Slayer are the only band I have ever fallen in love with without hearing a note.
It was in 1994 when I was sixteen – despite growing up in a house full of Rock music I started caring about it quite late. Until fifteen, my only interests were video games, movies and books (initially about dragons, later about eldritch tentacle horrors – I must be one of the few Metal fans who got into Lovecraft before the music), with Rock arriving very suddenly through the surprising medium of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet (Mercury). From there it was a rapid journey through Guns n’ Roses, Motörhead and Black Sabbath, and then a family friend put Master Of Puppets (Elektra) on and by the time ‘Battery’ had finished I was a different person.Continue reading →
This past year was a huge one for music with so many bands releasing new material it was hard to keep up, even for us here at Ghost Cult. So many legacy bands, modern classic acts, and up and comers dropped new music this year, some may wish they had waited until 2017 to drop it like it’s hot. Without further ado, here are our picks for the new tunes you need in your life in 2017. Continue reading →
The almighty Crowbar will be releasing The Serpent Only Lies on October 28th via Entertainment One (eOne). As you’ve heard from the ‘Falling While Rising’ and ‘Plasmic and Pure’ singles, the NOLA legends are as heavy as ever, and Kirk Windstein continues to write riffs that truly shake the world. I recently had the honor of sitting down with the riff lord to discuss the writing of their new album, the return of Tommy Buckley, and much more.Continue reading →
The almighty Slayer released Reign In Blood (Def Jam) on October 7th, 1986, and completely changed the game. The follow-up to 1983’s Show No Mercy (Metal Blade) and 1985’s Hell Awaits (Metal Blade) was highly anticipated by fans all over the world, and the four legends delivered on every level. Reign In Blood immediately became an instant classic in the metal scene, and thirty years later, it’s still considered one of the most important records in the history of heavy metal.Continue reading →
While most people in bands like each other to a good extent, being in proximity to anyone for an extended period of time will test boundaries—pet peeves become liabilities, as everything is amplified.
Navigating different personalities requires a bit of shamanic savvy: I pull my advice on this from don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.
The Four Agreements is tome of Toltec wisdom that can be applied to many different situations, but I find it especially useful when touring.
It is a little hippie, however, so please bear with me:
1- Don’t take anything personally
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
In the midst of drunken verbal banter, it may be hard to call up your inner yogi and mentally levitate above the din, but it’s necessary.
Most of the time, someone’s beef isn’t about you—they may be tired, hungry, lonely, scared—touring pulls out many insecurities, and being in proximity to people at their most vulnerable can be challenging.
So, if someone lashes at you, take a deep breath, walk it off and let it go—according to Ruiz, it’s not about you anyway.
2- Always do your best
“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
There will be bad shows with low attendance; you’ll make no merch money; you’ll get drunk and fall down; you’ll lose sleep and be hungry.
The key is to show up, look nice, and, to throw in a little mom wisdom, just do the best you can.
Forgive yourself and forgive others for bad performances and drunken stupors—over look the things you can’t change.
3-Be Impeccable with your Word
Do what you say, say what you mean If you’re going off on a beer run before sound check, tell someone—and let them know what time you’ll return.
Touring is a team effort, one that requires every one person’s cooperation and communication, so be clear and concise—if you need some alone time, say something and then go clear your head.
Also: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need—you’re better off confessing you need breathing room or a burrito than carrying on begrudgingly.
Merch tables at MDF 13, by Hillarie Jason
4-Don’t Make Assumptions
Don’t assume the GPS is right; don’t assume the promoter will pay; don’t assume your shows are solid—and don’t assume your set time is.
Double check everything—call ahead and confirm: you’ll avoid many a-misery by simply ensuring everything is as it should be.
Most of all, remember to keep it light: you’re there to have fun! You’re there to bring music to the masses, get laid, maybe get paid—you’re doing something most never get the chance to, so look on the bright side to stave off negativity.
In keeping some of these Toltec tenants in mind, you can keep your cool, and as a result, you will find you’re better off and that your interactions with everyone else will be better too.
“Ride Like the Wind”
Inevitably, touring will simply wear you down: you may catch a cold or run on fumes. Equipment may break or morale may be low.
The solution: Play “Ride like the Wind.”
“Ride like the Wind,” the 1980 Christopher Cross masterpiece, carries in it the energy and inspiration to raise your spirits. Play it when you feel down or tired; play it at the start of each journey. Cross’ wise words and soft, affirmed vocal delivery is a comforting call of victory—an encouraging reminder that you. can. do. this!
Touring is a fun and challenging, unique experience. More than a simple test of will, it’s a lifestyle for many—for me, it’s a lifestyle I greatly enjoy.
My next stints include a summer and autumn excursion, respectively, with some great bands I’ll be sure to soon disclose.
But of all the things I’ve learned when touring, what I note most is how much I enjoy meeting new bands and Metal-head fans who quickly become new friends. I feel deep sense of camaraderie, as if part of a clan. Thus, being on the road is a kind of homecoming—I look forward a family reunion soon.
*Special thanks to Zack, Justin, and Jon of Neckrofilth
Crowd during At The Gates recent US Tour, by Hillarie Jason Photography
In Part II of Lindsay O’Connor’s survival guide for winning at tour life, she covers more essential knowledge to overcome common pitfalls such has bad eating habits, dealing with a total lack of personal space, and the hope of getting any semblance of rest between gigs.
Crap confections found at truck stops, like plastic-wrapped everything, hot dogs sweating out grease, cookies, chips, Gardettos, and cheap sweets, make for a heavy-on-the-breath, post-consumption scent.
In the South, fried chicken is available at nearly every one—biscuits gravy too—and in-van eating makes for a fried-food perfumery—a greasy belch becomes an allspice strong enough to curl even the straightest hair.
The Solution: Chew gum, use mouthwash, brush teeth.
Rid yourself of corn-dog carrion; keep thy precious mouth clean.
Wacky Tobacky & Cigarettes
Smoke, of any kind, is strong and leaves long-lasting odor choke. Combined with any or all of the aforementioned scents, and smoke can and does make for undeterred intensity that rarely ever abates.
The Solution: Ventilate
Smoke only with windows open or rolled down. Keep a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda open under the seat. Febreze often, and grab an air freshener tree at the next gas station fuel-up.
The Solution: Only abstinence offers 100 percent protection.
Deal with Space Constraints
When traveling with a smaller group, it’s easier to claim space and stake out van turf.
If possible, pick a seat, or call a bench or shotgun; stow your personal items in that area.
Note, however, this may not always be possible: in cases where there are more than a handful of people in the van, you’ll have to be flexible.
The solution: Keep your stuff in one space
For space constraints, try to keep your personal goods all in one area: your stuff will be easy to find—you can easily change clothing, access your food, and find your shoes without dismantling the van.
Accommodations: And Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Tight budgets also don’t often allow for hotel stays, so you’ll likely have to cozy up to the snoring slobber monster next to you.
You’ll also likely sleep on floors and in vans, or on dog-and-cat hair-ridden sofa beds. But do find time to sleep: sleep prevents you from snapping necks and slitting wrists; it affords the brain a much-needed abscond from the over-stimulating reality of touring.
If you can steal away to a hotel room alone, please do: private time is a luxury, so enjoy it wisely. Restore in a soft bed and get a good hot shower in the morning.
But if you can’t, embrace the perils of road sleep: In the spirit of camaraderie, dog pile your homies—snuggle up to that bearded wonder tech-ing your six string.
Be forgiving of unsavory sleeping environments; be grateful for generosity: crashing in people’s homes is common, so be sure to thank them for their hospitality.
Handle Physical Contact
Tight spaces may also mean that you’ll have to deal with close physical proximity to people—that seems like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people have problems with touching.
The solution: Focus Power
Stay focused, tune out annoying things (smells, sounds, snoring), and learn to deal with someone’s arm or leg on your own. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part III of Lindsay’s insightful compendium of how to make it out of the tour van alive and in one piece.
Follow Lindsay O’Connor’s adventures on the road through her Instagram at OSPREY_MM.
Crowdsurfer at Neurotic Deathfest, by Susanne A. Maathuis
Over the last few years, I’ve been roadie and slinger of fine cotton goods for a number of bands on tour, and each touring experience has afforded me many great opportunities.
My last tour tenure was as a merch maven with Ghoul, Phobia, and Nekrofilth; on this trek out, I decided to take special note some of the subtle nuances that make touring both challenging and rewarding.
Ghoul, by Hillarie Jason Photography.
At times rigorous, at times entertaining, touring requires a bit of savvy: below, I share some of what I’ve learned on how to survive on the road, as well as some solutions to common tour challenges.
First, Do Some Prep Work
Before you take off for tour, make sure your home shit is set—pay the rent, take out the trash, make the bed. The preliminary prep work ensures a peaceful return to clean, tightly swaddled sheets.
It also affords peace of mind and full focus while on the road: no back-home calls to landlords or bill collectors—when you’re on the road, full investment in the experience makes for a successful journey.
Then, Get In the Van
Most bands tour in vans: buses outfitted with showers and coffin-sized sleep stalls are a precious rarity.
Tours carried out in eight-to-twelve seater vans can quickly become packed and stacked with gear and personal belongings, so space is at a premium. Moreover, weeks of unshowered bodies and food, sweaty clothing and booze, turn most tour vans into acrid hauls of sour smells.
In light of this, I came up with a couple of simple solutions for surviving in these overstuffed stink tanks for a more comfortable ride.
Mutilation Rites, by Julian Thompson
Navigating the Funk
Post-gig funk is pretty palpable: Showers are scarce, and unwashed armpits donate a hefty scent—it can be quite heinous.
The Solution: Use deodorant, take an Irish shower, use soap.
Although showers may not be readily unavailable, Speed Stick solves at least the odor issue; baby wipes neutralize odor too.
Liquid Dial soap kills bacteria, so washing hands, face, and pits in the venue bathroom sink cleans you up well enough to cut the funk. Then, when possible, change your clothing. If all else fails, spray cologne or perfume on clothing, body, and hair to cut back the odor.
Getting Gas. Finding Food. Landing Lodging.
Scrapping by on a tight budget is pretty much par for most band courses: schlepping merch for tips, I’ve learned to hang up my penchant for hard to find, expensive, specialty vegan foods (fresh-pressed juices and gourmet treats) in favor of easy staples (Starbucks green tea and apples).
Even if you’re not vegan, find road-friendly, nutrient-dense staples, and stock-up on them.
Find foods that can nutritionally sustain you, like oranges, bananas, yogurts, as well as those that will hold-up in a variety of climates, like granola, cereals, protein bars. Clean fruits and store them well (bring a good-sized cooler), and wedge in a serving or two once or twice a day.
Alcohol is another purveyor of the potent, pungent stench of van gone wrong. Cheap booze, expensive liquors— it doesn’t matter: beer spills and post-binge drinking thrills mar the olfactory—it’s enough to turn the tum of even the most adept imbiber.
The Solution: Febreze
Spray it, embrace it, love it— Febreze neutralizes most odors while imparting a pleasant powder-fresh scent, which helps settle the nausea-inducing pong of puke marinating in the cargo space.
Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part II of Lindsay’s touring primer, helping you rule the killing road or touring life, and not die with your boots on.
Follow Lindsay O’Connor’s adventures on the road through her Instagram at OSPREY_MM.