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    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2008
    So it happens to be 3-something AM. I have just been roused from my fitful slumber by the dulcet ring of my Outlook inbox for the fourth time. I am in the middle of doing one of the most frustrating endeavors this foolhardy frame has ever set about, namely, booking a tour.

    So, as I know there is a relatively large number of musicians on this board, I figured perhaps some of you would have hints or tips on booking tours. Stories from the road? Ever have to shank a venue promoter? I've come close.

    Also if you happen to be in the Middle West* of America and are a musician who would like to play some shows with/come out and see/let another twisted fuck sleep on your floor/couch/roof/parents' kitchen table wearing naught but a homemade dishrag loincloth, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

    Finally, please use this space as a place to whore your musical talents (as if you don't get enough opportunities from Papa Warren, the cackling musical whoremonger).

    Obligatory Whoremongery

    *I am trying to make this jaunt last for a while so if you live anywhere I can reach in a shitty van and fit the aforementioned criteria, please howl.
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2008
    Off the top of my head, not so much on booking but touring in general:

    - Leave enogh slack in your schedule for travel. Playing a gig every day is intense, but loses its charm pretty damn fast.
    - Be helpful and courteous at the venues, especially the ones you might like to visit again.
    - Make sure your gear is safe before any after-show activities.
    - Remember to eat. (Low blood sugar + hectic schedule + invariably malfunctioning technology = FUN TIMES.)
  1.  (3149.3)
    -leave room in the your schedule (yes it bears repeating)
    -any drive of more than 6 hours will suck ALL BALLZ
    -any drive west of st.louis will more than likely be > 6 hours
    -any show west of st. lois and east of denver will be a hair pulling experience
    -in oaklahoma tater tots + processed yellow nacho cheese + beans =/= MEXICAN or even Tex Mex
    -Everyone in wyoming will call you a homosexual
    -Colorado springs is very beautiful but also will make stupid borat jokes all day if someone finds out you're jewish
    -take inventory of your merch
    -so you can yell at the drummer for giving away everything to some girl in bumfuck wyoming he wants to bone with 3 teeth
    -bring your own food. so much cheeper. bread, peanut butter, cans of beans, rasins, dried/fresh fruit, jelly, maybe rice/lentils/ramen
    -one of the best breaks from the road is stopping at a rest stop w/ beer, lil wayne on the boombox, and a frizbee
    -truck stop tape selections!
    - ! learn it, love it, use it. meet people.
    -bring 2 toothbrushes, sleeping bags, power cords, drummers, etc... because you will loose the first
  2.  (3149.4)
    oh drummers...

    this info will be useful for when i get my shizzle together when i'm in the states. it's a lot different in the UK as you can't really drive for 6 hours in one direction without hitting a coast! so doing one show a night for 2 weeks is an easy and plausable possibility. hell, i've known bands who've done a week tour of the south and just gone to the venues straight after work and then go home again that night...

    keeping gear safe is still very important though.
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2008
    I was about to tell you to avoid the upper Midwest and then I saw you were from Minneapolis. I think you've got a good sound for around here. I'd try just about any coffee bar or any place that looks even remotely "alternative". You may not get a ton of money (especially if you come to Fargo, venues here range from artist-friendly to complete suck), but you'll get a decent amount of exposure.

    The I-94 drive from Fargo to the Rockies is the most boring and desolate stretch of interstate in the country, not including I-29 from Souix Falls to Canada (and beyond.) At least they've been resurfacing said interstates.

    Were I to do a Midwest tour starting in Minneapolis I'd likely go St. Cloud, Fargo-Moorhead, Bismarck, Billings, Cheyenne, Denver, Colorado Springs, Wicheta, Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Peoria, Chicago, Madison, Green Bay, and then whatever you wanted to fit in from there. The Bismarck-Billings drive is probably the worst one, but I think those would be the cities most worth hitting.

    Most of the club owners I've met (all of 3) are pretty decent people when you're decent to them. Of course, I don't expect much because I was in a metal band at the time...

    Always, always be prepared for mechanical troubles with your vehicle. Some friends of mine bought a van a week before going on a two-week tour and it blew up a week into said tour. You might have a water pump go out. You might have a tire blow. If you take a trailer, the hitch might fall off. Be prepared for any of these contingencies.

    I expect that you won't be taking a P.A. with you. If you're relying on the house P.A., make sure a) it works, b) the house knows you're using it, and c) find out if they have their own engineer or if you can use your own. If you have to deal with the house sound guy, be courteous and cooperative. He controls how you sound.

    Treat everyone you meet everywhere (truck stops and restaurants included) kindly. You'll feel better, they'll feel better, and after a week on the road, you'll be itching for interaction from outside sources.

    ALWAYS WATCH YOUR GEAR. Even major touring bands get shit lifted from time to time. Lock it up in a van without windows and keep the van within sight. If you head into a bar or something, make sure you park in a well-lit area near the building.

    Touring, in the end, is what you make it. It can suck a lot, but it can be a lot of fun. I, personally, couldn't handle even putting one together, so I commend you on your effort, and if you make it up to Fargo, let me know. My wife is a sucker for that hillbilly crap you play (I'm kidding! It's mighty fine a-pickin' and a-singin'.) so we might be able to find you somewhere to stay. Of course, that's if we're still in Fargo when you start out...

    Incidentally, you're totally getting friended on Myspace.
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2008
    A-Ha! I have been on tour with drummers before, this is why I am not bringing one this time!

    @Tacopunch : I was just on the West coast for a month in May (drove in a huge cargo van from Minneapolis with way too much gear) have done the Rockies with some success, everything you've said rings true. Also, I found the new Sonic Youth in a truck stop in rural Wyoming(?). I am taking some days off here and there, mostly in towns where I know people and can probably sleep on their couch for an extra day, the drive time isn't the biggest issue (unless the shows don't get booked!) Also, what band do you play in? Links? Yes?

    @offtandiscord : Jealous. Although I am trying a new strategy (my previously mentioned May tour involved several all night drives including one across Utah in the middle of the night, thank the highway gods for trucker speed) which is approx 50 miles (roughly 100km) a day. Sames to you, what music do you play? Links are good for a body.

    @rickiep00h - Ironic you should mention Fargo as that is my birthplace and where I spent the first eighteen years of my miserable life. I will probably be up there on the 19th or 20th of September. Did you play in a band from Fargo? We may have crossed paths once upon a time.
  3.  (3149.7)
    Mostly a rock and metal man myself, am moving to Columbus and am going to try and get my solo project into a full band. I also do weird looped folkish stuff too, not done that in a while though... am liking your myspace tunes!
  4.  (3149.8)
    @ brycemidas once you get to the west coast it's cake. Seattle / PDX is <3. - BREAKCORE DANCE SQUID HISTERICS
    Oh Man I Just Failed My Show Me Your Tit's Roll Megamix - shoegaze drone metal

    I play most often as Tacopunch and the dustperiod gigs are few but loved by me.
  5.  (3149.9)
    LOVE the drone, real hypnotic other wordly stuff... is it just yourself?

    me and a few mates make some drone every now and then, Commit Suicide for Loose Change! EvolutionsquadXII Attack the Gas Station.
  6.  (3149.10)
    dustperiod is just me + my friend matt anderson as a tape engi. Matt collects reel2reels and tape bounces everything for me. It's a 70% live 30% samples mix with a ton of post-production. You can download 3 albums from the dustperiod myspace page and i recently had 2 remixes on that's pretty cool even if the label edited one of mine down in length.

    I love Attack the Gas Station, that movie is fantastic. Your drone/avant/woo band is sweet too.
  7.  (3149.11)
    awesome, i'll have to get those downloads and tell me mates too... we have nothing for release as we're just a bunch of idiots playing with my toys and pedals!
  8.  (3149.12)
  9.  (3149.13)
    One of my friends recently did a kind of make your own tour thing. He had been fired from his job(they later rehired him for more pay) and he took off into the country in his car with his guitar, playing open mics in city to city for about two weeks. He enjoyed it a lot.

    There was a website he used that had listings of all the open mics nationally. I know you're looking for an actual paying tour-tour, but that kind of thing is always an option too. Pretty much every major town has an open mic somewhere.
  10.  (3149.14)
    Tours are tours.
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2008
    The open mic thing is a nice way to go if you aren't too worried about making money (generally you can sell a couple of CDs but a man has to eat, also you generally don't get free drinks from the bar at open mics). So far I've gotten a few dates, a couple in a row right towards the end which will be a godsend I'm hoping (anybody in southern Kansas who likes to get drunk and listen to sad bastard/rowdy folk music is more than welcome to come out).

    Generally the best luck I've had so far on the booking end is to go to My(evil, but necessary)Space and search for shows within a certain zip code (why you can't search for bands from areas/shows in cities w/ no zip is beyond me) find out what venues bands are playing and then hope and pray that whoever books there isn't as big of a fuck up as my old boss at the Acadia in Minneapolis. This works ok, but it requires a lot of time as I have been receiving roughly one reply for every fifteen emails I send and out of those only a handful have been interested in helping out.

    I am still totally striking out on diy/house shows which is something I am really interested in, it's just hard to find those places, anybody have the golden key to the diy scene?
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2008
    More tech tips:

    - Have a technical rider / stagemap: it helps the soundperson set you up more quickly and also functions as a checklist for the band. Don't forget to include electrical outlets. (Bring your own extensions, adapters and spare cables.)
    - Remember your own hookup schematics and learn to test your signal chain quickly. Soundchecks are a very valuable timeslot; every minute you spend figuring out exactly which one of your 100 pedals and/or wires has just decided to call it a day is a minute you won't be getting your sound right.
    - If the venue has monitor speakers (a rare pleasure in the noise scene), get the monitor mix right, too.


    - Don't play for too long. It's better to leave the audience hungry.
    - MySpace seems to be invaluable as a booking tool.
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2008
    - If you're driving any distance, don't book any show that requires you to sell n tickets.
    - Don't play small bar venues where the show is booked as "[something]fest". Just... trust me.
    - Before you try to book a tour, make friends with the person who booked the shows/venues you enjoyed playing the most. Tell him/her your tour plans and have them make a recc.
    - Find out what other venues/promotions booking people are involved with.
    - Contact bands you are playing with beforehand. Myspace is your friend.

    - Always plan on staying until the venue is closed, regardless of when you go on. You'll meet people and hopefully sell some merch. Plan travel times accordingly.
    - (guitarists) Be aware of temperature. Going from super cold to hot venue, to cold air can break the glass in your tubes
    - Bring a merchmonkey. They sell your merch, guard your shiz, and can drive the van while u sleep. Treat your merchmonkey with love and respect.
    - Extra 9v batteries and a screwdriver, on stage, always.
    - Duct tape. Have some.
    - Bring XXL merch. Yes it costs more, but you'll sell it. Especially hoodies.

    After the tour
    - Keep in touch with bands/promotions you liked. (Myspace++)
    - Make nice with the ones you didn't