How A Musician Performed Kidney Dialysis On Himself While On Tour
Here’s our interview with Patrick Spurgeon, drummer for the band Rogue Wave.
What’s amazing about this story is how Patrick performed dialysis on himself while his band was on tour.
Around 30 minutes into the interview, we got into a great discussion of why bad things happen to good people. We came to kind of a revelation on this, and I think you’ll find it interesting.
Then at about 40 minutes in, we finally discuss the MUSIC, which is what saved Pat during all his trials and tribulations. Here’s where we get into how his band, Rogue Wave, got to the “next level.”
Here’s the audio transcript :
Hey everyone, I’m your host Michael Nova and welcome to Rise Up Radio. I’m here with Pat Spurgeon, who’s the drummer for the very successful indie rock band Rogue Wave. The band has released almost a dozen critically acclaimed albums and toured the world, but Pat had a lot to overcome to get to that success. So Pat, as I understand it, you were born with just one kidney and you began having problem with that kidney when you were in junior highschool and you received a kidney transplant but after twelve years, just as your band Rogue Wave was becoming popular, that kidney began to fail…
That is true.
Okay, so here you were about to go on tour with your band to fulfill a lifelong dream and you’re dealing with kidney failure. At that time, were you thinking why me? Were you angry, or what was going through your mind after experiencing that?
Um, well, let’s see. I was already on tour, let’s just back up a tiny bit and get a little bit of backstory. I was already on tour and I noticed after a show in New York when we were playing the Bowery Ballroom, I remember very well. I was taking a shower and I look down and my feet were swollen and I was like “oh God.” That is really not something that happens. I’ve been followed regularly by my doctors so I called them and they said to get a test when I come back into San Francisco and I did, and then they gave me the heads up that this one that I had was deteriorating, so I continued working and then actually when I got off the road from the tour then went straight in and proceeded to start up again ith dialysis which was not fun, obviously. I mean, I’d already been through it once so it was no big surprise, but it doesn’t matter how many kidney transplants you have, you’re gonna not be happy when you get the news that you’re kidney is failing, so I of course was very distraught and everything but I also at the same time knew exactly what I needed to do and just like with the first time I had this, I went right to it and jumped right into getting on dialysis and starting the process, getting listed to be transplanted when a kidney was available and all that.
So, just for people who are not aware of what dialysis it, can you explain in layman’s terms what exactly the treatment consists of and how it’s done?
There’s two different kinds, to back up a little bit. There’s peritoneal, which is what I did, and there’s also hemodialysis. Hemo is the process of drawing the blood out of your body, running it through a big filtration machine, and then it goes back in. You’re blood goes out through a hookup to a vain in an artery, I don’t know which one goes out and which one goes in. Anyway, the blood runs out, gets cleaned, then put back in. The problem I had with that was I just felt like that would be a less efficient way of doing it for me. Not for everyone, but for me. I could take care of this dialysis process, I had no problem with doing it. With the hemodialysis you clean your blood, you go off the machine, you go away for a couple days and your kidney doesn’t filter things and your blood gets dirty and then you go back. So you’re constantly going back to a machine and with the peritoneal it’s continuous and you do it yourself and you don’t need to go to a clinic all the time. You can be your own person, and that worked for me for the band, cause I could take all the gear, and there was a lot of it, on the road with me and do the dialysis process while I was on tour.
Which is pretty amazing. You found out you were in this situation and you approached the band with it and together you decided you were going to continue on the tour with your kidney failing. So what was that like for you and the band to make that decision together?
For me, I don’t know how this will sound, but for me I was really lucky that I had a band to occupy my mind. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to do this. The doubt was potentially in the band, like, what happens if? There’s a lot of “what happens if?” There’s “what happens if you step off your porch wrong?” There’s do many “what if’s”. But When you’re on dialysis there’s a lot of “what if’s”. What if I get an infection on the road? Which would be very easy to do, because the tube that ran into my abdomen is a direct line into my internal organs and you can easily get infected and that’s deadly. Pertinitis is deadly. So I just was very, I guess, militant about how I did it. I made sure no one was around. If they were in the vicinity of me they had to wear a mask. A surgical mask, not a Halloween mask [laughs]. That was my take on it. Everybody had to wear a Halloween mask. It got tricky sometimes with being backstage, and this is also depicted in the movie D Tour. I’m backstage and there’s people running around because we share it with people usually, with the opening band. But everyone was pretty good with knowing what was going on and doors closed. It was a group effort, let me just put it that way. Everyone was with me on it and they knew that I had to do this and sometimes I got my own hotel room because I had to do it. But it was never really hard keeping clean. The hardest part was diet. Diet was freaky, because you had to have a low sodium, low protein, lot potassium, low anything-that’s-tasty diet when you’re on dialysis. Try doing that out on the road, you know? Fortunately, now we have this mentality and this ability in our daily lives now to eat very good food. Now it might be a little bit different, but no matter what quality the food is when you dine out, you’re eating someone else’s cooking and it’s hard to go “hey chef, can you take all the salt of out everything?” You know, it’s tricky. So I did have problems with that.
So when you were on tour, it wasn’t easy to find the food that you can eat. I can relate, because I have chronic kidney disease myself. How did you personally deal with that? Did you bring a lot of food from home? What were you able to eat?
This was the second time around they caught this kidney deterioration early, so I didn’t have to completely change my diet drastically overnight. The first time, I basically could eat rice and hard candy, you know, it was like empty calories, nothing with any nutritional value because my kidney was so destroyed. This time around it was a little bit better, but I had to steer clear of bananas, avocados, tomatoes. There’s certain ones. I can’t remember them all, but I had steer clear of stuff, so if we went to a restaurant, say, we’re in the middle of nowhere and there’s fast food, I’d say “can you give me this without any condiments” and if I’m gonna have fries, of course is potassium, but, if I was gonna have anything fried I’d have to have them clean out the thing that they dump all the fried stuff in of all the salt and give me no sodium. So it was kind of a real pain for some people, but the other way we worked around that was having healthy snakcs in our rider, which is what the venues would give us in our backstage to eat and drink and stuff. I would have loads of no sodium snacks and that’s how I tried to do it. It didn’t work fully, because I had problems with too much sodium and, this gets a little more indepth with my dialysis solution that I mentioned earlier had three different strengths. I think it was 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5. If I was having a high-sodium day, I’d have to take one with a higher…I’m not sure exactly what’s in this but there were three different ones and I’d have to take the one that was the highest. Like if 1.2 was the lowest, I’d have to take the 3-point-something, the one that would draw the most fluid out of my body.
So basically what you were doing was pretty much cleaning out your system by doing the dialysis. That’s really what is does, right?
Yeah. Cleaning my blood, doing what the kidney can’t do anymore. Picking up the slack.
And a healthy kidney would just naturally do that and people don’t have to deal with that. But when you have problems with your kidneys you have to use these machines and these tubes and everything to do the cleaning that is natural for most people.
So I’m assuming that your doctors basically taught you to do the dialysis before you left, right? So they were onboard with you being able to do this on tour?
Well, I don’t wanna day that doctors are just going let you do whatever you want to do because there is a lot at stake going on the road and doing dialysis. I think my doctor’s knew that I was able to do this dialysis process very efficiently and in a very clean way. I think they trust me to do that. I never asked them if they ever had any thought of telling me “no, you’re not going on the road”. The doctors I had are very much into you being a person and leading a life, because that’s half the battle of health it seems like, is just feeling good about yourself. I also was mostly just really relived that the band was willing to take on the risk of having my stay in the band. That really helped me. That helped me a lot. I don’t know what other people do to cope. They have counselling or family members, but basically music, playing in Rogue Wave, was my counselling. These guys were my counsellors. They were my shoulders to cry on. Also, my girlfriend at the time was very supportive. My family was very supportive too. They’d already been through it once with me. I just remember specifically when I looked down and saw my feet, I think my pulse started going really hard, because I knew what it was. Even though I had nothing happening. I had no symptoms, nothing in my blood chemistry; my blood chemistry was good, I knew what it was about. So I was just immediately scare. I don’t recall saying anything to the band yet. I went home and did some confirmation on it but, once it happened I knew what to do because I’d aready been in the process. The doctors said “you’ve gotta do this” and I said “yes, when do we go? You tell me what hoop to jump through and I’m gonna go.”
So, being on tour with the band. That gave you the motivation to attack this and really fight through this, right? All the positive energy you were getting from touring allowed you to get through this tough time?
That’s exactly right. I had a social network that was traveling with me, to I had support in this and that really went a long way. It really helped me a lot. I know how I did it last time. Last time, I didn’t have a band, I was really young and I was still in college, so I just immersed myself in college. I went to music school at Indiana University. I went to the music buildings and locked myself in there are practiced ten hours a day. Music. Basically that’s the long and short of it. Just the desire to play music and having music in my life. Having the ability to do what I do is really what kept me going. What keeps me going.
It has to be like, a weird combination of the greatest time in your life and also the worst time of your life both at the same time, right?
Yes. Well, I specifically remember playing Sasquatch. We played that festival and then I got offstage and did dialysis. There’s no running around and drinking and partying and stuff like that. It’s like “so what do you do after a show?” I put on a surgical mask and do and hook up this tube that comes out of my belly…that was the other thing is that that this is cosmetically a little strange for people to see. I had so much support also just with people. Back then, there was not really much social networking, back when that happened. Facebook hadn’t happened, I think Myspace might have been around, or Friendster. That was maybe around. So there wasn’t a whole lot of social networking were you could go “hey, I’m on dialysis,” and post, and everyone in the world sees it. It was a little less in everyone’s face. I don’t want to make a commentary on that but that was a completely different vibe back then. Now when I go out because so many people have been the movie, I get people who are like “hey I love the band, I love the new record!” Every four or five people. “I love D Tour! How are you doing?” They’ll share a story with me about how kidney failure has affected their lives or them personally if they have it thesemlves.
Well, you know you mention about the film and what’s really interesting is I wasn’t aware of this until yesterday, that there was this documentary film made which told your story called D Tour. It’s clever, because I was wondering, “D-Tour. What does the D stand for?” and then I realized “dialsys”. So it’s the tour that you were on, which ended up being the dialysis tour because you were doing dialysis the whole tour. Meanwhile it blew my mind that you had this film made because currently there’s a film being made with my struggles with kidney disease and losing my vision, so this is really lucky for me to have this opportunity to speak with you about this. I was only able to watch the trailer, but the film follows you search for a living organ donor and everything you went through to find a viable match, right?
That’s correct. Now, this movie started with me and the film maker, Jim Granato. I really pushed for him. Jim Granato is a really good friend of mine from way back in Indiana. I knew he was a filmmaker and I didn’t know anyone else who made films, so I approached him because I thought this could be a really cool thing. To make a little documentary about the dialysis process. I’m gonna go back in time a little bit, back to when I first got diagnosed with kidney failure back in ’92. Doctors immediately sent me to go get a fistula built. A fistula is a port that they build and basically take your vain and artery in your forearm and connect them. So you get this really strong blood flow that happens, because you need a really strong blood flow in order to hook up for hemodialysis. I’m not sure exactly of all the details on that but I’ve seen them before and people who have them. They have this really big vain on their arm. That’s how they would do hemo, so I was instantly freaked out because I had never spent a day in the hospital, now all of a sudden I’ve got tubes and wire, everything hanging out of me and I’m freaked out and I asked “is there anything else? Is there another way?” They were going to take me to the operating room, build a fistula in my arm and get me on hemodialysis. Then they were like “okay, well there is something else, it’s called peritoneal dialysis”.
So I went to that, almost instantly. I was like “okay, I wanna to do that,” because it sounds better. It’s something I can do practically from home or wherever. So, I already knew about it and…I’m glossing over it a little bit. My doctors weren’t very nice about it. They were visibly angry when I said “is there anything else?” I firmly believe that because they were partners in the hemodialysis unit, the only one in the entire area where I lived back then, that they just wanted another person in the chair. I was really mad about that, and I continue to be. So I thought, “well this time around, I know I’m going for peritoneal dialysis, and I wanna show people that hey, when you have to go on dialysis there’s this option, and look what you can do on it. You can go hit the road, you can travel, you can do overseas, you can do anything.” Try doing that with hemodialysis and it’s a little bit trickier because you have to make sure you go wherever there’s a dialysis unit. With my kind, you take your stuff with you and you go. So I thought it was going to be a little short fifteen minute thing saying “hey, look at this!” You know, something that maybe dialysis units could use to get people attract4d to that form of dialysis.
Then it really took on a life of its own when the events that happened in the movie happened. It’s a 90-minute feature-length film. It was going to be a little short 20-minute long informational movie, now it’s become the story of Rogue Wave: the story of my and Rogue Wave on the road and me doing dialysis and the story of this woman, the wife of the bass player in our band, wanting to give me a kidney and not kidding. She heard about it and said “I wanna give you a kidney” and she had the goods all the way down the line. Same blood type, things matched in our chemistry. The only reason she got ruled out was that she had a kidney stone. That actually hit me harder than when I found out I needed to be on dialysis again. We were really ampted up and ready to go and we were gonna go in and do it and it was gonna be scheduled and we could do it and I would heal and then get back on the road, get back in the studio and record our third record, Asleep in the Heaven’s Gate, which ended up happening but, and I guess I can give away all this stuff because the movies been out for a long time but the things that happened was then I got a call out of the blue. Basically around the time when I was going to be doing my transplant with Jill, our bass player’s wife. Someone said “well, you just got shot to the top of the list because this kidney came through and it’s such a good match with you that it’s yours.” I was looking at a six year wait and I waited only a year because I got so insanely lucky that I got this kidney. I went in, got the kidney, was out, a couple months later I’m in the studio working and boom boom boom, here we go. One, two, three, here we are, out! It’s like we didn’t miss a step. We got off the road, I did a kidney transplant out of the blue, we went in the studio, made the record, and kept going. It’s crazy.
So basically, the story with the national registry list to receive a kidney, it’s kind of like a lottery ticket as I understand it? You mentioned a six year waiting list. So even if you’re down the list if they find a match then you shoot to the top of it? Is that how it works?
Not just any match. This one was called a “zero miss” match. I don’t know what that means, but short of a family member like a brother or sister giving you a kidney, this is your best option. It was such a good match for me. My wait was based at about six years give or take a year here or there, I don’t know how that works. I just thought that you waited on the list until your time came. But whatever they have, computers or people or algorithms or whatever they have that matches people, my name because I was such a close match with this young man who died, it was as if we were brothers. They were like “this is a really good match. Let’s do this.”
Were you in contact with the family of the guy who donated?
Yes. That woman agreed to be filmed in the movie. She was pretty brave. She agreed to be put in the movie, and of course this was tough stuff because her son had died. I don’t know how Jim did it, but Jim Granato filmed out first meeting. I sent her a letter through the California donor network. She responded, and her daughter responded, that they would be interested in meeting. They lived in Phoenix. The band was going through Phoenix and I made a meeting and they came to a show. The filmmaker was there and he filmed our first meeting, which I’m sure would have gone differently had there not been film rolling. It was a really good meeting. It’s really tough though, I mean, it was really heart wrenching. This woman lost her son and here I am. Who am I, you know? But what’s really crazy about that story is he had signed up to be a donor the day that he died. He was not a donor but he signed up the day of and even told his sister his intention. His mother said “no, I don’t want you to take his organs,” and the sister had to step in and say “actually, it’s his wishes. He did sign up to be a donor.” So, all of this is in the movie. It’s insanely crazy. It’s just crazy how it worked out, how things do work out. Obviously if you think about it, if I knew anything before with, which there’s no possible way you can, it would have been the biggest cliffhanger. But I didn’t know, because it was happening all around me.
What’s really interesting about what you just mentioned is that I’m hearing this constantly with what we’re going with all the interviews. People are going through these incredibly difficult times and then everything seems to fall together at some point to say “see? You see this? This is why you went through all this, because of this.” When you look back on it now, you can see that all the pain that you were going through was for a reason. I know that you are passionate about what you went through and sharing it with people and trying to help people that are in a similar position to what you were in. For me, I find thateverything that I went through was for a reason as well so that I can talk to people like you and share that with the world and inspire people that way. This is a common thread through all the interviews we’re going. It’s like, when you’re in the shit and you’re going through it, you might be angry and you might be saying “why me?” You might be wondering “why am I going through all this?” But then at the end you look back and you say “I know why. This is why.”
If you wonder why you’re going through it, that means you think someone had anything to do with it. No one had anything to do with it, but, sure, you can be down and sad but why me? Well, why not you? Why not? You want someone else? It just happens and it sucks. I don’t know who said this once, if someone has some rare thing like, you were mentioning your eyes. It’s such a rare thing, some of these things that happened to us and then you go “wow, how lucky am I that I get to be the one?” It’s not lucky, it’s a weird…yeah.
I like to say it’s like a lottery in reverse.
Man, think of Lou Gehrig. I mean, geeze. Not to spiral out of control, but it’s not that I walk around and go “I am so lucky! I’ve got this problem.” But I am kind of, in a way. I will say this: if it wasn’t for this, if it wasn’t for what had happened to me, there’s a real good chance I might be working at H&R Block or something. Not that there’s any problem with H&R Block, but because of what I’ve gone through and because of my passion for music, I just dove straight into it even more than I may have. I might not be doing what I’m doing now. Who knows. Who knows what the alternative is, I don’t know. We can’t look into parallel universes yet. Only in comic books. When I got this call that said “hey, you’re kidney’s failed and this is what’s going on with you now, [your] life if completely different.” I took that time to go to music school and I’m not kidding when I say a practiced like, seven to eight, sometimes ten hours a day. I just really immersed. How often does anybody have the chance to do that in adult life, to go and immerse yourself in something that you wanna try out? “I’m gonna try playing every instrument that I can get my hands on and I’m gonna try and get really good at it.” It was weird. It became an opportunity rather than a detriment to me. It became a major opportunity to try and forward myself.
It’s interesting that in the film trailer you said that you never had a backup plan. That music was your entire life. I completely relate to this, because I felt the same exact way for a long time, but my parents gave me grief for it. Did your parents give you grief for not having a backup plan?
Oh yeah! Especially when I was on dialysis. Sorry parents if you’re listening.
But they were supportive of your music regardless, right?
Yeah. I mean, once I…They were supportive of me…that’s tricky. Everyone has a different situation. My parents wanted me to get a job and get insurance. They were supportive to a point, but they weren’t supportive of “well, I’m just gonna take this opportunity to dig deeper into a line of hard that’s insanely hard and pays so little.” They weren’t exactly supportive. They are now, after I’ve been living with this for more than half of my life. Anyway, not to go too deep into them, but they became supportive after a while, after they realized that “this is what this guy wants to do. We can’t change this.” So there you go.
Patrick I am wondering how long of a wait is it to get a kidney for people that need one?
Now it’s even longer. I had a screening a D Tour in Oakland, where I am now, currently. My transplant surgeon actually made it out to this screening and they said “you know, the waiting list now is even longer. Ten years.” Because there’s so much need. One of the major problems is people just not signing up to be donors, and not just that, people not letting either their parents or their spouse or someone…someone is going to get the call if the worst happens and you die in an accident. Someone’s gonna call somebody. They’re going to call the parents. Those are the people who have to know, not just “oh, the have the thing on the license, we’re going to go ahead and take their organs.” They will still call somebody, whether it be a parent or a spouse or a brother or sister, and even though you have your pink dot on your license, it might not be enough. So that’s my public service announcement.
What’s happening now? Now that you’ve had the transplant, how are you functioning?
I’m fine. I have medication I take twice daily and basically I take that to suppress my immune system in order to keep this kidney. Even though it’s a close match with me, it’s not my own, so my body is constantly gonna fight this foreign object in my body and try to kick it out. Eventually, that’s what happens and that’s why my first kidney eventually failed. All the medication in the world isn’t gonna keep your body from wanting to get rid of something. If it’s not yours, it doesn’t want it. If you get a splinter, your body will figure out how to get it out, whether you pull it out with tweezers or you get an infection and they have to cut it off. Your body will figure out how to get rid of it.
If you’re trying to suppress your immune system, that’s never a good thing. What are you doing to offset that? Are you taking supplements to boost your immune system?
You can’t do that, that’s the problem. When you get a cold, everyone’s like “oh, you gotta take Echinacea and Goldenseal or whatever the heck those things are. Nope. Can’t do any of it. If I get sick, or anyone who’s taken immune suppressive medication, you’ve just gotta deal with it. The problem is that your immune system is dropped, so if you get sick it might stick around a lot longer than someone else’s cold. It might become something bigger then a cold or your sniffles might turn into a slew. There’s nothing you can do unless you wanna seclude yourself in your house and never leave. That’s not the purpose of getting a transplant or even trying to continue living on dialysis. What’s the purpose? You gotta live. That’s what doctors are for too. When you get a kidney transplant, you’ve got a team with you and they’re there to help. I’ve had UCSF and that’s my team. I don’t have any one doctor there, but the transplant facility there was really great. So was Indianapolis, that’s where I got my first one. I’m putting out plugs, I’m plugging places now! Indiana IU Medcenter. They were great.
A sidenote about that: [for] my first transplant I went to a place in Chicago and I won’t name names but they tried to recruit me. They said “if you’re going to get a kidney transplant, you have to come here. You don’t wanna go to any place in Indiana, they’re too conservative and this, that and the other.” The next day, and I’m not kidding, the next day I got a call from Indiana University Health Center in Indianapolis: “we have a kidney for you.” I told them, “I need to call you back, I’m not sure.” They were like “you’d better make up your mind right now, because it’s go time,” basically. I got off the phone and called my mom and she’s like “well, this is an opportunity you might wanna take but I know you just have this meeting so this is really up to you.” I got off the phone with no help there, so I decided to go you it. I didn’t want to hold on to dialysis. I was scared. I thought this [Chicago] medical facility had it going on. They were so adamant about me going there but I went ahead and I went for it. I had a good, good experience there.
What made you decide to go to Indiana? Was it just the urgency of “look, we have one for you, let’s do it now,” as opposed to waiting for this place that would maybe have something or maybe not?
Yeah, that’s exactly it. I’m also from Indiana. This is a whole other discussion to have, but I insurance. I have no insurance of my own. Now I do, because I’m married, but before that I had to be on medicare and Medicaid. I qualified for that because of end-stage renal disease and because of my income level. I was basically living in poverty, which a lot of people do. That’s the definition of a college student: you’re living in poverty. All of a sudden, I got the notification that I needed, beyond dialysis, to get a kidney transplant and I had no insurance. My family thought they were going to lose everything. They thought they were going to lose the house, and that didn’t happen because of the medicare system.
Alright, so we’ve been talking this whole time about all the challenges you’ve been through. Let’s talk about the band. Tell me, what’s going on with the band? I know you guys have had a lot of success. Where are you right now with the band?
Right now we just finished a tour. We’re home, home being the Bay area. Right now we’re home, we’re gearing up to do some shows. We have some one-off shows. We have the Outside Lands in San Francisco to do next month. We’re going to do a show with the New Pornographers in Sacramento. We have a festival called Riot Fest that’s happening in September I believe, and we’re going to be a routing together around that, we’re going to do a little tour to get out there and back. The Riot Fest happening in Denver, so we’re going to tour out there and back. That’s it! Hopefully in the fall we do one more tour before winter hits and we kinda hibernate for a little while. As far as releases go, we have the new record. We might have something coming out in the fall. Next year will mark the ten-year anniversary of the third record, which is the one I recorded fresh out of being transplanted. That album, I think it might be reissued. That might be a little off the record, I’m not sure, but that record might be coming out again. And then Zach is writing the next record.So we have a lot of potential stuff coming out.
I know we’re running long on time, so we’ll wrap it up soon. I just wanted to ask you, if you were to think back to when you were first starting off in music, for all the struggling musicians out there. When you first started off you played in like, nine different bands before Rogue Wave, right?
You didn’t have an easy road to success, musically. So what advice can you give to musicians who have been doing this for a while and not getting anywhere. In the beginning when you were struggling, how were you able to keep going and never give up?
Well, I definitely played music that I liked. I never just did it for a job. I never joined a band and was like “well, it’s paying the bills.” I’m not saying that people who play music just to do it aren’t having a good time, but I was always a part of something that I was a part of. Like, that I was personally involved with, whether it be just playing or coming up with ideas. That’s pretty much it. Don’t ever do it for a job. Don’t ever think it’s going to be the way you make you living. Do it because you like to do it because then when you play it, you’ll play it because you like playing it. Whether you have a gig or not, whether you have management. You may never. If you’re in a situation where you just love the people you’re with and you love playing, you’ll never worry that someone’s not paying attention to you. People didn’t pay attention to Rogue Wave for a long time. We tried to get our first record out and doing it ourselves was really tough, but we always had out practice space and we always went to it. We just loved playing. We felt we had the biggest secret over everyone. We were like “we’ve got this great band and no one knows.” That was how felt. We would practice til the sun came up all the time, just because we liked doing it.
So what was the turning point for you with Rogue Wave? How were you guys able to reach that next level of success after having the difficult time?
The turning point for us was, well, a series of things. Out guitar player at the time, he knew the band Spoon from Austin. He reached out to them and got us to open for them at the Fillmore. That was one of our first shows. We practiced all the time. We were ready for that show when that happened. We were seriously ready for it. I know a guy who was going to law school and I said “hey, my band’s going to be playing. I’ve got this show at the Fillmore,” because I can say all these other places and they’re not very sexy, but the Fillmore. That’s a sexy name to draw up. He came out, saw the band and got interested in it. He’s still on our team. Through that show and other things we had played, we got management interest. A local company called Zeitgeist. Local in San Francisco, that is. They’ve been with us since we started. Through them, we got out music to Sub Pop in Seattle and they liked our first record. It was already made and they put it out. We did a two-record contract with them and that just started the whole thing. It’s weird, but I feel like that Fillmore show was…
I wouldn’t say it solidified all of our business sides of things, but it definitely solidified us as members of a band because when that show happened, we were us course, excited to play the Fillmore. That was just like, “well, if we only ever do this, that’s enough.” I think so many musicians have something in their mind that says “if I only get to do this, that will be good enough.” For me, and for the rest of the guys in the band, especially for Zach being of the Bay area, this was a major major show for him and his family. They were all crying, everyone was so happy. We killed it. We played a couple of songs to a modest amount of applause and by about the third or fourth song the place was going crazy. We were even looking at each other with our jaws hanging open like “what’s happening here?” We knew that if we could get that kind of reaction out of a crowd that had who had never ever heard of Rogue Wave, no one had heard of Rogue Wave…we knew we had something going on. It was crazy. I was outside with my uncle and there was still cheering going on. I was like “Zach, you’ve got a big family, man!” It was pretty crazy. It is still one of the best. No matter where we play no, no matter what television [show] or people we meet, that was definitely the moment that made Rogue Wave happen, because we knew we wanted to play music. Whether or not we were going to get a record deal out of that or management or anything like that, we weren’t even thinking that far. We just knew that if we could get that kind of reaction, that’s incredible and we could make this work.
So anyone who was there was able to feel that, right?
Oh yeah. Just talking about it, it was just a magic moment. I can still feel it.
So there you have it. Through all this falling down seven times, Patrick was able to rise up eight because of his love of music, which kept him going through this whole situation. It just goes to show that it’s so helpful to have a passion to give you energy to fight whatever challenges come up in your life. Is that right?
Yeah. And that passion can be anything. It can be making a family, it could be, I don’t know, making money. Passion. That’s a hard thing to say. One passion doesn’t hit everyone equally. For me it was music and I’m thankful for it.
Any last words for our listeners, Pat?
Well, I can just say sign up to be a donor. Make your wishes known. Thanks for listening and thank you for the opportunity to talk at length about this.
That was a really awesome interview, I appreciate your time.
That was our interview with Patrick Spurgeon. Hope you enjoyed it. If you know someone who has an inspiring story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for joining us on Rise Up Radio.
Here’s a trailer for the film that was made about Patrick’s amazing story:
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