Welcome to the second installment of Don’t Quit Your Day Job where I try to figure out how local musicians and struggling artists pay their rent. Let me tell you a tale: Sometime around 2001 I was at a local show standing somewhere in the middle of the crowd enjoying a band I had never seen before. Suddenly I heard the all-too-familiar opening riff to “Among the Living” by Anthrax, and even though it was very out of my introvert character, I hopped up on stage, grabbed a 2nd microphone and sang the whole song along with the lead singer. When the band finished their set, I introduced myself to a man who has been a dear friend ever since. Back then he was J. Kobalt, a small unassuming guy with a long ponytail and glasses. The most caring, soft-spoken guy you could ever meet … until the glasses come off and the metal machine powers up! Only a few things have changed in the last 15 years. He has the same glasses and hair (plus a beard so bad-ass it has its own Facebook page!) and the metal machine is still powered up, just singing for a new band. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the artist formerly known as J. Kobalt.
Josh Hurst: Name, age and location?
J. Costa: J. Costa, 36, The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
JH: What band(s) are you in and what do you do in them?
JC: My primary focus, musically, is vocals and myriad other things in the heavy metal band Thy Will Be Done. I also sing in various projects (Lead Pipe Cruelty) and/or starting projects: one with my girlfriend and one with my friend David.
JH: How long have you been at this rock ‘n’ roll thing?
JC: I’ve been pursuing it for 20 years and doing it professionally for 16 years.
JH: What do you do to pay the rent?
JC: I do inventory stuff for the most popular personal computer brand in the world. They also make phones, music players and watches.
JH: How did you end up with your current day job?
JC: The previous company I was with for over 12 years starting eliminating benefits as well as shifting their culture. They were once everything about the music and allowed employees in established music projects to tour and have a job to come back to, but they changed their corporate structure and did away with the Band Leave of Absence as well as a plethora of other crucial benefits. It was a very hot topic when some folks heard I was leaving my previous job. I was subsequently approached about submitting my resume to my current employer by someone who not only used to work at that same company years prior, but enjoyed the experiences I provided them with.
JH: What drives you to keep at music if you need to have the day job to pay bills?
JC: I love to create, especially music. The medium I gravitate to has also been very cathartic. When I was younger, listening to loud and aggressive music provided a release from my anxieties and frustrations, which then lead to wanting to create my own, channel it well and make it productive.
JH: Besides the income, what keeps you at your current day job?
JC: I enjoy the people I work with. Many are like-minded in our pursuit to enrich people’s lives. I’m surrounded by a multitude of talent and learn new things every day. The challenge is refreshing. But, also, much like the majority of lower, middle-class Americans feel, the job security and benefits help.
JH: Does anything in your day job correlate to your musical endeavors?
JC: Not yet. Maybe someday. There’s someone who works for the same company who’s far more established than I am. It’s inspiring, as he seems like he’s going in more of an upward spiral these days.
JC: We post updates via: facebook.com/
ThyWillBeDone and we recently made a new Instagram: @_twbd_