The first time I was on an actual tour bus, everyone was very nice. They would congratulate me for the smallest things, like carrying stuff up a set of steps. It was a little odd. They ripped each other to shreds with sarcastic comments, but with me everyone was quite nice. I made mention to the tour manager at the end of the run about how kind everyone had been.
She said “Oh yeah, that’s because I told them all you’re a little slow in the head and to take it easy on you.”
1. Have a sense of humor
This is the best thing you can do to survive a tour. Have a gigantic unbeatable sense of humor. The bigger the better. Things are gonna break. You’re gonna be hot or cold. Sometimes you’ll get no sleep and other times you’ll have nothing to do. Complaining will only make you and those around you more miserable.
2. No Farting
You might think, “Oh only gross immature dudes do that.” I was in a band with three girls once on a twelve hour haul down to the deepest depths of Louisiana and one of the girls would not stop farting. At least if a dude is doing it you can kick his ass. I mean, I’m all for equality, but I still don’t think it’s okay to hit a girl, even if she smells like the basement of a house made out of turds.
Usually what happens is you get one farter, and then someone else starts farting to out-fart them. Next thing you know, a third farter joins the battle and you’ve got a farting arms race on your hands. Everyone’s farting and smelling farts and no one really wins.
3. No Poops on the Bus
Yes, the bus has a toilet. Yes it’s a million times cleaner than the portajohns in the backstage area. No you can’t poop in there. This is a smell issue like the above.
4. Spend time by yourself
If you’re around the same people 24 hours a day for extended periods of time, sooner or later you will despise every single angle of their big dumb face. The sound of their voice will be like a tiger’s claw in your ear hole.
Spend some time by yourself, maybe take a walk or call your loved ones. You young whippersnappers today have your fancy cell phones with your free long distance, so you can call your mamas. Back in my day we had none of that. We just had to wonder if our mamas still loved us. They did, for the most part.
5. Get some exercise, drink water, and eat real food whenever possible
After just a few days of travel it’s really easy to start feeling like a zombie. Long stints at the wheel, interrupted sleep schedule, and cheap crappy road food can all contribute, not to mention the ever present demon alcohol.
Do yourself a huge favor and try to get a bit of exercise, even if it’s just walking down the street for a bit or stretching your body with some yoga. Drink water whenever you can, especially if your duties include singing. Eat some fruit or a salad now and again.
On the subject of alcohol, try not to get stinko every single night, even if the beers are free. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
6. Don’t go on tour
Yeah, I said it. The easiest way to survive a tour is not to go on one, or at least to wait until it makes sense. How do you know if it makes sense? Easy. You’re selling out venues in your home town.
If you’re not selling out your home venues, leaving town on a tour is not a good idea. Gas is expensive. Sleeping and eating are expensive. Driving long hours is dangerous. It is very easy to go on the road for a few days, end up hundreds of bucks out of pocket and have nothing to show for it but a half dozen extra email list names.
Even if all that still sounds worth it to you, consider that convincing venues to have you come play then not drawing anyone is a great way to never play that venue again. Talent buyers and club owners talk to each other all the time. It behooves you to wait until you know you can draw to start courting out of town venues.
Don’t get me wrong, touring can be a blast… or so I’ve heard. I mostly remember it being a gigantic pain in the hind parts.