Chapter 1 (New York) - 2008-11-07
(lookup on archive.org)
Chapter 1 (New York): First of all I'd like to thank Buzz Bands for giving me the opportunity to write this tour diary for the next four weeks or so. As a genre, the tour diary seems to me to be a very loose and unstructured style of writing — more picaresque than developmental in terms of narrative content. This makes tons of sense since to tour is to travel, and as sp1-halloweenmuch as we would often like to place our own projections and expectations onto a particular experience, when you move through space and time you always have to deal with the unexpected. And this idea of adventure that we often associate with travel is probably what makes reading books like "Don Quixote" and "On the Road" so fun and romantic.
However, traveling with a big rock band is much different than driving cross-country with your friends. As a roadie/stage manager once told my friend in Explosions in the Sky who tried to tune his guitar onstage, the world of professional rock and roll is a "controlled environment" — meaning, in that case, that he needed to have his guitar in-tune before he walked onstage. But in a more general sense, the idea of the "controlled environment" extends into almost all aspects of day-to-day life on even a medium-sized rock tour, like the one I'm currently on. Once you step back and think about it for even a second, it can be no other way. You not only have the band entourage to deal with but the road crew as well. And this doesn't even begin to delve into the world of venues, unions, curfews, and all that other boring stuff. I'm glad someone else gets paid to think about and organize all these things. What it means for me is that I get be a dumb, out-of-touch, sometimes-can't-deal-with-reality musician. Just joking, of course. Well. maybe ?
On a tour of this size, the Tour Manager issues a "day-sheet" most often at the end of the day. The day-sheet tells you exactly where and when you have to be somewhere and what you have to do. You don't have to think about anything — you just step in the bubble and go. Here's a recent example:
4:50 pm – Lobby Call for everyone to go to soundcheck
5:15 pm – Sound Check
7:20 pm – Doors
8:15 pm – Smashing Pumpkins Performance
11:00 pm – Curfew
After show – return to hotel
178 Victoria Street
Actually, this is an excerpt from a much longer day-sheet. My whole point is that being on tour with a rock band isn't as crazy, random, or chaotic as you might think. For some bands, I'm sure it is. With the SP, we take playing and performing pretty darn seriously, and the controlled environment allows for peak rock performances at every show. However, this isn't saying that what actually happens onstage is completely calculated because it isn't by any stretch of the imagination. We go for it every single night.
Mostly this diary is going to focus on the private rather the public. What actually takes place from show to show is pretty easy to find in our YouTube world, so I won't really talk about that stuff at all. Focusing on the private will hopefully bring an element of the unexpected to this tour diary but most likely in very subdued and subtle forms. As a young teenager enthralled by the world of rock, I read books like "Hammer of the Gods" with a devotion that only rock 'n' roll can bring out of a person. I have to say, the world described in that book is still mythic to me, since I personally haven't experienced anything that happens in it, which is probably a good thing.
What the heck am I talking about?