Posted: Dec 17, 2018
**Guest post written by Brandon Stoner of Thieves & Lovers.
The road can be a sweaty place, and it’s hard to sell yourself when the last time you bathed was 6 shows ago. 24 hour gym memberships can be a godsend in the gypsy life of a touring musician. You can use them to shower, exercise (as if being on stage isn’t enough of a workout…), soak those sore muscles in the hot tub, even do your laundry if they have the facilities - at any time of day! You can use their parking lot without fear of being towed, and most of the bigger ones are pretty much nationwide.
It’s not just the most important meal of the day! Food will absolutely be the biggest expense you encounter on the road. If you are lucky enough to be able to stay in a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast (hot is even better!), you can save a significant amount of money by chowing down. Some might even let you take some things to go, like fruit, yogurt, cereal, or granola bars. Or if you want to be a little sneaky, take a few plates to your room to save for later on in the day.
I know just how difficult it can be to peel yourself out of bed after a late night in order to make it to a hotel breakfast in time. If you can’t make it, see if someone in your entourage can grab something for you so you can get your much needed rest.
It’s a pretty much common sense not to book shows more than 200 miles or so apart, less if you can make it happen. It’s definitely a compromise between setting up your tour routing and taking the best shows that you can find, but you don’t want to have to do too much traveling between shows because you’ll get burned out physically and mentally before you even do your sound check.
I don’t understand how any band can travel without one (or more!) of these bad boys. They can literally save you from hours of boredom and help you stay productive during long travel stretches. It can power laptops, charge phones or any other device that is designated to work with the voltage that it provides (read the manual!).
One of the best uses in my experience is to use it to get work done between tour stops. Power up that laptop and book some more shows, work on music, post to social media, correspond with fans, and if you really want to annoy your bandmates – plug in a practice amp!
A word of caution - be careful what you connect to your inverter, and be mindful of its interaction with what you’re driving. Your performance should be on fire, not your vehicle.
Keep in mind how weather affects your gear. Humid climates will eat through guitar strings much faster than other climates, guitar necks and drum shells can warp from heat, and freezing weather is just bad for everyone. Maintain your amps, stay on top of string and drum head changes, and leave some extra time to adjust your equipment before the show if necessary.
Always be aware of the speed limit and traffic laws wherever you are. If you get pulled over the venue won’t care – late is late. A bunch of musicians crammed into a van will attract law enforcement attention no matter where you are, so be smart. No open containers and no “party favors” - but if you want to roll the dice, at least know how to cover your tracks.
You wouldn’t go onstage without tuning up your guitar, so why would you go on the road without tuning up your vehicle? Make sure you take your vehicle to a good mechanic before embarking, and keep everything you might need in an emergency with you – jumper cables, spare tire, fluids, etc.
No matter how great your drummer thinks he is at fixing a carburetor, the grand adventure of the road will inevitably bring vehicle misfortune. An emergency service like AAA will give you a bit of a safety net when break downs happen, taking some of the unknown out of the equation. Plus you can get discounts at a lot of places with your membership.
You can wash your clothes in a hotel bathtub or sink and dry them with a hairdryer or in the sun. This saves time and money by avoiding the laundromat. Keep a dryer sheet in your luggage to help eliminate odors so you can keep the funk in your set and out of your suitcase.
What guitar player doesn’t love having a pedalboard the size of a shipping container? Ever met a drummer who didn’t want to pack two kick drums and a 10 piece drum rack into a mini-van?
Gear shares are great, but don’t assume that at every show you’re going to be able to borrow something. Work out advances ahead of time to see what sort of backline the venue provides. Bring only what you need, but bring what you need.
You won’t need it until you need it, and then you’ll really need it."
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