In this Tour Tips segment, the singer-songwriter, Ron Pope, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
1. Always be an asset, never a liability.
Many of my tips for the road have to do with this idea. Keep your wits about you, and put yourself in a position to help rather than hinder the tour. Even when something isn’t your job specifically, everyone’s overarching job is to make sure the tour keeps moving forward and that the show is as good as possible (so help whenever and wherever you can). Don’t cause problems, solve them.
2. Try not to drink yourself to death.
This should go without saying, but it’s certainly something that I had to learn as I went. Just because you’re in places that serve alcohol every night doesn’t mean you have to drink every night. If you do want to have some drinks, don’t drink to excess. It’s easy to fall into this trap on the road. “I’ll just have a beer at soundcheck” can become “can y’all help me carry this idiot back to the van” really quickly if you aren’t careful. To be clear, I’m not saying that you have to be some kind of tea totaling wet blanket if that’s not your bag; just remember that you’re at work and you’d get fired from the grocery store if you couldn’t stand up to bag the potatoes for people.
3. Exercise when you can.
Touring musicians age out like racehorses. You have to treat yourself like an athlete to some degree or your stage career will be short. Mick Jagger is somewhere working out right now because he wants to be able to make the show energetic (and he’s somebody’s great-grandpa). Also, the more fit you stay, the less likely you are to get sick out there. While we’re on the subject of trying to stay alive, eat a vegetable any time you see one; in most of the touring world, those babies are rare so take them when they show up.
4. Be kind and respectful to everyone you encounter.
It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or if people are treating you poorly. Throwing a fit one day can tarnish your name for a long time. It’s not worth it. Smile and walk away if you’re upset; you’ll be in Akron by tomorrow.
5. Try to see some stuff if you can.
My cousin Carl and I toured together for years. He always used to say “We’ve been everywhere and seen nothing.” I’ve gotten better at this over the years; I’ll sneak off in the pre-soundcheck part of the day to visit a landmark or I’ll just go on a run to take in some of the town. Going from traveling to the inside of a venue to traveling to the inside of another venue over and over and over with nothing in between gets monotonous and can drive you crazy. The world’s biggest frying pan is three blocks away? Don’t threaten me with a good time!