Don’t be a big fish in a small pond. When you outgrow the pond, find a bigger one so you can continue to grow. I spent a lot of time with “plateau syndrome”, where I just couldn’t figure out how to become better. Once I figured this out, it helped me to branch out to other areas outside my comfort zone where better musicians have pushed me to excel.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Darren Michael Boyd, a modern artist dedicated to passion and creativity, in music, literature, and life.
At the age of 17 he recorded his first independently released album, “Young Offenders”, with a heavy metal band called PURGATORY. Boyd wrote 7 of the 8 songs on the album, many which received regular radio airplay. Over several years, the same band morphed into BOOMERANG, a hard rock act that would end up touring extensively across Canada and the United States, take first place in the Ontario Band Warz against 17 other acts, and record their debut album as BOOMERANG, “Well…You Know”. Other high points of Boyd’s time with BOOMERANG included being featured regularly in Metal Edge magazine, opening many shows for Canada’s metal queen, LEE AARON, England’s GIRLSCHOOL, KILLER DWARFS, BRIGHTON ROCK, HELIX, and many other stars of the day.
When Boomerang had disbanded in the mid 90’s, Boyd took some time off from touring to attend college in central Florida for his other obsession, Zoology. After graduating at the top of his class, he returned home to Canada and started his business, The Reptile Rainforest.
He wasted no time getting back into original music, and In 2001, BLACK JU-JU was born. The debut CD “UNIVERSAL ASSHOLE” was released in 2002. Soon after, BLACK JU-JU landed an international distribution deal with a Chicago label, and have received glowing reviews from all over the world.
In 2007, Boyd parted ways with Black Ju-Ju (although remains close friends with his former bandmates). He left to pursue another creative musical vision: THE wHORROR
In the summer of 2008, Boyd was the recipient of a scholarship to Guitar Workshop Plus in Toronto, with some of the best players in the business as instructors, including Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, and Sue Foley.
In addition to being a musician, Darren has always been an avid writer. He has had over 100 articles published from 2004–2008. His specialty is writing for pet magazines, and has been published by REPTILES, PET PRODUCT NEWS, MENAGERIE MAGAZINE, SIRS PUBLISHING INC., and PET CITY. Boyd is currently working on a reptile-based book and is also making every effort to branch out into fiction.
Thank you so much for joining us Darren! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you! When I was seven years old I got my first Kiss and Alice Cooper records… I found my superheroes. Welcome to showbiz, kid!
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
I could probably write a book, maybe two! One story that comes to mind is sad, and eye opening. One of my old bands used to use a lot of pyro, even in clubs. We were careful, and smart about it — but still, accidents happen. At one show, the opening band did some shots, and ended up spilling alcohol on the stage, which wasn’t cleaned off before we went on. At one point during our show our flames caught onto the alcohol and continued to burn under the elevated drum riser. Fortunately, this was quickly taken care of, and nobody was hurt. We laughed about it after the show.
A week later, the infamous nightclub fire caused by pyro at The Station in Rhode Island, which killed 100 people, happened. We were no longer laughing. And pyrotechnics were no longer going to be part of our shows. I still love the fire effect at arena shows, but I will never use it again in a club setting.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I finished my latest music video for the title track from my album “Lifting the Curse”. Music videos are always a great way to be creative and the entire process is a blast. I try to make videos that are a little whacky, and hopefully entertaining. I also recently released a music video for my song “was it something I said” featuring Emily Dolan Davies on drums. We filmed in opposite sides of the earth, a true isolation video. We just did our parts in our respective studios.
I’m also excitedly wrapping up work on my next instrumental album “Wonders of the Invisible World”, which will be released in the fall of 2020!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I think when you’re playing small clubs, going town to town, you definitely meet a lot of interesting people. I remember one guy trying to get me to hand my guitar over to him in the middle of a song. He was really ticked off when I refused! So many stories are just not family friendly. I really DO need to write a book.
The first time I met Alice Cooper was memorable. I knew I was going to meet him, and I mentioned it to my church-going mother, who said “you know he’s a Christian now!”
When I met Alice, I thanked him for corrupting my life, which he denied. I said my mom would disagree! He didn’t want to argue with my mom! Haha!
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
That’s a difficult question for a musician! I spent more time in history classes writing songs than paying attention. Well, most of my classes, really. I think more recent history; I would say Edward Snowden. I know his actions were controversial, but he had a great life and career, and risked everything with nothing to gain based on his principles. Not many people have the guts to do that. Many historical figures were controversial for the same reason — they stood up for something they believed in, against the odds.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
That’s a great question. I believe it’s an ongoing process. I work at the local library and it means so much to contribute to literacy and education of people of all ages. I teach guitar one night per week, and currently do that online during the pandemic situation. Even though my music may occasionally seem dark, I know my fans understand the positivity in it. Positive energy breeds more positive energy, and that’s what I try to do. I’m an entertainer. It might not seem like an important job, but as a huge music fan myself; I know first hand how much it can mean, and how powerful the position can be. I do my best to abide by the law of three — whatever I put into the world will be returned three-fold. If that’s the case, it makes sense to put out positive vibes and actions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I started a business called Reptile Rainforest 25 years ago, for the purpose of educating people about misunderstood and often maligned creatures. This is still a labour of love and dear to my heart, because I think the more people learn to appreciate our natural world and respect the inhabitants we share it with, the better off we will all be in the long run. This is a movement that already has wheels, but I would love to see it reach so many more people. Everyone wants to save the planet, but they should know that includes saving our snakes and toads too.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t get too caught up in the social media “hustle” culture nonsense. From my experience, I would recommend stepping away from your device and be present in your life more often. I think a lot of people are going to regret how much time they’ve wasted in a virtual world. I’m not anti social-media, I just think we often struggle to find a healthy balance and it can be mentally exhausting. It grinds my gears when self-proclaimed experts say, “you are a brand”. Artists are not brands — we are people. Our fans are also people, and that’s how we should see them. I’d be happier with 500 fans that are truly into my music, than 500k who are indifferent. Quality interaction means more than numbers.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1 — Invest time, and maybe even in a teacher, to learn how to sing harmonies with confidence. You can have all the qualities to make you the perfect fit when you’re auditioning for your dream gig, but the person with similar qualifications who can also sing will usually get the gig!
2 — Don’t be a big fish in a small pond. When you outgrow the pond, find a bigger one so you can continue to grow. I spent a lot of time with “plateau syndrome”, where I just couldn’t figure out how to become better. Once I figured this out, it helped me to branch out to other areas outside my comfort zone where better musicians have pushed me to excel.
3 — Get your license and your own reliable vehicle as soon as possible. As a musician, you are often in the business of travelling. I relied on other people for rides for far too long. That didn’t help my confidence, and it kept me from pursuing a lot of opportunities. That freedom can change your path.
4 — Don’t be afraid to replace toxic personnel. I’ve honestly spent most of my musical career playing with people I like, but there have been a few over the years that I never should have tolerated for as long as I did. If things go well, you’ll be spending a lot of time with the people in your organization, so surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time with.
5 — You don’t HAVE to wear pink spandex, just because everyone else is. Why did no one tell me?!
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them :-)
The legendary Shep Gordon. He seems like such a genuine guy. I have so much respect for the fact that he puts people first, despite being so successful. Or maybe, that’s part of the reason for his success! He knows food, music, and business, and has a great sense of humour.
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