In this Tour Tips segment, the electronic pop duo, Sunset, give you their tips for being on tour. You can check out the feature, after the break.
Let me preface this by saying I’ve learned all of these from personal experience (mine or someone else’s). While these are tour tips, I will also say that they probably mostly apply to just being in a band in general… and come to think of it, life in general.
1. Don’t Talk Shit & Don’t Burn Bridges. Here’s the thing –> Sometimes you want to talk to your tourmates about your bandmates and how much you can’t stand them at that moment and share some inner band turmoil. Don’t do that. They don’t want to hear it, and you don’t want to do it. It just makes things awkward all around. Know when you have a friendship and when you just have a tour-crush (real-crush or friend-crush). Don’t confuse tour-crushes with real friends. Your bandmates will always be there, and when the tour is over and you get home they’re still your bandmates. Don’t make it awkward because someone heard or said some shit. That also goes for all of the people you work with. Don’t talk shit about your manager, your agent, or your label – unless you want it to get back to those people because it most certainly will. Don’t talk shit about your tourmates, the venue, or the promoter – unless you want it to get back to those people because it will. If you want to burn a bridge, by all means, go for it – but if you’re not 100% sure (and you’re acting without being overly drunk or under the influence of some other nonsense) don’t go for it… which leads me to…
2. Don’t Get Too Drunk. Let’s just assume by “too drunk” that I mean too drunk, too high, or too out of your mind to know what you’re doing or what you’re saying. Let’s be completely honest and say this; there is nothing worse than waking up and not remembering what happened, what you said, where you are, how you got “home”, and/or who you’re with. It sucks when you’re actually at home, but it sucks, even more, when you’re in a city you don’t know well and you’re around people you didn’t or don’t know well. Nothing is worse than being hungover in a car, an airplane, or any kind of travel situation. Nothing is worse than being hungover at your next show so you can’t give it you’re all and be present. Nothing is worse for other people than dealing with that hungover person on the drive or at the next show. Maybe most importantly, don’t get too drunk to play. No one paid money to come see you play terribly, or to be totally sloppy. The shows are always 10 times better for you and everyone else there, including your bandmates, when you’re not totally out of your head –> which leads me back to #1, this will help with #1 quite a bit. In general, if you have to get crazy, save it for when you’re around people you know, trust, and when you don’t have anywhere to be the next day… Most importantly, if you have a problem with drinking or drugs or something else, seek help and make a change.
3. Have A Pre-Show Ritual and/or ‘Rules’ that do not include just messing around and getting messed up. For example – here are some that have worked for us and for groups we’ve been in; i). limit your pre-show drinking to two (or no) drinks and don’t start too early before your show. ii). Don’t eat for at least 4-5 hours before you play if you have to sing unless you want to taste what you ate while you’re singing. This also helps if you like to move or jump around on stage. iii). stretch, do some sit-ups, pushups, jumping jacks, go for a run after soundcheck, order food right away so you don’t have to worry about that 4-5 hour mark, do some pre-show vocal warm-ups if you sing, play your instrument a little bit, go over the parts you’ve been having trouble with in your head (or out loud) sometime before the show. iv). kick everyone out of your dressing room (or if you don’t have one, the van or the bus) for 15 minutes before the show so you can all connect and get in the same headspace and maybe even do some group stretching / calisthenics –> That said, I actually prefer to try to keep most people out of our personal space, backstage or otherwise, before we play –> unless they’re very close friends, significant others, or tourmates –> but even these people have to get out for 15 minutes before the show.
4. Always Be On Time to soundcheck, to meals, to bus call, to the stage, to interviews, etc… and always finish your set on time and don’t go over your allotted time. Whether you’re a tech or a band member without a tech, don’t break your drums or guitar pedals or other equipment down on stage… take it offstage, and break it down there – or make sure you’re out of the way of the band loading on stage while you break down.
5. Be Selfish, But Not Too Selfish. Being selfish or self-centered on the road comes naturally – eventually, because you have to carve our your space while you’re sharing it with other people (in your band or in your dressing room or in the venue). You can carve out a space in the van or the bus or the venue for your stuff, but remember that everyone else is trying to do the same thing… so be respectful of other people’s stuff, their clothes, their phone that’s precariously balanced on top of their shoes on top of their bag in the backstage area. Find the spot for your stuff, but don’t take all the outlets. Don’t take all the couch space for all of your gear backstage and leave nowhere for anyone to sit. If you need alone time, and everyone else wants to do something together, go to your hotel and have that time or find a quiet bookstore or coffee shop or park to do your thing. Find what makes you comfortable, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Just make sure you’re not ruining everyone else’s time by asking or demanding that everyone drive to drop you off 150 miles out of the way to the national monument that only you want to see (you can see it next time when you’re closer). Don’t make everyone drive 50 miles out of the way to pick you up from your best friend’s house in Tucson… ask your best friend to give you a ride back to where the rest of your band is. Touring involves making plans, making compromises, and working together. It’s about much more than just where and when you’ll play.
6. Stay In Touch With People You Care About unless you don’t really care about them. If you have someone you care about at home, stay in touch with them and make plans for how to do that. If your girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband or kids are at home, and you want to have a real relationship, make sure you talk to them often… not text… talk. Make plans to talk after shows or before, in the mornings, or after soundcheck –> but make plans. Please don’t just talk about what’s happening with you – even though it may be exciting or in some cases very depressing, you also need to keep tabs on and care about and be available for what’s happening at home. I plan when I will FaceTime or talk with my wife and kids. I need to see them and they need to see me. I need to know what’s happening with them at home, just as much as I want to talk to my wife about everything that’s happening with me.
7. Don’t try to have sex with everyone. Chances are, if you’re doing this, you’re not most of the previous pieces of advice here. So let me be honest. No one is more annoyed with you than everyone who sees you doing this. Don’t try to fuck everyone. I’m not saying you can’t try to have fun once in a while if the feeling’s mutual and if you’re not attached –> but for everyone’s sake, do not make it the only goal of every single night except the nights you’re totally hungover. Remember why you started playing music in the first place. This is your job – and if it’s not, I assume you want it to be your job or you wouldn’t be on tour… so don’t be that person. If you’re nature’s gift to the same- or opposite-sex, it doesn’t mean that you should act on it every time someone finds you attractive. You already know it, everyone around you knows it, and doing this only makes you much less attractive to potential business partners (labels, agents, managers, etc.). Look, you want to do music right? So do it.