Life On The Road – Zan Kriegler

Zan Kriegler, the drummer for Jo Black, has been one of the busiest drummers in South Africa and has spent more time on the road than at home. If you are a traveling musician, you will know how difficult, but essential prioritizing is. Zan gives some of his tips about how he does it and how he keeps his head above water, balancing a crazy busy schedule alongside relationships, friends, and family.

Photo by Daniel Rademeyer

Being a traveling musician is where we want to be. It’s basic basically what it is about — making music, being on the road, playing to different crowds in different places. Muso Life! If only it were that simple as we imagine it to be.

I’ve been playing drums for Jo Black for the last five years. At the end of 2016, this guy wrote a song that would change our lives. From doing only corporates, pub gigs and church gigs reasonably close to where we live, to doing 20+ gigs a month, in pretty much 20 different towns all over South Africa. Sounds cool? That is where us muso’s want to be, for sure. But… It’s definitely something to get used to, and it’s not always easy.

I’m so privileged to be working with good friends. The band I play with are like brothers. We know each other better than most people. We see each other at our best, and also at our worst. We know everyone’s ins and outs. Being on the road with guys you know really helps, especially if you see them more than your loved ones. Oh, now we’re getting to the hard part!

Being on the road so much is difficult because you may be married or are in a relationship that makes you want to be home, right? Obviously! We are away from home at least two nights a week, the other days we get home when everyone is sleeping anyway. It’s tough! How do you balance this? The work on the road, the work at home and making time for people most important in your life. Here is how I do it;

Photo by Daniel Rademeyer

Prioritizing! It’s always hard. Trying to balance everything that has to be done and attended to is a daily challenge! What I try to do is leave everything that isn’t a priority at that point alone. If I’m on the road, I’m on the road, not at home thinking about how nice it would be to hang out with family and friends. That makes the road so much longer, and we want to enjoy what we’re doing, don’t we? Now, I’m not saying we should forget our loved ones. I’m pretty much just saying that we shouldn’t make the situation harder by thinking about what else you could be doing and forgetting how privileged you are to be doing what we love! There’s no easy way of doing your job while your mind is still back home, even if you have a rad job like this!

“Being on the road so much is difficult because you may be married or are in a relationship that makes you want to be home, right? Obviously!”

– Zan Krieger

Being a musician has a lot to do with what you do behind the scenes; building your brand, having a good work ethic, going the extra mile with everything you do, etc. Playing music isn’t the only thing you can be doing. Yes, you might be working evenings and most weekends, but what about the rest of the day? Are you putting 8-10 hours of work in a day? Or are you sleeping until ten because you are only working again tonight? Do something with the time you have. You have more time than you think. It’s all about the balance for me, knowing when to do what. If you start mastering that, the challenges you had, or still might have in the future, wouldn’t be that much of a challenge anymore, and you will see you have a lot more time than you think.

Photo by Daniel Rademeyer

Everything is essential; your career, self-development, time. And most important, family! Without family, why are we doing this? Without them, who are you going to show our achievements to? Never forget that, and never forget the passion you have for what you do. Don’t lose that; it can happen so quickly between everything that’s going on!

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