What Rock Stars Do when they don’t die

AREN’T ROCK STARS SUP­POSED TO LIVE FAST AND BURN OUT SPEC­TAC­U­LARLY? TH­ESE GUYS DID NOT GET THE MEMO.

Esquire (Philippines) - - ADS - BY KRIS­TINE FONACIER PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY SONNY THAKUR

IT WASN’T JUST THE MU­SIC.

IT WAS NEVER JUST THE MU­SIC.

Well, it was partly about the mu­sic: the songs spoke to our col­lec­tive hopes and our se­cret fears; they played in the back­ground to the most sig­nif­i­cant mo­ments of our lives. What we lis­tened to also taught us how to be­have, how to dress, how to move, what to be­lieve. Our mu­sic places us in time and marks us as part of a gen­er­a­tion—we think of “our” mu­sic, made by “our” bands, even if rock might touch on the same larger themes of sub­ver­sion and re­bel­lion through­out the years.

And so it was al­ways as much about the mu­si­cian as it was about the mu­sic. They were the gods of the stage who rep­re­sented our as­pi­ra­tions about our­selves even as they em­bod­ied our over­ween­ing id. Con­fi­dent, brash, sexy, cool, they were all that we hoped we could be, all that we knew we weren’t ca­pa­ble of be­com­ing. We watched Karl Roy, all thin­ness and tat­toos, strut across a crowded stage and hold a crowd en­tranced. We smelled of the smoke of furtively lit cig­a­rettes when we came home from the bars where we watched Wolf­gang and Ra­zor­back hold gig­gling col­lege girls and re­bel­lious young men equally in thrall. We cheered on the Eraser­heads as the im­pos­si­bly tal­ented boys-next- door as they be­came celebri­ties with­out hav­ing to change out of their T- shirts.

It wasn’t just that they were mak­ing the mu­sic that played dur­ing our youth; it isn’t even that the mu­sic de­fined our youth. It’s that they were our youth. Mu­si­cians have al­ways stood as avatars for our youth­ful selves, and so we count on our rock stars to stay young, to keep on be­ing our life­line to youth­ful­ness.

THE IN­EVITABLE

HAP­PENS

AND EV­ERY­BODY, EVEN OUR ICONS,

GROW UP AND GROW OLDER.

( What does that mean for the rest of us?) Bowie died still cool and still mak­ing mu­sic, but he was one of the lucky ones. The clas­sic rock- star tra­jec­tory al­ways just seemed to end in flam­ing out early (Cobain) or ag­ing un­grace­fully (Axl Rose).

But some­where along the way, a third op­tion: even as each of its mem­bers got hair­cuts, Pearl Jam be­came the el­der states­men of rock. An­thony Kiedis al­lowed him­self to be pho­tographed hors­ing around with his chil­dren, and it was good. The sin­gu­lar con­tent­ment that comes from be­ing able to look back at a long ca­reer suits rock stars, it turns out. Hav­ing fam­i­lies, set­tling down, find­ing day jobs: Some­times it’s good for mu­sic. It’s cer­tainly good for some mu­si­cians.

This is where we found them, in the peace­ful plateau of midlife. Mar­riage and chil­dren are a re­cur­ring theme; the coin­ci­dent down­turn of the mu­sic in­dus­try af­ter the early 2000s might have also forced their hand, as even rock stars found that there was no shame in a sen­si­ble day job.

It may not sounded so rock n’ roll of them to set­tle down, but be­ing grounded has turned out to be sur­pris­ingly lib­er­at­ing. “When you don’t de­pend on the mu­sic to make a liv­ing, you’re free to do what you want,” says Tirso Ripoll with a small laugh.

As it hap­pens, with age comes set­tling down, com­ing to terms with demons, mak­ing peace with one­self, find­ing com­pro­mise and bal­ance: Some­times get­ting older isn’t such a bad thing.

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