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OTHER [uhth-er]:

nouna group or member of a group that is perceived as different, foreign, strange, etc:

Prejudice comes from fear of the other.

verb: to perceive or treat (a group or member of a group) as different, foreign, strange, etc.

--"other". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 28 Jun. 2017.<Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/other>.

 

(AKA, THAT KID)

Reasons people are othered: race, gender, color, sexual orientation, religion, politics, socio-economics, appearance (weight, height, development/lack of development, etc), clothing, alcoholic parents, disabilities, speech impediments, intelligence/lack of intelligence...no real reason at all.

GOOD reasons people are othered: ZERO. 

Education and a DIY Mindset...

Martin) One of the things I like to do when I teach is pull up my school report from (chuckles) 1973, I think. It’s appaling. It’s just really, really bad: D+, C-, D, F. And it’s great for students to see that a bad report, a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. I left school when I was sixteen, and I have my master’s degree now in creative media, but I didn’t go back to school until maybe I was fifty.

The overwhelming number of people in my world—and I’m talking about everything I’m involved in, from independent coffee entrepreneurs, to musicians, creative media marketing, record business, recording studios, merchandising, fashion—school is not good at them. School doesn’t exist to accommodate everybody and individuals. Schools exist to shovel people in the front door, have people conform, and shovel them out the back door. Most of the people I know have done badly at school. Somebody said to me once, “If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?” I said, “In jail.” It wasn’t like, Let me think, here’s a clever answer. Half of us would absolutely be in jail. At least the music business and creative outlets allow you to break creative rules—fashion rules, music rules. I think if you don’t set up a framework to break creative rules, then maybe you’re going to break society’s rules of more consequence than a bad pair of jeans.

 

 But within the schooling system at an early age, if you’re told by somebody who’s desperately clinging to those parameters, “Hey, well you’re not doing too well. How about joining the army?”--the people advising students in those situations aren't entrepreneurs, fluid thinkers challenging the system. They're just punching the clock. We’re going to school to learn about ourselves, how we learn, make friends with people, still go to class even in times of adversity, and become ourselves. So the idea that somebody has failed school is just totally obnoxious to me.                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

Both of my boys are enrolled at Millikin University, where I teach. One son enrolled as undeclared. What the hell is that? It means, Hey, I want an education, but I’m not sure what I want to focus in on. One class he was looking at was about spiders. There are so many options open to people. But schools in Chicago are having budgets cut, music’s gone, all kinds of things that might cost a little bit of money—those things are gone—recess is gone. So you remove the morning and afternoon recess, and it chops off an hour off the school day, and it saves them money somewhere, but that just doesn’t work. So to set up all these crazy hoops, and then call somebody a failure for not jumping through those hoops, when the system itself is just appalling, is really morally indefensible, I think. 

 

KC) So if there’s a kid out there who’s really interested in music or really into painting, and their school isn’t giving it to them, what are your recommendations for them doing it outside school?

Martin) Well, the first problem is how do they get the materials to work with. If you want an art class, and there isn’t one, talk to somebody. We all need to be entreprenuers, and we all need to be advocates for ourselves and our futures. I don’t mean, “Hey! Start an art class!” But if you can get some people together, and you can say, “Hey, there are six of us, and we’re really interested in this period of art," (or splatter art, or graffiti, or whatever), do some work. Sometimes you have to present this smartly. If your sports teacher also has an interest in Renaissance art, say “We’re interested in Renaissance art, and there’s this exhibition we want to go to…” There are also recycling places where you can sometimes get ahold of materials to make stuff out of, and there are lots of organizations that help to fundraise. That’s my suggestion—to research. [Screen printing's] a good place to start, in terms of art, if you can get someone to teach you how to screen print. I taught myself. I found a bunch of screens in the garbage, and I didn’t know how to make screens. I used to print what was on the screens that I found and make collages out of other people’s and other business’ artwork. Just start small. Just start. 

In my screen printing workshop, I describe it as how to print the $17 bill: the shirt and the ink cost $3, you sell the shirt for $20, you’re putting $17 in your pocket, and now you have the beginnings of a way to raise funds to go get some acrylic paints or brushes, or whatever. And then, never pay retail for anything. Once you create "The Students’ Organization for Renaissance Art" (or whatever), then you approach the art store. Say, “Hi, I’ve got this group of students, I’m wearing the shirt now for The Renaissance Art Class, do you support any student run organizations? We’re not asking for free paints, but would you sell us paint wholesale?” There’s all kinds of tiny things you can do once that door opens to put your foot in the door a little and force it open. But it’s a battle. No one’s going to give you shit.

PUSH PLAY

This one, admittedly, got my former teen-self uber excited...and stupidly nervous when it was suggested we talk over the phone instead of through introvert-safe email. But I'd prepared and researched for months! I had all the questions I needed fanned out in front of me. I’d hammered two cups of chamomile tea. I. WAS. READY. Then I heard Martin's voice and just wanted to listen to his stories, which turned me into a nodding bobble-head of yeses, wows, and

uh-huhs, while Martin carried the interview. 

Bless him for doing that, too, because I 

somehow forgot how to read every time I tried

to refer to my notes.

So here’s the thing: this interview is different from my

others. The very fact that it's about Martin Atkins

changes its nature, because quite frankly he's lived

a crazy-different life than most, and the very thing

that he attributes to changing and saving his life

musicalso pulled him away from his peers and his

family. Do a Google search, and you'll find tons of 

write-ups about Atkins the musician and teacher. This, though, is one of the few about Martin Atkins the witty, intelligent, resourceful, reflectiveand perhaps most of allkind person; it's more about the "how" of Martin than the "what" of him. Of course, there's no way to divorce his life from music, so Martin's beginning, middle and end interweave without hard stopping points. Maybe, in the end, my temporary inability to speak during our first call was for the best: it kept me out of Martin's way, and instead of another interview, we're left with his story.

 

***Click            buttons to hear Martin! Fair warning: There's uncensored language. Y'all are teenagers (and adults)you've heard it before. 

KC) In an '03 Ink19 interview, you mention a Gary Glitter concert when you were nine being your first example of more than one drum kit in a show. Music became your thing SO youngwere you raised with music playing and being important in your childhood home?

Martin) It might have been Cozy Powell? But yeah the record player was always going!

KC) How/why did you get into drumming (Did drums give you an outlet or were they something your parents “made” you learn)?

 

Martin) I think it was slightly accidental, to be honest. I was given a snare drum in primary music class. I could have been given a xylophone. I joke sometimes that if my dad had bought me a lawn mower, I’d have been a landscape gardener. That’s father and son stuff. I think I was maybe seven, and one of my classmates’ mothers worked at the school—I think she was one of the lunch ladies. She was talking to my mom, just making conversation, and said, “Oh, you know, I hear Martin’s great on the snare drum.” Well, how is it possible for anybody to be great on a snare drum? I’d love to say “and from that moment on, things went forward,” but I think she was just making conversation with my mom. Maybe eight months later, my dad was at the market and saw a really crappy drum kit—like a real broken down Premier drum kit. It was covered in something that was really prominent at the time called sticky back plastic. You peeled the back off, and you could stick it on anything to transform the look of it. [The drum kit] had this brown wood finish. After a year or so, I peeled off the plastic to reveal a fantastic gold sparkle finish, which sounds amazing to me now, but at the time it was slightly horrifying…a little bit cabaret, you know? 

This would be the 60’s. I was born in 1959. My dad was an old school provider. He worked on the factory floor, became a manager in a textile company, and eventually became a manager of that factory. Then we moved to the northeast of England, a place called Durham, close to New Castle, and he was in charge of the whole factory. But he was what you’d call an absentee father. With the benefit of me having four boys of my own now, I would definitely tone that down a bit and say he was a provider. Sometimes when I find myself on a three-hour commute somewhere, I’m like “Fuck, here I am, commuting just like my dad.” It makes me nervous about genes and programming, but it also makes me wish I could call him up and say, “Thanks for that, Dad,” but he’s not around. So because of that absentee father thing, I would play the drums for four hours a day. I think, also, my hormones were going nuts. You know, with kids that age, there’s a lot of aggression and all kinds of stuff.                                                                                         

 

 

KC) Were you a popular kid?  

Martin) I don’t think I was particularly popular. I had really long hair. Before punk rock, that’s how you rebelled. I’m sure everybody likes to believe, “Oh, I was one of the cool kids,” but I don’t know. I played some sports, but the drums, from an early age pulled me away from a lot of people. And then very quickly, I think by the time I was eleven, I joined my first band. So I’d been playing for two years, and I joined a band with people who’d been playing for two years. They were sixteen, eighteen, twenty-two, so you could say that suddenly, I was hanging out with much older people. By the age of twelve—maybe thirteen, fourteen—I was doing eight shows a week. On Sunday afternoons, we backed the strippers in the north of England. I would do my homework—and I say that loosely, because I don’t think I did it very well—in the dressing room on Sunday night.

One thing my dad taught me with one of the first bands I joined—maybe when I was twelve: he saw this ad in the paper for this band (I think the place where the auditions were was on his route home from the factory). The auditions were on Saturday and Sunday, and he went on Saturday to say, “Hey, I’m not here for the audition. My son’s twelve. He’s an amazing drummer, but of course, I’m his father and I wanted to check out the situation before I bring him here.” Really, he was just spying. He was trying to get me an edge. While he was talking to the singer, he looked down on the ground to see the songs they were using for the audition. He asked if there was a bathroom, went and wrote down four of the songs. Then he went back, looked at four other songs, went out to his car and came to me with the titles of eight songs that I needed to learn. We went and got those albums, and I listened to the songs. When I sat down for the audition, they were like, Oh my God! He's amazing! Well, I was pretty good, but I’d listened to these songs. When I auditioned for Public Image Limited, I did that same thing. There was only one album when I joined. I listened to that one album, and I drew the beat—I can’t read music—but I drew the beat in a way that I could understand them: bass drum, snare drum, boom ba-boom boom, you know? So that preparation was something that really kind of helped me. How nice and supportive, that [my dad] wanted me to succeed at getting the audition for that [first] job. I don’t think he thought for a minute I’d turn professional and leave school at sixteen. So it’s like, You started it, Dad.

 ​​

KC) What do you think has given you your drive? Was there a point in your life that made you realize you couldn't give up, that you had to be your own advocate?

Martin) When [my dad's] mother died, we were living in the north of England. I want to say I was sixteen, maybe seventeen, and he wanted to move closer to his father, closer to Coventry, to try to take care of him. That’s the way things were back then. My grandfather couldn’t cook an egg. He’d worked all his life in the same place and retired in the same place and got a clock. I didn’t want to leave. I was in a band, I was connected to all sorts of things in the north of England. I didn’t want to move to Coventry. So I didn’t. My mom and dad moved away. They set my sister up in an apartment, and I was her tenant. I was sixteen years old, in a band, playing seven nights a week, earning money, brewing my own beer, out drinking. I’m sure it was a nightmare for my sister to deal with. I don’t think I was advocating for myself. I think I was drunk. 

 

My mom used to send me care packages that they might have sent to the troops on the front line in World War II, maybe a can of SPAM, or anything that could be sent back then to show some love. She said she used to stand doing the dishes at the new place in Nuneaton, close to my granddad, with tears rolling down her cheeks. She’d just stand there, looking out the window crying. She obviously felt that things were not right. It was obviously a jarring event for more than just me. I think sixteen is young—it didn’t seem so at the time—but as my two oldest approached sixteen, seventeen, and did the things that sixteen and seventeen year olds do, I definitely felt as though I didn’t really have a blueprint to fall back on, because I hadn’t experienced father/son conflict resolution from the age seventeen, onwards. From like seventeen to twenty-three, I’m not sure I spoke to [my dad] much. I felt abandoned. 

I ended up telling the band I was in—we were pretty successful in the north of England; I remember one show we played to 600 people, which is a lot of people at the university. Here I am, I guess seventeen—“Look, I’m going to move to London. London’s where it’s at.” And I think I wanted to make it, not having a clue what that meant. So after kind of leaving the band, the band came back to me, and said “We’re all going to move to London. Let’s go.” And we drove to London and found a shitty little flat. I got a job working for the government, and we found this little pub where we played four nights a week doing cover songs, which paid us decent money. And we all kind of went off in our musical directions from there.

(Martin joined Public Image Limited in 1979, at twenty.)

My mom and dad would go to many of the shows. They came and saw me play with Johnny Rotten and Killing Joke, and they’d bring a couple of friends. My mom used to knit sweaters for me and sweaters for Johnny Rotten. I’m sure there are some photographs somewhere of both of us in the same sweaters. I definitely felt quite resentful when Mom and Dad would come out to Public Image concerts. My dad and his friend Tony and Tony’s wife Doris, they’d come out to a PiL show and sit on the tour bus with Johnny Rotten, having a beer and joking. And, you know, as great as that was, I definitely felt, like Now? I don’t need your support NOW. I needed it like four years ago, three years ago. So there’s definitely some conflicting emotions going around. But, I think we also think of our parents as these fully formed individuals with everything worked out, and that’s clearly not the case for me today, with four sons. 

(Quitting PiL in the height of its popularity wasn't understood by many fans. Getting another gig also turned out to be harder than imagined, something Martin talks about in his The Martin Atkins Minute podcast "Bad Day" on NPR's All Songs Considered.)

KC) What propelled you to keep going forward after PiL?

 

Martin) It’d be convenient for me to say, “Well, it’s inner strength and fortitude!” But honestly, it was a decision for me to tell that story and put it on NPR. In my recollection, that was a really bad day. I mean, it was really fucking bad. It wasn’t like I picked myself up and… I remember I crawled into bed that night. I might have cried. I had a fever, and it was one of those nights where I was so exhausted from physical labor, and it was like my head hit the pillow and PING the alarm went off, and it was the next day. No tossing and turning, just really deep sleep, and immediately it was time to do it again. That went on for a while. We were building decks for this guy, and we never saw him. He’d show up sometimes with an idea of a deck sketched out on a bar napkin from the night before from somebody he’d met, with an address. Then me and this French guy, Jean, and this American guy, John, would go and have a cup of coffee, and Jean would sketch out the dimensions, look at the lumber order he needed to make, and we’d go to the lumber yard, order the wood, pick it up and then start digging the holes for the footings for the deck, and get those inspected. 

 

We wouldn’t see the guy who owned the business until two weeks later. He’d come by and shake hands with the house owner, pick up his check, and that was that. In the middle of all this, I was on an H1 multiple entry work permit Visa, courtesy of Warner Bros., and it never occurred to me that leaving the band would put my immigration status in jeopardy. I was an illegal alien for a while. All this physical work, my friends were getting $15-20 an hour. I was getting $6, and happy to get it. At some point, I said to Jean and John, “We’re doing all the shit. We should start our own company.” I think I planted this seed. I look back at some of my time in PiL, in 1980-1; I heard an interview that surprised me. The guitarist was saying, “We don’t need a manager. We’re saving all that money.” Actually, if we'd had a manager, we’d have had t-shirts when we played to 10,000 people in Los Angeles and were actually losing money by not having a manager. I was always kind of aware of the business side of things, and I think that’s something I inherited from my dad—his business skills and looking at problems. 

[Jean, John, and I] started our own company making decks, and we did that for about six months and were quite successful. Then one day, the phone rang, and it was Geordie, the guitarist from Killing Joke. Their drummer quit, and this guy that I’d met two years before at a show in DC was in London trying to get a bass playing gig, and he mentioned to the guys in Killing Joke that he knew me. So Geordie called me up and said, “Hey, do you want to come play drums for us?” But this wasn’t an easy opportunity, because with the state of my immigration at that time, by leaving the country, I was not guaranteed to get back in. I’ve been married twice (my first marriage didn’t last too long) so I was married and applied for a resident alien status—a green card. When I got on a plane to audition for Killing Joke, I knew I was a decent drummer. They obviously were excited to have me join the band, but nonetheless, if that audition had gone badly, I could have been in the UK for a year, waiting for my paperwork to be finalized. 

So I joined Killing Joke in London, and I started to manage the band. I started my own record label. I think that one advantage I have is that my dad gave me some gifts. It’d be easy for me to say that I wish he’d been around more, because I do, but I was also raised by the idea and the possibility of punk rock. More specifically, the DIY mantra: Do it Yourself. I started my label. You can only complain about things so much. The tenth time you complain about a major label, Fuck it! Let’s start a label. That’s been very helpful to me—just do it yourself. I think later in life, I can’t underscore how important education has been to me. It’s been like a circle. Initially, it was like, I’ve been in a band, and I’ve done all these tours, and I’ve released all these albums, and I’ve done all this shit. Of course, that got me in the door, but then I saw there wasn’t a book for my touring class, so I wrote one. It just seemed obvious to me. Well, I’ll write one, then. It wasn’t I’m going to be an author! It was like Well, I need a book. Because I did that textbook, it became quite popular. People asked me to speak. Because I’d experimented by doing spoken word performances of my poetry, I felt more comfortable standing in front of people with a microphone, presenting, and that started to happen. Then by being in an educational environment, someone in Canada asked if I’d come talk about the social media mindset. I was like What the fuck is that? And I’m like “Absolutely!” I spent a month investigating. Whilst preparing for a pretty lucrative speaking gig in Canada, I was teaching myself about social media. Then I started teaching a social media class, and a marketing class. And when it was time to do my third book, and I’m like, Well, I should crowd-fund this. I successfully crowd-funded my book, and while I was doing that, I thought, This is good material for a crowd-funding class.

I don't think I’ve ever seen one thing as being the end. One thing usually leads to something else, and there’s no straight line from A to B. So if there isn’t a straight line from A to B, stop trying to strategize your straight line from A to B! Just be awesome. Be nice to people. Be helpful. Be productive. Do something, and interesting things will happen. I couldn’t have predicted how I’d get my gig with NPR, or how I’d write a book, or how I’d become a public speaker. But I love doing all those things. 

KC) Speaking of there being no straight line from A to B, you attribute many things that you have learned and incorporated into your work and life to your father, but those things weren't gained in a clearcut way. How did you heal your father/son relationship to be able to do that?

Martin) As I get inside my own skin to write my current book about my time with PiL, which began when I was just 20, I’ve been using the handy yardstick of my two eldest boys as a kind of gauge to try and imagine myself at that time in my own life. It's made me reflect about my time with my father and, in turn, my time with them. I partially understand, in many ways, the choice I think he made to leave us as I was starting to get difficult, and I like to think he regretted it. They talk about the stiff upper lip, that British people don’t talk about our emotions. I’d say to him on the phone sometimes, “Alright, Dad. Hey, I love you!” And he’d say, “Well, Martin, everybody on this end sends their regards to you, too.” Which I just thought was hilarious, but I was fortunate to tell him that a lot before he passed. Strange that years after his death I still get closer to him—I tried to do a better job when he was around and express my love to him. 

 

On the day he died, before I left to get the plane back to the states, he was sleeping downstairs, not really able to get upstairs. I was amazed as, exhausted, he pulled out his front teeth and collapsed into the bed. A month or so before on my previous visit, he had almost not said goodbye to me, because he didn’t want me to see him in his apnea mask. So I guess he did give a fuck. Proud fathers and sons. All of this brings unexpected tears in the shower. I don’t mind when it happens anymore, I pause and try and savor a few more moments with him then set about the task of trying to be available to my own boys.

Push Play

       (FF to today, I believe it. )

Martin Atkins' Story

Martin Atkins Cliff Notes:

He’s drummed for PiL, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, and The Revolting Cocks. He formed Brian Brain, Pigface, Murder Inc., Damage Manual, and Opium Jukebox. He’s collaborated with Nivek Ogre, Chris Connelly, and myriad others in the post-punk/post-industrial genre. He guest lectures. He teaches. He's an author. He’s the Music Business Department Chair at SAE Institute in Chicago and the Music Industry Coordinator at Millikin University. He's sat on the judging panel for the Independent Music Awards and he’s had a regular podcast featured on NPR's "All Songs Considered" (The Martin Atkins Minute). He’s an entrepreneur…and

HE EVEN HAS HIS OWN LINE OF COFFEE!!!

EDUCATION IS THE NEXT PUNK ROCK

"Punk was just different. It was like here’s a chord, here’s another chord, here’s a third chord. Now start a band. That instruction to get started and not worry about how proficient you are comes into sharp contrast when I’m at Millikin University, where students are trained at a very early age to be proficient at their instruments. So Education is the Next Punk Rock is me reminding myself to include the things that set people’s heads on fire, that create engagement in the classroom—the same things that have people run down the front of a gig, instead of just hanging out at the back. The thought you put into the construction of a set list should be the construction of each class, and the sequence of classes within the curriculum in the semester. So you’re always looking for anarchic things to grab people and then twist around and show them other sides of things. Let the students create the excitement and the reason to show up."

On Education...

Studio in New York City 1983/4

photo credit: Maureen Baker 

Bonus Questions

KC) You mentioned you were shy (in the What Older Me Would Tell Younger Me section), but we didn’t talk about that when we were talking about your childhood. When were you shy?

 

Martin) Uh, for the last fifty-eight years. I think initially it made me drink a lot. I wouldn’t walk into a room. I’d just walk straight into a bar. Then I adrenalized. I’d drink pretty quickly with no effect, because adrenaline burns up alcohol. So I’d drink more, and I might have a few drinks and leave, rather than being more open and slowing down a little bit. At least now, when I walk into a room at some kind of a conference, I can go, Everyone in this fucking room is a mess. Why don’t I say hello to this guy who’s completely sweating and freaking out? Randomly say hello to people, just be nice. One of my slides in one of my presentations is from a guy from a black metal band called Enslaved. I was at a conference in Norway, and I ended up at a table with this guy, and he described this crazy situation to me. I’m like, “How did you make that happen?” He said, “Well, Martin, always say yes to everything.” I’m like Fucking hell, I’ll make that one of my slides! It was one of my slides for three years before I started doing it. At an educational conference in Austin, these Canadian educators saw me at the hotel. They’d liked my presentation. They were like, “Hey, we’re all going out for sushi. Come join us.” I opened my mouth to say, “It’s been a long day. I was actually just going to go up and sit in my room." But I said, “Yeah, okay, what the fuck!” And I actually paid attention to my own slide. I said, “Look it’s been a long day. Let me run upstairs and change my shirt real quick. I’ll come straight back down and we’ll go.” I felt my body trying to sabotage that. I couldn’t button my shirt buttons up! I got downstairs just as they were jumping in the cab, and they pulled me in. We had an amazing meal with great conversation, and amazing sushi. But the fear of a long pause in the conversation can stop all kinds of things from happening. Plus, I think I started to realize that when you’re shy, you can seem aloof. When you’ve been in a few bands, and you seem aloof, people think you’re a fucking asshole. Who does that guy think he is? And it’s like, Well I’m shy, and I’ve got to get out of here, because it’s painful. I’m more understanding of that in other people. I tell my students that all the time, because I think a lot of us are really shy.

KC) Where did you get your compassion? Was there a person who instilled it in you, or is it how you innately are?

Martin) Hmm. I’m not sure. I think that’s honestly been a journey. I’ve been really fortunate with these life lessons. When I was in Public Image, we played for 10,000 people at Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, and I was a prick. I was a fucking prick. I called this kid who was taking care of the dressing room, “more beer, you fucker. You think this is enough beer?” I was just an asshole. The guy got a six-pack of Miller or something, and I’m like, “You call this beer?” I’m filling in the gaps, but the end result is I ended up having a fight with this kid. We were rolling on the floor, punching. How ridiculous, right? Well that person was Kevin Lyman, who invented the Warped Tour. And you think, Fuck him. Fuck that guy. Fortunately, our paths don’t have to cross. I don’t need him to give my band a break on the Warped Tour.

Except, maybe ten years ago, maybe longer, I do a new music seminar in New York, and it’s a panel on touring. And it’s me, somebody else, somebody else…and Kevin Lyman. I’m like Oh my God. And I start to feel a bit uncomfortable. A question comes to me, and I said, “You know, before I answer the question, is it alright for me to stand up in front of 600 people and apologize to Kevin Lyman for being a complete fucking asshole twenty years ago and just apologize for that ridiculous behavior?" We’ve been friends ever since. 

Once one thing like that happens to you, the next situation you’re in with somebody who’s maybe in a humbling situation—they have their own aspirations and ambitions, obviously—be nice. Be nice to everybody. I sell that to students. Instead of trying to say, “Be nice, everyone’s a person,” instead of being spiritual with it, I become strategic with it. I say, “Listen, maybe if I’d been nice to Kevin thirty years ago, maybe we’d be friends now.” I mean we are friends, but I could have made friends in a different way. I could have said, “Hey man, do you want a beer? Hey, what’s going on in your world?” Maybe he was having a bad day. “Hey, are you hungry? There’s lots of food. Why don’t you take a sandwich off the deli tray, dude. Sit down for a minute. We don’t need more ice.” That wouldn’t have cost me anything. I sell this to students who are in the music business, trying to make their way, “Look, if you want to get Kevin Lyman’s attention now, maybe you have to buy him a car, because everybody wants his attention. So either be nice to people because you should, or be nice to people because it’s a good strategic move, you ambitious asshole. One way or another, just be nice to people!” (That’s actually not fair of me to say you have to buy a car to get Kevin’s attention, because he’s a super nice human, spiritual person.)

 

But it’s those kinds of lessons, the fact that I’m still around to look back with an open mind and learn from my mistakes, and it’s the blessing of being a teacher to take those thoughts and turn them into a slide, or turn my strategy of getting out of bed five hours before somebody else, to beat your rival (I’ve been tweeting that since 2009, and now it’s my own brand of coffee. It’s ridiculous!) You’ve got to take the punk rock approach. I could have apologized to him afterwards, on a little note, like “Hi Kevin, just before you leave I just want to say sorry mate.” But that’s bullshit. It’s almost like a Disney movie, to stand up in front of 600 people. It felt like the correct thing to do.

What Younger Me Would Tell Adult Me:

There’s something that happens to me when I really let go and play my drums. Where I’ve definitely felt myself lose myself and get into a state—even though I might be physically pushing the absolute envelope—mentally, I’m totally relaxed. I think the younger self might say to older self to not let fear consume me, and to seek out, to underline and nurture anything that puts me into that state. (So you think you’re more restricted now that you’re older?) I think I’m coming out of it, and I think that four kids and having two buildings during the economic downturn, I mean there are plenty of reasons to freak out and not pursue my bliss, but I think that pursuing that bliss is actually the best protection for everybody. 

What Adult Me Would Tell Younger Me:

Okay, that’s not an easy answer. I guess I’m in a strange position of having the nineteen to twenty-five year old me having been photographed a lot, recorded a lot, rubbed shoulders with a lot of people during my time with PiL, so I actually think the older me has spent a little bit of time trying to tell the younger me that shit was okay. I think I wish I could tell the younger me to chill out a little bit, understand that my shyness was not easy to overcome, but all I had to do was pretend not to be shy for a few minutes to build myself into some situations that would have increased some possibilities for me, rather than complain. Another thing the older me would tell the younger me is to be careful with people. Be careful with the circumstances that bring people in and especially push them out, because you can scar people for life with a couple of comments. Of course that’s true with sons and daughters, as well. I think in the music business when I was a kid, and up until recently, I thought life, relationships, business associates, were temporary. I think my dad told me, “You’ve got a few years in this business, make it count.” I felt like a soccer player: you’ve got four years, and then you’re done. That creates a smash and grab attitude. Now I look around and I just talked to Keith, the guitarist from PiL for three hours, two weeks ago. We hadn’t spoken for thirty years. These people are still people. We’ll always be connected through the music we made together, and how ridiculous that we don’t talk once in a while, have more compassion for each other. I’d tell my younger self all kinds of shit.

My Secret Talent:

I don’t know about my secret talent. I was in Barcelona, speaking—I speak a lot, and people introduce me as the author of this book, the author of that book. In Barcelona, five years ago, my secret talent was drumming. Everybody from the conference went to this basement bar. This guy called Pete Shelley from The Buzzcocks was there, and we were like “Hey, let’s jam a few songs,” and honestly, as far as everyone in that bar was concerned, they had no idea—it was like I was a magician! Suddenly, it was like “What’s Martin doing playing the drums?!” So I guess in that circumstance, that was my secret talent. 

5 Random Facts About Me:

1- I’m color blind

2- I was on the water polo team as a child, which was horrifying. (KCDID YOU ENJOY IT?) NO! People were trying to drown me! It was just—there’s no sportsman-like behavior! The guy tried to drown me!

 

3- I made my own clothes at the age of seventeen. Made my own pants. For some reason I really liked sewing.

 

4- I wrote poetry when I was seven

 

5- I’ve been in stage pretty much all my life with a drum kit around me, but the first time I stood on stage with a microphone, my knees were shaking. I remember thinking, That’s what they mean when they say your knees are knocking.

Other Places to Find Me:

Website: http://martinatkins.bigcartel.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marteeeen

 

Instagram: @flowersfightforsunshine/

Tour:Smart: And Break the Band by Martin Atkins

Band: Smart Success in the Music Business on Your Own Terms by Martin Atkins

The Martin Atkins Minute: All Songs Considered: NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/448976198/the-martin-atkins-minute 

Even moreGOOGLE!

Hope for the Day is a Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program that is very important to Martin. 
 
 
If you, or someone you care about, need help, https://www.crisistextline.org/texting-in is a place to start.
"Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis."