In this Tour Tips segment, the singer-songwriter, John Adams, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
1. Hotel Life – A massive part of the tour life is the hotels you book. Although you’re trying to keep the expenses as low as possible I have learnt a few lessons over the years.
– Always make sure there is a 24-hour check-in. The chances are you’ll arrive after midnight. If there’s nobody on the desk you’ll have nowhere to stay, no refund and it’s impossible to book another hotel online for “yesterday”.
– Always make sure there is a car park at the hotel. Chances are you’ll have expensive equipment in the van so you want to be in a safe spot and the last thing you want to be doing is hiking across town after a show.
– Always iron your shirts at home because budget hotels almost never have an iron and you want to look your best on stage.
– Always take earplugs in case your piano player snores like a wild boar(like mine).
– For some strange reason, the hotel plug sockets are always miles from your bed so I always take an extension lead so that I can catch up with my social media before I drop off.
– Never book breakfast at the hotel so that you can stay in bed and rest as long as possible. You’ll have all day to find an alternative.
2. Spares – Spare guitar, spare strings, spare leads, spare mics, spare pants. Don’t realize an hour before the show that you left your only drumsticks in the last night’s venue that’s now 3 hours away.
3. Stay Healthy – Unfortunately, us singers can’t take a spare voice. The last thing you want on tour is to be unwell but actually, the chances are fairly high with such a change in routine. There’s are a few things I do to prevent illness.
– If the show has gone to plan lots of people will want to meet you afterward and give you a congratulatory handshake. SHHH! but I keep hand sanitizer in my merch box to make sure I don’t pick up any nasty germs after the show.
– I also take a mobile steamer so I can make sure my vocals stay hydrated under the strain of such a busy schedule.
– It’s tempting to make use of the many free drinks on offer and the variety of food available in each city but if you want to be on top form for the next gig then make sure you don’t overdo it.
– Sleep when you can. when you’re on an extensive tour you seem to get a little bit more tired every day. The hype after a show can keep you awake well into the early hours of the morning but keep an eye on the clock to make sure you don’t affect the next show.
4. Kill it – All the above are important to make sure the tour runs smooth but ultimately it’s all about the performance. Try not to get too caught up in organizing travel, selling tickets and thinking of merch ideas that you neglect your practice. On stage, you want to play the songs without any thought. If you can get the set feeling like it’s second nature you can be flexible and react to the surroundings much easier. There’s nothing worse than doing a faultless performance on the last date of the tour and wishing you were that good for the rest.
– Plan your setlist thoroughly and make sure you’ve played it in order. You may just realize that you’re changing guitars too often or 3 in a row are in the same key.
– Time the set to make sure its the right length.
– Give some thought to which songs you’ll introduce and the type of thing you’ll say
– Know your setlist without glancing down at the sheet
– Note the key of each song if it helps.
– I use a few different pedals for guitar and vocal effects so I mark these out on a mat that I take with me so they are always in the same place relative to my mic. This means I can practice until I can hit the switches without looking.
5. Document it – These will be some of the best shows of your life and highlights of your career. The tour will be over in a flash and all the shows will blend into one. A few weeks after the tour when you’re back home you’ll realize that even rockstars have to wash dishes. In this moment you can relive it all over again and have a little proud moment of reflection.
There are also so many people that won’t be able to make the shows and they love to get an insight into what’s going on at each date. Content is key these days!!