I’m Kevin Lanier, aka Kev Atomic, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Atomic Honey, and this is my story…
After graduating high school in Anchorage, AK in 1989, I moved to the Chicago area with dreams of becoming a rock star. Somehow I managed to become one for a few years, albeit on a small level. I formed a band, wrote a lot of songs, played some shows in some pretty big venues (to us, anyway). I learned straight away that being a rock star typically doesn’t pay well, and supported myself by working in a factory making industrial wire and cable. A lot of people liked what we did musically and we had a very loyal fan-base, but we never quite broke through.
By 1993 my back was severely damaged from working in the wire factory, and I found myself unable to do most types of manual labor for extended periods of time, and the band had plateaued – was effectively finished. There weren’t jobs where I lived that paid enough if you couldn’t do manual labor, so with a little convincing of a close friend from high school, I found myself back in Alaska again in Feb of '94. His family was kind enough to let me stay with them until I got on my feet; I sold almost everything I had, bought a one-way ticket, and moved here with $300 in my pocket, 2 suitcases, a guitar, and a cashier’s check for $2,000.
It took me a while to get settled in; I cut off all my hair (it was quite long, you know ) and started pumping gas within 2 weeks of arriving, then spent a couple of months as a dishwasher at the Nordstrom Cafe, then became a cashier at a department store – spent about a year and a half there and finally got on somehow as a rental agent with a car rental company. Things levelled out, I was able to buy a home, a car, etc. Things were looking good, really good – I was acting like a grown-up for the first time in my life, even started looking natural in a shirt and tie. After a few years as a rental agent, the company I worked for liked me enough to promote me to an office position, fleet manager. I know, Wow!, right? Little ole me, ex-long hair, spandex, makeup and high-top wearing wannabe rock star in a respectful position. My parents were quite proud, of course.
I even got some reasonably priced recording equipment and starting making a few songs here and there again – even though I had sworn off ever trying to do music professionally – it was just for fun. Everything seemed great on the outside, but something didn’t feel right on the inside.
I started drinking, then drinking more until eventually I felt like I was losing my mind, though I couldn’t understand why. I eventually ended up in AA – made coffee, met alcoholics, went through the 12 steps, and stayed sober for a few years. I met a girl, we got close, got engaged, and had a child – my son, Connar, who was born in 2005. We had another child – my daughter, Angel, in 2006. The relationship fell apart and we split when my daughter was 4 months old.
Things started getting intense again; ended up $80,000 in debt thanks to my ex and had to file for bankruptcy. I got a second job delivering pizza part time in the evenings to pay for the bankruptcy because it turns out it’s not a cheap process. Then it REALLY hit; my mom called me in August to let me know my dad had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor – a GBM, the kind Ted Kennedy died from. He was going in for surgery in a couple of weeks, because the tumor was already the size of a golf ball.
So now I was in debt, not sure what was going to happen with my kids, AND coming to terms with the fact I could soon be losing my father (which I ultimately did – he died on November 30, 2007, the same day Evel Knievel died). The stress was overwhelming and I knew something would have to give. I found a little solace, I had noticed while driving in the car delivering pizza. I thought about who I was, who I had become, who I was going to be. Honestly, my job as a fleet manager was pretty stressful and didn’t pay all that much, and I had no flexibility in my schedule. I crunched some numbers and came to the conclusion that I’d be able to make as much money delivering pizza as I did at my stressful management job if I were doing it full time. I also remembered, that though I never became a famous rock star, it was in my blood – I WAS this creative music guy with long hair and a rebellious spirit – I was NOT this stuffed shirt creating spreadsheets and schmoozing at company functions.
When all was done and said, I left my career of 13 years at the car rental place and became a full-time pizza delivery dude. The flexibility in my work schedule allowed me to care for my children properly and to see my dad 5 times before he passed. Things started settling down, stress levels diminished, and I started “finding” myself again. I was able to grow my hair long, and found new inspiration for writing songs as I was driving in the car while at work.
A lecture from a good friend, during the holidays of 2009, led to the formation of Atomic Honey. We were talking about life, children, destiny, and all that stuff – I had mentioned to him that I wasn’t sure being a pizza guy for the rest of my life was the legacy I wanted to leave behind for my children. He, being a fellow musician, knew well that music was in my blood, and that I had been recording some things – though just as a hobby. He told me I needed to stop messing around and start treating my hobby like a job. Somehow that sunk in deep with me right away, and Atomic Honey was founded before the end of the year.
I got internet sites reserved under the name, got the logo put together, started a website and so on. More importantly, just as my wise friend had instructed, I started scheduling hours to do band-related work every day, whether writing, recording, or managing sites on the web. Deadlines were set and met, things grew, we started getting recognized, building a solid fan-base, and Voila! Atomic Honey had become a very real thing. I got registered with ASCAP both as a songwriter and a publisher, and there is no end in sight for the things we want to accomplish – things we BELIEVE we will accomplish.
My point in all this is that it’s my hope that people will seek out, find, and embrace their true selves the way I was able to do. Believing in yourself even when no one else does is a hard thing to do, but Atomic Honey is proof that it gets results; be yourself, and things will fall into place on their own – they just DO. I learned also from my father’s death that waiting for retirement is not the way to go – he left this earth never getting to accomplish many things he had planned to after retirement – the journey needs to start today. I should also add, my dad was a former professional musician – he left music to marry my mother, and to raise his family – he’s the one that taught me to play guitar.
Inspiring others to believe in themselves, to use their imagination, to work hard, and to express love openly with others IS and will continue to be the main purpose behind Atomic Honey.
If you would like to get in touch with Kevin or share a part of your life with our readers please get in touch.