In this Tour Tips segment, Ben Flanagan of the rock band, Black Map, gives you their tips for being on tour. You can check out the feature, after the break.
1. Learn names/be gracious/make bonds:
If you are on a touring package there will be at least 15 people that you will see almost every day between the other bands and their crew. Learning who these people are, what they do; their role on the road is really important. Your “office” is different every single day so you need to work smoothly with not just your crew but with the house crew to make sure that the show goes the way they are supposed to. Be polite to the people loading your gear into the venue, learn the monitor person’s name, FOH person’s name (if you don’t have your own) and show the venue that you respect their space and you will work WITH them to make the concert kick ass.
When it comes to the other bands, if you get along it will make for a better tour. Generally, if you are a support band there will be another support band on a similar level to you with similar stage setup, similar means of transportation, etc. At some point, you will most likely need something from them and they will most likely need something from you, so know who the fuck they are and get ready to help each other out in a pinch.
Sometimes if you are out with a huge band, they might stay in their space and if that’s what they want to do then that’s what they want to do. Be available to chat with them but don’t glitter dick them when they do talk to you. That will be a fast way to make sure that there is no possibility of a bond and they probably won’t take you out again.
2. Stay connected back home:
One of the hardest things about touring for many is being away from people you love. Being in a successful band often necessitates touring for at least a third of the year (sometimes more) so maintaining correspondence with your partner/family is really important. There are generally countless hours in your van/bus to text or draft emails, write letters if that’s your style. It’s 2017 and everyone has the ability to stay connected, it’s just about putting in the effort and making sure that your absence isn’t felt to its full extent. Let them know what you are up to and make sure they feel a part of it.
One thing to avoid doing is to call your partner, while in the van (this is different in a bus) and having audible conversations (whether it’s amorous or contentious.) Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it’s just annoying to everyone else. Just wait until you get to the venue and take a walk.
3. Try not to eat shit/find fun new food spots:
I’m by no means a health nut but we really try to avoid fast food on tour and it makes a difference. It’s so easy to just stop at a chain and get something quick but I personally always feel awful after and it’s just not sustainable especially if you are out for a long period of time.
We really try (with the help of our tour manager) to make time to find a spot on the way to our next destination that isn’t a chain, where we can get something tasty and relatively healthy. Say what you will about Yelp but it’s a life saver sometimes when you are not totally familiar with your surroundings.
4. Find time to exercise:
Sitting in the van or bus all day is not normal for your body and it hates it. Even if you have an office job you are most likely getting up every hour or so, walking at least to the bathroom, stretching your legs etc. If you are a band like us you definitely get a good workout while you play but it’s really important for me to try and get some supplementary exercise to combat the dormancy and just feel better in general.
5. Be diligent about the safety of your gear/don’t be a dummy:
I’ve seen bands on social media take photos of their perfectly packed van, orange amplifiers, fender customs, huge pedal boards etc before tour, supplemented with a list of the cities they will be playing. If you do this you are just asking to get your shit stolen.
While you are at the venue keep everything in one place and even if the venue has security and it is their job to watch your stuff, you should still keep an eye on it.
When you get to your hotel and it looks like a nice neighborhood and you say to yourself “it’s probably fine to leave my laptop and guitars in here overnight”, check yourself and bring all guitars, basses, personal bags and anything else anyone could smash and grab into your room. If you back your van right up to your hotel room that is also ideal. Another good thing to do is find a very long bicycle chain and weave it through amps, pedal boards etc. so it is all connected. This gives a thief an extra obstacle and is a huge deterrent.
(Photo credit: Jen Cash)