Sunday, May 31, 2015

Heres to the next 10 years

It has been exactly 10 years since my exile from America.  If your a friend of mine, then you've probably heard this story, as it turned my life upside down.  A bunch of dudes in their early 20's playing in a band dreaming them big dreams, moving to the big city.  We left Honolulu and set sail for San Francisco.  Things quickly fell apart, once I crossed that border into Canada and tried to come back to the US, that was the end of that dream.  Papers, visas, legalities, and realities.  What could've turned out from that dream, I don't know.  All I knew was that it was over.  Fast forward to Shanghai, fast forward to Montreal, fast forward to Vancouver, fast forward to Berlin, to Lisbon, and now here I am, back in the USA.  10 years from one dream to the next.  At one point I could've been a good husband in Vancouver.  I could've been an artist in Paris or Zagreb.  I could've been a recluse living in the outskirts of Reykjavik.  I could've been a father in Berlin.  But that's not how life works. I simply forfeited any chance I had of making those dreams into reality.  Maybe subconsciously I'm afraid that the rug would be pulled from underneath me again. More papers, visas, legalities and reality scenarios.  Afraid of investing time in friendships and relationships because it can all disappear at the snap of a finger once that visa runs out, or some ill fated joke god decides to play on me again. Losing everything once was enough, I thought.  I remember one night when I first moved to Montreal, drunk and hanging out with strangers, attempting to socialize and make new friends, while walking outside to the closest metro station in the snow I heard someone's alarm clock go off from some nearby apartment.  I stared up at the night sky with the street lights illuminating the snow falling down wishing it was somehow just some bad dream I got stuck in, and I would wake up in San Francisco with my bandmate Tony asking me if I want some pasta he just made.  I'd close my eyes and reopen them, repeating this motion until someone patted me on the back and told me I was gonna miss the last train if I don't hurry.  Needless to say, I didn't wake up in San Francisco the next day.

A lot of things didn't happen for a long time.  For 6 years or so. From one dead end job to the next. There was only one dream I held on to: Music.  Anyone who plays music in North America knows this reality. Years and years of relentless touring, playing to 5 people, 10 people, 30, 50 if your lucky. And then luck smiles down upon your hard work, 10 years later since you first joined a band.  I almost quit this dream a few times.  But then that dream takes you far. From east coast to west coast, across the Atlantic, Northern Europe to Southern Europe, west to east, over the pacific to Asia, the middle east, city after city, country after country, foreign looking flags flying high, girls in heels, stockings, and mini skirts, hotel, motel, holiday inn, comfort inn, motel 6, motel 8, what have you. Then all the rooms starts to look the same, people that didn't want to talk to you all of a sudden wants to talk to you, some people want autographs, some people want to take a picture with you, which is very flattering but then some people just want to touch you and then run away.  Little by little you lose sight of what dream your supposed to be in.  I was supposed to be someone's husband, someone's son, someone's brother, someone's uncle, someone's friend.  It's just work, I told myself and continued on for another 4 years of this dream.  I worked hard.  I played hard.  Tried to be polite. Searching for some meaning that I don't even know if it exists or not.  For 4 years it felt like the needle skipped on the record and we were all stuck in some loop.  That tune got old quick.  You can only cry so many times, you can only move forward and not look back so many times until you realize the trail of fire you left behind, until there's no one left, waiting for you.  

I was born to run.  

Heres to the next 10 years.

Alex Zhang Hungtai
May 2015, Los Angeles


  1. thank you for being so open about your life and experiences. what you've said really resonates w/ me, especially now.

    knowing and pursuing your passion can leave you feeling so alone, but it is always worth it in the end. fuck you could die alone and penniless, but it is always worth it.

    so many could-have-beens and supposed-to-be's, yet you are exactly where you're meant to be.

    take care alex, and pay close attention to your dreams <3

    1. Thank you. I do believe that if you put your heart and soul into what you love, time will eventually become your witness. And that, is enough for me. In this life, this world we all live in.

  2. It was really great to read out your post and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  3. Running Wild... Only the best wishes to you-

  4. so inspiring. we're so lucky to have you here in the US again making beautiful music. my fingers are crossed for you

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  6. I know it comes from a lot of struggle and isolation but your work is brilliant. I'm sitting here early in the morning, drinking coffee, after an evening spent with my miserable father and listening to Love Is The Devil on vinyl. It's medicine.

  7. I am so glad you kept going, your music is amazing. Please come to SF, I'll bring a small crew!!

  8. This made me sad after a long time of not feeling much at all. Thanks. Your music and your writing is real. It's raw, and it's alive and it speaks to me.

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  14. Alex -

    your music is the only kind i have come across in so long that can bring back nostalgic feelings of happiness and sorrow. keep doing what you're doing, i hope i have the pleasure to hear it live one day

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