In this Tour Tips segment, the indie folk duo, The Sea The Sea, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Our band The Sea The Sea is an indie-folk duo based out of Troy, NY. We’ve spent most of our time out on the road touring as a duo (also as a couple). Over the last few years, we’ve averaged 100-150 shows a year in the US and Canada, and during that time we’ve also done quite a bit of touring as a 4-piece.
It’s a strange time to imagine being back out on the road, but also a great time to reflect on the many things we’ve learned about touring during our time on the road together so far:
TIP 1: Chase the seasons! Touring itself can wear on you physically—so don’t compound that with high chances of bad or challenging weather for travel and load-ins/outs. We have a friend who tries to tour so that it’s perpetually Fall for him – ha! I love that. I’ve grown to think of this as a self-care thing over time. Even if it’s to help make sure that there aren’t long stretches of time where there isn’t an opportunity to be outdoors in a comfortable way.
TIP 2: The 4-hour rule. Do your best not to drive more than 4 hours on a show day if you can. Inevitably this will be impossible but try. It means keeping longer drive days for days without shows and sometimes saying no to things. Again, this is a self-care thing. It’ll let you get adequate sleep even after a late night, experience something where you are or where you’re going, exercise, and arrive on time with time to spare.
TIP 3: Sleep 8+ hours every night. Sleep affects everything. Sleep will keep you from getting sick. Sleep will help with vocal health. Sleep will help with emotional health. Lack of sleep is cumulative, and it will sneak up on you. No moment ever feels so difficult as a moment on the road when you’ve hit a wall of tiredness. Bonus tip: travel with an air mattress or two and your own set of sheets, particularly when traveling as a group larger than 2. This will help with the 8+ hour goal :)
TIP 4: Make friends, ask questions. One of the most beautiful things about touring is often being given the fast track past the touristy experience of a place, to the local experience. And people who work at venues and who come to shows are great people to ask about what to check out while you’re in town. We’ve met some of our best friends that way too.
TIP 5: Find a routine. Even though touring can feel like one of the least routine things there is—there is an element of or at least a real opportunity for routine in the overall way things are structured — and having some sort of outline for what one of those days can look like can be super comforting and helpful on the road — even if it involves bringing coffee cups you love with you to help start your days. For us, starting to swim every day on the road has been a real life-changing routine. We have friends who practice yoga or take daily walks or runs. Anything that keeps you feeling your best and feels achievable. Being able to show up to soundcheck having done the things that make you feel most human can really go a long way to being able to show up and perform your best every night.