I came across an interview with John Colpitts, most famously the drummer for the band Oneida and frequently of the stage name “Kid Millions,” from a podcast produced by the n+1 team. N+1 is a print magazine that releases issues every four months. I highly recommend checking out their website, where you can decide if their magazine is something worth subscribing to. If I know anything about you people, you’ll dig n+1 (easy now, being a reader of this site is exactly the kind of “you people” that us people should aspire to).
I found Colpitts’ recollection of his own expectations for musical success as a newbie to be refreshingly realistic. His theme seemed to include something to the effect of, “Look, I wanted to do this thing with all my free time. I knew it was unlikely to amount to either financial success or an impact on a critical mass for a very long time, if ever, but I preferred doing it to not doing it.”
A link to the podcast is here and also at the bottom of the page. The interview with Colpitts is the final piece of the podcast, and starts around the 34:25 mark.
Among my favorite quotes was Colpitts’ recounting of listening to Oneida’s first album, “Yeah, I describe feeling just, you know, horrified. When I heard, when I truly heard the album, I just was like, ‘This is so horrible. It’s the worst sounding piece of shit I’ve ever heard. I can’t even believe that, like, I’m involved with this, and there’s money.’ The guys paid money to have it [mastered]. I just, I was so embarrassed. I was so mortified. Fred Kevorkian had mastered U2’s shit. He wasn’t like some fuckin’ clown. He was like a real dude, like, mastering guy. So the whole thing felt crazy.”
He then gives some great clarifications on the differences between being from Brooklyn in the 1990s and being from, of or living in Brooklyn now.
The best part of the interview was Colpitts recounting those very low expectations that he and his bandmates had from the outset of their first tour: “Well I was excited. I was psyched. I knew what it was going to be like, because of my time at The Knitting Factory. I knew it wasn’t gonna be… no one cares. Nobody gives a shit about you. I knew that was gonna be the way it was, so I wasn’t particularly, I didn’t have very many illusions… If there was like five people in the audience, we were psyched. We were excited. It wasn’t like illusions were shattered, which was lucky because I think that stops a lot of people like pretty early on. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe by now people know what it’s like.” Maybe by now they do, John, but I have to think to a large degree they don’t. That’s why people who turn out to be successful in creative endeavors always cite how long it takes to hone their crafts and build followings that won’t exist throughout much of the legwork – I think the assumption is that a lot of people get discouraged when they feel like their work isn’t reaching anyone, and they make the next logical leap, which is that it never will. So they quit.
Whatever you take from the interview, I found Colpitts to be a steady, mindful guy who sort of made a career out of (or is it because of) being honest with himself. He gauged reality well and set or adjusted expectations accordingly. Fair play, my man.
Another link to the n+1 podcast, episode 8. Skip to the 34:25 mark if you only want to hear the interview with Kid Millions.