Many people dream of achieving success – thinking that once they achieve at a certain level that they will be happy. Tara Brach calls this “If Only Mind.

If only I got that promotion…If only we hadn’t broken up…If only I made this much money…then I would be happy.

My friend Brian Blake plays drums for a band called Real Friends that has achieved a level of success that most bands only dream of. Headlining tours across the country, prime billing at the Vans Warped Tour (RIP), and millions of streams on their YouTube videos.

But, that success did come with a cost for Brian in terms of his constant self-judgment relative to his performances – and it created an almost crippling anxiety and self-awareness surrounding his playing.

We dig into Brian’s experiences with meditation to come out of these negative feedback loops, but don’t worry – it’s not all serious. We spend a decent amount of time talking about nu-metal and JNCO jeans as well.

Check out this conversation with Brian to hear:

  • What it feels like to be in a band that suddenly has a lot of people paying attention – especially after years of playing music that not many people cared about
  • The dangers of excessive self-judgment – especially when playing to thousands of people per night – and what Brian did to overcome these feelings
  • How Real Friends thinks about balancing their creative output with the expectations that fans have of them – and how they wrote a more “mature” pop record without giving up their roots

Listen Here

Check out more from Brian and Real Friends here:

Listen to Real Friends here:

Show Notes

  • [01:16] Early creative output with the Baa Baa Show
  • [07:20] Being nu-metal and having ridiculous hair – and early musical experiences in school band and local metalcore acts
  • [16:00] Improving the craft of drumming – both through formal instruction and without formal instruction
  • [27:21] Being your own worst critic – and finding the balance where that enables you to improve without cosntantly beating yourself up
  • [32:56] Getting into meditation to combat self-judgment
  • [40:57] The judgment of the crowd vs the judgment of your peers
  • [47:34] The negative feedback loop of hyperfocus on technique and worrying about screwing up
  • [52:37] Joining Real Friends and experiencing a bunch of fans suddenly caring about your band
  • [01:04:26] Finding the balance between your own creativity and keeping fans engaged
  • [01:15:19] Working with a producer and creating more of a pop” record than a “pop punk” record”
  • [01:24:45] Writing songs in the studio – and writing as a group vs separately
  • [01:33:49] How to learn more about Real Friends

Links and Resources Mentioned