Why You Should Never Want to Tag Along With Us On a Tour (And Other Dream Shattering Realities)
Usually when I tell someone who is uninitiated with the realities of the modern rock and roll lifestyle that I am about to embark on a tour, they immediately have visions of screaming fans in packed venues, late night jacuzzi jaunts and bagging mad pussy every night. Sometimes people implore me to take them with me. They beg me to make room for them in the van. They offer to drive the whole way. They’ll chip in for gas. Hell, they’ll cover it all!
So then what I do, because I’m a good person, is I sit them down, much like a world weary Heathcliffe Huxtable sitting down young Rudy after she asks him why her goldflish Sprinkles is just “floating around” in the bowl, and I paint them a picture of eating at gas stations, trying to go to sleep sitting up while in a Ford Escape crammed with two other dudes and all of their musical equipment in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Iowa City in 20 degree weather, of leaving said parking lot at 5:30 in the morning to sit around in McDonald’s and then promptly get kicked out for falling asleep, of driving 12 hours to play at a pizza place that five people are at and they just don’t “care for banjos”, of leaving a venue right after the show at 1 am to drive to the next show which is a 13 hour drive away, of growing such a tolerance to caffeine that you chug an 18 oz Red Bull and immediately fall asleep three minutes later, of hitting a baby deer with your 15 passenger van at 3 in the morning on the way from a show at someone’s basement in Philadelphia where you can get a keg cup and speedball combo special.
This guy was talking my ear off about how he wished he could have come with us to SXSW earlier in the year. The Los Angeles Times write-up, the Lipton Iced Tea Facebook video, playing in front of hundreds of people. That’s all fine and good. But listen, dude. After driving 23 hours straight from Chicago to get there, we didn’t have a place to sleep, so we had to sleep in the car. This was before we had a van, so there were three of us sleeping sitting up in a station wagon. We couldn’t find parking anywhere, so we eventually staged ourselves in what turned out to be a very dangerous neighborhood. I woke up at three 3 in the morning, and in the distance I saw two terrifying men staring at our car. They then started acting out mugging us, making different hand gestures for putting a gun to a window and running away with equipment. I then sat up, frightened for my life, and was not able to sleep until the night after our showcase which, by the way, we were only allowed to play for 10 minutes at.
(As a sidenote, to any aspiring touring bands who may be reading this: If you’re playing a town you’ve never been to before and you don’t have a place to crash, you need to be super careful if you’re going to sleep in the car. Be aware of your surroundings and prepared for anything. For instance, my friend Will used to tour in an old rented limo, and when he would sleep there during the night he would have a samurai sword poking out through a crack in the roof, in case anybody tried to break in from the top. You’ve got to be creative to be safe! The more you know.)
I also hear this all the time. “Who cares about all that stuff, bro? The women! I’m sure you get so much play on the road!” And, sure, it’s true. I’m not going to argue that women love dudes in bands. But, even moreso, I would say that they don’t love men who have to sleep in a van parked at a 24-hour Denny’s with two other people, one of which who snores. Not the greatest pickup line.
So, please, don’t lose your night shift at Pep Boy’s for this shit. I mean, I’m not one of those guys who’s going to say that touring is awful and not worth the effort. We do it to spread recognition of our music throughout the nation. Despite the fact that we usually don’t make a profit after gas, at least we plant little seeds of tiny fan bases throughout the country. It gives us a chance to refine our craft and learn how to deal with multitudes of different situations. But you don’t reap any of those benefits, and no, we’re not going to let you play “2nd guitar” for us on this tour. But you will still have to piss in Gatorade bottles. Just like the rest of us.