In this Tour Tips segment, the indie pop band, Hotel Mira, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Charlie’s Tip (SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER): So, think about the last time you hung out with your whole family with zero exit strategy. Like say, on a road trip, was it excruciating? Probably. A band is a family of sorts so ideally, we should treat it with the same loving detachment. That close of proximity to anyone for extended periods of time, without creature comforts will cause even the most sane and well-adjusted folks to be on-edge. And let’s be honest most musicians are to put it kindly… Whacky. So it is tricky to manage that chaos. So don’t. Give people space. Do your thing and don’t take it personally if people aren’t laughing at your jokes as much halfway through a tour. This shit is brutal. But the good news is the worst stuff that happens becomes the funniest stuff to talk about after enough time.
Colton’s tip (practice, practice, practice): You need to rehearse. Doing a 20 show plus tour is a lot of shows and you are definitely going to be a tighter band by the end, but what about that first show? What about the second? Are the fans that paid to see your show really getting what they paid for? Keeping up a regular rehearsal time is crucial in making a tour a complete success instead of an almost perfect run.
Clark’s Tip (PROTECT THE GEAR): The tour wouldn’t be possible without it, and you probably spent your life savings on it. Have each person note the number of items they are responsible for. When you load out from the venue, lay everything out beside your transportation so article counts can be confirmed before being put away. Designate a Tetris Master and Tetris Master’s Apprentice. If the task was not officially assigned, whoever packs the van on the first night is automatically the Tetris Master and whoever helped the most is the Tetris Master’s Apprentice (a completely unspoken rule but this is well known as an objective truth). The Tetris Master gets inside the vehicle or trailer and is responsible for final gear placement, and for calling out what is needed next. The Tetris Master’s Apprentice coordinates with the rest of you unhelpful plebs to get the Tetris Master the gear they need in the order they need it, which everyone knows is: heaviest, squarest, most-stackable stuff first. Finally, never leave the loaded vehicle unattended. It’s always better to have someone sleep with the gear, or to unload and load again, than wake up to find your tour tools gone.
Mike’s tip (eat healthy, and keep yourself entertained): Look, I love road trips. There’s nothing quite like hopping in a van with your closest pals, throwing on The Eagles’ greatest hits and setting off to see the world. However, the drives get long and on day 13 of an 8-hour haul, you might need to find other means to occupy your time. The 4 things rotate between are my Nintendo Switch, a laptop loaded with a bunch of TV shows I’ve been looking to catch up on, a backlog of podcasts (i recommend The Adventure Zone) and a novel or two. Drives are shorter if you’re with good company, and usually watching good shows.
Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, take care of yourself. It’s so easy to lose track of your health on the road when you’re playing shows and have 5 drink tickets a night, maybe even a rider if you’ve truly made it. However, this is a trap. Being hungover on the road helps no one, causes tension in the band because you need to be babysat, and is no fun for anyone. I also have a personal rule of no fast food on the road. It feels a bit weird in concept, but I’ve toured with grocery store stops and cutting boards. It’s definitely not rock and roll, but living off big macs for 3 weeks is something you should never, ever do.
Cole’s tip (spice of life): Wherever tour takes you, try to experience even a little of the local culture or scenery. It’s easier said than done. Too numerous are the of times on tour that I told myself I’d go see a landmark or attraction, only to sleep in and have my only two memories of that town be its dive bar venue and adjacent motel. Ask around for the cool spots—any true must-sees. Touring isn’t a vacation, but it can take you to places you’d never go otherwise, and might never again. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to avoid every fast-food stop and hungover morning, so make yourself go for a run around the city before lobby call. You’ll see some new stuff, your legs won’t fall asleep on the drive, and you’ll feel like slightly less of a piece of shit when you roll into the next place, to do it all again.