Do you remember when you made the decision to not go get a proper job and follow your dreams? I don’t, but my momz remembers well, she says it was the day my dad showed me the movie The Blues Brothers when I was eight. All the bad behaviour, wiseguy moves and the way they danced onstage at the Palace Hotel Ballroom killed any of the straighter ambitions I might have had, and (apparently) after that day I was never really the same (maybe the bit that did it was where Jon Belushi throws the car’s cigarette lighter out of the window and says “you need to fix the cigarette lighter”, a bit of wanton, pointless vandalism with a funny punchline and no consequences that is certainly my favourite bit in the movie now).

I learned all the swears from the movie and started listening to all the bootleg cassettes of rock music my dad had brought back from when he was on tour in the Middle East. The Blues Brothers made me think every musician was also a petty criminal or at least an arch mischief-maker, and even today it makes me so sad when I read an interview where the answer to a question like “so what do you like to do on tour?” begins with “well, we’re quite boring really…”.

Anyhoo, by the time I reached my teens, I associated pop culture with saying fuck off to everything normal and boring, and of course, anyone in charge of me -in other words, I became interested in ‘alternative culture’. Given I lived in a rural area and went to a strict boarding school, ‘normal’, ‘boring’ and ‘anyone in charge’ made up pretty much everything in my life, so I got pretty immersed in ‘alternative culture’ (gross). I made it into a built-up area to get a load of punk tapes in the summer of 1996 when all the record companies were doing all this ‘20th anniversary of punk’ stuff, then I got a subscription to Kerrang! magazine the next year and it was over for me. I couldn’t see myself in a straight job or regular type of life ever after that.

I reckon a reasonable amount of people who read this site have a similar story, like, you decided at some point that the rat race wasn’t for you and music or some element of pop culture took over and influenced everything about you. It feels great because it’s your thing, but also it stops you from having to get involved in a world where everyone is only meeting new people at Salsa classes, dealing with premature baldness and talking about mortgages at 24.

So, yeah, fuck the normals, they’re mugs and we’re onto a winner with all this creativity or living life free or whatever, really contributing something meaningful to the world while they just lie in front of Tivo and go to work for the man.

But what if they’re the ones who are winning and we’re just a bunch of clueless hippies who aren’t having as much fun or doing anything as important as we think we are? Do you ever feel like maybe still living like a student at 26 is worth it when all you’re really getting out of it is the ability to concentrate all your time on your music that only 400 people are ever going to listen to anyway? Do you ever feel like some of the smarter kids you know from whatever arts or music scene you’re around (if you’re around one) would be doing the world more of a service if they used their smarts in a role in the civil service, helping the general public? Has ‘alternative culture’ robbed the world of a bunch of smart kids who could be making life better for themselves and their community? Wouldn’t you watch Tivo if you could afford it?

No one needs to sell their guitars or give up art, but if it’s going badly -or if you’ve gotten someone pregnant- maybe it’d be ok to look into a desk job where you’ve got to stop thinking about your own shit and do things for someone else. If you’re good at desk jobs, I’m pretty sure they pay off better than running a cassette-only label, and maybe one day you can take a holiday that isn’t based around cramming five men into a van and driving to toilet venues around the Midlands/the Eastern Seaboard. Doesn’t a part of you sometimes think it might be nicer to work at a job where you have to wear a suit and then take a holiday to the Caribbean with three friends and stay in a real hotel? There’d be way less butt-cramp and you wouldn’t have to spend half your time looking for somewhere that does vegan food for your drummer.

What I’m talking about is security/comfort/responsibility vs getting up when you want/creativity/turning up to your retail job without any sleep, and obviously there’s different shades of it all. There’s a little morality involved too- if you put a crust punk in a room with a doctor who saves lives everyday, then that face-tattooed fruitcake is going to look like a retarded selfish baby, even if he does hate the World Bank. But if you put him in a room with a dubious used car salesman, then I’m gonna wanna hang out with the crusty and discuss the best ways of Tippexing band logos onto vegan leather rather than some guy who shifts rusted deathtraps to grandmas for a living.

Maybe if Nevermind had never come out the world would be a better place, there’d be more doctors and less arts graduates, or maybe there’d be too many doctors and pop culture would be on the skids.

The morality of the situation is sometimes a great big ‘whatever’, though, because nobody’s perfect. When I’m faced with this dilemna (I met a kid from my school this weekend and he’d just bought a 46 inch tv but he gets up at 5.45am to go be an accountant) I look at it like: ‘who’s going to have had more fun in the end?’. If you take things to extremes, you’ve got two guys at the top of their game: one is someone who played by the rules all day long and it paid off -that would probably be an investment banker on the Alpha Course- and the other would be a louche, successful, free living guy – probably Mick Jagger. It’s so incredibly clear who anyone would rather have at their dinner party that I just say fuck it and keep on trying to go down the left hand path, because in thirty years time the stories are going to be way better.