Rebel Zen: Helping musicians experience happiness and success via The Way of Rock
Rebel Zen exists to help musicians experience happiness and success – now. Not later, not “when you get famous”, now.
I approach music and the whole business of being a musician like a martial artist does fighting. Practicing the art (of both playing and music business) is a discipline that helps me grow into a better, happier, more successful person.
Hi, I’m Seamus Anthony.
From the moment I became a teenager I became a rocker. It just happened one day; it just slipped over the shoulders of my life like a perfectly tailored jacket. Boom!
One minute I was drawing cartoons and obsessing about sports, the next I was using those same art supplies to draw band logos on my school bag and channelling guitar solos through my cricket bat.
Rock and roll is this amazing conduit for Spirit. It’s a means of self-expression that is, in my experience, second-to-none. I love to write articles and stories, but at the end of the day I don’t get the same physical high that I get from rockin’ out. I love to exercise, but while this gives me a physical lift, it doesn’t give me a creative outlet.
Rock and roll is physical and creative all at once. It’s an exorcism of psychic pain and the best damn drug I’ve ever taken.
In fact, rock n roll is so powerful that it can be dangerous to Self. There are 3 main dangers.
Danger 1 – Self Destruction
Firstly, there is self-destruction. The practitioner of rock can easily get carried away with the power that is unleashed via the fury of their rock and this can lead to self-destruction. Like The Force in Star Wars, rock music is a power that has a Dark Side, and if you allow the darkness to overtake you it can and will drag you down and down and further down still until you’re out for the count. It will eat you up and spit out your bones. It will make you His bitch and treat you like shit – and still, you’ll come begging back for more – without fail – because the Rock n Roll High is just so sweet, and you’re an addict baby.
Danger 2 – I’ll Be Happy When I’m Famous Syndrome
Secondly, there is “I’ll be Happy When I’m Famous” syndrome. I see some musicians so miserable, especially singer-songwriters for some reason, because the Dark Side of Rock has lead them to believe that the only way they can be happy is if they are being worshipped by fans, if they are popular, if they have all the trappings of fame and success.
Danger 3 – Futility
The third danger is Futility. Perhaps, like many rockers, you’ve been burned by your experiences and whimpered off, back to the suburbs from whence you came with your tail between your legs, too afraid and too wounded to get back on the horse.
But the day you do that, and until you rock again, your Spirit lies sickly ill and quietly moaning for the drip drip drip of whatever form of pain relief you can tap into… food, TV, booze, pot, sex, work, whatever…
I have experienced all 3 of these Dangers.
For too long I was crippled by the Dark Side of Rock. I blasted off into space as a young man – only to find before too long that my rocket ship was hurtling out of control. I crash landed back to Earth with a God-almighty crash and a maelstrom of blood and fire. I kept burning hard for the next few years, unaware that the Dark Side of Rock had me firmly in its clutches. Then things got to hot me for me and I tried to get away, tried to get out of the kitchen, but my heart was never going to let me quit, so I kept dabbling – but dabbling, while arguably better than quitting altogether, is a most unsatisfactory way to rock.
In my mid-thirties I had kids and in an instant, as I held my child for the first time, I questioned the idea of Legacy. Who was I and what was I going to teach my girl? The answer came straight up:
You are a musician. And you must teach her Persistence.
So there and then I got back on the rock n roll horse. An interesting lifestyle choice while simultaneously setting about raising a family! But slowly, surely, music happened, bands were formed and the kitchen started to heat up again.
Journey From The Dark Side to “True Rock”
All well and good – so great to be rocking again! But the problem now was that I still had not learned to channel and control the Fury of Rock in a non-destructive way, and old habits started to re-form, well-worn neuro-pathways fired up. Unconstructive ones. Unhealthy ones.
Soon I hit Rock Bottom and it became clear. Either I am going to have to tame and channel the Rock Beast Within – or it will claim me as yet another victim. I can’t NOT rock, this only leads to the misery of “quiet desperation”. But likewise I cannot let the Dark Side burn me out.
It is time not to just “keep rocking” but to start rocking right. Many of my heroes have been through this and done the same: Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop. They survived and so will I. They thrived post-Darkness, and so will I.
It doesn’t mean that my rock music will cease addressing the Darkness, that it will stop serving as an exorcistic channel for healing the psychic pain of myself and the audience. But it does mean that I will not allow the darkness to spill over into the rest of my life. Rock serves it purpose onstage and then it has to get back into its box until the next time it is allowed out to play – or rather – to work.
The Way of Rock
In this way, I now see Rock and Roll as a martial art. It is physical and thus it demands that I must be a warrior in peak shape. It is an art and thus it demands dedication, practice and sincerity. It is fun and therefore it needs humour and lightness of spirit.
It is also – and perhaps above all – a service to others.
Like a martial artist does not just seek to defend him or herself, but to protect the weak and innocent, so does a True Rocker not simply seek to exorcise his or her own demons and to heal his or her own Spirit, but to do the same for others.
The True Rocker aims, above and beyond all else, to serve others.
To “melt face” – this is the True Rock Warrior’s Mission and gift to society. Truly, in the words of Jack Black’s character in School of Rock: “I serve society by rockin’, man” and this requires persistence and self-discipline. I call this Rebel Zen: Personal Growth and Service to Others through the Art of Rock.
You can think what you like about all this but listen up: The Dark Side of Rock will fuck you up – but True Rock can set you free. The choice is yours …
About Seamus Anthony
I’m a musician. I also love to think about, write about and practice personal development.
This obsession with personal development has helped me through anxiety, substance abuse and a depressing lack of focus in my life, through to a better place where I (usually) really feel great about my life and where it is going.
Yeah, that’s right, usually. Sometimes though – I feel shit. And that’s ok. That’s Rebel Zen.
Rebel Zen is my way of helping you to feel better about your life as a musician – as it is, right now, while helping you to experience higher levels of health, happiness and success in the future.
I’ve been a musician…
…for more than 30 years now, all of my teenage and adult life, and I’ve been compulsively writing for longer than that.
I see being a musician and writer as my warrior’s mission and Rebel Zen is about that. It’s about going from “rebel without a cause” to “Zen Warrior of Purpose”.
What now? We gonna earn you some sweet Rebel Zen Master stripes! Go, download your free copy of my latest book: Taming The Monkey Mind: What Stops You & How To Stop That