In this Preshow Rituals segment, the singer-songwriter, Divided Heaven, shares what he does before every show. You can check out his rituals, after the break.
When on tour, I think to myself every day, “I’m lucky to be here in this position. I’m excited to play rock ‘n roll music with my friends, meet new people and have a great time.” Sitting for hours in a dumpy van with poor air conditioning in the middle of a hot and humid Summer day, however, can quickly wipe away that layer of positivity and eliminate that veneer of trite optimism. Bottom line: touring is difficult. Rather, it can get very difficult. Sometimes it’s easier than other times (anyone want to lend us their tour bus, perhaps? anyone?) but regardless; routine and ritual are crucial. Eliminating as many outlying variables as possible helps ensure the proverbial ‘show’ will go on as intended. Or perhaps writing this article will force me to reevaluate just how obsessive compulsive I truly am. Shit…well, you be the judge. Here we go.
To me, the show punctuates the day. Therefore, everything leading up to the show is part of the pre-show time. The two most important things for me are to get/stay hydrated and to hit the fucking road in the morning. I can not stand to dawdle in the same city the next morning; get up, get on the road and get to the next town asap leaving plenty of time for stops (planned and unforeseen) and to fix any potential van issues.
Ideally, we get into town and we eat dinner, load in, set up merchandise, and so begins the ritual. I don’t think my personal rituals are too weird, but maybe they are weird. It’s easy to feel as if you’re falling into the realm of compulsion or superstition. You tell me…
-Breathing and voice exercises: Repetitive lip-trills and deep breathing are essential to locking in singing technique, muscle memory, and voice protection. If I’m singing every day I have to make sure I’m singing from my diaphragm, not my chest.
-Hand stretches: Finger, thumb, and wrist stretches to stay loose and be ready. Regardless of how loud or hard I’m strumming; I have to stretch.
-Setlist: We could play the same set for days in a row and I’d still write it down every day. It’s really a grounding technique. I need to write out the song titles to get my frame of mind centered and focused.
-Gear: Okay, this might sound weird. I have to set up my amps and guitars before I play the set. Perhaps a bit OCD but it’s a must. I’m about to play music through these vessels so I feel the need to physically touch them; I can’t stand when others set it up for me. Dialing in the knobs on the amps, guitars, and pedals before our set helps me connect to them and warm up. Is that weird? Perhaps, but this, uh, we’ll call it….set foreplay…is a must-do for me. In fact, it is the most important ritual I maintain.
-Bromance: When we’re all setup and ready to play, Nic and I bump fists, look each other in the eye and ask if we’re ‘Tao’d’; meaning “Are you focused? Are you ready?” I then extend my fist to Ben and he shrugs it off–as that is his ritual–and we count off and play.
Divided Heaven is a hardworking DIY band and we enjoy the hustle, the routine and–most importantly–the opportunity to play our music for people. Check us out on our next tour and/or check me out on my next solo tour. See you soon!
(Photo credit: Paris Visone)