“I’m a rocker child and my games are wild
Sorry mama can’t live differently
Brothel is my home where I’m not alone
I’m a wayward son, I’m a wayward son” – Rocker Child, The Blackfires
I came to the USA in 2009. Following the infamous “American” dream. Just like I saw it in the movies, read about it in books, and heard about it in songs.
I wanted to be a worldwide rock star!
By the time I decided to change my life I was already pretty set with my career as a TV journalist on a Nationwide channel in Russia. I had a nice apartment, I had a car, I had a decent job with a bright future. But I always wondered… was that life the one I needed, wanted and was dreaming of?
My “know-it-all” brain went: “Well, it ain’t that bad, bro!”
But the “know-nothing-enjoy-live-while-alive” rocker child inside me was cryin’ out loud: NO!!! FOLLOW YOUR DREAM!!!!
But was that yearning, that call to simply leave everything behind, everything that I had already achieved in my homeland, and take the leap of faith, and jump into the unknown really worth it? Was it worth the risk and facing the uncertainty? was it really worth it??
“Yes”, cried my inner rocker child, “Yesssss!”
“Just remember when you were a teenager and you had to prove your loyalty to the music, to stand for your admiration of rock bands on the dark streets in a post-Soviet chaotic criminal Russia.
Having long hair meant always having problems with street bullies. You had to fight for your long hair, and for what it represented. The lifestyle, the identity, the music! You had to be ready to fight for your long hair in school, at home or in the streets.
Your favorite band t-shirt, the rock n roll look, the music in your player was a religion that you had to fight for. Your faith was tested hundreds of times. Through fear, humiliation, street fights and punches in your face. Do you remember your friend ( the guitar player in your very first band) who faced a group of hip-hop bullies and was stabbed with a knife just because he wore a leather jacket? Was it scary? Oh yes. Have we ever betrayed our rock n roll faith? Hell no!
So how could you not even try and follow the dream you’ve been always literally fighting for”
Fuck you brain! Hail to your rock n roll heart!
Some people ask me, ‘couldn’t you play rock music in Russia?’. Of course I could. Lots of my peers did. But like a virus that infected me, I was in love with western rock music. The energy, the guitar riffs, the style, music videos, live performances, charisma. Sorry Mother Russia, but in my opinion you didn’t quiet have that. I don’t blame you.
Let me explain.
If I had been born on the north pole, but my dream had been to become the greatest surfer on the planet, I would have moved to the warm ocean side. Like LA or Australia… in fact I don’t really know where the greatest surfers live. Or had I been born somewhere in Florida, and my life’s dream was to become a polar explorer – I’d change my life and would go to the Extreme Northern Part of our planet.
Simple as that. In my opinion, with all due respect to the UK, the best rock scene has always been in the USA. I mean, that is where real rockstars always lived. That was my romantic teenage dream about America, as the land of Rock Stars, where everyone carries an electric guitar behind their backs. Being a part of it all became my main motivation.
So in the same spirit as adventurers from hundreds of years ago, I set the sails of my ship, and moved across the ocean to the unknown land, where New York City is the port to your future. Literally knowing nobody, knowing nothing. Stepped out from airport not knowing where to go.
And then I faced the reality we hear about in every immigrant story, and we see in every cool Hollywood movies about following your dreams…
Hard living… Hard working… A busboy, a mover, a karaoke DJ, a flyer person, this and that… nothing special. Just like everyone else in NYC working to pay your bills and struggling for a dream. Finally I got my first band together.
We gave it a pirate name…
Why? I’ll tell you later in a later post.
The first line up (as well as the current one) consisted of members coming from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds. Which was also super pirate! We were pirates stepped off of our ship to the Terra Incognita to conquer the land and discover treasures that’ll bring us joy!
Then there was the amusing rock band routine: playin’ shows.. shows…show… writing songs… recording our first EP. I was excited about the direction my life was taking, but then, life has its own twists, just like in a movie, my brothers!
Hard times again. Band is breaking up, i’m losing my job, my relationship with my wife (the one I came here with) destroyed. I’m alone! No friends, no bandmates, no girls, no sex:))) hahahaha!
Here I am, sitting on the floor in our cold studio room in the Music Building in Midtown Manhattan. Trying hard not to cry, but it grows so bad inside. My hands and my head are down. After the first 3 years in NYC I was ready to go back home. I had lost. I did try as my inner rocker child had asked, and I lost as my “knows it all” brain had predicted. But like in every cool movie when the main character just won’t give up, life later pays off generously. Anthony Mullin, my mate and guitar player from the very first line up was always around. We started to play acoustic shows in local bars, which kept us alive, and we started writing songs again.
Then I met Hector, Joe and Grasebo,
And then a new incarnation of the band (the current line up) was founded.
Hey… The patient’s not dead yet!!!! Give him some electric shocks!!! There we go!
He’s breathing, he opened his eyes! he is smiling again!
And then together, the new Blackfires started to go at it again, and that lead us all the way up to our first success. We won the USA Hard Rock Battle of the Bands.
Soon after, within a week we got confirmed to be the main opening act for AEROSMITH (MUTHERFUCKER) at Olympisky Stadium in Moscow, Russia. My hometown. So I was coming back home after all, but not as a loser… The exact opposite! It was a moment of redemption. Those who didn’t believe in me, those who said there’s nothing for me in America… They would have to eat their words: “No one needs you there!” “There are plenty of people like you there, better than you. Luckier than you, all of them were defeated!”
But I was proudly coming back with my band, The Blackfires, ready to kick their asses from the stage of the biggest indoor arena in Europe. 35 000 people. I felt I was sending a message to all those who had doubted and ridiculed me in the past. I was telling the haters “How about sucking my rock’n roll dick? Thank you!”
Then it was like a marathon. We got back to the USA. Opened for Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham. BAMMMM!
Then Skid Row, Europe, Thin Lizzy … Whitford/St.Holmes. Oh God!
Those were the gigs, man.
And now….we’re about to launch our first full length album!
Since the journey has just started, and “the top” is up there in the clouds! I’ll tell stories about all the coolest things that have happened to us, and I invite you to come along and join us in the upcoming adventures that lay ahead!
This whole story would never have happened without you guys! All the way through it was your support that helped us keep going, in the moments when the Blackfires almost disappeared, in the moments when we needed help. You guys, our fans, our mates.. you were always there!
What it really comes down to in this musical journey, is all about giving you guys a great time listening to our music! To go nuts, and let all the stress out at our live gigs, or when you listen to it at the gym, or on your way to the office, or whenever. When you’re feeling down or when you’re happy! We’re all here for music and rock’n’roll fun!
While our debut full length Album is just couple of months away!
In the meantime, I will be sharing this journey with you in this blog, which I shall now christen “Captain’s log”
So get on board the Blackfires ship and let’s write our adventurous novel together.
Capt. Andrey “Rocker Child” Cheggi.