Our favorite bands are constantly hitting the road, embarking on lengthy tours that can sometimes span months at a time. So, how do they make it look so easy? We got to chat with lead vocalist Telle Smith of The Word Alive, who shared some words of wisdom about what it takes to pull it off.
The metalcore band’s lead singer is no stranger to the world of touring—in fact he’s been putting on killer shows for over ten years. From what to bring, to how to stay in the zone while performing, to stage-diving 101, Smith told us everything you'd need to know about making every journey an epic one. Check out the rockers on Bless The Fall's Hard Feelings Tour in September, where they'll be performing old favorites alongside songs from their newest album, Violent Noise.
Make sure to track The Word Alive on Bandsintown for a chance to watch them put these touring tips in action!
“You're going to think you need to bring everything from home and the kitchen sink. Realistically, about four days in, you're going to realize that toting around a giant suitcase and a ton of unnecessary items isn't really ideal. Pack a couple pairs of pants, a steady rotation of shirts and make sure that the only thing you're stocked up on is underwear and socks. By week 3, you'll be wearing the same clothes most days anyways!”
“Next, you always have that feeling that you'll forget something. And you will. The most important thing to bring in addition to the aforementioned surplus of socks and underwear isn't an actual item. It's a mindset. You're going to feel tired, frustrated, annoyed, confused, and possibly even home sick. Understanding that everyone around you will undoubtedly go through the same range of emotions while touring, in all of the bands no matter if they are the headliner or not, will help you navigate touring with a more empathetic and mindful mindset. It's refreshing to me when someone can sense my day, and reaches out to lift me up. A lot of conversation lately has been on the mental health aspect of touring musicians, and connecting with others is a great way of maintaining a healthy balance of communication with like-minded people. We all tour, and we understand a lot of what each other are going through that maybe family and friends back home won't, or can't.”
“One thing I'm asked often is how do I deal with being nervous before playing shows, and embracing the entertainment aspect of what we do on stage. To me, I love to get lost in the music. I think remembering to be a fan of music as you’re performing really helps. We're all here because we love live music. People paid money to get more than just a record playing. They WANT your energy. They WANT you to interact with them. Now, some people will be standing in the back or have their arms crossed. This is inevitable. It is good to remind yourself that not everybody will know your band, and some people really need to see you live a few times to really connect to a point where they can enjoy the show, and not just the songs themselves. I personally try to be the frontman I would love to see other frontmen/women be when watching a band live. The more you have fun, the more the crowd will so embrace it!”
“A good way to save money early on in touring is to reach out to friends, family and fans from different cities along your routing to look into getting a place to crash for the night. Do laundry at their houses or at venues to save some cash as well. If you have longer than a 7 hour drive, drive through the night and sleep in the van. If it's less, one hack is to get one hotel room with two beds but bring along a couple of cots or sleeping bags instead of getting a second room. The $40-100/night you save across a month long tour will really add up! More financial hacks are to sign items at merch like cds, vinyl, posters, etc. Often times signing items really increase sales because chances are fans will request it anyways.”
“Lastly, if you're going to stage dive or crowd surf, I have some tips for you. Aim for the largest group of people in the crowd, make sure they know you're coming because nothing is worse than jumping into the crowd just to fall through the cracks and hit the ground. Also, be mindful of your knees. If you saw a human diving towards you knee first, I'm pretty sure you would get out of the way too! That being said, the best thing I can tell you is that if you do decide to do it, try not to break your back like I did.”