5 Golden Rules of Touring with Your Band
**Guest post written by Zac Green of Zing Instruments.
"If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being stuck in a small van with three tired, sweaty and hungover friends, you’ll know how easy it is to get on each other’s nerves.
Now imagine doing that for a few months.
Congratulations! You’ve just gone on your first (imaginary) tour with a band.
Not many people are willing to admit this, but the hardest challenge of being in a successful band is not killing each other when you’re stuck in close proximity for a long period of time.
If you’ve got your first tour coming up, or you’re looking for a way to make the next one better than the PTSD-inducing nightmare from last time, read on for the 5 golden rules of touring with your band from Zing Instrument’s Zac Green.
Rule 1: Personal Hygiene
After a show you’ll be drenched with more sweat than can be generated by any one human. This is a law of physics, like gravity. By the time you’ve packed your gear away and got into the van for the next stop (which will hopefully be a hotel) you’ll be one stanking mess, barely recognisable as human by trained sniffer dogs.
Do your bandmates a favour and have a shower as soon as possible. Carry deodorant, soap and toothpaste. There’s no excuse for not taking care of yourself - even if you wouldn’t normally stay this clean at home. Especially if you wouldn’t stay this clean at home.
Rule 2: Kill time
You know what’s boring? Listening to somebody else complain about how bored they are.
Don’t be that guy. Bring a book. Bring a set of cards. If you want to reenact the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, bring Monopoly.
The point is, you’re going to be spending a lot of time doing nothing more than getting from A to B. It’s like going on a family trip as a kid, except now you’re both the annoying little brat and the exasperated parent.
You could try meditating too, but be careful with this one. Nothing ruins the image of a rebel quite like being caught serenely contemplating human nature with incense burning and the gentle sound of wind chimes in the background.
Rule 3: Plan Ahead
Have you ever been in the position of swapping all the music out for new stuff and never got a chance to finish, leaving you to listen to the same five tracks over and over again?
Being trapped in a van whilst doing that is even worse. Make sure you’ve got plenty of music, and I mean variety as well as quantity. You could even bring along some experimental stuff you’ve recorded in your own home studio.
But planning doesn’t just end there. No, no.
You’ll need to account for things like where you’re going to stop to go and pee. Who’s going to drive each night (I assume you don’t have a personal driver just yet) and what food you’ll be responsible for bringing. The last thing you want to do is get halfway across the country and realise nobody brought anything to eat.
Speaking of food, do you know what doesn’t go well with travelling? Curry. If it’s going to cause a stink, or make you cause a stink, leave it at home. Don’t skimp on the chocolates, sweets and treats, but make sure you’ve got something nice and filling you can eat too. You’re going to be burning through energy like a writer burns through similes, so you’ll want something to keep your tank topped up.
And while we’re on the subject, bring something other than alcohol to drink. You’ll thank me for it later, trust me.
The key takeaway here is this: you’re not just going on tour. You’re living and working. Respect the needs of your body, and the demands of your profession, by being prepared in advance.
Rule 4: Be Polite
Look, I know it’s easy to lose your temper when you’re on tour. It’s one of the most hectic and demanding experiences you’ll ever go through as a musician.
But you know what else? Everybody you’re with is going through the exact same thing.
So when you notice one person is getting a little bit snippy, don’t indulge the temptation to be a dick right back to them. Keep it down, and then write a song about it later. Once everybody has cooled off and the tour is over, you can freely return to being a monumental baffoon to everybody around you, since they will only have to put up with you for as long as they want to. Being stuck with somebody who’s in a bad mood, or constantly being made fun of, is an easy way to ruin an otherwise great adventure.
Even something as small as scowl can build up over the course of a tour. Day by day, it’ll all come to a boiling point and everybody will lose their minds if somebody eventually pushes it that tiny bit too far.
So be polite. Act like you’re visiting your in-laws. Otherwise, you may just find yourself an outlaw.
Rule 5: Don’t get lost
There are two meanings to this here (ooh- deep!)
First off, make sure you know where you’re going. It’s not good enough to rely on the GPS to get to each venue and hotel. Those things can be wrong more often than you’d believe. Being five minutes late because of traffic is one thing. Being an hour late can transform a gig into an exhausting ordeal.
Secondly, don’t forget what you’re there to do. Although the temptation to live up the rockstar lifestyle is at it’s highest, unless you’re Ozzy Osbourne you won’t be able to handle it for long. Once you start spending every free moment partying, each subsequent gig on the tour is going to suffer. By the end, people will start demanding refunds.
So stay on the path. Don’t go into the woods. Avoid that wolf, no matter how much it looks like your grandmother.
In the end, a tour is a massive undertaking. They can be some of the best moments of your career, or some of the worst.
In the end, the responsibility for which one it will be falls on your shoulders. Make the right choices from the start, and make sure each member of the band is singing from the same songbook.
Be prepared for it to be difficult at times, but most importantly, have fun! After all, they don’t call it playing music for nothing."
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