Snake’s Guide To Touring

Brent ‘Snake’ Benedict is the tour manager and live sound engineer for WHY?, YACHT, Neon Indian, The Heartless Bastards, and The Phenomenal Handclap Band. We recently came across his guide to touring on WHY?s website and asked him if we could run it on TC. He was happy to oblige.

Touring can be fun (it’s one of my favorite things), just look how happy we are here (this was immediately pre-robbery; we were not so happy afterwards):

It takes a certain kind of person to be able to handle touring. It can be a dark, lonely time, or it can be the one of the most fun and invigorating experiences! When touring a lot, one has to realize that they will never develop deep seated relationships with people via close proximity. You have to figure out a way that works for you. Personally, I have tons and tons of great acquaintances, but very, very few close friends (WHY? being 3 out of the 6 of them). I feel very lucky to even have that many! One of the best things to come out of my career as a Tour Manager and Live Sound Engineer is my relationship with the WHY? band. They’ve seen me at my best, and also at my worst. They’ve been there for me when I’ve been in some of the darkest places of my life, and that is something I will never forget or ever be able to repay.

When choosing this career, one has to be able to realize that it’s going to be a very long adventure with no foreseeable end. Most of these things are what I’ve learned after lots and lots of trial and error.

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Sacrifice and Compromise

Those are the two things that happen once you leave for tour. If you’re used to getting your way all the time, forget about touring. It’s not going to happen. You have to mold yourself to the same schedules of everyone else you’re traveling with. Realize that you’re giving up a lot of things that you might cherish in order to live your dream.

Exercise!

You will spend hours upon hours in a van or bus on tour. Exercise is one of the most important things to keep your body and mind healthy. You’re going to be eating at restaurants for almost every meal and undoubtedly eating copious amounts of bad (aka fried) food. Staying healthy is one of the most important things on tour. Once one person gets sick, everybody else will get sick.

Explore

I can’t tell you how many awesome places I’ve been to that I’ve only seen the highway, the venue, and the closest restaurant with vegetarian fare. I started to regret it, and decided that I really need to experience the places I visit.

Don’t Buy (or Bring) a Bunch of Junk

You won’t have room for it. If you do, it’ll probably get broken. Don’t bring anything on tour you couldn’t live without or replace. Things break, get lost, stolen, and left behind.

Stay Clean

Shower every day. If possible, twice! You’re going to be in very close proximity with a bunch of people. Nobody wants to have to sit next to the smelly one.

Take Pictures

Again, I regret that I don’t have pictures of a lot of the really incredible things that I’ve seen over the course of my fledgling (6 year) career.

Bus/Van Maintenance

If you’re touring in a van, make sure to take care of it! It’s your home on wheels. Keep it clean, keep the oil changed. Nothing will ruin a day more than a broken down van, or some rotten food floating around. If you’re in a bus, make sure that your driver is on point. Nothing is worse than a bad driver who doesn’t take care of their bus.

Don’t Take Anything Personal

Towards the end – and sometimes middle – of every tour, people start to get cranky. They’re exhausted, malnourished, and homesick. You have to be able to forgive and move forward in order to keep a good working (and personal) relationship with them.

Bring Appropriate Clothing

If you’re doing festivals in England, don’t forget your wellies! Always bring a heavy coat, an extra pair of shoes, and more than one pair of pants.

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Here are a few of my personal bus rules.

BUS RULES

  • Rule #1: No #2 on the bus.
  • Rule #2: See Rule #1
  • Rule #3: Sleep with your feet forward. One tap on the brakes while you’re asleep, and you’re head first into the wall.
  • Rule #4: LOCK THE LUGGAGE BAY EVERY TIME. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Rule #5: Clean out the fridge once food goes bad. Don’t wait on someone else to do it.
  • Rule #6: No bags or backpacks in the seats. Someone has to sit there.
  • Rule #7: Bus Call means the door is shutting and the bus is taking off with or without you. Don’t be late.
  • Rule #8: Be nice to your driver. They can make the tour fantastic, or terrible.
  • Rule #9: Designate a ‘junk bunk’. If there’s not room for one, keep all of your junk in your own bunk.
  • Rule #10: Label your food/drinks. Anything without a name on it is fair game for all.
  • Rule #11: Don’t drink the water from the bathroom sink in the bus. Brush your teeth with bottled water.

Also, be prepared to be doing a lot of this:

Anyway that’s it for now, I’ll write another guide to Live Sound or a guide to Tour Managing in the next few days on the WHY? website. Hope you like it! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

images courtesy of Brent Benedict

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