The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 13

It’s times like these that vitalize my “yes” policy.  I just worked on a short tour for a band whose lead singer, B, I knew from doing Warped Tour back in 2010 with her.  She asked me to do this run with her new(ish) band.  I almost said no, because they weren’t paying my normal rate, and you don’t want word to get out in the industry that you will work for less.  B’s my girl though, and I have a personal policy, which is that I say yes to every new opportunity, even when it seems scary.  Especially when it seems scary.  I am so glad I said yes because in only two weeks I fell in love with everyone and the world seems a little bit more colorful right now.

At first, I was having some anxiety (for reasons that I won’t bore you with), but in only a few hours, all became well; as it always does.  The first circumstance that calmed me was, “could you take my picture?  ‘Cuz I won’t remember.”  You know the song.  It was a hit in the 90‘s.  I was doing my merch girl thing, selling during the set, when Filter, who was the headlining band, started playing “Take a Picture,” a great guilty pleasure song and I took a deep breath, let the song penetrate and everything felt in balance again.  Music has magical powers.

The venue that first night had a bar area upstairs that was designated only for band and crew members.  Even though I was exhausted from traveling that day, I figured it would be a good way to break the ice with everyone and get to know the people I was about to live with for two weeks.  B and I caught up over a couple of drinks, and I remembered all of the reasons why I love her.  She is just an interesting person and talking to her doesn’t feel like talking to a girl.  We absolutely have girl talk, but we also talk about music and pooping and fucking and politics… conversations that you don’t always get with another chick.  The next thing I know, B and I are on Filter’s bus partying while simultaneously trying to be diplomatic and not get sexually harassed.

When getting to know the other bands on the tour package, you have to realize that you represent your band.  Even though I’m not a band member, when I meet the crew or musician’s of the other bands on the tour, I understand that I am, in a way, an ambassador to the band that I am working for.  It only takes one shitty exchange or incident to put a bad taste in one’s mouth, so that’s where the diplomacy comes to play.  To the not getting sexually harassed part… I’ll start by saying that there is an art to being a girl on a tour, and out of a four band tour package, B and I were the only girls amongst 24 guys.  Being a female crew member is tricky.  You need to be likeable, but professional.  You want these guys to remember you because this is how you get new gigs.  It’s all word of mouth.  I have a strict, no tour romance policy.  No romances with anyone on your bus, or with anyone from any of the bands that you are also touring with.  This can be difficult, because you meet a lot of cool boys.  However, that would get complicated VERY quickly, and it adds to reasons why being a girl on tour is an art. If you start hooking up with one of them, (there is absolutely no way of keeping that a secret) you go from being a crew member, to the girl.  That is not a good place to be.  You need to be one of the guys, but flirt enough so that the guys want you around… but not enough to where they don’t take you or your position on the tour seriously.  I suppose it’s like that in any male dominated profession.  It’s a balancing act to be well-respected and get people to take you seriously.  The whole reason I began this rant, is to say that B and I ended up on Filter’s tour bus, and we played the game, and played it well.  She is in a different position than I because she is a musician, not crew, but I’d imagine that she has the same obstacles, just slightly different circumstances.  She needs to flirt a little bit, but also be taken seriously.  An art.

The rest of the tour went something like this…

Wake-up.  Truck stop poop.  Coffee.  Read.  Walk.  Work.  Drink.  Party.  Drink.  Sleep.

It was beautiful.

One of the days they played early at a music festival, so we had the majority of the day off and went to a mini theme park in some irrelevant town outside of Houston.  We got our ass kicked by a wooden rollercoaster, drank margaritas and watched a swarm of catfish slaughtering each other.  It was one of the most primal things that I’ve ever seen.  I should have taken a video.  Later that night, I developed a crush on our guitar tech, played cornhole (until Christian gave our TM’s girlfriend a black eye with a bean bag) and got to wash my hair (a rare opportunity).

Little Rock, Arkansas.  Downtown Little Rock is always a good time.  Who knew?  I didn’t think anything relevant happened in Arkansas except for Bill Clinton.  However, each time I pass through Little Rock, I have a good experience.  They have a great book store, exactly three cool bars, fucking weird 3D art along some sidewalks, a river and a bunch of bridges.  I am a big fan of heights, so I find myself walking on bridges a lot.  Christian, the guitar tech, and I discovered that these bridges serve as a make-out point after 9:00pm, for kids under the age of 21.  No, we didn’t make-out (no tour romances, remember) but we did find a rainbow bridge!

 

I always take pictures when the person is not looking.

Rainbow Bridge.  I always take pictures when the person is not looking.

Finding bridges became a tradition with Christian and I.  We named them all.  There is Suicide Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Horror Bridge.

Nashville.  We were homeless for a day in the city.  We had to get off of the bus at 8:00am, so that it could be fixed, and we didn’t get it back until that night.  We got breakfast and were like… now what?  We roamed around some souvenir shops, entertaining ourselves with bedazzled shot glasses, and ridiculous bumper stickers that say, “Kiss me!  I’m from Nashville!”  Then we had to find somewhere to shit, so we ended up at Hard Rock Cafe, because that was the only place open, as it was still before 11:00am.  If you ever go to the Nashville Hard Rock, just know that all of the members of the band shit in that bathroom.  Bloody Mary’s?  Yes please!  Another bar?  Yes please!  I think we were all buzzed before noon, but B and I took the rest of the afternoon to sober up.  I know that I can be quite the drinker, but I never drink before a show.  I’m dealing with a lot of cash, and a lot of mental math and I try to be at least semi professional.  So B and I walked around a Barnes and Noble and goofed around in the “As Seen on TV” section of a nearby Rite-Aid.  I think the rest of them continued to drink because we walked into the venue to discover this:

PASSED OUT!

PASSED OUT backstage.

Somewhere in Kentucky I believe, is where I fell in love with M.  Not in a romantic way, but in a, I officially respect and appreciate who you are and you are forever cool in my book, kind of a way.  He is the guitar player of the band, and he actually started talking about music.  That never happens.  You would think, that traveling with bands, music would constantly be a topic of conversation, but it’s quite the opposite.  This is the first band that I’ve been out with where the band members discuss other bands and their love for music.  We were all (minus B and the bass player who went to see a movie) at a Bar Louie, enjoying the late night happy hour with the band’s manager when I noticed that M was starting a conversation about music.  It took me a second to realize what was going on, but once I did I was ALL in, taking full advantage of the rare occasion.  Him and I were stimulating the conversation the most, so we would name a band/artist, and go around the table, making everyone disclose their opinion about it.

M: Bob Dylan.  Go.
Dave: Big yes.
Christian: I get the appeal but it’s not something I listen to.
Me: Great songwriter, but other people perform his songs better than him.
D: Overrated.
And so on…..

We discussed everyone from Blink182 to Bob Marley, and talked about which album we would bring with us to a deserted island if we could only choose one. We told stories of the best live show we have seen and confessed what bands we would love to play in.  It was so refreshing to hear people in the industry still being passionate about the industry.  I know so many musicians who never listen to music.  It’s strange.  So that conversation is what made me fall in love with them as a band, and especially M since he was the most fervent and I think was the only one who wasn’t simultaneously on his phone.

At the end of the tour, the band left before the crew did, so me and the three other crew members had the bus and no work for three days.  This turned into what was essentially a 72 hour bus party.  Fellow touring folk understand what that means, but I will explain.  A bus party starts with an iPod being hooked up to the bus speakers.  Generally there is one person who is sort of designated as DJ, but we all take turns playing whatever we want.

Side note: Kyle, the drummer for the band Helmet, might take first place as bus party DJ in The Caitlin Awards.

Anyway, for a good bus party, I recommend Katy Perry.  I thought I was a hater, but Christian, Drew and Rhett made me realize the error of my ways, and we danced for hours to Katy Perry.  Best idea we’ve ever had.  The bus was parked in a mall parking lot, so from the outside I’m sure it looked like a war was taking place because of how much the bus must have been shaking.  On the inside, just imagine four adults, jumping up and down, using hand-held lights to create a strobe light effect, playing lots of air guitar, and climbing on seats.  Bus party.  Oh, and of course add extreme amounts of Jameson.  In three days, I’m sure that between the four of us, we must have done close to 100 shots of Jameson with a pickle back.

Bus party.

Bus party.

 

Air guitar.

Air guitar.

In between bus parties we spent hours in a Dave and Buster’s, literally had to walk a half of a mile every time we needed to shit (I know I talk about pooping a lot on these touring adventure stories, but I want everyone to understand what a goddamn ordeal it is.  Don’t ever take for granted the luxury of always having a toilet handy), woke up screaming at each other from our bunks that it smelled like balls in bunk alley, found a laundromat and Iced Drew three times in one night.  He was a trooper about it and took it like a straight up All Star.

Drew getting Iced.

Drew getting Iced.

I will conclude this with saying that I fell in love with Christian when I played “Cry Little Sister” the original, by G. Tom Mac, and he immediately knew it, and we bonded over our love for that song and our love for The Lost Boys.  I am such a sucker.  However, because I remember what Ms. Distler taught me in high school English, one must always conclude an essay by repeating what we just learned, which in this case is, I have my “yes policy” to thank for those two weeks.

The crew.

The crew.

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4 thoughts on “The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 13

  1. […] Source: The Adventures of Touring with a Rock Band – Part 13 […]

  2. nancyfrancis says:

    I have a ‘Weekends of Yes’ policy, which mostly encompasses ALL of the weekends, except for the few where my dignity fully runs out and needs to be plugged in and recharged.

  3. C. Pendola says:

    Ha! Any interesting stories from a recent time you said yes to something that seemed questionable?

  4. […] behavior that he had been dealing with for the past couple of weeks, which I chronicle in Adventures of Touring Part 13. The moral of this part of the story is NEVER take highway 40 across the country because none of […]

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