Don't Give Up Your Day Job: Chris Bailey
In a studio in East Hollywood, NZ guitarist/singer Danny McCrum sits down for a chat with English drummer Chris Bailey. A well respected musician who has backed Chaka Khan, Britney Spears and Nick Jonas, Chris speaks candidly about dealing with the ever changing industry from coping with computer fails, working with the YouTube generation of musicians and not falling for “the lie of social media.”
In his hometown of Sheffield, seven-year-old Chris learned to play the drums at the local gospel church. At seventeen he shocked his proud parents by quitting his city council job to follow his dreams. His employers, sensing his lack of interest, had told him to quit before he got fired. After securing his place in the UK music scene, Chris moved to LA, a hyper competitive space for hungry musicians where the gigs didn’t come as easily at first. “I spent many years angry,” he says, later realising it was a wake-up call from his sense of entitlement. “It took me a few years to realise that what we do on a high level is a privileged lifestyle. Not everybody gets to live their dream, so have an attitude of gratitude, because it’s not a given.”
Danny and Chris share their perspectives on how you value your work as an artist - as in charging money - when it started out as a hobby for you. “Musicians undercut each other because we undervalue ourselves,” Danny says. Forthright about learning from his mistakes at the beginning of his career, Chris is refreshingly honest about both his failures as well as his successes, as well as the challenges and joys of being a working musician.
On the meaning of success: “Finding balance, being respected by people whom I respect.... It’s always cool when people like you as well as like what you do.”
On the cathartic power of his art: “Drums are great because you can hit stuff legally.”
On the vulnerability of musicians to mental health issues and addiction: “If you’re not sure who you are and you don’t have the right people around you feeding you the right information, it’s easy to slip into bad habits especially when you’re in a dark place.”
His advice on how to stay grounded: “Appreciate every opportunity, don’t let people take advantage of you. But when you’re given a good opportunity, recognize that it’s a privilege.”
Don't Give Up You Day Job is a podcast series created by Bobby Kennedy and Danny McCrum. They interview musicians, producers, actors, comedians, directors and more to give people an insight into the careers of creative professionals.