This set of Tour Tips is written by metal band, The Famine, You can check them out after the break!
1. Take it seriously. What could be more fun than traveling around the world with your friends? The truth is, few things are. As a touring musician, you have the opportunity to do things that most people will never be able to experience. You can’t buy what it means to do this. That having been said, if you’d like to be able to keep doing it, take it seriously. Remember that your bandmates are not only sharing the stage with you, they are sharing every minute of every day. If you act in a way that compromises your ability to continue to operate, you are hurting everyone. Ask any band, tour can be treacherous. Plan ahead. Make sure you have weather appropriate clothes. I’ve been seen wearing a Famine hoodie before when we got caught in a blizzard because I wasn’t prepared. I’m not Jason Newstead, and that is a party foul. If you have special dietary needs (I’m a vegan and Jon is a vegeterian), don’t be afraid to bring some of your own food for worst case scenarios. Work hard towards making sure everyone steps into the van with a smile on their face the first day. A big part of taking touring seriously means keeping a positive attitude. Maybe you didn’t sell as many bandanas as you wanted, or maybe the venue stiffed you. Maybe it happened several nights in a row. Once you lose your positive attitude, everyone loses theirs. You have to take what you are doing seriously enough to know that things can get better at any time, and keep that notion at the forefront of your mind.
2. Know your limits. Like I said, tour can be a blast, but it gets rough. We’ve gone days without sleeping or eating. When you are thousands of miles away from home and you are punishing your body every day, you have to know when to tap the breaks. Make sure you always have a co-pilot awake with the driver. It’s his job to play air-guitar to every solo on “Countdown to Extinction.” It’s his job to keep you awake by trying to convince you that “Cryptic Writings” wasn’t a completely awful album (it was better than “Risk”.) This way, the driver is always engaged, and if he does accidentally enter sand man, the co-pilot can grab the wheel and save the day. Don’t try to be the nice guy and let everyone sleep while you pull the overnight drive solo. It isn’t safe, and you can’t be a hero if everyone is dead. The last thing I want is to be discovered in a blizzard, dead, wearing my own band’s hoodie. That’s Michael Hutchence emberassing. For those of you drinkers out there, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with enjoying a cocktail or two at the hotel or with a fan after the show. However, if you have one too many and slap Nick from As I Lay Dying, you’ll look like an idiot and you’ll wake up the next day with everyone upset. I’m not naming names, but you can ask Nick the next time they roll through town. Also, if you are frustrated, upset, or you just need to get something off your chest, speak up. Part of knowing your limits means putting a stop to something before it becomes harmful.
3. Make yourself available. Let me be more specific-engage the people who paid money to come see you. They don’t enjoy working the lunch shift at the Cici’s pizza, but they work it so they can save enough money to come support you. Don’t ever forget that. I saw Helmet a few months ago, and Page Hamilton stayed on stage and spoke to every person in that room. He pulled people on stage to take pictures with him (I’ll attach mine as proof) and was all around a swell guy. He didn’t get anything out of it, but he does it every night. Why? Because he is thankful that he’s been able to reach people like that for the past 20 years, and he’d like to continue to do it. You’d be suprised how many bands immediately shuffle back to the dressing room, or disappear after the show. Sell your own merch. Guess what, people are more likely to buy your t-shirts from you than they are from the creepy shirtless merch dude with the mustache and the Cowboys From Hell tattoo. Answer every question, sign every tennis shoe, kiss every baby. If Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse can do it, (and he does, between World of Warcraftgames) you can too.
4. Respect the venue. Don’t kid yourself. These people don’t give a crap about your band, but they show up before you do, and they are there after you leave. They give you food, they give you water, and if you are the Insane Clown Posse they give you grease paint and PCP. Henry Rollins has a fantastic letter about this very subject that I’ve seen posted inside a few venues. If you don’t know who Henry Rollins is, he’s the guy painted red in the “Liar” video. He also made fun of Venom. Anyway, look up what Hank said and take it to heart. These people work hard. They are unwillingly subjected to heinous bands on a semi-nightly basis, and they do it because they love music. Well, some of them do it because they got busted for dealing meth and they can’t work for the man anymore, but outside of Oklahoma and most of Alabama, they do it because they love music. In all seriousness, be nice to the person working the door, the bartender, the security, the bouncer, the promoter, and the parking attendant. Word travels fast in those circles, and their opinion of you matters. It doesn’t matter if you are the greatest band in the world (Dishwalla), they won’t have you back if you are jerks.
5. Don’t take it too seriously. Take the time to stop and realize that you are living your dream. How many kids get to grow up to be the President, or an Astronaut? You are doing what you love. You are getting paid, even if it isn’t much, to travel the world. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Stop and see “The Thing” in southern Arizona. It costs a dollar and you’ll tell your friends about it when you get home. Drive 45 minutes out of the way to see the Hoover Dam. Get a hotel room and have the other bands over every once in a while, even if money is tight. While I’m on that subject, make friends with the other bands. You don’t have to like their music to like them as individuals, and some of the most honest, compassionate, and kind people I have ever met have been on tour. Be the butt of the joke every now and then. Prank the other bands. In other words, let your hair down and be human. If you are so preoccupied with not looking silly that you can’t let your guard down, you are in the wrong business. There is nothing glamorous about sleeping on your guitarist’s friend’s ex-girlfriend’s couch. Realize that and instead of worrying about looking cool, try to make friends, influence people, and take chances. Be the band with whom you’d want to tour. Also, if anyone snores, have them replaced before you leave for tour.
In case you thought I was lying about Page Hamilton, here‘s that picture. Look at how stupid everyone but Jon looks. That’s the first and last time anyone has ever made that statement.