Friendship Commanders - TOUR TIPS

Join us as Friendship Commanders gives you their tips for being on tour.

Friendship Commanders - TOUR TIPS
(photo credit: Anna Haas)

In this Tour Tips segment, Buick Audra, of the metal band, Friendship Commanders, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips below:

1. It’s okay to have stage fright; the less you shame yourself about it, the better.
So, I wanted to start here because I’ve had stage fright all my life, and for a long time, I felt like that wasn’t okay. There’s a narrative out there that if you get on stage enough times, it will pass or lessen, but mine hasn’t! So now, I take it in stride and plan for it. I only have one coffee on show days, I practice different breathing techniques like box breathing (breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4, repeat), or inhaling for 7 counts, holding for 5, exhaling for 9. The closer our set gets, I do forward bends and let the top half of my body relax upside-down; I nod my head yes and no while I’m like that. It helps remind my system not to be too tense. If I can, I limit my pre-show socializing. I find that too much small talk can actually ramp up my nerves, but it’s not always possible to have that time and space. Mostly, I have acceptance. And I tell myself that my feelings remind me that I’m alive, and that the music matters so much to me, I still have nerves. And all of that’s okay. The less I try to be something I’m not, the better shot I have a being whatever I am.

2. Take care of your body and mind; there’s no such thing as a backup for either one.
Touring is a high-impact, high-activity, highly social situation, and whether we’re out for one week or two months, I take my personal care seriously. We’re both substance-free, so that takes care of the to-drink-or-not-to-drink question. Additionally, I’m vegan and Jerry’s pescatarian, so our food intake is pretty clean, but even within that, we eat things like burritos and other non-pizza items on show days (but all hail pizza the rest of the time), so we can rip on stage. We honor that what we do is both emotionally and physically athletic, and we live within those parameters on the road.

Good earplugs are essential. I have sensory issues, so I wear my custom-molded plugs all night, from soundcheck to load-out. People yell-talk at shows between bands, and as the night goes on, it seems like people get even louder. It’s not great for my nervous system, so I minimize what I can.

I do yoga every night before bed, even if I only have the bandwidth for like ten minutes. It still helps. I sometimes have post-show nerves and adrenaline, so yoga helps my system calm down.

I’m in Alanon, and since the early months of the pandemic, lots of meetings are on zoom, so I can attend them in the van on headphones. I used to just go without meetings on the road but having them available on zoom rules. I also check in with people I trust and who know me, so the road doesn’t become my whole world. Tethers to other parts of my life are important.

3. Stay connected to why you do what you’re doing.
This one is big for me. I can get easily distracted by weird dynamics, micro-aggressions, drama in other bands—whatever. It happens. But that’s not why we make the music we do, nor why we run around in a van playing it for people. We do it because we have something to share, and because we love connecting with other humans, and that’s everyone from show-goers to venue workers, to other musicians. It’s a unique and special opportunity that I wanted to do my whole younger life, and now I get to do it. So, sometimes I have to remind myself that just because some weirdo punched a wall, I don’t have to abandon my purpose out there. I’m alright, and there are other shows, other people.

4. Boundaries are fine
We don’t always stay with people we know on the road because we need downtime and quiet. While it’s amazing and generous for someone to offer to let you crash with them, weigh whether or not they might keep you up until 4 AM listening to Japanese imports, and whether that’s what’s right for you (maybe it is; if so, let it rip!). We like sleep, showers, and less music when we’re not inside a venue. Also, sometimes people we haven’t seen since the 8th grade (for real) will be like, “Hey, I’m not coming to the show tonight, but you should come to my house tomorrow and meet my dog!” And while that’s a lovely offer, no. First, we’re usually driving to the next show, and second, we’re in town to play. That’s the primary purpose of the stop in this city. And that’s more than fine. Anyone who doesn’t understand that just doesn’t get what you’re doing out there anyway. Not your problem. Keep going; you’re kicking ass. And we’ll see you out there!

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