In the previous months I covered touring from another person’s perspective. We all have our own opinions and ways of preparing for the tour and I wanted to present as many angles as I could. As the Road Stories wrap-up, I will tell you about touring from personal experience. My band, Anyone’s Guess, recently went on a short trip to Crawfordsville, IN. We played at the Zayde Festival (a benefit show for a very unfortunate child). This was supposed to be one of our tour stops, but due to contractual issues it ended up being the only stop.
The trip started on the evening on October 15th, 2010 around 8PM. We decided it would be best if we make the majority of that 17 hour drive at night, because there’s less traffic. Cramped next to two men, in the back seat of a GMC Envoy, we set off into the darkness. Let me tell you one thing: you don’t know who you’re dealing with until you share your personal space with them. The calmest, most easy-going person in the band can very easily turn into a whiny little bi*ch in the matter of hours. The road will push you to the limits you didn’t want or expect, and you may shock yourself or others with things that will come out of your mouth. If you can live through it all, it’s very well worth it and you will make memories that will last a lifetime. Here are Sanja’s big DOs and DON’Ts of the road:
• Make sure seating is fair. One thing that kept me sane throughout the ride is rotation. We made sure that everyone gets to sit in a different place, gets to drive and gets to ride shotgun. We did this by assigning “pilots” and their “co-pilots.” Trust me, unless you have a van in which everyone gets the good seat, rotation is your ticket to sanity.
• Check your equipment. The drive was mostly a smooth sail, with an exception of the trailer unhitching itself at the butt crack of dawn, while the Envoy was traveling 70MPH. We survived because, by some streak of luck, the trailer remained in its upright position as I drove us to a complete stop. It turns out someone forgot to secure the clamp.
• Keep an open mind. Yes, bringing your headphones will help you a little, but there’s only so much music you can listen to before your ears start hurting. Be prepared to listen to the stories you don’t care about, whining about hurting asses and smelling other people’s body odors. Going into it prepared for these things will make the tour much more pleasant, as you will not crush your high expectations.
• Make a check list of your equipment and stage-graphs. Have one person responsible of the load in and have that person check things off as they put them in the trailer. With the four of us trying to tear down the equipment so the next band can come on and our roadie working the merch table, there’s no way that everyone can keep track of everything. We of course left $1000.00 worth of cymbals in Crawfordsville, IN and didn’t notice they were gone until we arrived home. Luckily, the sound guy found them and was kind enough to mail them back…$170.00 worth of shipping costs later.
• Be ready to lose money. Unless you have the financial backing of a label and an out of town built-in crowd that will come see you, be prepared to break even, or lose money. Spend extra funds on making sample song CDs, fliers, buttons, stickers, key chains…anything you can give out to people. The fact is, if you give them something to remember you by, they’re more likely to buy a ticket to see you next time and they’re more likely to go to your website and spend money on your product. We gave out sample CDs to everyone who signed up for our mailing list. They cost less than fifty cents to make each, but in turn have sold us quite a few CDs and have loyal supporters on our mailing list.
• Be open-minded. Maybe all you do at home is play video games, read comic books and play your guitar…but when you’re working as a team, be ready to do some things you wouldn’t necessarily do at home. Some places don’t really have much to them, but you should make it a point to do something fun in each place you visit. We found our fun in hay bales. They’re actually more fun that one would think!
• Don’t leave your bag under the car seat! I was in charge of documenting the trip with my camcorder and that means that, unless I wanted to keep it in my lap 24 hours a day, I would need to keep it somewhere close by… So I stored it in my backpack and put it under the seat. Little did I know that putting my bag on the floor would mean that a man’s rancid-smelling feet will sleep on it for hours! I found out the hard way…the smell was following me around and I had no idea where it’s coming from! It was on my back. Needless to say, my backpack went through several wash cycles before it was to be worn again.
You can see the Backstage Pass: Tour video on Anyone’s Guess’ YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/anyonesguessmusic