It’s time. All the hours and days of hard work, meticulous preparation, bloody sweat, fighting through frustrations and setbacks, and pushing all the limits to be the best we can be – has all prepared us for this moment. Now, we’re getting our game-face on. Now, we’re reeling in our mind to perfect focus, stretching all the muscles to be loose and ready for the challenge, practicing controlled breathing and relaxing the body to manage the building adrenaline. The team has pow-wowed about all the final preparations, we’ve looked into each other’s eyes and confirmed that we’re all ready to operate as a well-oiled daunting force to be reckoned with – and ready to unleash all hell. All that’s left now is to channel our energy past our steeled-over nerves and do what we’ve come to do. We saddle up, and shake the earth as we roll forward. This is truly where the rubber meets the road, and a feeling that only a relatively few will ever know. This is where the faint of heart dare not tread, and where the true character of each member of the team is revealed as we bare our souls in all our best efforts. It is the scene of Fusion Co. as we thunder down ominous roads in our up-armored and heavily-armed convoy on combat patrol in what the experts call the most dangerous place on the planet – as well as the scene as I take the stage with my heavy metal band.
In 2007, I deployed to the Konar Province of Afghanistan as a member of an embedded forward support company in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team for about 15 months. We logged many missions and came under fire more than a few times, and we accomplished our fair share of successful missions on a tour of duty that has now been the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary entitled, “Restrepo” (although I do not personally appear in the footage (I served with many of the good men who did)). I knew that this experience was impacting me in such a way that I’d never be the same again, but I had no idea at the time just what challenges I would face when trying to reintegrate back into state-side civilian life after prolonged exposure to combat stress and trauma. Ultimately, I would eventually be medically retired from active duty in the U.S. Army for chronic severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I would be sent home with my benefits on an honorable discharge, a large hodge-podge of medications, and feeling more like a ‘zero’ than some kind of American hero. It’s a common story – and unfortunately one that often ends in substance abuse issues, severe psychological problems, a slow deterioration to a shadow of what a given combat veteran used to be, and many times even death for my fellow veterans. But, nobody’s story has to end that way.
It took well over a year for the military to process me out, amid much intensive therapy and attempts to help me successfully transition back to civilian life. It was in this time that one of the treatments for which I was sent included music therapy. As I walked into the music room of this medical facility, I immediately spotted a drum kit among all the other instruments. I had played for a few years in high school and bible college, but it had literally been years since I had a pair of sticks in my hands. At a point, those of us in the therapy were afforded some free time and an opportunity to select and play any instrument we wished for a while. I sat down at the drum kit. I wish I could say I picked up where I’d left off a decade before, but the rust was thick. Determined not to be discouraged, and with a deep-seated desire to re-experience that old feeling of playing my instrument of choice – I spent every minute I was afforded just reconnecting with this nostalgic passion.
Once I was officially separated from service and sent home around the end of 2010, I knew I needed to get myself some drum equipment again. As I was basically financially struggling, it took several months to acquire even some basic equipment for practice and play. But by 2012, I was back on track and slowly working my old love of playing drums into a new therapeutic outlet. Although I still insist professional counselors, the proper medication, and other pieces of the recovery plan are also essential; I can’t stress enough how important practicing and playing my instrument has become to my healthcare and recovery plan over the last several years. I took what I learned about the power of meditation and applied it in such a way that practicing certain drum exercises became the most effective meditation in which I could engage. I took what I learned about diaphragmatic breathing to relax the body and applied it in a way to help me practice difficult and frustrating patterns with greater ease. I took what I learned about constructive outlets for negative feelings and applied it to give me greater focus and creativity during play. It was also a very nice surprise to find that my inability to listen to music passively because of the way my brain naturally engages actively with any music I hear was an advantage which helped me to manage PTSD-related social anxiety which normally prevented me from being able to be comfortable in a crowded public place. I found that my mind’s default setting for active listening to all musical forms provided just enough distraction from my nerves and tension around other people and strange places to make it possible for me to attend live music events (most of the time) – and even provide a basis by which to rebuild the ability to function in other social and/or public situations. I had found a positive and productive way to turn my affliction into a healthy and beautiful art-form. I am fortunate to have this coping outlet as part of my life, and I’ve now gone far beyond shaking off the rust to actually pursuing a serious hobby and possibly even a career as a professional drummer/percussionist.
In October of 2013, my rekindled passion and newly-developed abilities took me further than I previously dreamed could actually happen for me. I was approached by and afforded the opportunity to audition for an actual performing band which had just released a new album and needed a drummer to perform the songs at live music venues. I went for a couple of auditions, and was quickly awarded the slot as drummer for the Tennessee-based original metal band – Outlaw Serenade. My first show ever doing anything like this was at The Rutledge Live Music Venue in downtown Nashville on New Year’s Eve, opening for headlining Nashville power-house Killing Grace. https://youtu.be/28VFFQB54Ms Over the course of about the next two years, I had the honor and good fortune to play in many live music venues all over middle Tennessee. I was also afforded the privilege and opportunity to be the drum instructor at multiple rock band fantasy camps sponsored by the Nashville-based, Women Rock for Charity; and have participated and played in such projects as Music City Friends of Liberty (https://youtu.be/ifXMIciGQsc), and even been invited to appear on stage as a guest vocalist with Vampire Bleach Bomb. As my skills, tastes, and interests grew and evolved; I learned quite a bit more about the potential of playing percussion as a healing therapy. Eventually, I would part ways with my good brothers in Outlaw Serenade to accept a new challenge playing for long-time Nashville metal legends – Piranah (in October of 2015). My first show with the new band is scheduled for Sat. Feb. 6th of 2016 at The High Watt (1 Cannery Row, Nashville, TN). We will once again be playing with rising star Killing Grace, and Louisville-based Kingslayer. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door on the night of the show – but it is highly recommended that you get tickets early as this show will most certainly be sold out. Get your tickets here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=6368405&REFERRAL_ID=fbclient
But it is the initiative which will be kicked off at this show that is the reason for producing the piece you are now reading.
‘Brick’s Drum Therapy Matrix’ is what I’m calling this initiative, and those who choose to take part with me will be known as ‘Brick’s Rhythmix.’ Here is the premise: As someone who has personally fought in the foxhole with issues of PTSD and found an effective tool which has changed my life and helped me reclaim a measure of quality of life, and as a drummer who has now begun experiencing some success at my hobby which has even surprised me – I believe I’m uniquely positioned to offer opportunities to my fellow ‘wounded warriors’ to make the most of a therapeutic outlet in which I’ve blazed my own trail to recovery. I may or may not be a pioneer, and am certainly not a medical professional; but I am most certainly an experienced subject-matter expert. And I want to pay forward the good that this endeavor has brought to me by offering a free ‘drum therapy lesson’ to any qualifying fellow warriors who show me they possess the desire to recover by exhibiting the courage and initiative required to attend a live performance of Piranah. Here’s how it works:
1. Must be able to provide proof of U.S. military service (DD-214 form copy is preferred).
2. Must be able to provide proof of medical diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) AND/OR be a fellow alumni of Wounded Warrior Project.
3. Must attend a live Piranah show to exhibit self-initiative and see the result of Brick’s therapy and training in action, find Brick and meet in person at the show, and secure a ‘free drum therapy lesson’ form from Brick and return it complete.
ABOUT YOUR LESSON:
If the initial meeting at a Piranah show goes well and everything in your credentials is in order, there will be a brief phone interview so that Brick can become familiar with and assess your individual issues so as to prepare a tailor-made lesson for the individual warrior. This step in the process is vital to providing the best possible outcome for the investment of everyone’s time. And it is the best way to establish a workable rapport while communicating directly the details of where, when, what to bring, and propper athletic attire, etc. The details of setting up your individual lesson will be as flexible as possible to attempt accommodating your schedule, but Brick reserves the right to improvise a bit to keep costs low and potential impact high in this charitable endeavor.
To learn more about drum therapy and its’ potential for healing and recovery, please see these links:
Questions, comments, concerns, and all other inquiries may be directed to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam G. “Brick” House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace advocate, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose constitutional rights he took an oath to defend. He currently resides in the heart of Tennessee with his companion dog ‘Liberty,’ where he is recovering from PTSD, enjoys the therapeutic hobbies of gardening, creative writing https://chaossection.com/, playing drums in the metal band Piranah (http://www.piranahrocks.com/news.html), and other forms of artistic expression \m/