Serj Tankian's Troy ZeiglerIt never ceases to amaze me the ways in which sideman status can permeate my everyday life. I often find it very comforting, because it solidifies my feelings of dedication to what I am doing musically. I know, in a very unwavering sense, that my focus is the music alone and not the status or illusion of fame. There is a very stark sense of anonymity that I quite like, being as introverted as I am.

That said, in the past year there have been several quite comical moments in my life in which this anonymity has played itself out, from being denied access to a venue that I was playing that evening, to being asked if I was the band bodyguard. However, the best among them all is as follows:

I was in the midst of my second European tour of the year with Serj, and we had arrived in Austria to play a headlining show. Early in the day, I spent my time walking around taking in the sights, as I usually do in new places. One of the experiences that I revel in the most is meeting new people. Just before the show I met a young lady outside the venue, and having just recently gotten over my debilitating shyness with girls, I struck up a conversation. We talked about music a bit before it was time for me to get ready to play. I quickly said to her, “Well, it was nice talking to you. My name is Troy. Enjoy the show. Perhaps I’ll see you later.” And I hurried off.

So—we played. And in the midst of it all, I noticed this same young lady about three rows back from the front. Towards the end of the show, Serj introduced the entire band individually, by name. Now, being a sideman (and a drummer), I understand that I’m not the focal point on stage by any means. However, I’m also not the most inconspicuous looking person. Just to paint a picture, I’m six-six, bald, not wearing any shoes, and black. I mention the latter not because I think that it’s an issue, but rather because black people are a pretty uncommon fixture at our shows and at most other rock shows that I’ve been to–especially in Austria.

So, when we finished, after the obligatory shower/crying jag, I ran into this very same young lady and resumed my conversation with her. We were about fifteen minutes into it, and everything was going smashingly, when she turned to me and said, “So, what do you do for the band?” I said, “Ummm—what?” To which she replied, “What do you do, carry the equipment?” I then had to spend the next five minutes convincing her that I was actually the drummer.

These are the things that truly make it worthwhile for me, the moments that bring me back down to earth and help me focus on what really matters in life. And, as strange as it may sound, I am very thankful to have them.