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Mar212007

On the Road

Ok, your thinking….. ew! gross! Well, too bad. I’ve learned more about my co-workers than I care to admit. Out here, nothing is sacred. Everything is moaned about, shared and of course, shown. It’s like we constantly try to shock one another in order to manage another 19 hour day, another 750 mile bus ride, another day on tour. You’ll come to discover the whiners on tour are generally the big, fury dudes. They’re usually the leaders of the pack, in their respective departments on tour. Upon first introduction, they appear to be the least likely of whiners with their burly, tattooed nature but within a week, another side is revealed. And those who are generally quiet & reserved become the first to announce it’s asparagus day in catering, unto which they claim makes their pee smell funny. Then, they may become the one who drinks too much on the bus and cannot make it to the bathroom in time, so they urinate in the bunk area. Which can really suck if you sleep in a bottom bunk. Because eventually, you will roll out of your bunk into someone else’s asparagus smelling pee. By then, you’ve thankfully reached the hotel and rush to your room to shower. But when you reach your room and the bloody key doesn’t work, you are forced back downstairs to announce to the front desk staff you are with the “Poo Poo Butt” group and need another room key. Insult to injury…. just another day on tour. We all become characters out here. It’s like touring illuminates our true selves or our gross selves…depending on the conversation.

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Mar182007

On the Road

You must wonder….. what the hell goes on out there on tour?!

Simply put, it’s a glorified field trip, with pay, without parental supervision.

It’s a brilliant fusion of talent and stupidity with constant access to the inaccessible.

Strip aside the expected response of moving a big rock show by multitude of trucks & buses, from city to city. Forget about the extensive world travel. Who cares about the “celebrity by association” status we all share out here. It’s the people that make the tour tick, which makes touring what it really is. In an environment where a family structure forms overnight. Aspects of our character are soon revealed, some of which our spouses at home probably never see. Relationships that usually take months, even years to cultivate in the real world, happen almost instantly out here. We form the most extremely dysfunctional family, kind of like an instant oatmeal society. A bonding that must take place in order to survive the madness, chaos & mayhem. The environment is intense, the travel is extensive at a warp speed pace and the discovery of your new family is an experience all its own. And with that, you quickly discover the quirks of your new family as you are thrust into living & working together everyday for months at a time.

Let’s talk about;

a singer who brushes his teeth with shots of hot espresso before going on stage.

a body guard who walks around with incense sticks burning to “create his own ambiance.”

a personal assistant who runs the shower in every hotel room from the moment of check in, until check out – because the sound of water is soothing.

a production manager who insists on having his socks dry cleaned.

a production assistant who rearranges the furniture in every hotel room to make it more “Feng Shui.”

a lighting designer who wears an ascot daily & must hang all of his clothes up in the back lounge of the tour bus.

a tour manager who is happy to change his clothes in the production office, in front of anyone – as soon as the laundry returns.

when a coffee order for Starbucks contains the following demand: Grande, dry, beverage weight of point 34 pound, skinny decaf soy latte with one pump of vanilla.

Welcome to your new family……

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Mar112007

On the Road

Those of us who tour for a living, we certainly lead the glamorous life. We travel across North America in state of the art tour buses. Buses with internet, flat screen TVs and DVD players in each bunk. Coolers stocked full of beer & booze with plenty of food, none of which we pay for. Buses worth in excessive half a million dollars.

We fly around the world to do a handful of shows & sleep in lovely hotels. Promoters take us to fancy dinners, town cars rescue us from the airport after a long international journey to whisk us home. Occasionally, we find ourselves flying on private jets, where limos pull up to the plane on the tarmac, load our bags in to the car and speed us to the venue so we get on stage just in time. Loads of celebrities come to our shows, we have after show parties that go until the wee hours…. we have access to anything & everything on a moments notice. As long the artist is selling out venue after venue, no one will say no to you. Money is no object and because you spend so much of the artist’s money to keep them happy – you find yourself spending your own money the same way, but it’s of no consequence, because so long as you tour, the income is usually quite spectacular.

But with the glamour comes a harsh & hilarious reality. You can be on tour with the hottest band, doing multiple shows in a row, by way of zigzagging across the country for 3 months – due to piss poor planning on the part of management. The crew can go days with only 4 hours of sleep, no showers and no one should ever have to wear the same underwear 3 days in a row. Catering runs out of food, flights get canceled, your luggage goes missing – never to be found. Drivers can be inept and take you to the wrong venue 25 miles away from where you should be. Sometimes your office ends up in a parking lot next to the club you are playing, amongst the chaos on Sunset Blvd. And then you find yourself unemployed, struggling to find a way to keep the lifestyle going, at home, like you do on the road. At home where you aren’t given a weekly per diem, you have to wash you own stinky undies, where room service doesn’t exist, you have to buy & stock your own refrigerator and you have to learn to fend for yourself. Its a hard knock life.

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Mar52007

At home decompressing

Current Position: Auckland, New Zealand – boarding a flight bound for LAX

Local Time: Thursday, 8pm

Destination time: Los Angeles, 11pm Wednesday

Journey time to destination: 12 hours

I’ve left the future to land in the present, so where exactly does that leave my past? It’s a rare opportunity for one to have the chance to live two Thursdays in a row. Some might perceive as a curse, I see it as a blessing. Should you have done something wrong, you have an extra 21 hours of the same day to make amends for your mistake. How rad is that? Time zones conspire in my favor and in the favor of all aboard the same flight bound for LAX. And believe me, some people on that flight probably need a retake of that Thursday to cleanse themselves, mentally, after enduring our overly inebriated crew boys.

After 7 1/2 weeks of travel, one has little patience for the novice traveler. Things you can usually deal with suddenly become the biggest annoyances. Once you have flown 26,000 miles and still have over 5,000 miles to go, before getting home, your ability to deal with the norm shifts quite extreme to having no patience whatsoever. People who cut queues, those who refuse to remove shoes when going thru security, those who argue with TSA about throwing out a perfectly good bottle of water – my advice to those novices are to deal with it. As you will not win with security and surely you will piss off those behind you. Because not only have I traveled over 31,000 miles in less than 8 weeks, I fly with a group of people, some comfortable enough to disrobe until fully Monty, only 5 hours into a 12 hour flight – to then run naked thru coach class. So, oddly enough, should you be less than frequent flier reading this, bear in mind, the dude behind you in security may next be running naked on your flight. Welcome aboard!

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