In this Tour Tips segment, the hard rock band, Alive In Barcelona, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
1. First thing that comes to mind when I’m trying to survive on the road…. HOLY SHIT I
NEED A SHOWER!
If you’re like me, you’re not yet making millions of dollars playing music but you’ve graduated from 2am Taco Hell and McDondicks. You’ve just played tonight’s show, loaded your gear back down the two flights of stairs you had to carry it up in the first place because the promoter “misplaced” the elevator key, and it’s time to find a place to park the rig and get some rest. For us, we tour in an E350 Transit Bus that we have converted to include 6 full-size bunks, 6 seats, but not much else. While it’s incredible compared to a 15-passenger van, we still need a place to shower and keep up on the hygiene. GET A GYM MEMBERSHIP! Personally, we use Planet Fitness because their black card gets 2 people into the gym. This means only half the members need to have actual cards and the rest come in as our guests. I cannot tell you how great it is to have a place that is open 24 hours a day for us to park the rig after a show, or to pull up before heading to the venue to get out of the heat, sit in some AC, steal the wifi, shower and just get away from all the dirty dicks of my band mates.. kidding.. kinda.
The road can be kind of crazy, there are times when you don’t even have a chance to stop to take a shower and so for those long stretches of lonely lonesome highway (East of Omaha), I recommend you always keep a few items with you in your rig.
Waterless Toothbrush – These things are sick. They’ve got a little toothpaste pod in the tip and you just bite down, brush real quick, rinse and you’re done.
Dry Shampoo – 100% necessary to look good while on the road. That doesn’t just mean you change your pants once a week but you have to make sure you don’t look like Steve Glansberg and you actually take care of that greasy mop top. A quick spray of this magic and your hair will glisten in the wind.
Baby Wipes – I don’t think there is a single item more important and universal than the baby wipe. From booty sweat to toe jam, to dick cheese, these little suckers are a one-stop shop for a quick and easy bird bath. We have all been there, Warped Tour where you earn layers of dust just trying to get from The Word Alive signing to the $12 waters, or that 150 cap venue where you’re sweating your balls off and exchanging fluids with strangers. Having something quick and simple to be able to clean yourself off with after a long day is sometimes the best part of the day. We grab half a dozen packs of baby wipes at the beginning of the tour and we don’t even want to murder each other by the end of the tour. Well, at least not for stinking.
3. Don’t Forget About Time Zones
I remember years ago, when we were still The Persevering Promise, we had this show in Boise, ID with Blessthefall that was happening on the way to the start of Warped. Well, not only did we pull into the city on fumes because SOMEONE (probably me) forgot to fill up at the last exit before the desert of Southern Idaho, but we also forgot about the time change. We ended up showing up an hour late to load in looking like complete amateurs in front of a band we then had the embarrassing privilege of seeing every single day for the rest of the summer. Make sure you take the time zone changes into account when planning your routing.
4. Make Day Sheets
If you’ve done some legit touring, chances are this is a no-brainer. But for the bands that are just getting their feet wet, A) I’m SO sorry for you because gas is unaffordable, B) It is important that everyone in the band is on the same page as to when the bus is leaving for the evening. I cannot tell you how many times our fearless driver Mandy had to come searching for the 5 of us who were usually never in the same place with entirely too much alcohol in our system to remember where we parked the bus. Have your TM or someone in with half a brain create a day sheet with the following items.
Load In Times: For each band on the package preferably.
Set Times: each band on the bill including openers.
Change Over Lengths Bus Call: This is the most important one. Everyone should be setting alarms for 30 minutes before this time so that they can get back to the bus. Let’s be real, you’re going to keep the party going once you’re back on the bus anyway.
Venue Info: You’d be surprised at how often you forget what city you’re in or what venue you’re at. It’s nice to have this information along with the venue address printed right on the day sheet if you need to get to and from a restaurant or order food in. Next Day Info: this is the general specs of how long your drive is, where you’re headed, and what venue you’re playing the next day.
5. Be Nice To Venue Staff
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve told a sound guy or two that their mother didn’t love them, but ultimately, they probably will always remember that, and it’s never good to sour the experience for anyone. That definitely includes the people working for the venue. Remember, they deal with amateur wannabe’s like us every day who think they are hot shit and then pull 10 people in the door for a set. They are not having the same experience you are, it is a 9-5 for them. If you piss off the stage crew, sound guys, promoters, merchandisers, etc, then they aren’t going to stop anyone from ruining your day. I’ve literally had a sound guy just leave in the middle of our set to go outside and smoke because I was a dick to him during load-in. 10/10 do not recommend.
6. HAVE FUN
This is absolutely my biggest tip to anyone coming up and going on the road for the first time. It is so important to realize these are the best days of your life and you never know when they may come to an end. Hell, nobody planned for Covid to happen and I know dozens of bands that broke up or will never have the opportunity to tour again because of unforeseen circumstances. See the sights, and make sure every one of the members gets to do something they want at least once a week. If it’s one-sided, you will start resenting each other. Make sure you get into a solid routine of keeping drivers fresh, sleeping when you can, seeing cool things along the way, and just all around having a good time while on the road. It’s too easy for one guy in a bad mood to ruin the vibe for the rest of the team. Keep each other in high spirits and soak up every second of it.
– Jesse Barton – Alive In Barcelona