Believe it or not, but most of your favorite bands do not make a living off their music. If you do the math it seems surprising, because any band with thousands of people buying their records at anywhere from 99 cents to 10 bucks a piece must be earning a living wage, right? Hardly.
Record labels can be grossly incompetent or downright sketchy in their practices. Royalty payments are subatomic in size, label accounting can be deliberately Byzantine, and contracts written in suspiciously confusing legalese. Touring and merchandise can be money pits if bands lack basic management skills and connections to cheap lodging.
What's a poor punk rocker to do? In most cases, they get a job, just like the rest of us. Many toil in offices or restaurants, but some find work that makes for witty banter at house parties (or for the subject of a Heard Mentality list). We searched far and wide, from coast to coast and back in time, to find the most interesting gigs that sustain our favorite punk rockers. Today we present you with our top five.
Note: Many punk bands work within the music industry itself. We're not including them because their bands and occupations overlap too much for the latter to be "day jobs" in the traditional sense.
5. The Yoga Jedi: Ray Cappo, Youth of Today
For almost 30 years, Ray Cappo, singer for hardcore bands Youth of Today and Shelter, has promoted a lifestyle of vegetarian eating, sobriety, and adherence to a strict form of Hinduism known colloquially in the United States as Hare Krishna.
What a geek! No wonder every fanzine writer and LiveJournal blogger back in the day relentlessly goofed on him. What kind of punk rock singer uses his music to spread positive vibes? We should round up a posse of macho men right now and go kick Ray Cappo's ass for being such a pansy. You guys in? Cool!
Before the fisticuffs begin, we should caution you that when he's not rocking out, Cappo is a mixed martial artist and master yoga instructor. We know little about yoga but if you check out Cappo's website, you'll see he does gravity-warping headstands and flips that would twist our spines into the sort of fine powder that Ray, much to his credit, has never snorted up his nose. Maybe we should all take a step back and tease him from the safety of our laptops again.
4. The Only YA Writer That Matters: Frank Portman, The Mister T Experience
You may not recognize the name, but Frank Portman and his band the Mister T Experience (MTX) created the blueprint for a lot of the pop punk that Blink 182 and all the bands that imitate Blink 182 made a fortune on. You know the genre--catchy guitars reminiscent of The Ramones and wise-ass lyrics with just enough sincerity to excuse the brazenly formulaic parts. Fittingly, the juvenile yet endearing Portman is an author of Young Adult novels when he's not fronting the current lineup of MTX. Portman's King Dork books are praised for truthful depictions of adolescent rebellion, but we think they are fantastic for their total absence of vampires and wizards.
3. The Rescue Boater: Steve Ignorant, Crass
Steve Ignorant is the on-again, off-again singer for Crass, an anarchist punk band that puts more effort into building a UK political movement than tuning their guitars. When Steve Ignorant is not performing with Crass or arguing with the other band members about his lapsed commitment to anarchy, he mans a rescue boat on the Norfolk Coast of England. Fans of Crass will lash out at us, but we say good for you, Steve Ignorant. You're doing more good for other people on your boat than you ever did hollering about Maggie Thatcher.
2. The Barkeep: Ken Casey, Dropkick Murphy's
When we first saw the Dropkick Murphy's, we were struck at how much bassist-vocalist Ken Casey resembles a cheerful, early 20th century Irish-American bartender. Finally, we can defy our 4th-grade teachers and judge a book by its cover, because Casey is the owner of McGreevy's bar in Boston. McGreevy's is far from a dingy pub filled with bruised Celtic immigrants and manual laborers, though. It's a gleaming, Red Sox-themed bar-and-grill located on prime real estate within walking distance of Fenway Park. Although the place sees a lot of foot traffic from tourists and shoppers, on our last visit, we were pleased to hear Rancid on the jukebox.
1. The Iron Man: John Joseph, Cro-Mags
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If you've ever read a bio of Cro-Mags singer John Joseph, then you know in the hardcore band's early days he kept a busy offstage schedule of smoking crack, shooting heroin, and beating the living shit out of other guys on New York's Lower East Side. So what's he do in his spare time now? You probably expect us to say he overdosed, saw the light and is now a peg-legged drug counselor with a plate in his head. Or that he's shelving books in the library at Sing Sing.
You'd be wrong. Today he's an Iron Man triathlete who defeats guys half his age and goes on 50-mile bike rides for fun. When he's not training or touring with his version of the Cro-Mags, Joseph is an evangelist for the vegan lifestyle, giving lectures at schools and appearing on cooking shows where his tattoo sleeves amusingly contrast the perky hosts and sterile kitchen sets. He also wrote a cookbook, Meat is for Pussies, because there's no better way to convert people to healthy living than applying a healthy dose of old-school trash talk.