Exclusive Tour Diary: Deep Sea Diver
"An Idiot's Guide to Touring in 2016."BEHIND THE SCENES
As many of us, especially parents, know quite well—being a touring musician in 2016 the year of our Lord isn't quite the pot of gold to be sought after and longed for, it once was. For those of you who think that it is just an extended vacation, a quaint little excuse to get outside of one's working life into a life of leisure and party-fueled bedlam, let's rethink that for a minute.
Don't get me wrong, I love what I get to do. In some ways, it really is the dream that we’re living, but it’s a very realistic and very often times drudgerous and boring dream. It’s a dream that with it, entangles you into a web of noncommittal dead end jobs and temporary residencies, the dream of the clang and the whisper of joy and sorrow, back to back for weeks on end. It’s a dream that engages your every emotion and plucks you out of your tiny d*ck sized comfort zone and plants you in the lush and beautiful, dangerous and daunting, grounds of reality where time and space, money and planning, sleep and nutrition are suspended in revelrous limbo.
To hang in that balance with beauty and grace, as we consistently exemplify, one must learn to accrue the necessary means to face every skirmish that will absolutely try and blow you up with it’s scud missiles and patriotism. I will lay out only a few bullet points which have much to do with the secrets of our success on the road.
Money is a thing. I have toured with musicians who never have it, and bands that didn’t plan ahead for vans to break down, or running out of vinyl or T-shirts on the road and having to plop a cool 2 Gs to have more manufactured and sent to the next venue in time, and having hungry musicians that are subject to fits of passive aggression due to their monetary neglect and subsequent lack of meal buying. It sucks.
May I suggest getting a sponsorship from a local business? A necessary prerequisite would be a business that you like, that you wouldn’t have to cringe over every time you thought about a partnership. For us, it was a local coffee shop, one that we think is great to decal our van with their logo, thereby getting national exposure for their business and having us as their ambassadors of sorts, carry their flag into cultural settings that elevate their coolness factor.
Many businesses big and small, have budgets for advertising—and if you could convince them that you are “cool” and that they could have some of the that “coolness” rubbed off, it could work in delightful symbiosis. Depending on how much they believe that kind of advertisement is worth, you could pay for all your expenses, gas, food, Disneyland churros and whatever else your little heart desires with that monetary help.
Give praise to the best driver in your band.
In our band, Jessica is the bees knees at driving. She loves long drives through the mountainous, the mundane, the scenic, the desolate, early drives, late drives, and maneuvering through Californian traffic mazes and hostile Houston onslaughts of future vehicular manslaughter culprits. Beyond that, she finds a competitive joy in surprising us with a near impossible parallel parking job.
A driver like her is one in a million, but there is usually at least one high-strung multi-tasking type A-er of every band (probably the singer) who, unable to loosen the reigns of control, is able to outperform everyone else in areas of safety, vigilance, awareness and utility. They will save on gas money, will get you to venues on time, keep everyone alive longer and will be able to find parking spots closer to load in areas and save your back a lot of strain.
Treat them like kings/queens. Buy them coffee. Give them free reign on what is being played on the stereo, whether it’s Scatman John or a rousing standup session by Sinbad. A good driver is hard to find. Harder than a good man, I daresay—Flannery.
Tour with a band that is good.
There is something healthy about a little old fashioned competition—the kind that ups the stakes for show performance, professionalism, attire, set list, and merch sales—that raises both bands’ standards for how they present themselves to their respective audiences.
For us, Radiation City was a great band to be on the road with, both personally and artistically. Every night they brought their best, which, knowing that they would, kept us in the mindset of wanting to continually one up ourselves night after night. It doesn’t always work out that way, to be able to tour with a band that inspires a greater level of “bringing it” every night, but it certainly was the case on this tour.
Even while multiple members were sick and arguably transferred that sickness to members of our band, they performed as though nothing were wrong. In addition to their performances, it’s always a treat to get to tour with a group of people that are fun and are exciting to run into 27 nights in a row without getting sick of them.
Hang out with your non-creepy fans at your shows.
The divide between audience and performer is dumb and what creates the kind of creepy super fan that nobody wants, and also the kind of diva attitude that makes you think you’re better than your fans. Easy remedy? Take time to hang out with people that come to see your shows.
It’s amazing the connections we’ve made with people that connected to our music. There’s this idea that if somebody is really blown away by what you do, they are automatically to be avoided, but in reality, it’s the ultimate thing that we’re longing for when we release music. That somebody would form such an emotional connection to it that they would travel long and far to see and experience the thing that you made that they have fallen in love with.
These lovely people pictured above traveled hours from Mexico to see us play, and while I very quickly showed my lack of any multilingual propensities or ability to simplify my sentiments into anything understandable for a basic English speaker, Jessica hung out with them, took pictures with them and gave them a far better time than myself.
Find good coffee shops with WIFI.
If you’re like us, you only have 8 GB of cellular data to share between 3 of your band members. It severely limits the amount of Google maps, Spotify and YouTube videos of dogs talking that you can enjoy while on the road. It’s also a bit of a treat to have that limitation, as you are forced to engage with other people in the van instead of checking out and searching your own band’s name on Twitter.
That being said, when you can find a good coffee shop to enjoy a lovely double 8 oz Americano (which I was scolded at a shop in Nashville for drinking and was told, “that’s NOT the preferred brewing method”) and search yourself on Twitter, load up some Spotify playlists and check the hell out—just get a sweet breath away from your nightmarish bandmates. I kid. I have the best bandmates on earth.
If you have extra guest spots, offer one to the barista. They may actually come, and you’ll have a familiar face next time you’re in town.
Build out a bed in your van.
Rest is a valued commodity while on the road, enough so that it’s worth building—by oneself or hiring someone to build out—a bed in the touring vehicle. This is a good idea for a number of reasons, but for us, it’s very nice to have a place for at least one person to rest up while you wait to play. Sometimes fatigue sets in because lack of sleep to the point where everyone is walking around like a zombie, trying to find any open floor space in the venue to crash out for a few precious peaceful moments before doors open and people start pouring in. Naps are key.
Additionally, having a bed in the van allows for someone to sleep in the van, attaining alone time, but also keeping/guarding the gear in said van. There’s nothing more unsettling than parking your van for the night and just leaving it there, unattended while you try and forget about all the expensive and unique-to-you gear that is just waiting to be thieved. On our tour, Elliot was the van champion, getting better sleep and keeping our gear safe nearly all of the 35 days out on the road.
Much love from the drumming idiot of DSD,
No upcoming concerts. Track Deep Sea Diver on Bandsintown to see when new tour dates have been added!
Must-See Shows in Your Area
Celebrate The Life Of Prince With These Memorable Live Performances
One year later, we’ll never forget.
13 In-Store Record Store Day Performances You Won’t Want To Miss
Diet Cig, Portugal. The Man, and more!
8 Awesome Misfits Performances In Celebration Of Their 40th Anniversary
Four decades of horror punk perfection.