In this Tour Tips segment, the indie rock artist, SeepeopleS, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
I’ve been really lucky to have spent two decades on the road. I have learned a few things from over two thousand shows with the two touring bands i’m in, SeepeopleS and TheWorst, and since you are asking, I guess I’ll share… but let’s make this productive.
1) SOCKS! It’s imperative that you understand this, that no matter how many pairs of socks you think you will need, this number must be multiplied by four, MINIMUM! I’d like to say that there is some sort of rational reason for this, like if you sweat in your stage socks it’s nice to have a fresh pair bla, bla, bla, but in truth, there isn’t. It’s more likely that whoever is taking all your guitar picks is probably taking your socks too. Truthfully, it IS nice to have a fresh pair of socks after sweating through your stage pair. It’s also nice to try spray the old socks with some form of lysol when you leave them in the green room garbage can (in case you ever wondered why green rooms smell bad). Essentially, you will spend most of your tour in a state of questionable hygiene and cleanliness, and you’ll find there’s an art to looking fresh and clean when you are no where near it. Think of the socks as step 1 towards achieving the illusion of cleanliness and freshness, pairs well with excessive body spray (within reason!) and copious amounts of Altoids. No seasoned vet would go near the merchandise table after a show without these essential items.
If you follow the golden sock rule you won’t have to leave your cool puma sneakers on the side of the road in Idaho like I was once forced to do by my uncompromising bandmates.
2) A Good air mattress. I know its tempting to get the 20 dollar one on the bottom shelf at Wal-Mart, but if you do,
that price is more referring to a “daily rate,” than a permanent purchase price. Buck up to the 40-80 dollar ones and you’ll get some value out of it. Also, even when your career affords you the luxuries of such accommodations as Budget Host Inn, Red Roof Inn, and someday, maybe even Super 8 hotels, you still might find yourself inflating it regularly, especially
if it means you don’t have to snuggle with that one band member on the same twin bed, and especially because they snore.
3) Earplugs to go with your air mattress. See also pillow (x 2, you will lose one, sleeping bag)
4) If your touring career has launched you into the world of securing vast amounts of hotel points (yep get those stupid cards they offer at the lobby), then you probably already know, always look for a hotel with a self-serve waffle maker. I don’t know what it is about waffles, but they are particularly helpful the morning after a rough gig.
5) you will have rough gigs. I don’t care how big you are, some gigs will suck. If you are just starting out, MOST gigs might suck. A good thing to say is, “suck it up buttercup.” Being an astronaut is a cool job, like being a rockstar, and guess what!?… you have to work your ass off to even get a chance at going into space. All good things in life come with a fight, and honestly I’d be suspicious if it doesn’t. Don’t beat yourself up over crappy shows, remember there will be other gigs, and figure out ways in the intervals to make the next show in town better.
6) How to make the next time in town better? Make friends, you may have noticed that not enough of them were there, well of course there weren’t, you don’t know anyone in this town, and unfortunately your cousin who had a buddy who had a friend that was gonna bring his girlfriend, and her buddy… well, they bailed. Seriously, the single best way to is to make friends in advance, so just go online and look for some bands. There are a ton of ways to find out bands who regularly play the club you are playing and doing well, and if you are booking yourself and don’t have an agent, always inquire up and coming bands in the area that are doing well and making a go out of it. Also, you just might meet some cool people and lifelong friends.
7) I wish this next piece of advice I had taken for myself. Bring a notebook, or make a contact list, somewhere while you are out on the road.
Trust me on this one. The more you do this, you will find it harder and harder to remember people’s names, people who might help you, who may become true friends etc etc etc. Add the haze of rock n’ roll, drugs, and an endless stream of free PBR, and remembering names and places will become harder and harder.
8) Did I mention socks?
9) Don’t be a dick (aka not nice person). It’s not 1973 anymore, you aren’t that cool, and most clubs these days hate working with an “attitude,” so just just be nice. Trust me, someone out there is better than you and cooler than you, and a little
humility will go a long way. Save the bravado for the stage.
10) Eat healthy! If you are considering making this a long term career, you will BE all the better and you will perform better, and feel better doing it if you don’t eat crap. I’m sure this advice will pass over like an afternoon rain cloud to some of the youngsters and is probably only relevant to anyone who has tacked a few years on already. Organic produce and organic grocery stores are everywhere now, and well worth the extra money.
11) Make the most of a day off. There will always be work and stuff you will need to do on a day off on tour, and you are gonna need to catch up on some sleep, but your life will feel more meaningful if at some point on your day off, you go do some sight seeing. Eat the local food. See the damn sights!
I never would have found goetta, my favorite food ever, if it wasn’t for playing Cincinnati regularly, and going out on the town to hang or eat or whatever. Check out the towns, go take some band selfies next to the famous thing-a-ma-bopper statue or whatever. It will be fun, so lastly.
12) Have fun (BE FUN)… remember, this is supposed to be Fun. Imagine if you dropped out of college for this and it wasn’t even fun. UGH!
13) * ADDENDUM – Yep, even another bag of socks (and yes, boxers count for 2-3 days of being kosher and appropriate)
i have no info on this from the female perspective, you will have to ask one of them, I’d assume tampons though (having toured with females I actually know this one to be true.. just saying)?