Revenge Of The Nerd – The Brian Rogers Story
I was a nerd, yes, and always will be. But in my early years, the more accurate description would be a “misfit”. I grew up in white suburbia, and went to a youth group with other Black kids in a similar situation, just so we could be around each other. But then, one year, I didn’t even fit in with them, when they started calling each other nigga and baggin’ on me for talking funny, like an oreo. Plus, they were college bound and I was a hippie who played music all day and skipped school sometimes, and had band practice 3 days per week. My drummer’s dad was a famous actor, who played Pointdexter in Revenge of the Nerds, and looking back, that was prophetic – my story, since being a misfit with white kids, a misfit with black kids and also Asian kids who let me play with them during 5th grade, has been a story of health revenge in finding my tribe with musicians, and my real voice (oreo or otherwise) with music itself. Songwriting being the clearest.
My first word was actually, “light”. I grew up with a Mom who spoke clearly to me every day when when was an infant, imploring me to speak back even though she knew I couldn’t, until one day, 9 months in, I did. And it was the word, “light”, since every time she changed my diaper I would be looking up at the light giggling, and the say, “Can you say, ‘light’?!” She was an over achiever, gave me so much love, made me into a self proclaimed Mama’s boy lol.
She also instilled in me a tendency to be an over achiever as well, and not always in a good way. However, taking unnecessary paths out of a feeling of neediness, people pleasing or unworthiness, has had a positive side effect of giving my life bright color and experience that I’m better off with. For example, backing up countless songwriters when I should have been focusing on my own the whole time, has turned me into a world class drummer and bassist. In fact, my city awarded me “Hall of Fame” status, TWICE, for my drumming and for my singing.
But before any awards, writing any songs or backing other songwriters up, I was into science, geography and astronomy. So much so, that I thought, as a child until the age of 10, that music was pointless. I know, I was a real nerd, and a loser for that lol. But to be fair, I DID like Michael Jackson and George Michael for some reason, I thought they were both super heroes on MTV when I was 7.
But the idea of PLAYING music, to be honest, seemed kind of girlish to my ignorantly sexist 7 year old brain. That was, until, the ultimate woman, my own mother, FORCED me to play music because not only was I quitting Taekwondo RIGHT before earning a black belt, but it was a family tradition. She dragged me, kicking and screaming to the music store and I chose, begrudgingly, clarinet (at least it was small and I would have to bother much carrying it).
Fast forward learning 3 years of classical music, 5 years of bass guitar study with a blind teacher, self taught guitar, 1500 jazz gigs on drums, 750 gigs as a bassist and 750 gigs as a singer songwriter or frontman of a band, at least 20 national tours, 1 international tour, 3 solo albums, 5 band albums, opening for Chris Tucker, Bernie Sanders and playing with Rock n Roll Hall of Famers Larry Graham and Bill Kreutzmann, I think its safe to say I’d found my thing. I was still a misfit, but now I’d found a tribe of other misfits in music!
And being that classic over achiever, I learned ALL the styles of music, instead of sticking with the music I should’ve been honing – my own. After all the ups, downs, backs and forth of jumping all around the music biz, I’d always find myself to be, again, a misfit. I think the biggest lesson I learned from touring with too many bands, playing too many styles and learning to be too good technically, is that you can play as flashy, and with as many superstars as you want, but at the end of the day we’re all just humans with a voice – and if you’re not speaking clearly, you ain’t saying’ nothin.
That’s what made me decide to be true, be loyal, be who I really am and simply share my art without flash, pretense or wavering. Flat out stark to be judged or to be loved and finally, most importantly, UNDERSTOOD. And don’t get me wrong, I STILL love rockin out for the sake of killing a drum solo or writing the craziest bass line I can think of, but even that kind of playing means so much more when its played at the right time, for the right reason, to support a good song, and sing it for ears that needed to hear that one lyric just that one way at just the right time. Thats what my favorite songwriters did for me, so I’m giving it back.
And that’s why perhaps YOU, the listener, are the most important part.
And THATS the drive behind what makes me play hard, and what makes me stick to my guns as a singer songwriter, instead of floating a drift at musical sea. All those experiences and different kinds of people I’ve met along the road have given me a lot to write about, and YOUR ears give the songs those memories and experiences they support along your journey.
And after all that time in the spot light, its still that original buzz of being a nerd and practicing my clarinet that I treasure. I love creating music, but I love creating music even more, for YOU, the listener. 🙂
If you’d like to check out the latest creation I’ve made, click here to listen to Brian Rogers Live at Barnstormers Theater. All acoustic, one man and a mic, and all stories along of finding “light” along the dark and winding path.
Thanks for being a listener and for keeping my aim clear, I look forward to making even more for you.