Written by Joe Michelini, singer and guitarist for River City Extension, an 8 piece touring band from Toms River, NJ. When not on tour he is guest blogging for BandsOnABudget.com.
Being on tour is fun… for a little while. But when you're on week three, driving through Wyoming in last night's clothes, and wondering when the next time you'll see a gas station is, the glorious musician's dream we all share can become a little taxing. Here are a few tips to keep yourself and the rest of your band feeling good on the road:
1. Split up your driving fair and square. My band (and some other bands we know) do 200 miles per person, and then we switch. Barring any crazy traffic/conditions this is about 3.5 hours on the highway. This way when you're all hanging out drinking after the show, the designated driver is already designated, get it?
2. Get good sleep. Don't just get good sleep, figure out what's best for you. Some people sleep better on a floor, some people sleep better in the van. You'd be surprised. Hotels are expensive, so make friends, and figure out what you need to be comfortable. One bad apple spoils the whole batch when you're trying to get going in the morning.
3. Nutrition! I know this sounds like a given, but really. Tour may be a vacation right now, but eventually it's going to be your whole life. To avoid any kind of crazy physical problems down the road (hah!), start taking care of yourself the way you would in your every day life. Tour is exciting, but make sure you form good habits early. Trust me, it only gets harder to not just eat whatever you want and drink a lot of beer every night.
4. Designate certain duties to certain individuals. One guy is on supplies, one guy is watching the engine health, one person is organizing the trailer, etc. It will put your minds at ease and a lot will get done. Switch off if you want!
5. Drink lots of water. If it means more pee stops, so be it. Water is so crucial to your health (especially all balled up in the van) it's unreal. On top of that, if you're a singer, stay away from the beer before you play. One sip of beer before you play puts your voice flat almost immediately. For a little bit more on that, check out this great article.
6. Eat breakfast and make it good! A good breakfast will not only help prepare you for a day of driving, it will also (generally) keep you full until the early afternoon. For those of us on a budget, that's only good news.
7. Keep in touch with your friends and family. The road is hectic, but make sure you are giving the important people in your life the time of day. Not only will they love to hear from you, but they can help ground you. It's easy to lose track of yourself while you are out on the road, and if you want to make a sustainable career out of what you are doing, you need to know what you want and who you are (at least, for small chunks of time). Going out on tour with no direction is a scary thing to do. There's a lot of push and pull, influence and growth. Try your best to remember who you are, why you are making music, and most importantly recognize the people at home that have allowed you to do this.
8. Try to take things one day at a time. Things can change in an instant on tour. If you want to be ready for everything, only concern yourself with the problems at hand, one day at a time. It's stressful enough to begin with. Being organized and humble doesn't hurt, either.
It's different for every band, and it's different every tour. We all have our own way of keeping it together, but that's just it. You have to keep it together. That doesn't mean don't party at all, it just means choose the right time and place to do it. A couple of times a week is more than sufficient. Remember, you're out here to play music before anything else. Right?