All hell will descend on Denver, CO’s Gothic Theatre on Saturday December 5th as the third edition of the Denver Black Sky Festival gets underway. Sponsored once again by Relapse Records, Black Sky features the very best in national and local death metal, grindcore, thrash, and doom acts the scene has to offer. Grindcore masters Pig Destroyer and reactivated death metal lords Skinless head the line up of crushing, uncompromising bands. Also on the bill are Havok, Ringworm, In The Company of Serpents, Nekrofilth, Khemmis and Axeslasher. All of this has come at the impetus of the excellent Black Sky Brewerywhose love of metal has only been matched by a deep craft brew list that changes daily, and tons of great food pairings for the discerning hesher. Tickets are still available for the show at this link:
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
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.
Ghoul are taking part on the Weapons Of Mosh Destruction with Phobia and Nekrofilth, and dates are posted below. They are supporting the We Came For The Dead!!! vinyl, out now via Tankcrimes.
Ghoul on the Weapons Of Mosh Destruction 3-D Tour w/ Phobia, Nekrofilth: May 25: The Earl – Atlanta, GA May 26: The Hi-Tone – Memphis, TN May 27: Siberia – New Orleans, LA May 28: Fitzgeralds – Houston, TX May 29: Red 7 – Austin, TX May 30: The Korova – San Antonio, TX May 31: Three Links – Dallas, TX Jun 02: Club Red – Mesa, AZ (no Nekrofilth) Jun 03: Til Two – San Diego, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 04: Megasound Strudios – Ventura, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 05: Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 06: Los Globos – Los Angeles, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 07: DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA (no Nekrofilth) Aug 14 – 16: GWAR B-Q – Richmond, VA
Ghoul will be venturing out on the Weapons Of Mosh Destruction tour with Phobia and Nekrofilth. They are supporting We Came For The Dead!!! release on vinyl, out now via Tankcrimes.
GHOUL on the Weapons Of Mosh Destruction 3-D Tour w/ Phobia, Nekrofilth: May 15: Mo’s – Denver, CO May 16: Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA May 17: Reggie’s – Chicago, IL May 18: Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH May 19: Cattivo – Pittsburgh PA May 20: Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY May 21: Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA May 22: Maryland Death Fest – Baltimore, MD May 23: Maryland Death Fest – Baltimore, MD May 24: New Mountain – Asheville, NC May 25: The Earl – Atlanta, GA May 26: The Hi-Tone – Memphis, TN May 27: Siberia – New Orleans, LA May 28: Fitzgeralds – Houston, TX May 29: Red 7 – Austin, TX May 30: The Korova – San Antonio, TX May 31: Three Links – Dallas, TX Jun 02: Club Red – Mesa, AZ (no Nekrofilth) Jun 03: Til Two – San Diego, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 04: Megasound Strudios – Ventura, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 05: Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 06: Los Globos – Los Angeles, CA (no Nekrofilth) Jun 07: DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA (no Nekrofilth) Aug 14 – 16: GWAR B-Q – Richmond, VA