DIY Touring, or How to Make $14 the Hard Way and Disappoint Your Mom

Billy Yost of The Kickback

Tour Advice From Billy Yost of The Kickback

There are hard and fast touring rules.

If you forgot to bring a towel, for example, cancel everything and burn your life’s possessions. You’re useless and nothing is ever going to change. Turn back now or face the real and true prospect of drying your dripping carcass with either your dirty t-shirt or whatever you’re hoping the people you’re staying with won’t notice (they notice). Every night. Every morning. Total panic during the only 10-minutes you are allotted to yourself all day. You usually don’t realize you’ve forgotten a towel until you’re naked, wet, and alone, and while that’s my favorite Megadeth album, it’s no way to live. So check your bag. Check it twice. Check it every time you leave. Be the master of your bathroom circumstances and never, ever cease to pay tribute to that which is a clean and well-maintained commode.

After the bathroom, everything else about being a band on the road becomes a little less definitive. Open to interpretation and refinement. The cut of your band’s particular jib probably necessitates a few inherent rules and regulations that wouldn’t suit mine at all, and likewise. But six years of figuring out how to exist with other people in a van has offered me a few valuable lessons.

Be mindful of what you’re listening to. You’re actively making memories for yourself, and while that “TOUR PLAYLIST YAYA” may have seemed like a good idea at home, you may wind up emotionally attributing a song you used to love to a night in Denton, Texas where a stranger let you sleep on the floor of what had to have been the scene of at least three grizzly murders involving machetes and skin masks, and your only source of warmth on an unusually freezing Texas night was your thin sleeping bag and that song. The song that sounds like home. Over and over again until the sun came up. The song that now, when you hear it, takes you straight back to Texas and the night you actually wondered if between you or your bass player, who would be made the gimp and who the chained and hot-panted houseboy? Keep the songs that matter at home.

Route your tour, especially the long ones, through cities where your respective moms live. Remind her that all of her hopes and dreams for you finding work in the financial sector or, at worst, Old Navy would have been better spent on your brothers, sisters, or barring siblings, the family hamster. Not only are you a failure, but you found three other guys just like you, and they’d like breakfast, please. You’ve dedicated a life to everything she was hoping you’d avoid. Every hardship she tried to shield you from you’ve now leapt into, your grinning, stupid face-first. Be grateful she’s willing to still give you warm food.

In an attempt to maintain the illusion of privacy, over the years I’ve sort of perfected the art of sleeping with headphones on, the huge ones, because despite any research on the issue whatsoever, I’m convinced the more manageable in-ear headphones would ultimately wind up lodged violently and inoperably in my ear canal. The larger headset requires either sleeping like a corpse (eyes at the ceiling, hands folded like some kind of weirdo) or hanging one of the cups off the head so as to allow the ear to meet the pillow. I can’t imagine any of this is good for any part of the body, and I wouldn’t recommend it in the least. You just need to know the type of person you’re dealing with here.

Finally, a word on Slim Jims (and gas station food in general): I love Slim Jims. I would also love to make a record with Steve Albini. Slim Jims respond to the human body the same way I imagine Steve Albini would respond to our music. Out of habit, I do my best to avoid experiences that would crush my soul. This goes doubly for my rectum.

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