So, the original scheduled dates for the ‘first of many’ tour wrapped up in Kitchener Friday night at Lancaster House. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you made it out to one of the shows on the tour and everyone who housed/fed/put up with/hung out with/talked to me throughout the tour. I met lots of new people, made a bunch of contacts and learned a few lessons. I can’t seem to go back to ‘normal’ life now though, I’ve kept booking shows further and further away. This Friday I’m in Ottawa and then Montreal on Saturday. I’ve been told that there’s a “cream or ointment” for the touring itch, but as of right now? I love it and am going to continue to do it.
So I decided to compile a list of things I learned on tour for my own entertainment and so people looking to go on tour can learn from my mistakes or experiences:
1) People are going to ignore you – A large portion of the e-mails and phone calls you do when trying to book shows will go ignored. Do your best to get as much information as you can over the phone by asking open ended questions. A lot of people on the phone will ask you to just send them an e-mail, but e-mails are really easy to ignore. Just keep at it though, eventually you’ll get your dates booked up.
2) Buy a tuner – Seriously, you can buy a tuner for $15-$20. At one particular show I played one guitar player of a band said to the other, “Are you in tune?” to which the other said, “I don’t know, let’s tune to each other.” They then proceeded to air tune on stage, not to mention leaving the bass player out of this “tuning” party. I wish I was making this up. Some may call me a dick for saying this, but I had to endure 45 minutes of terribly tuned playing. So who’s the bigger dick? Just buy a tuner… please…
3) There are still people who love and support music, you just have to dig for them – It’s hard being a musician in Canada. Some people may say, “boohoo, you’re playing music for a living” to that, but it always seems that someone is going to try to exploit you for money, not want to pay you, not want to pay to listen to you and own your music for free. This makes it hard to do as a living and puts a stigma on independent musicians as poor people who need to get real jobs. There are still people who support you though! There were a few venues I played where the owners really wanted to support music and make sure I was treated well, not just make some money off me. It never fails that when you think a show is a bust, that some stranger will come up to you when you’re finished and tell you they loved your set, making you remember how much you love doing what you do.
4) Trail mix is awesome – That is all.
5) Give yourself plenty of time to get to a show – There was one particular show where the drive should’ve taken me 1 ½ hours and it ended up taking 3 ¼… Fortunately I had left really early.
6) Be friendly – Chat with the people at the shows. Whether it’s the crowd, the other musicians, or the staff at the venue. Don’t act like a big deal, talk to everyone. People treat you better and want you back if you’re nice to them.
7) Don’t think you’re a big deal unless you are – Don’t tell the show’s organizer you’re going to bring a whole bunch of people out because it’s your hometown, and bring two. Don’t call your two friends that you brought your fans. Don’t compare yourself to Hendrix unless you’re an amazing/ground breaking guitarist. You will piss off everyone around you including me and you don’t want to see me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…
8) Don’t ever stop looking for more shows – Have a night off? Book another show. Hear about a venue in a town close by? Call for a show. The more contacts you have, the easier life is going to be the next time booking comes around.
9) Bring lots of extra strings – Those bastards always seem to break in the worst possible situations! (((fist shake)))
10) Don’t pay to play – This is reserved for high school bands that have no other ways of getting shows and those who don’t know any better. If someone wants you sell tickets for their show they should be giving you money from said ticket sales. Otherwise you end up paying someone for doing their work for them. People will try to make a buck off of you no matter what. There was a show where we were asked to sell tickets, but I said no and we were still put on the bill anyway. The show then, surprise surprise, ended up falling through. These types of shows and people are not professional, so don’t waste your time on them if you’re serious about what you’re doing.
11) Have fun – It took me a while to get this one down pat. Things go wrong, such is life. Even out of the worst situations, you have to see the good things. I played a show where there were very few people in the audience, but one of the people wrote a great review for the show in a magazine and another took my CD for his radio program. Make sure you are learning something from every experience and it will stay fun.
So that’s all I can think of for now, sorry about the lengthy entry, but I figured I was overdue for one. As for my usual funny picture, here is Spun reminding me why I don’t mess with him… I went with him because I wanted to live.
Until next time, take care, stayed tuned, and I’ll see you on the 19th!