Road Stories – Simone

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Simone

You’ve been sitting around the venue for hours, waiting to get on stage while watching bands play all night. It’s getting pretty late and your energy level is getting lower by the minute. You think you need an energy drink, but your future has something even better in store for you: Simone. The moment her bare feet touch the stage, a tornado of energy takes over the room. With an undoubtedly identifiable sound and the spirit of a true rock star, Simone unselfishly shares her past and present in a way you’ll never forget. America has been getting lucky lately, because Simone has been touring the country, winning over one city at a time. We were lucky enough to catch her at the right time to share some of her touring wisdom with us.
 
1. How long have you been together?
I get that question a lot and it’s really been hard in the past to answer. This project is unlike any other project I’ve been involved with because we started with the production of the CD ‘Built To Last’ and then we formed a touring band. Bryan and I have worked together now for three years but ‘Simone’ has been a brand and performing band since 2001. We’ve had change-ups along the way but we’ve always landed on our feet!
2. How many times have you toured so far?
Before the current indie/rock project I toured internationally with the Detroit techno band ‘Teknotica’ for a couple of years but they were small tours compared to what I’m doing now. We’ve been hitting both the Austin Texas and Athens Georgia markets pretty aggressively and have been fortunate to make those circuits about once a month since September of 2009. We have generally booked one-week tours but are now moving up to three week runs.
3. Do you always take the same route and what’s your approach with routing decisions?
It depends on the venue and the cost. It’s more economical to do ‘straight-line’ tours where we don’t have to go off of the beaten path however we did have a schedule snag that threw us off course in Texas several months ago. We route our tours based on places to play and places to stay and sometimes that means plotting a course through national parks (so that we have camping as an option) but we’ve really been fortunate to meet so many new friends who offer their homes and couches to us!
4. How do you pay for the tour? Do you pre-collect your budget or do you depend on each night’s revenue?
[Laughs]
Yeah – I guess we do what we can to raise money before we leave – it’s just so hectic with life getting in the way. We’ve been entirely self-financed up until recently so money’s always been an issue. We all see ourselves as investors and do what we can to book a few cover gigs before we hit the road -that way we have a little bread to work with.
Obviously we travel as lightly as possible – like I said, we camp, couch-surf, sleep in the van, eat lots of PB&J / Ramen – do whatever we can to keep costs down. We really rely on CD and merch sales and since we signed our endorsement deal with Entropy (who’s providing merch for us now) life has gotten a little bit easier.
5. Do you tour alone or are you going with another band?
We’d love to be picked up by another like-minded band – in fact we were close last year but schedules just didn’t work out for us. They had a nice 3 week tour out to So Cal that we could have been a part of but it didn’t happen. No worries though; next time.
6. What’s the best part about touring?
Playing at home is great. You get to see your friends and family; hang out on your own familiar turf, you know. But being out on the road is so liberating. I find it so fulfilling to be free to travel and experience other cultures, communities and people. It’s a blast to wake up and see snow falling in Georgia or the Dallas skyline at night. We’re heading up to Ontario this spring for the Spring Music Festival and, being from Windsor – I look forward to seeing family and friends and the part of the world that I grew up in. I love it!
7. The worst?
Truckstop bathrooms! Enough said 🙂
8. Where do you sleep?
I guess I kind of answered that earlier a little – sorry! We are active on a couple of websites ( betterthanthevan.com   and couchsurfing.org ) which help us connect with locals who provide us with a place to stay.
I mentioned that we do camp – it’s great during the warmer months – but it’s really cool to meet new people who are so gracious in hosting us along the way. Plus, our hosts generally buy our merch, come to our shows and help us build a fan-base for the next tour through their town. It’s awesome 🙂
 
9. Do you have any crazy stories?
Hmmm. [smiling] Don’t know if you can print it here! I’m a singer in a rock band. I love scotch – and I get to wear sexy outfits on stage. That’s a lethal combination for a single woman! Let’s just say that we have a little too much fun sometimes 🙂
10. How do you leave your lives at home when you set out to tour?
At home I’m Simone ‘The Person’. On the road I’m completely different – it’s business and I’m a part of something bigger than one person. When I pack for the road all I’m thinking about is how many new friends I’m going to make, how many CDs and tee-shirts I’m going to sell and how much buzz I’ll help create for each venue. I guess it’s just like getting up in the morning and going to work – you do it because it’s what you do, but it doesn’t define you at a personal level.
11. How does it feel to come home? Do you miss it or do you start counting the day til’ your next tour?
When we’re all the way out to our farthest tour stop I start thinking about home a little bit. It’s at that point where you know you’re 1,500 miles away and there’s no way you can run home to turn off the coffee pot [laughs]! But seriously, when we cross the state line on our way back – there’s still another 8 hours in front of you! – but you start feeling the ‘pull’ and can’t wait to get home to your own bed.
12. Do you have a favorite place to play? Explain.
I think all of the venues have been great – there’s not one that really, truly outshines another. One might have a bigger stage but another might have a comfier green room – they’re all so different and great in their own way. We feel at home at Bishop’s Inn in Indian Harbour Beach
– they’re some of our biggest local supporters! But we also feel so welcome at The Haven in Winter Park – they’ve always taken great care of us.
13. Who organizes your tour? Do you have a manager?
We’re handled by the Miramar Management Company and have been for a couple of years. They manage most of our out-of-state tours from putting bills together, taking care of all the press and media relations, creative marketing, organizing street teams and working with the local venues.
They’ve been great and don’t hold us to any crazy contracts – which is great as an artist – and they allow us to book our own shows, etc.
14. What do you do on canceled nights?
Bands get canceled? [laughs] Seriously though, we’ve only had one tour stop fall through – in Athens – but we hit the streets and found a gig for the evening. We were supposed to play the Caledonia but there was some mix-up with the local band. We got on the iPhone and found a band that we knew we’d have fun playing with and ended up playing at their show at Flicker Theater. It worked out – they had an A&R rep from Nashville out to see them and we got to submit our CD as well. Things just sort of work out for us I guess.
15. Do you set up appearances on the local radio stations?
We do and have. From internet radio to local stations, college radio, etc.
We attempt to make on-air appearances in every town but it’s not always feasible. We even use streaming video services like SyncLive to stream our shows when we can.
16. What would make your every tour perfect?
The perfect tour would pay for itself, pay each of us a living wage to not have to worry about making rent, provide enough extra money to put in escrow for future touring, and be free from truckstop bathrooms!
17. Any advice for bands who want to set off on tour?
Make sure that you (as a band) know who you are and what you’re about. Make sure you all agree to what you’re trying to accomplish. Don’t tour for the sake of touring – it costs a lot of money when you do it right. It costs a lot more when you do it wrong! Start small – just do some state-wide tours to begin with . There’s nothing worse than going out on a major tour with people you think you’ll get along with – only to find out that it’s not working and you’re 1,000 miles away from home.
Pack light, grab plenty of pb&j/ramen/etc – don’t eat out and don’t stay in hotels if you can avoid it. If you have money – great.
Unfortunately, if you’re spending out of pocket for your tours you won’t really know if your band/style/sound can support itself. If you think that you can get a booking agency to support you – you may be disappointed. Reputable agencies come to you – it’s not the other way around. If you haven’t created some kind of buzz in the areas you’re hoping to travel to, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive much support. If you are approached by an agency – be wary of signing a contract.

They’re generally exclusive (which can be a great thing sometimes) and you really should get legal advice. Carry a good GPS, SunPass (for Florida), iPod charger/adapter and DVD player. Last but not least – make sure you have plenty of quarters/dimes for parking meters set aside and give EVERYONE in the band a spare key to the van 🙂

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