Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.

So You want to be A Rockstar?

by Timothy Schumacher
The Band Bleeding Money Playing at
the Fubar in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, the
classic cliché that has been more
played out than a groupie’s vagina.
While music companies glorify this
“rock star” lifestyle in order to sell
records, the backstage truth on the
road to stardom is a far less glamorous
existence. Great music is the by-product
of years of hard work, and the inner
turmoil of musicians inspired by their
struggles through life. The excesses and
debauchery is just a by-product of that
music’s success. While MTV displays
million dollar homes and exotic cars of
many famous rock stars on their show
Cribs, the reality for thousands of bands
striving to strike platinum is hidden in
the shadows of fame and fortune.
Musicians like Tom Shelton, who’s
been a lead singer/rhythm guitarist in
a band for the last 11 years, struggle
every day to in hopes of making it big.
Shelton, like most Americans, has a
9-5 job during the day as a cook at an
upscale burger joint in what he calls
the “Pleasantville” section of Tampa.
He describes his day to day routine as
“Wake up. Obsess over either politics
or band stuff on the way to work. Then
get my ass royally handed to me at
work. I come home, practice loud fast
music. Obsess some more about politics,
sociology, and band stuff. Then I drink,
smoke, sleep, and repeat my actions the
next day.” He lives in a three bedroom
two bath house in Seminole Heights, a
historic but low income neighborhood
in Tampa with two roommates, one of
whom is the band’s drummer. Shelton’s
band “Bleeding Money” (formerly
known as Elysium after their former
bassist’s, and his girlfriend’s drug
addiction caused the band to split) is a
hybrid of thrash metal and surf style,
gang vocal, punk rock. They have been
playing mostly in the Tampa Bay area
and have done several tours across the
country. But while some bands get paid
to play and tour across the country,
Shelton says “me and my band had to
finance our own tours by saving $50 a
paycheck for six months, then travel by
van to play shows from Tampa to New
York in a windowless cargo van with no
air conditioning. We would either sleep
on someone’s floor we know, or we
would all sleep in the van. It was smelly,
taxing, tough, and gritty, but it was well
worth it.” The bars they played were
not much better than their sleeping
arrangements. Bleeding Money’s
drummer Mike Berg says “There have
been plenty of shit hole bars that we
have had the pleasure of playing.” The
band did earn a spot on the Warp Tour
in 2003. Shelton says “We were asked to
play all four Florida dates of the Warped
Tour in 2003.” While the big bands were
living the rock and roll dream, reality
soon kicked in for Shelton and the other
members of Bleeding Money. “It was
a thrill and a hard lesson. We played
the festival four days in a row. The big
bands had roadies loading their gear,
and we didn’t. For four days we lugged
our amps across at least two hundreds
yards of field a day, and played for 30
minutes in the sun. The upside was
we got to go to Warped Tour four days
in a row, and meet some awesome
people in the music bizz,” Shelton
says. Bleeding Money continues to play
shows locally and is in the process of
making a new record. While those who
have successfully made it get to enjoy
the spoils of success, those bands like
Bleeding Money who have not, still have
to endure the sacrifice and hard work
that it takes to make it. But if it were
easy, every wannabe rock star would do
it. This isn’t American Idol folks. The
grind is what separates the real rock
stars from the groupies. Like the tattoo
around Mike Berg’s neck says, “This
lifestyle holds a price.” So for those out
there who are considering diving into
the pool of perseverance, Tom has some
advice “A band is 10% talent and 90%
percent commitment.”
Check out bleeding money at:
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