In this Tour Tips segment, the garage rock band, Crocodyle, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Pack light dummy. You want to have extra room when you set off for a million reasons. But the main two that I think are serious practical considerations are these:
- You’re probably not going to maintain the perfect tetris game of packing that you figured out on day one. On nights when shows run late and there’s a long drive between you and sleep, its very nice to be able to just toss the gear (carefully) into the van and not have to ensure that the kick drum goes in before the bass cab, which needs to have the hi hat stand lay perfectly on top of it, etc etc.
- You might wanna pick some stuff up on the way! Tours seem to always involve thrifting and record shopping during downtime. With that said, when you do your initial clothes packing, definitely load up on undies and socks, but skip big jackets and platform boots or your band will hate you. Also, you’re in a new city every night, you might as well just keep wearing the same shirt. It’s a great shirt!
Also, if you can get yourself a roof rack you will be in GOOD SHAPE my friend.
I personally have never tried to just sleep in the van. It’s mostly been minivan tours anyway, but even when touring in an Astrovan with a raised platform in the back intended for sleeping on, the van sleep is a last resort. Unless you’ve got a seriously nice bus-type situation (in which case why are you reading this) the van is going to be miserable. Hot, cramped, somebody’s gonna fart. It’s no good. While you can always be grimey and sleep on couches and floors, if you have the stowage space and budget I strongly recommend camping sleeping mats! I swear to god you can roll out one of those self-inflating camper mats on the coldest hardest of floors and sleep like a baby. Sleeping bags are good additions if they can be packed up real tiny like but if they’re the bulkier rollup kind just get some thin walmart blankets instead. I feel like you can just skip pillows altogether, they take up space and most anywhere you end up at night will have some couch cushions, and to make that less gross I would usually put one of my cleaner T-shirts over it like a pillowcase. I’ve even just balled up a bunch of my clothing and stuffed it all into a T-shirt and that’s worked just fine. So seriously man leave the pillows, what are you doing.
It’s frightening how easy it is to blow your money on a tour. Chances are every city will have something cool you’ll want to spend money on, be it a special food, some famous store, a fun down-time activity etc. They’ll be the kind of forgettable expense that in normal days you might not think twice about, but that wreck you when you’re indulging daily. Twenty dollars doesn’t seem like much at once, but if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself doing that five times a day cause there’s just so much to DO out there, damnit! So my advice is to lower your standards food and bev wise. I personally was blessed with the palette of a dog but even if you’re like my lame ass band that laughed at me and my cold Chef Boyardee, you’ll still be able to feed yourself frugally by sticking with the non-perishable grocery aisles and avoiding restaurants. It’s going to take willpower, but you’ll be so glad when you have that $20 to buy that cool band’s merch in Virginia or whatever. And if you drink, just get big old cases of cheap stuff and get used to drinking it warm in the parking lot, it’s not that bad.
4. CUT THE DRAMA
This should be obvious. You’re sharing close quarters and grimey living conditions for an extended period of time with musicians of all people. Do your best to go with the flow and stay cool with each other because there’s a good chance you’ll find yourselves in some kind of trying scenario eventually, and when that time comes it’s relieving to at least be in it together. Also some of the best conversations are the ones had late at night trying to keep each other awake on the road, so use the tour as a chance to get closer.
5. PACE YOURSELF
Jeez, I don’t want to sound like anybody’s mother, but the idea of this entry is to remind those that may have never been on a tour the necessity of keeping the most basic consideration for your health. While touring on a DIY-level truly is a different kind of existence wherein adrenaline and caffeine make the impossible possible, drinking every night and eating junk and never sleeping will still do a number on you. Hydrate. Maybe take a night off of partying here and there. There is also of course the art of pacing yourself when it’s showtime. If you’re last in the lineup, make sure to arc your consumption so as to not to be that guy that’s stumbling and slurring on stage. God this all seems ridiculous to have to preach but somehow I still keep seeing that guy who didn’t pace himself and ends up stumbling and slurring on stage, so…