Being on the road, getting paid to play music with your band, drinking, and partying sounds like so much fun. But the reality is, its a hard slog, full of arguments, fights, and days without showering. Sometimes, in the midst of it all, you just want to throw in the towel, give music away and become an accountant or something. I’m joshing. Its the greatest thing ever. Touring with my band The Stained Daisies, (I play bass) has involved some great times on the road. After setting out on our most recent tour, which saw us play at the Bellingen Winter Music Festival, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, I have begun to understand that there are a few certainties about being on tour. A few truths that seem to rear their ugly/beautiful head on every tour regardless of destination or preparation.
#1: Something always goes wrong.
Prime example; we borrowed all of our gear for this last run of shows including guitars, amps, leads, and microphones because we couldn’t fit all of our stuff travelling from Melbourne. We thought we had covered all bases. Wrong. (Note; if on tour, always assume you have overlooked something that will come back to bite you on the ass.) Five minutes before our set started at Bello Winter Fest, we realised the guitars we had borrowed had no straps with them which was a huge problem because a big part of our set is being energetic on stage, and we couldn’t do that without having our guitars strapped to us. As time ticked on we were freaking out and thought we had dropped the ball big time for our first festival appearence. The crowd was large, waiting and watching. We were panicking. Until I saw about fifty metres down the road two young boys busking with acoustic guitars on the street. We ran, gave them $20, got their straps and we played. Crisis averted. The two boys even snuck in and watched our set.
#2: No matter how well you play, or how good you think your music is, someone always has a differing opinion and is more often than not, happy to express that opinion.
I found this out around three years ago during my first tour with my mates and our band. We ventured south along the Northern Coast of New South Wales, from the Byron Bay area to Newcastle and back. We thought we were a great band, but in reality we were young, unpracticed and unprepared. It’s hilarious to look back on now after getting some sort of experience under our belts, but back then we were oblivious as to how amateur we must of looked. We played six or seven gigs at an array of different pubs and clubs, and we had an absolute ball. We received a tonne of support and beers, however we also received some abuse from a number of particularly drunk and confident punters. “Play Khe Sanh“ they would yell. “No” we would say. The pick of them was being told, after two songs into our set, that we should play more covers because our original stuff was “boring, slow, and shit.” Oh how we laughed. If you don’t laugh, you cry.
#3: Rare situations always arise no matter how hard you try to lay low and dodge crazy people. It’s just how it goes.
You are on the road, playing music to lots of drunk people with your best mates. Its a recipe for some kind of freakiness. We had just finished playing at a small pub in a town called Inverell. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, neither have most people from Inverell. We had attracted a group of Bad//Dreems fans who enjoyed our set and wanted to show us a good time. We ended up slightly inebriated at someones house on the outskirts of town. Someone mentioned a tattoo gun and home jobs. It started out as a joke, before snowballing into all of us bent over their kitchen bench getting the band logo tattooed on our arse (again, see below). Needless to say, certain band members girlfriends were not impressed.
Needless to say, being on tour is always an adventure and each tour is completely different from the last, even if you play the same venues. Obviously, the tours are dominated by playing music, but there is so much more to it than the gigs. The stories, the smelly car trips, the mishaps, the alcohol abuse and the constant striving for someone, somewhere to take your music seriously all equate to monumental memories.
Who needs the coin?