Lots of people want to get into the music business because it seems like fun, and it can be. But it can also be an ungodly amount of work, especially if you're successful. Consider Thomas O'Keefe, who used to road-manage Whiskeytown back in the day and works nowadays in a similar capacity for the band Train. O'Keefe lives in Raleigh, but he isn't spending much time here because Train is currently topping charts all over the planet with "Hey, Soul Sister." And that keeps him hopping.
Train was just in Raleigh to open John Mayer's Saturday night concert, so you'd expect O'Keefe would spend the night in his own bed at home in Raleigh. Instead, he was there just long enough to tuck his daughter into bed and do some paperwork before leaving at 3:15 a.m. Sunday to fly to California on the next leg of what O'Keefe calls "The Be Careful What You Wish For Tour."
"People tell me, 'It sounds like you have an awesome job,'" O'Keefe says with a rueful laugh. "I tell them they're right, it does sound like a cool job. But it is what it is, what I know how to do -- work too hard, relentlessly. I've had maybe eight days off since the end of February, and we'll go until January."
O'Keefe's work tends to come all at once or not at all, and there have been years when he's done almost nothing ("which makes the neighbors think I must be a drug dealer," he says). But he's more than making up for the downtime this year. O'Keefe has run up some staggering statistics with Train in 2010, flying more than 100,000 miles (36,000 of them in June alone). Train works as much as any band in popular music, which is possible because of lead singer Pat Monahan's durability.
"Every band's schedule is dictated by how many nights in a row the singer can sing," O'Keefe says. "So AC/DC does one night on and one off because their singer can only go every other day. But Pat can do 10 or 15 straight nights. So we wind up doing all kinds of crazy stuff because he's capable of doing it. The rest of us just have to keep up.
"We've played three shows in one 24-hour period -- Boston at 10 p.m., 'The Today Show' at 8 the next morning and then some other show that afternoon. We played Paris one day, Minneapolis the next. We'll do that 10 or 12 days in a row at a time, just full-blast. You have to make hay while the sun shines."
ADDENDUM (1/3/10): At the end of the year, O'Keefe figured out Train's travel and performance totals for 2010. And the totals are:
Miles by air -- 168,550
Miles by van/bus -- 33,260
Nights away from home -- 273
Public performances -- 141
Private performances -- 17
Radio performances -- 71
Television performances -- 19