I can only imagine the ordeal that high-performance athletes or actors go through in their in-between periods when they have to keep fit for no other purpose than their profession and what lays ahead. We all have seen and commented on how Hugh Jackman gained weight or on how Christian Bale (mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the craziest of them all?) changes into skin and bone as lightly or heavily as he wants. Who’s never raised an eyebrow to when a top model shows a little bit more or less flesh during her vacations in Bali, can throw the first stone.
The fact is that touring musicians’ life, even if less glamorous and definitely on a tighter budget, holds serious links to the ins and outs of public appearances and jobs. How and especially why you keep shape so you don’t like a fucking tonel live, that is the one million dollar question. Some say: get to a gym lazy ass or jog for endorphins but I believe I am not cut for that. I say that because I tried it many times before and I still can’t get past all the gym intrigue, the stupid repetitions, the burning biceps, the feeling like shit to no result other than money spent. I used to jog when I lived downtown Lisbon. It was stupid. Too many cars, too much triple line parking, too crowded parks, it was like a slow motion obstacle race even if Cannibal Corpse blasting on my headphones disagreed. The other day I saw Nergal from Behemoth jogging on our way to Resurrection Festival in Spain and I knew it then: I became one of the guys sitting in the car, looking to the joggers imagining when the Sun engulfs the Earth: why bother?
Nonetheless ,I am as vain as any other. I depress to the receding hairline and some skull showing when I am sweating my ass on a humid stage. I check myself on the mirror and I hold my belly for important pictures. Do not think I do not know, do not think we don’t know. That’s a mistake I will never commit, goth forbid, of not knowing what I am becoming even if it’s, sometimes, sad. I am forced to watch my own pictures and videos for years. A non-public person might not enjoy the so classed bliss of being recognised in the supermarket while shopping for diapers but also doesn’t have to contact with his very own Dorian Gray online on an almost daily basis.
I go about and tell everyone that my kid is my gym and indeed I am a very attentive father who succumbs easily to Fausto’s toddler charms and carries him up three flights of stairs from the garage as ”his legs hurt”. He keeps me really going and so does the constant work with Moonspell off stage and real life in between errands of all sorts. Everyone tells me that’s not enough, so I say okay I´ll play football again but then it’s the lower back pain and yes that conscience that annoys my friend to death: I am getting ooooooolllllddddddd.
So what’s the trick? I don’t know why but life on the road brings you into a hard routine of intense shows days + travels and so much that it seems that you defending on stage your own decay, makes you fitter and smarter, at least I fool myself to think so. Coming back home for a musician it’s great but not devoid of awkwardness. I always remember reading a U2 biography (don’t ask) and learning that Bono checked in a hotel for a few days before finally going to his place. Well, I am not Bono and after a few days at home the routine changes dramatically. Before, I got sick often on tour. Now I don’t. But after a few days at home my inner temperature is fucked up, I go on a t-shirt out and it’s windy freezing cold, or I am sweating my ass in the line to the bank. And real life goes on and then I adapt and then it’s my smell in the couch, my netflix, my fridge, Portuguese patisserie.
So before you think it’s a big uncommented secret that we are getting old and that our hair is not like in the Nineties anymore and that we don’t look…well, so starved out, please remember nobody is more self-conscious than us, whose job involves being public as we really don’t have any other option. Life and kilometres wear us out and the only option is to trick time as best as we can. Fattening and then killed upon the altar.