Away from stage lights and adoring fans, life as a touring musician can be challenging. The stress of being away from family for weeks or months at a time and dealing with long rides between gigs can fray the nerves of the closest of friends.
“I just try to get sleep when I’m out there,” said Bloomington native Matthew Curry. “I think that’s the most important thing.”
Four years after graduating from Bloomington High School, Curry has already crisscrossed the U.S. many times, and has performed in Canada and Australia. He said the transition from high school to touring with others in the rocking/blues band sporting his name was a shock to the system.
“I remember I was having anxiety attacks and all this terrible stuff. My chest was locking up and I was thinking, ‘Geez what’s going on with me?’ I realized because things had changed so rapidly my mind was freaking out a little bit,” said Curry.
He learned quickly a few extra hours of sleep is smarter than a few extra drinks with the guys. Eating healthy also helps. But what to do when traveling with three or four other band members, all with different personalities and temperaments?
“You start to find out certain things about people that can bug you when you’re stuck in a van with the same four people,” laughed Curry.
He said there is a strategy for that.
“This may sound silly, but one of our big rules is that when someone ‘has to go,’ we don’t hold it, we stop,” said Curry, who said the same applies to hunger. “We try to not abuse ourselves. Even when driving, nobody is driving a million miles at a time.”
He laughed again envisioning a day when the band has a tour bus with a driver.
“That sure would be nice,” said Curry.
During the conversation in the GLT studios, Curry previewed a new song on his acoustic guitar. “The Great Midwest” has a John Mellencamp feel with a reference to the Mackinaw River, the 130-mile-long tributary of the Illinois River that winds through central Illinois.
It also references his late father Paul Curry, who encouraged his guitar playing from a very young age and was the person Matthew leaned on heavily for advice. Steve Miller is someone Curry has stayed in touch with since opening for the classic rock legend a few times in the past year, as well as Peter Frampton and members of the Doobie Brothers. But family is his rock, specifically his mother Patti and twin brother Andrew, who he considers his best friend.
“He and I spend a lot of time together,” said Curry softly. “Not a ton of kids lost their father when they were 16. We’re two brothers who wanted nothing else but to be their dad. So we talk about him a lot. I’m really thankful to have him and I’m sure he feels the same way. I know he’s always got my back and I’ve always got his.”
He also leans on old friends.
“Of course we don’t see each other as much as we used to with everyone starting their careers and me being on the road,” said Curry.
Michael Jordan would “ground” himself by going back home to North Carolina to play poker and smoke cigars with childhood buddies. Curry chuckles at the comparison to the basketball legend, but said he can relate.
“It is always good to sometimes imagine you don’t tour or make music and just be with the buddies for a night,” said Curry. “Maybe play poker. But my buddies and I are real Harley enthusiasts, so we’ll all go out riding together and get lunch somewhere.”
Matthew Curry is back on the road in February when he plays the Rock Legends Cruise that travels from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Cozumel, Mexico. He’ll follow that up with a week of performances at the Hogs Breath Saloon in Key West, Florida.
Curry headlines his third annual Fender Bender on Dec. 2 at The Castle Theatre in Bloomington. He said Fender Guitars has donated a Stratocaster for auction. Proceeds will benefit the Community Cancer Center in Normal.
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