I’ve been traveling and playing in touring bands for almost a decade now, which means that I’ve had a lot of time to learn from my mistakes. I think I’ve made some lists like this in the past but I was younger then and not nearly as sensible as I have become in recent years. Here are five things that I absolutely refuse to tour without, now that I know better.
This is number one on the list because it is hands down the most important thing to have on tour aside from your respective gear. Touring is essentially being trapped in vehicles and small rooms with other people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While you may not be able to have much physical personal space, you can create the illusion of isolation by using a few crucial tools:
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Eye Mask (Not a cooling cucumber one or whatever–a black one made of fabric, to keep light out, duh.)
An oversized piece of clothing that has a large, black hood
A few good books (If you don’t want to sleep, you just want to not hear or acknowledge the world.)
PILLS & STUFF
If you can survive a month on the road without popping one of Mother’s Little Helpers every now and then–good for you. Most of us hyper-sensitive folx can not. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Norcos, beta blockers–whatever my bandmates and I can get our hands on. Even more importantly though are the vitamins, herbal tinctures and supplements. It’s important to keep your immune system in good shape while traveling because you are interacting with so many strangers who could have any number of illnesses. Probiotics are a big one for me as well. I have a really sensitive digestive system and the last thing I need is to get hit with crippling stomach cramps when I’m about to go on stage. I also have anti-anxiety herbal concoctions on hand at all times to calm my nerves so that I’m not always relying on prescriptions drugs.
DRIED LAVENDER POUCHES
My friend Dee Dee suggested this to me a few years ago and it is truly a pro tip. You can buy them at Trader Joes for a few dollars. Put one in your suitcase to keep things smelling as fresh as possible and keep another one on you to put under pillows when you are taking a much needed nap in the van or trying to get to sleep at night in some funky hotel room that smells like a rat’s ass.
Five years ago this idea would’ve seemed laughable to me. “Workout? On tour? What a joke! Tour is for smoking weed and listening to The Cure in the van all day until it’s time to be a showoff and then hopefully get laid afterward.” Ah, the good old days. Five years ago I was 22 and my body was much more resilient than it is today. You have to start being realistic about your health at some point if you want to have a sustainable career as an entertainer. You may not work out every single day like you promised yourself you would before tour began, but if you have running shoes and a workout friendly outfit in your suitcase it makes it that much easier to get a quick run in after days of sitting in a van and drinking too much. Take advantage of the gym in your hotel if you’re lucky enough to have access to one, even if it’s just 15 minutes. You need to stretch and get the blood moving as much as possible! Your body will thank you later.
When I was on tour with White Lung, a singer in another band we played with told Mish & I her secret to not getting sick on the road: DON’T PUT YOUR MOUTH ON SOME DIRTY MICROPHONE USED BY HUNDREDS OF STRANGERS THAT NEVER GETS CLEANED!!!!!!
Seems pretty obvious but for some reason, the thought had never occurred to us. Mish took her advice for the next tour and brought her own mic. I don’t think she got a sore throat once. So I’m bringing my own mic from now on too, as well as a body safe disinfectant to spray on my bandmate’s mics.
Wax Idols tour dates
12 Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA
13 The Foundry, Philadelphia, PA
14 Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn, NY
15 Acheron, Brooklyn NY
18 Bottom Of The Hill, San Francisco, CA
20 High Water Mark, Portland, OR
21 Highline, Seattle, WA
23 Juice Church, Denver, CO
24 Knickerbocker’s, Lincoln, NE
27 The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
28 Marble Bar, Detroit, MI
29 TBA, Pittsburgh, PA
31 St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY
02 The Earl, Atlanta, GA
04 Mohawk, Austin, TX
05 Paper Tigers, San Antonio, TX
07 The Rebel Room, Phoenix, AZ
08 Complex, Los Angeles, CA