This new set of Tour Tips was written by the blues rocker, Patrick Sweany. You can check out his tips for being on the road, after the break.
1. Safety first. Traveling long distances, in a short amount of time, on a tight schedule, is stressful and exhausting. A sober, insured, licensced, and relatively well rested driver is essential. Everyone should take turns being that guy, unless they happen to be bad at driving. Your band mates will let you know if you are. Do not assume the guy who always drives actually wants to drive all the time. He may just be a team player, who will eventually harbor resentment that no one else is stepping up for the team. That never ends well. During night drives, the person sitting next to the driver must ALWAYS be awake, ensuring the driver stays awake and alert. A sleeping driver doesn’t brake at the last minute. He’s asleep. The van is going forward until it hits something. That causes heavy band equipment and suitacases to keep moving when the van stops. That can cause greater injury than vehicle collision. It’s horrible when that happens, and it makes me sad to think about my brothers and sisters on the road getting hurt. Stop making me sad, jerk!!! Safety first!!!
2 Everyone does what they do for their reasons, not yours. Be courteous and gracious to all the people you are working with, no exceptions. The people you work with at a club, don’t know you, probably don’t care who you are, and don’t get your sense of humor Make them feel appreciated. Usually that works. Sometimes, that doesn’t work. That person might be bad at their job, or just a real asshole. If that person is being a dick to you, and behaving unprofessionaly, and you have treated them fairly and professionaly, pretend they don’t exist, and get the job done as best you can without them. It really pisses people off to be ignored when they want attention, so you are already winning! Good job!
3. You are an adult, you are a professional, and you are part of a team of professional adults. Act like it. If you conduct yourself like a pro, people treat you like a pro. If you act like a baby, you soon find out that nobody out there is your mama. No one wants to hear you talk on the phone while in the van, you rude bastard. That is what self absored high school girls do. Keep necessary business calls brief, and talk on the phone when you get somewhere where the band can’t hear you. That gives you the added bonus of bitching about them to someone who doesn’t have to sit next you and breathe up all your air for two more weeks.
4. No one forced you to do anything. If the conditions are not what you expected, do something constructive, or leave. Bitching solves nothing. That is not to say if conditions are unsuitable because the deal is not being honored, that you should put up and shut up Get it ironed out with the folks with whom you made the deal. If there is a pertinent safety issue, work to the end to rectify it, get it sorted, or risk injury or death. (Refer to tip #2 “Everyone does what they do for their reasons, not yours.’) If the club is just a shithole rock club, like all the other shithole rock clubs that we all play, and you are just grouchy and tired, then find you and your bandmates somewhere else to hang out until showtime, or go for a walk and blow off some steam by yourself. Have a snack. Don’t like the bass player? Stay home. Either way, quit your bitching. All you do is sleep all day in the van anyway, who needs you?
5. The money is never right. Plan accordingly. Try to have some cushion in the bank in case you get ripped off. By “in case” I mean “when you eventually.” Keep an open credit card for emergencies if you can. New gear, unless old gear is broken or stolen, is not an emergency. Neither are clothes, no matter how cool you look in them. Leave the merch money for fuel and hotels. It will run out sometime and then you are, as they say in the industry, “SCREWED.” How do those new leather pants feel on the side of the road in the desert? Pretty sweaty, huh? Wait till you see how much of that dye bled onto your skin. Nice job, fancypants.
6. Never take a chance on brakes or tires. Never. Never ever. Seriously. Never. Refer also to tip #1. If I have to explain this to you, you will probably be dead before this is published. Try not to kill any smart people on your way out, dumbass.
7. Eat a vegetable or vegetables everyday. Green veggies are great detoxifiers, and will make you feel less hungover, Count Drunkula They help digestion, and give you essential vitamins and nutrients. Regular digestive health is very crucial on the road, because you do not always have access to a tidy, comfortable bathroom. By “not always” I mean “never ever.” When you decide to usurp the King of Beers, do not fortify yourself with drive thru fast food, Kingslayer. It’s gross. So gross. It will hurt you where you pray you will never hurt. Drink water before bed. Drink water when you wake up. Water is pretty good whenever, now that you mention it. Long live the King.
8. Beer does not equal sleep, and being hungover is not an excuse for doing a half-assed job. Save it for home, Otis. I want to party. They want to party. We all want to party. The people in the audience are the only people who should be partying. You can’t party all the time. You are out here to play the best show you can possibly play. You should probably do that instead of partying, especially if you suck at partying. If you get hungover enough that it affects your performance, then you officially suck at partying. Quit sucking up the joint, partypants.
9. No business shall be discussed after the second beer. No exceptions. This is the most important rule of the music business, especially touring bands. You will either be too nice, or too mean. That goes for all involved. If you are completely sober and have an issue to be discussed w/ a bandmate who is opening his third beer, you are too late, and it’s got to wait. Trust me, you’ll still be thinking about it in the morning. You’ll probably be thinking about it all night. Try not to think about it too much. Get some sleep.
10. Playing a good show is the most important thing. Get over it, and play the damn show. You only get one chance to prove to the audience that you are what they want to see. They don’t care how much sleep or food or money or drink tickets you get or didn’t get. They paid to see a show. Give them a show. If you can’t, well, maybe next time. Probably not, but maybe.