mean you can't analyze where you currently are and strive for something that you really want. I always look at it like a videogame. If you beat that game and it's boring to you, do you want to keep playing it more?

Also, I think the greatest advice my father ever gave me was to never be afraid to walk away from anything. There is no end all be all and when one door closes, another one opens, so why not? You got to where you are, right? I've left one project on a major label and another one on a smaller label and at the time, everyone was like, "Are you nuts?" Looking back though, my life and my musical career have been enhanced both times. It's almost like that thing in a relationship where if you would of ended it one year earlier, it would have been perfect, but instead you stuck in it and the whole thing went into a black hole.

Pros and cons of some options:

a) Leave completely.

Pros—You have nothing, so logically, being hungry to stay in the game is going to make you focus, hone in, and become the artist you want to be. I also think that if you force people to identify with what you eventually hope to become, it will make things easier for that to happen. You can start fresh—feel good about it. Use what you've learned and just go for it.

Cons—You're giving something up that is paying your bills, not to mention something that is established. Now, I look at things like I'm never going to fail. It's just going to be a different life, so I personally wouldn't be scared of this one, but I also don't know you that well. Are you patient enough to take your time and let it blossom properly? Can you use what you learned and who you know from before and just go for it? If not, you might be that thirsty dude who's trying too hard, which we all know is not the best place to be.

b) Do both.

Pros—You're earning your living, still doing your thing, but you can start to branch out slowly and start the new thing on your own. I almost started DJing and producing by accident, just because I had a good time, some dollars ended up in my pocket, and it actually brought good energy to the new people I was working with and made things fresh when I went back to my bands. I think the great thing about this job is that we musicians are simultaneously students and teachers, so the more you go into fresh situations, the more you end up growing. I love that about what we do.

Cons—Maybe your creative energy is still locked into the project you are in now and you can't really break free. People won't take you seriously because they are taking you seriously in your current project.

c) Communicate better with your band.

I have a feeling this question is coming from someone who is fairly successful and there is a reason for that. Can you guys figure out how to get past your rut and get what you want out of the project? Are you guys actually a really dope unit that maybe just needs to fight and talk your way through it? Maybe you are the stubborn one and they are right. Remember, just because you have different opinions of how the project should be, that doesn't mean that you hate each other—voicing these things out of love could really help.

At the end of the day, I've also learned that sometimes you have to to be selfish, not in the wrong way, but it's okay look after yourself for once. If going off on your own is really what you feel in your heart, you have to do it. Don't be scared.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.