In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, JT Daly, of the alternative rock band, Paper Route, talks about some of their crazy moments from touring. You can check out the feature, after the break.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Bands and artists gather ’round as I share a cautionary tale of touring etiquette. And…if you don’t follow my seasoned words of wisdom, you too might find yourself to be the victim in a very calculated tour prank.
Before we begin there are a few very important details that should be addressed:
1. We were not the band that was pranked
2. We only did a portion of the prank
3. We strongly do not suggest doing these things
So I’m sure you’ve gathered we (Paper Route) were on tour, and we had a dream spot in this lineup. We weren’t the headliner, but we weren’t the opener. We were…. (angels singing) direct support! Let me unpack this. Direct support means you get treated just a liiiiiittle nicer, your set is longer than the opener, and the crew doesn’t make fun of you (as much). At this point in our (hilariously complicated and doomed) career, we had been touring for about 5 years. So we were quite familiar with the touring necessities. Ya know, to name a few – don’t ever assume anyone is going to help you, do laundry if you get a chance, and if you get a soundcheck you are the luckiest human on the planet etc etc. I say all of this because the OPENING band was unaware of all these things. In fact, I think they were just -unaware- of……everything?! And, as I’m sure you can imagine, about a month of being with unaware human beings can start to take a toll on your psyche.
The crew did not like this band and we, being a band who, from stage, often declares “love your enemies!!”, were in what seemed like an eternal struggle to hunt some redemptive qualities about them. Like a family with some wild card siblings, touring is a tribe you can’t choose. You learn to love, even if it means gritting your teeth while saying the words, “hey man, any chance you can move your amp out of the way? Because you aren’t even supposed to be on stage yet!!!” But even in love, one must always remember – you can tease and razz ’em up a little.
It was about halfway through this tour that we acquired some demos from a record label named “so bad, it’s good.” And just like the title, they were indeed…horribly phenomenal. As the tour was reaching its final show, the ‘last show prank’ convos were starting up. I don’t remember who, but I swear to the sweet Jesus they deserve a golden statue of the letters G-E-N-I-U-S because they suggested, “What if we replace the opening band’s walk out music with one of these ‘so bad it’s good’ demos?!!” We obviously followed this suggestion with explosive applause. Something you also should know is the opening band would run out every night in a sort of…. ehhh, I don’t know, punk celebration? Like a Hot Topic detonating onto a few thousand people. Like a homeschooled version of Green Day. And this made the entire thing just seem even more (in)appropriate. Well, we knew what we had to do. We took our scheme to the sound guy and he too erupted with approval.
What happens next is so other level that I not only cringe, but I also humbly submit to the ingenuity of all the parties involved. When the lights went down and the crowd cheered for the opening band to take the stage, they were indeed welcomed by a band jumping up and down with guitar feedback. Only it was the song we had chosen in the background. I’m not even sure I fully remember how they reacted because it was then that I noticed the sound guy starting to play with the effects on the singer’s voice. He TOO was pranking them. This was unprecedented. Never has the crew done anything! And this. did. not. go. over. well. … and the more the singer reacted with frustration, the more the sound guy would mess with it. Between songs he’d pitch shift his voice down 2 octaves so that it sounded like an unintelligible Satan, thanking “California for partying with them tonight.” It was a downward spiral from here. Then the monitor guy (the human being in charge of making sure the band can hear themselves) starting tuning the singer’s voice off key. This means every time the singer thought he was wrong he would correct himself. But he wasn’t wrong, so the audience was hearing him constantly wavering between the wrong and right note. It was utter disaster. Dominoes falling in a prank tour de force. After some obscenity ammunition was hurled towards the crew they finally backed down. I mean, let me remind you, this was all happening in front of thousands of people.
The tour ended and honestly, I don’t think there were any hard feelings. All the bands and crew went our separate ways and I’m sure everyone recalls this story every once in a while.
(Photo credit: Allister Ann)