Guide to getting and playing better gigs


   

Survive On Tour

     
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Being in a band is like being married, but worse, and on tour there's no escape. It's a 24 hours a day honeymoon to hell. How can you keep harmony? To avoid D-I-V-O-R-C-E, don't:

Dawdle. Every band has a Mr Dawdle and by the end of an extensive tour, they'll be seething at his constant time wasting. "Why should I get out of my comfy bed early if I've got to sit on the bus for an hour waiting for Mr Dawdle?" Departure time rapidly gets later and later until that inevitable time when you end up stuck in traffic and miss the gig. Only draconian measures will improve timekeeping. In the Wonder Stuff, if you were late for the bus you had to spend the next day wearing a pair of Morris dancing bells around your ankles. Suffice to say it was a very punctual band!

Idle. It's often Mr Dawdle who turns into Mr Idle on arrival at the gig. Despite the fact that you only stopped at the services five minutes ago for him to take a leak, the sight of an Ampeg Bass Cab renders him useless until he has laid some cables of his own in a long visit to the toilet. He'll then nip out for a chocolate bar/fag/can of pop, returning just as the heavy item has been heaved all the way up the five flights of stairs. Leaving the offending members gear in the van can cure Mr Idle especially if he's the drummer. The singer may be a more difficult case to crack, but with the muscles you've got from carrying all that gear, you can deck him once the tour is over.

Vandalise. Noel Gallagher can afford to drive a Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool. Doing the same thing with your ailing Transit van will soon be followed by that sinking feeling. Similary, as Mr Vandal plunges his guitar neck through the heart of his speaker he thinks he looks super-cool. Not when you know he'll be trying to cadge 50 the next day for a new cone. One famous band has a cheap keyboard set up on stage specifically for the purpose of being smashed every night. However, sometimes their Mr Vandal gets the wrong one! Deter him by sticking price labels on all the equipment.

Over indulge. The problem starts when the band's Mr Over-indulgence turns up five minutes before the show completely welded. To make matters worse it's usually the drummer, the backbone of your band, who renders himself an inebriated invertebrate. Unable to stand, he thumps away relentlessly, right up until the moment he falls off his stool. Your bass player, meanwhile, went for a curry. His yawning eventually turns to a technicolour madras of puke when he can't keep it down any more. Focus your mind on the thing that you're there to enjoy---the gig! There's always time for the rest later.

Romance. The band's Mr Romance pulls the love of his life who becomes a bus barnacle impossible to shake off. With five minutes 'til the doors open, your amp blows up, and the love limpet fails to see the emergency. After all, being in a band's only a bit of fun. Isn't it? Not to you and your merry men it's not. Romantic stowaways can create extra friction in what may already be troubled waters. Without proper communication, unresolved problems mount up and turn into a mutiny. Remember: the band are your surrogate brides and without your attention they'll go and find someone else.

Carp-on. It starts before you've even left. Mr Carp-On moaning that "the bus smells funny" or asking, "How much are we paying for this?" He doesn't know, of course, because he hasn't spent a week on the phone to find one cheap enough that you could afford to play the gig. Get Mr Carp-On to organise everything---see how he likes it.

Exhaust yourself. Sometimes entire groups are made up of members who insist on getting absolutely trousered after every gig. Sooner or later this will be reflected in your performance. A singer's throat is trashed by shouting at parties, not doing the gig, and Mr Exhausted musician will hit more bum notes than Les Dawson. When you feel burn-out approaching, retire to the B&B early for a change. It's good to take a break from your band mates who have little to say to you after three weeks anyway. There is an incentive. You'll save pounds which you'll be able to spend getting completely hammered the next night!


The trick to a successful band marriage is simply to talk. Make time for the group to be alone before and after each gig so that if a band member is falling into one of the above categories you can sort it out. Like any bride, fellow band members need plenty of T-L-C (Time, Loyalty and Communication). You'll be pleased to hear that shagging is optional.

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