Touring Advice From Raul Bianchi of The Expendables

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BATHROOM BUSINESS ON THE ROAD

I always need a few days after a long tour to decompress, and rediscover all the wonderful things about home that I’ve been missing for the last two months.  Going from a bunk in a bus that would be comfortable for a tween, back to a queen size bed is pure bliss.  Showering in your own bathroom without sandals whenever your heart desires sure beats using wet wipes or paying $12 to shower at a truck stop.  Or, if you’re lucky enough to travel with a shower on your vehicle, you can soap up and take a very quick shower. Sometimes the water is boiling hot, other times ice cold.  Laundry service on the road is also hard to come by (except for socks, of course, which I buy every tour and pop on a new pair daily).  I prefer the lazy route of wash and fold.  It’s expensive but a luxury I will afford myself as the other options are usually limited.

But the one thing that the comfort of your own home provides that most people take for granted on the road is the availability and proximity of a toilet.  Not just a clean toilet, but any toilet.  Waking up in the morning on a tour bus with cold sweats and a gurgle in your stomach when there isn’t a toilet or a rest stop for miles can be a very scary experience. And when the tour diet catches up to you before going on stage at a small club with a bathroom with one stall and no door, sometimes a bag of shame is your only option. Most touring musicians have variations on the bag of shame, and I’m no expert, but you can Google it for the definition and tips.  Waking up at home, the first thought that runs through your head is usually what to have for breakfast, not, “Can I find a bathroom in time?” And when you get home from a long tour it’s amazing to feel those stresses and worries just melt away.

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STAYING SANE ON TOUR

Every tour and every show is different.  Dealing with harsh weather extremes and cramped quarters can be emotionally draining even for the best of friends, and as touring becomes monotonous it is important to find different ways to stay sane and have fun (whether it’s finding something fun to do on a day off or going to eat somewhere interesting or exotic).

Enjoy your time on stage, and remember that for every bad show, or group of bad shows, there is always a great show around the corner to lift your spirits and pull you through, and if there isn’t, then make one (not condoning it, but alcohol usually helps).  If you can, make time to go to a sporting event, or a historical landmark.  Meet new people and take pictures, a lot of times the things you do away from the shows will be the most memorable.  Breaking up the monotony is key, because touring can become stale.  That goes for being on stage as well.  I always try and improvise and be creative on stage; it helps me be a better musician and not become stagnant playing the same songs for years. And if you glossed over these two boring paragraphs for some nugget of wisdom at the end, I offer none.  Just remember to have fun, bring wet wipes, plenty of underwear, and buy new socks. Oh, and be nice to people at venues. You might make new friends, and you don’t want it to be awkward next time you go back.

Follow on Twitter @TheExpendables

photography by Scott Tripper

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