Touring is fun and crazy and really fucking horrible and hot and freezing cold and exciting and boring and the best and the worst. We have played in some amazing cities and some not so amazing ones. Sometimes to lots of kids, sometimes to nobody. But overall touring is the best thing in the entire world and everyone should do it as much as possible. Here is our guide to touring / behaving like a teenager...
DRIVERS AND TAG-ALONGS
Choosing a roadie is one of the most critical decisions you can make for a tour. You need someone who can be responsible, sober, handy and practical while every one else is behaving exactly the opposite. They also need to be able to break up fights between band members. They basically have to act as a babysitter to a bunch of toddlers for 24 hours a day. Roadies are particularly critical for Nu Sensae because Andrea and I do not have drivers licenses. So we always have to coax / bribe our friends into coming on our trips to drive us and sell merch. Sometimes they love it, but mostly I think they regret it and hate us.
Brody was the driver on our first ever tour! Nu Sensae / Terror Bird West Coast 2008. Brody is one of our favorite boys ever. He used to play in a rad band called Mutators, and now plays in bands with both Andrea (Heavy Chains) and I (Eating Out). He knows how to keep his cool and chain smokes like a champ. BFF's work well as roadies.
Ben drove us on our Alberta tour in the winter of 2009. That particular tour was really cold and there were a total of 13 people on it. So he had to put up with a lot of annoying chumps who can't drive and want to drink all the time.
Marya was our first Tag-along. She couldn't drive, she wasn't very helpful and refused to sell merch. But she is one of our best friends so we took her along on our Winter Tour with B-Lines and Grown-ups. She got a comedy tattoo that said "HEAD CASE" on her arm.
Our pal Mish was the Tag-along on our US summer tour with Random Cuts and V.Vecker in 2009. She is the singer of her own band, White Lung, but proved to be very helpful at carrying gear and keeping us entertained. At our show in Los Angeles she was accosted by a lady who had escaped from a nearby psych ward. When Mish offered to help the woman put her pants back on, the woman replied with, "I ain't talkin to you RED HEAD". She flew home to Vancouver that same night.
Lance replaced Mish halfway through the 2009 tour. I don't really remember if he drove at all but he is one of the funniest humans we have ever known so it didn't really matter. He left with us on a whim in Los Angeles and leased out his apartment to a biker named Dan who went through all his stuff. We sent Lance home on a greyhound in Reno, Nevada.
Ian drove us on the 2010 winter BLACK SHADOW TOUR with White Lung down the west coast. He is a master at changing tires and fixing things. He has a way of making everybody feel calm, even when our tire flew off on an interstate highway. He is probably best known as the roadie who made out with the girl who shit her pants in Salem, Oregon at a Meth house we played at.
Chad was our roadie on the longest tour we have ever done. 9 weeks in the USA with Shearing Pinx this summer. He has seen and put up with absolutely ever horrible side of us. 9 weeks in a van usually ends up in everyone complaining, screaming and throwing drinks in each others faces. I am truly surprised he is still alive and willing to talk to us.
Sarah is one of our oldest pals from Vancouver. She has played in a bunch of rad bands (Channels 3x4, Ice Cream, Gang Violence) and she drove us for our Sled Island Alberta trip this year. She is the right mix of calm, sarcastic and fun to be a class A roadie. She made the hellish drive to Calgary feel like a breeze and even let us stay with her mom in Vernon on the way home! Thanks Sarah!
GET IN THE VAN
We have almost always paired up with bands on our tours. It makes traveling super fun and splits the gas costs. Moving around a country and playing together with the same people every night is a great way to hangout. Here is a list of all the kids we have dirtied the van with:
Our first ever tour was with Terror Bird. We did two and a half weeks up and down the West Coast. They are a spooky piano pop band from Vancouver with Jeremiah on drums, Nikki on piano and Vocals, and at the time I was the second keyboard player. Nikki and Jer are the sweetest tour mates ever, and they even got married on that trip in Reno! We almost hit an elk driving through the redwood forests at night and we played together in a Pizza place in Arcata, California to 5 people.
B-LINES / GROWN-UPS
In 2009 we decided to take 3 bands, 2 drivers and 2 Tag-Alongs on an Alberta tour in the dead of Canadian winter. We are stupid. Luckily it was with two of our all time favorite bands! Vancouver's B-LINES (4 handsome punk boys) and Calgary's GROWN-UPS (our friends Josiah, Sarah and Darryl). Trying to navigate three different vehicles is tricky and most people aren't that into having 13 people crash at their house after a show.
RANDOM CUTS / V. VECKER
Last summer we did a US tour with our friends Justin (Random Cuts) and Keith (V.Vecker). It was and American heatwave and we had to lug around Justin's band members in a giant trunk in the back. We gambled a lot in Nevada.
White Lung are our BFF band. We are all equally childish and laugh at the same stupid shit so it works out pretty well when we tour together. We did a two week US tour with them in February which became known as the BLACK SHADOW TOUR. We tried our first Four Lokos on this tour. We almost died a few times and then made a tour video you can watch here!
SHEARING SENSAE full US tour. 9 weeks. A million cities. We have probably played over 200 shows with SHEARING PINX including our first ever one, so we have a lot of history with these gentlemen.
Black Wizard are four handsome metal dudes that like to behave like they are 18. The SAVE ME A BITE TOUR had a beer bong and lots of bro sayings like "decent" and "fuckin' eh".
KILL YR IDOLS
Sometimes if you are lucky enough (and good at stalking) you can meet your favorite celebrities on tour. Look at all the punk cred we have! oi oi oi .
Done Bolles has been in some amazing band (Germs, Vox Pop, Nervous Gender). We met Don for the first time a year ago when we played at his Club Ding-A-Ling in Los Angeles. He told us a weird story about driving through the Arizona desert on meth or something.
KIM GORDON / THURSTON MOORE
On our last US tour, Andrea and I got to meet Kim and Thurston when we played in Northampton, Massachusetts. We also met their daughter, Coco. Thurston is really nice, Kim is a megababe but really intimidating. We didn't have the guts to ask for a photo, so here is a picture with me and Sonic Youth at Block Party in Seattle.
Lori Barbero is the drummer of one of my all time favorite bands, Babes In Toyland. We met her in Minneapolis last summer. She bought us beers and told us a joke about Canada that involved something with "C eh N eh D eh".
V. Vale is one of the original editors of the pioneer punk zine SEARCH AND DESTROY and played in the original lineup of BLUE CHEER. We had the pleasure of going to his house in San Francisco. We signed his guest book and he gave us original copies of the first 20 Search and Destroys. He also asked us if we had ever heard of Henry Rollins and if we needed a place to stay.
Shearing Pinx got to hang out with John Waters in Baltimore on our tour together. Lucky ducks! I think he said something like "there are a lot of freaks in this town".
Free time is a rare thing to find on tour. Usually you drive into a city, load your gear into some hell hole, try and find cheap garbage food, play a show and sleep on somebody's floor. 1 in 5 times you might be able to actually see the sights and do fun things. When we do get that chance, some of our tour hobbies include swimming, thrifting, record shopping, dancing, getting tattoos and being drunk.
The best part of tour is playing with awesome bands in different cities every night, well most nights. We have met some of our favorite little french fries on tour! But there are certain bands that really stick with us! Here are some of our favorite pals to play with on tour:
SHANNON AND THE CLAMS
We met Shannon and the Clams on our first tour ever. They are from Oakland, Califronia. They are one of our favorite bands ever. Rad music / rad kids.
NASA SPACE UNIVERSE
NASA Space Universe are 4 boys from Southern California. They play really amazing thrashy punk. We met them at one of our first shows in LA a few years ago. We are all soulmates now.
Verraterisch are made up of our friends Marilyn, Jason and Kyle. We first met and played with Mar and Jason in Sacramento in their Mental Stagnation. We play with them every time we are in Sacto.
Women are our friends from Calgary Alberta. They sound like The Beach Boys on quaaludes. They Cobain our shirts all over Europe and have brought us much wealth.
Broken Water are our favorite new band from Olympia. They are like a 90's wet dream. We love them so much that we are going to do a split with them next year!
Most people assume that touring is like going on vacation or a road trip. It is not. Sleeping arrangements usually consist of either somebody's floor, the couch in punk house basement or cramming in the van. Motel 6 is a rare luxury in a pinch. The best is finding someone at the show who will let you crash at their place. If they have roomates out of town that is a plus, because you can usually steal a bedroom! Always try and avoid staying at the venue or house you played at, unless you are good at pulling your sleeping bag over your head while people dance and vomit on you all night (we have become quite pro at this technique) or falling asleep sitting in a chair in the corner.
Let's face it. None of us have any money on tour. So eating becomes one of those backseat concerns below record shopping and beer. If you are lucky, you may find places that are CHEAP and GOOD in every town but mostly you just eat Tacobell and feel like death all the time. But some cities we know which places to hit up for the fine cuisine:
Seattle - Dicks Burgers / Ezelles Chicken
Portland - Taco Trucks on Division
Calgary - Tubby Dog
San Francisco - Mission Burrito
LA - Burrito King in Echo Park (get the Californian Burrito with fries in it!)
Kansas City - The Pita Pit is the only thing to eat there
New York City - Any of the corner deli sandwiches
Washington DC - Vegan Soulfood place!
General USA - Subway (Subway makes you feel like less of a trashcan than some fast food places and you can try out the different toppings they have in different states like spinach in california!)
CLOTHING / CLEANING
Don't take a lot of clothes on tour. Even if it's long. You will always lose interest in trying to wear a new outfit every day and just accept the fate of rotting in one pair of jeans for a month. You will also inevitably purchase outfits from thrift stores that you will never wear when you get back home. If there is a laundromat near the venue, run out and change your clothes over during the shitty band to conserve time. Also, you will not shower. For many days at a time. This is something you probably don't mind. But others seem to. So either shower whenever the opportunity arises, or give yourself a birdbath in the local gas tation restroom.
Go on tour. It is the only thing worth doing.