Chris Kuroda Still Shines (Part Two)
Chris on site, the day prior to Super Ball IX – Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2011
Shortly before Phish’s Super Ball IX, Umphrey’s McGee lighting director Jeff Waful spent some time on the phone with Phish’s l.d. Chris Kuroda. While the initial purpose of the call was for a Q&A that ran in festival’s onsite newspaper, Ball Things Reconsidered, which we posted last week, —the conversation became surprisingly personal and candid between the two as they discussed the struggles of life on the road, artistic drive and emotional escapism.
Look for more with Kuroda on an upcoming episode of Jeff Waful +1.
You texted me the other night around 2 a.m. after a Phish show and said that you wanted to talk about life, not lights. What’s on your mind?
I just was sitting and thinking how interesting it is that this lifestyle is so unique compared to your 9-to-5 cubicle-going person. I reflecting on that and could just go on and on about how different [a job on the road is] and how it affects us and the things that we miss that go on in our family and personal life that we’re often not present for ‘cause we’re out here. It’s very unique and it takes a toll on us and those around us in a way that many people don’t understand.
Was there something specific that was going on that day that prompted you to text me?
I’m at a point in my life where it’s all starting to really take its toll on me and those around me. It’s been making the relationships that I have a little more trying. My daughter just turned eight and she’s at an age where she’s really dialed in to the whole thing and very aware of the fact that I’m missing things that are very important to her. She realizes that she’s kind of being single-parented. [My wife and I have] known it for a long time but she’s finally starting to clue into it as well and is asking questions to my wife like, “Why does Daddy miss everything?” “Why is he not here for my birthday? Why did he miss my piano recital? Why does he miss everything?”
It makes you stop and reflect a little bit. As long as I’m a touring person who makes his living by getting on airplanes to go to work, that’s something that’s going to consistently still be happening until I either retire or take a different path. It makes one ponder and reflect in a way that you have to make a decision and say, “Well this is what I’ve always done. This is what I do. This is what I’m best at, but these are the sacrifices that I’m making and these are the sacrifices that the people around me are making.”
As time goes on, you start to see those burdens get heavier and heavier on everybody you know. I’m in my mid-40s now and it catches up to you after a while and it makes you wonder what you’re giving up to live this life. What are the people around me giving up to let me live this life?
I can certainly relate, even being about ten years behind you. I go through the course of the day setting up, which is my least favorite part of the job, and questioning “Why am I doing this?” but then the magic of that three hours when the band is onstage happens and it’s affirming like, “Oh ok, now I remember why I do this.” You get that rush and it’s those magical moments that cause us to make these types of sacrifices, I suppose.
That’s very obviously why—that’s a very big piece of the pie as to why we like to do this. As you take yourself out of the responsibilities of being a husband, a father, a partner, even a friend—because a lot of my friendships have suffered because of my lack of presence in my personal life—it all comes down to having the opportunity to present your art to people and finding that they seem to like it. There’s a very personal satisfaction that goes into what we do. The three-hour Phish show is why I do this. I don’t do this to setup. I don’t do this because I enjoy drawing architectural plots at home and things like that. It all comes down to when the house lights go out. That’s why we’re here. That’s an incredibly powerful entity and that one single entity seems to outweigh so many other entities that make up the whole of a person.
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