In this Tour Tips segment, the pop artist, Darren Grant, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
1. Spend downtime with yourself.
When touring and performing back-to-back shows, I have found it so important to be able to step back and find time for myself doing the things that keep me calm. I love performing, but the dopamine rush that comes with it has to be balanced. Just a few of the ways I deal with this include lots and lots of reading, playing the piano (but staying away from my own music), exercising, and, strangely, learning languages. I try to spend at least half an hour on each of these a day but often spend much more. Find the things that you enjoy by yourself that positively impact you and your physical and mental health.
2. Write music.
The reason I am passionate about music is, simply, because I love writing, performing and listening to music. When you’re on tour, you will, by nature, be performing and listening to music. But it is also important to make time to write – whether by yourself, with your band, or with other songwriters and musicians. I believe that the best music often comes from when we are most inspired by our environment, and, when on tour, this will probably be that time. Don’t waste the inspiration that comes when you’re performing. Write. Record. And remember, don’t throw away song ideas just because you have lost feelings for them – keep it and listen back to it when you’re back home and then make that judgment. You might surprise yourself.
3. People. People. People.
We are social animals and need human interaction to some degree. When you are constantly surrounded by people during your shows and other events, it can be very easy to fall into the mindset where you believe you have already spent enough time with others. However, it is important that you try to separate authentic relationships and exchanges from work-related interactions. People singing along to your song whilst your team orchestrates the show is a very different scenario to a nice meal with a friend or a conversation in your bedroom. Make sure you prioritize the people that love you and the relationships that define you.
4. Practice and (Try To) Perfect.
Bands and solo acts spend hours upon hours in their garage or rehearsal space in preparation for a tour and, once they begin, assume that by playing every few nights they will keep in pitch-perfect shape. It is important to practice before each live show you put on and, more importantly, to make changes to improve upon your setlist, performance, and sound. Get feedback from fans or your team. Experiment when you can to push out of your comfort zones. I can guarantee that David Bowie would have felt some level of uncertainty before debuting his Ziggy Stardust persona in the early ’70s. But it was his willingness to change his performance that brought him closer to the unattainable idea of perfection. I’m not saying you should become a bisexual guitar-playing alien, but just don’t let your act grow stale.
5. Explore The World.
Being on tour does not mean playing shows and then falling asleep in your hotel room. You will be missing a huge part of the journey. Make the most of the wonderful opportunities that touring offers, and go and see the world – before it ultimately crumbles due to human-related climate change. If you’re in London, have a walkthrough Camden or Soho. If you’re in Berlin, spend a night (or a day) in Berghain. There is nothing like travel, so don’t let yourself go home without seeing each and every one of your tour stops.