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Unless you’re traveling in a roomy, air-conditioned bus, touring as an independent band is an experience rife with stenches, coin-scrounging, and utter exhaustion. Hitting the road DIY-style is definitely prone to pitfalls, especially if it’s your first go ’round. But there are ways to make things easier – and less, um, fungus-addled.
Properly prepping your vehicle (check-up, spare tire, patch kit), booking shows and confirming all details, mapping your route, and saving up a decent food and gas fund are all important steps in organizing your trip. There’s even more you can do to reduce the likelihood of setbacks and issues, though. We spoke with a handful of musicians who’ve learned tips and tricks firsthand, and we’ve compiled our favorites below. A few of these points will sound very specific to the particular person, but we felt those tidbits belonged anyway – as a reminder that even some of the more difficult aspects of DIY touring can make for memorable experiences.
“Never sleep with your shoes on. A lot of people think that’s a good thing, but you should let them air out. You’ll get some fungus if you sleep with your shoes on. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to [other people whose names have been removed for privacy].” – Javi Garrote of Los Vigilantes
“[Javi] Garrote only ever takes two pairs of socks, which leads to my suggestion: socks… and undies. Also learn how to drive stick.” – Jota Vigilante of Los Vigilantes
“Pack extra socks.” – Brandon Arnold
“Baking soda.” – Juanko Navajas Rompekuerdas of Lopo Drido
“Two words: Gold Bond.” – Joey Genovese of Big Tits
“Everybody keep their taint-tainted fingers out of their damned eyes already, fuck.” – Matt Greenia of Laurasia
“I bring a headlamp for reading at night, fixing the car, looking for stuff in a dark venue.” – Alex White of White Mystery
“Always have a Gatorade bottle in the van or a PVC pipe in case you have to pee, and you can’t stop because you are late. Done that many a time.” – Chris Shannon, former member of Broadcast the Nightmare
“I started off packing way too much. You only need one (or two at the most) jeans, and you need baby wipes.” – Matt Schwartz of Pacifico
“Touring drummers should always pack Gorilla tape, different size hose clamps, and a tiny screwdriver. You can fix almost any drum-related problem with those.” – Diego Armando of Campo-Formio
“Hummus.” – Juanko Navajas Rompekuerdas of Lopo Drido
“Never pass out wasted in a dog bed – you’ll catch fleas.” – Russell Owens of (now defunct band) Batata Doce
“Do not wear spikes, chains, pins, etc. at the airport. Less shit to take off at the check point. Don’t buy souvenirs for the family, girlfriend, or boyfriend.” – Hommy Cabrera Rodríguez of Anti-Sociales and Un Final Fatal
“Never drive I-10 in Florida by drug enforcement with a Hawaiian flower necklace dangling off the driver side mirror with band members who have drugs.” – Russell Owens of (now defunct band) Batata Doce
“Don’t pack anything that you really care about because the odds are you’ll forget it somewhere.” – April Novak Proveaux of (now defunct band) Rat Traps
“Always bring a pair of scissors – people need haircuts!” – Zuania Colón of Los Pepiniyoz
“No girlfriends or boyfriends allowed!” – Fernando Quintero of Campo-Formio
“Hide your bag of ‘things’ inside guitar pedals…Tour karma is real, so be nice. Sound guys: the longer the ponytail, the saltier the attitude…. If your van breaks down, make sure it’s not in a dry county.” – Justin Newton, formerly of N.E.C., This Piano Plays Itself, and On Holiday
What are your uncommon touring tips? Let us know in the comments!
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible. This article was originally posted at Sonicbids.com. It has been republished here with permission.