A several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hang out with a friend I made a few years ago, Jim Mayer, of the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers.
Jim has taken a big interest in my new children’s book
Amy Giggles, and suggested in his Anti-Bullying blog, www.im4ublog.com that fans ask us questions in regards to the story behind Amy Giggles, the concept of self-confidence and the idea of self-worth, and growing up in Thomaston.
So, you asked and we answered!
I had a great time sitting down and seeing what sort of questions everyone had to ask. Here are the answers, and be sure to check out Jim’s blog. He is passionate about helping out and being a role model for kids in the fight against bullying.
1) Was there a defining moment or event that you realized you should put your energy into influencing children in such a positive and powerful way?
I don’t think there was an actually “ah ha” moment but somewhere during the rise to success of ZBB I think I felt like there was attention that was given to me that I thought I might be able to redirect to people who could use it. By that I mean, I didn’t really want or need the attention but if someone wanted my autograph, then maybe I could sell a t-shirt to them with my autograph on it and then give that money to another person in need. It is a win-win situation. The fans get what they want and I get to help someone. I realized somewhere along the way that you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. That’s a cliché thing to say but I think it’s true. If you choose to be a part of the solution then it’s a lot of hard work but that work goes forward so far that you start getting addicted to that feeling of helping. It’s a great feeling.
2) Are there any other musicians in your family? And how did your parents react to you switching subjects in school? Most push their kids to go to school and get a real job. Back then; did you imagine you would be where you are today?
I basically am the only musician in my family. My aunt plays a little piano but that’s about it. My dad’s mother painted and was actually good at it. I do not come from a long line of musicians though. My father is a very skilled carpenter. He can do just about anything with his hands. He is very artistic with his carpentry. My mother is very good at sewing and makes wonderful quilts. My parents have always been very supportive of all of my adventures. My mother is a realist so when I told them I wanted to stop going to college for biology and change to music her only question was, “Can you make a living playing music?” My reply was… I think so. She said give me some facts on how you would make a living and I’ll support you. I called a bunch of musicians and ask them how they stayed afloat. After I called the musicians and got the skinny on how it all goes down, my mother and father were both very onboard. I’ve always had a really good work ethic. My parents didn’t doubt if I could do it, they just wanted to know how making a living as a musician worked. I arrived at this place in my life after touring with ZBB for a year or two that you can’t fail if you don’t stop trying. Thinking like that takes the fear out of life and to me it allows you to live a more open and free life. I can’t say that there aren’t times where I’m a little over my head and trying to make it all happen without really knowing what I’m doing. I mean I just wrote a children’s book and I don’t even have kids. That’s kind of scary. But I really believe in the book and its message. As long as I keep my head down, keep focused on what my goals are and what is important then I can’t really fail.
3) What do you think has changed in our society that has allowed things like bullying to be such a common reality for children these days? Is it that those activities are more prevalent or with an increase in awareness it’s being addressed more often (e.g.: the overall rates are the same, children are just speaking up more)?
I can’t say that I know for sure if society’s awareness makes it seem as though there is more bullying now than ever. I can say that awareness is a good thing. I think that people have been bullying each other since the beginning of time. It’s just that we as a people have been elevated to a place where bullying is unacceptable. If you want to tell someone that you don’t like them, you can’t be physical or. It’s unacceptable. The problem then becomes, how do you teach people other ways handling their differences without reverting to abuse. Kids who come from families where being abusive goes unnoticed are getting in trouble for it. It’s just like anything else education is the key.
4) Do you want kids of your own? How many?
I do want kids, but I’m not sure how many. With that being said, I didn’t come from a large family. In fact, I’m an only child. I can’t see myself having more than three kids. Three seems like a circus to me. I have a dog named “Capt. Tuddy”. It’s just about all I can do to keep up with him. I don’t think you are ever ready for kids. You are only ready when they are now in the world and you are responsible for them. I love kids and I think I would be a great dad. I had great parents and my mother and father are my best friends so I’d have good examples to lead from.
5) How did your parents encourage you, or how do you wish they had?
My parents were always very supportive of my endeavors and gave me constant positive feedback. I actually had a hard time being on the road in the beginning because I wasn’t getting constant high fives and positive reinforcement. I started thinking that I wasn’t doing a good job. I learned that you have to be confident in yourself. After I started to see success, I couldn’t imagine life without a very strong net up under me. My parents never had a lot of money but I always knew that they had my back no matter what I did. My mother is also really good with money and she taught me at a very young age to stay within your financial comfort zone. I’ve never had a lot of debt but have seen how being in debt can definitely change the game when it comes to being footloose and fancy-free.
6) When in life did you decide that being different was a good thing instead of trying to follow the crowd?
Hey mom. This is a mom’s question to all you other guys reading. My mother oddly enough, was the one that always wanted me to be different. She was always encouraging me to dress different and do my own thing, not just what everybody else was into. Growing up in a small town you really had to search for cool stuff. My personal hunt for cool music and cool clothes while growing up was before the Internet. We had to dig through magazines to find where all the cool stuff was. I’d see my favorite skateboarder wearing a tee shirt of some band. Then I’d have to look up that band in my music magazines and order it. It was always kind of a gamble whether what you ordered would actually be cool. But when it was cool, it changed your life forever.
I always had a good bit of confidence even as a kid. I think it’s because I was a natural at many things. I mean I was never a star baseball player but I could play ball. My peers would pick on me for having long hair and funny clothes, but I never let it get to me. People are less likely to pick on you if they realize what there doing isn’t working. That’s what I want “Amy Giggles- Laugh Out Loud” to teach children. I hope it teaches them to be confident in who they are regardless of what others say.
7) Last year I read where you would be making appearances at certain schools to promote your book. Are you still going to do that?
I would love nothing more than to go to every school in the US. I believe that between touring with ZBB, keeping up with Amy Giggles, having my own band (Coy Bowles and The Fellowship,) and trying manage my personal life while off the road, that visiting schools will be a challenge, but one that is certainly worth while. I really hope to be able to visit schools in the near future. Fingers crossed it will happen!