Hi. My name is Danny and I’ve spent the last decade tour managing bands around the world. Normally I write city guides but now I’ve decided to write a how to about touring. JOIN ME. QUIT YOUR JOB. COME ALONG FOR THE RIDE. FUCKING READ THIS!!!!!!!!!
I’ve seen it before. A couple or individual graduate college, work a job for a bit, think they’ve got it all figured out and then slowly start to die inside from boredom and dissatisfaction. At this very moment they turn on the TV or log into Amazon and there it is, Eat Pray Love. A book about dumping your boring husband for James Franco then dumping him to travel the world and bang Javier Bardem. I GET IT. WE ALL WANNA BANG JAVIER.
“We all wanna bang Javier Bardem”
Or they start listening to some idiot at a seminar about finding meaning in their life and end up walking on hot coals and setting on fire and dying. You don’t want to set on fire and die do you? I didn’t think so.
What if there were another way? A way to travel around and see cool things without dumping your husband and James Franco? A way to get around and see the world without taking those dumbass “travel blog” photos. A way to come to the naggingly common sense conclusions everyone has when they finally step on a plane like and not limited to:
“In Europe, they work to live. In America, we live to work”
“Life is about doing what you love and loving what you do”
“We are all connected”
“In Spain they take naps everyday. They’re called siestas. We as a nation need more siestas”
Albeit, I do agree with these sentiments but I also like being employed. Sue me. I’m skeptical of a travel bloggers income. I enjoy a lack of ambiguity when people ask me what I do. I like buying overpriced Adidas shoes online and then regretting said decision because I ordered a 9.5 and I’m a 10 and it’s non-refundable. I like that. Touring pays money, sometimes, a lot of money.
Burning out at a job you hate to temporarily fly around the world is fine… but you’re gonna have to come back. Everyone goes home. We’ve all met that waiter in Hawaii that’s like, “Came here! Saw the Sunset! NEVER LEFT!” and he’s creepy. Ok. He’s got a ponytail, he lives in a van, he’s from Nebraska.
I’m here to tell you there is a middle ground. One that is also temporary but one that can perhaps satiate your appetite for a paycheck and desire to pull a Jerry Mcguire and flick off the idiots in your office after you quit. BTW if you do this, pllllease have a tour offer first and then video tape it.
Thus my how to. My Tony Robbins debut.
Everywhere I go on tour people are like, “OMG I BET THAT’S AWESOME I HATE MY LIFE AND MY GIRLFRIEND. SHE’S STANDING NEXT TO ME. HOW DO I IT? HOW DO I GET RID OF HER?????” Inevitably the conversation turns to how I started tour managing and how they too can surround themselves with a litany of drunk hobos with guitars night after night. I’ve grown tired of answering these questions, not because I’m an asshole but because I’m tired. Literally. I need a nap. So I’ve decided to just write this shit down and tell you the following:
- How to become a tour manager. How I became a tour manager.
- How a touring crew works. The different jobs and what you might like to do.
- How the rest of the music industry works and where touring crew fit in.
- How to advance a tour
- Travel options for a band and how to book those options.
- What to pack on tour
- How to settle a tour
- How to maintain a relationship while on tour
- How to deal with managers, agents, and the label
- How to deal with an unruly band
- How to run a tour in North America
- How to run a tour in Europe
- How to run a tour in Australia
- How to run a tour in South / Central America
- What to do when you are done touring
- How to score bomb coke on the road (this isn’t actually a chapter)
And any others I think of. Touring is not for everyone. But I’m hoping I persuade a few of you that are about to head to Bali and find a yogi man ontop of a mountain to answer your questions. This yogi man doesn’t exist and if he does… he probably wants to come down and play Xbox one like the rest of us. I’m writing this mainly because it’s clear my time as a tour manager is nearing an end. I’ve loved it but… it’s too hard to do forever. Some people can do it in perpetuity and maybe I’ll return but I’ve set enough water bottles onstage for 10 lives.
That being said I think every single person should go on tour.
Why? It teaches you a lot.
- How to be a band that makes money. Which means, how to run a small business. Bands are a small group of creative people. There is no fat. Maybe the good kind of avocado fat… Only people that are directly contributing in some way can be involved. This can be applied to any ad agency or creative endeavor.
- You learn that you don’t need much. I leave home for 3 months at a time with a high quality backpack and a high quality, carry on sized suitcase. That’s it. I have a very specific way I pack both and very specific things I pack in both. When I come home and look at my GIGANTIC closet.. Aka my bedroom I realize that I don’t need any of that and just want my suitcase. I started coming home and throwing out all my shit. I don’t have the arms or space to carry anything I don’t need on tour…. And then I realized I don’t need any of that at home either.
- Any myth behind people that make cool things is debunked. There is no secret other than the fact that they are talented and work hard. For some reason the art they make resonates with people. Also they’ve been trying to do this for a long time and have all the fears and anxieties we all do they just know how to compartmentalize these things better.
- You make the best life long adult friends you will ever have. Making friends after college is hard. I’ve had to do it and many places and it’s never worked out better than when I’m on tour. You are forced to smell each others farts and share beds for months. You drink together, fight, hug, cry, miss people together, and share in some great victories. It’s rare in the adult world that a group of people share a victory together. And I mean a visceral one where everyone is cheering like they’re they’re Olympians. Imagine playing to nobody in some shitty bar in Iowa then getting to a point where you are about to walk onstage in like Paris and there’s 5,000 people waiting. It’s cause for a celebration bitches.
- You get laid, drunk, and high, enough times that you get over it. Think about that. Well enough to stay employed. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Tired of Sex” by Weezer.
- You see a lot of great places in ways other people do not. Seeing how people in different parts of the world is cool. Seeing how people handle money is interesting. Also you go to places you’d never go to as a tourist. Little known fact there are SO many places in the world. So many. And if you have a normal job you save up and hit the big ones because that makes sense. But like on tour you end up in places tourists never go to. Who is going to book a trip to a little town 30 miles north of Edinburgh? Why? You’ll probably just go to Edinburgh or pass through the other town. On tour you go to that town and interact with its residents and sleep there and eat there. That’s cool.
- Your limits will be tested. You’ll learn how little sleep you can get away with. How much patience you really have. Some people lose their mind on tour. It’s like the single biggest reason bands blow up and I don’t mean in a positive sense. It’s an extremely difficult lifestyle.
If any of this sounds good. Read on. Every week I will explain a little more and eventually you will have a good idea of how to do this. Eventually I’d like it to be a little book. Wouldn’t you like that too. OK. OK. I’ll see you next week. If you likes this. Follow me on twitter. If you want to pour acid on my dumb face or send me anthrax, don’t. Just go here and send me hate mail.