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.
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.