Let the rituals begin!
Notes from the Road is Music Canada’s artist tour diary. Canadian artists on tour around the world will share their stories of fans, gigs and the “good, bad and the ugly” of touring!
We all have our pre-tour rituals.
Any band, at any level, whether they're road warriors or newbies, any group of somewhat like-minded individuals, playing music, performing and singing songs together, about to embark on what could prove to be a life-experience, has or SHOULD have an activity, a checklist or at least a chant or song they sing before they leave.
I'm talking about something reminiscent of a prayer, something that will keep you sane and focused on the road, something that will prepare your wits and nerves for the unknown and unfamiliar, the filth and adrenaline that is a tour. I'm talking about a touchstone or safe-word you can look back on, if and when, things get messed up.
It can be as simple as a phrase that you utter or a theme that you follow - something that stops you from worrying about your life back home or constantly checking your online bank account, hoping that somehow, money will magically appear and give you a break - because, if you're anything at all like my band and I, you are broke as all hell and you do it anyway because you are in love and willing.
MY band, for instance, participates in three separate rituals before going on a tour. I should mention, for any band who is busy and a whirlwind of emotions trying to balance two lives at once, band and home, you will do these rituals at the LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE:
1) TOUR CHECK-LIST:
You will most likely forget SOMETHING; phone/laptop charger, patch-cords, a winter jacket, passport, a pillow. Take it from me, I am the most forgetful out of all of my band members, so much so, that they have coined the phrase "Pulling a Jeff" after leaving something 100 miles behind in a city you just played. The list is absolutely necessary, it will put your mind at ease and help you organize what little time you have left before you go. Each of us make separate lists, to compare and brainstorm ideas, so we don't forget the really important things, like a spare tire and chains, or Lactose pills for Lewis, or foot-powder for Dan (it gets really bad). We have talked a great deal with Wide Mouth Mason
singer/guitarist/road-warrior Shaun Verrault about this, and he says, even in his seminars about touring/road-life, MAKE A LIST.
We almost always make a collaborative tour play-list/"get psyched mix" for the road. We figure it's an important element to enhance the spirit of our camaraderie, and after all, music is the very reason we are doing this, so why not keep things interesting with some current songs, some old staples and a surprise ending song, as we like to call it. Our mixes always include our personal favourites and classics by Springsteen, Dylan, Rush, Ted Nugent. Our favourite punk and tour songs by bands like The Reason, Get Up Kids, Carpenter, Belvedere, but it can range from Kesha to Kenny Loggins or from Katy Perry to Fleetwood Mac. We make it long so we can listen according to mood, we have to. And, if ritual persists, Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway" is always track #1. It has to be for obvious reasons. Anything by modern musical genius Robert Kelly is also welcome.
3) GROUP CHANT:
And finally, the tour "chant" or "theme." We found that if you can all agree on one thing to shout over and over again in celebration of a moment, or have a phrase you can all say in unison when something weird or miraculous happens, you should go with it. It will keep your spirits up, and most likely make everyone think you're a little strange, but it's something you should probably be used to by now if you're a working band. You're going to be filthy and sleep-deprived the entire time anyway, so you might as well let it win and yell something like "If I don't see it, it didn't happen!", or incessantly chant like a child until you get your way, things like "Air Conditioning!" and "Cheeseburger!" or make up rules that you have to drop and do 10 push-ups every time you say the word "Van" or "Dude." You'll be saying them a lot, so mentally prepare yourself for the mind-games you will play with each other.
We've been doing these things for a while now, to keep us sane. In the beginning, we probably got to know a lot more about each other than was comfortable. Our lame antics and adult kids games are all the result of things that naturally developed over so much time spent going crazy together, just trying to make our touring lives a little less of a free for all, and more of a community.
Sitting next to each other in a van, sleeping together in a single bed/open space on a concrete floor, playing our songs for strangers and music fans and friends, sharing showers, food, toothbrushes, smokes, socks, nail-clippers, headphones, we got so close we just started to understand what makes us happy, and what makes us tick. We were all silly boys with dreams from day one and we eventually became a single unit. We had to find out the hard way, in the early days when we had disagreements and fights about nothing, that our band is our dysfunctional family, our angry girlfriend, our less-than-ideal lifestyle, and there really is no point in getting mad at each other over something so small. We do this and continue to do this for the same reasons we always have: love, dedication, work and commitment, and we are thankful for what each of us bring to the "relationship."
Music Canada Editor: Acres of Lions are a pop-rock band based in Victoria, BC. They'll be submitting a short series of guest blogs while on their 12-city tour across Canada, so stay tuned for their next Notes from the Road!
Acres of Lions is: Tyson Yerex (Keyboard, Guitar), Jeff Kalesnikoff (Vocals, Guitar), Dan Ball (Bass) and Lewis Carter (Drums).
Acres of Lions on Tour:
11/2 Kamloops, BC - Heroes Pub
11/4 Edmonton, AB - The Starlite Room
11/9 Calgary, AB - The Republik
11/11 Victoria, BC - White Eagle Hall
11/12 Vancouver, BC - The Media Club
11/16 Saskatoon, SK - Walkers Night Club
11/17 Regina, SK - Riddell Centre
11/18 Yorkton, SK - Ukrainian Orthodox Hall
11/19 Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centre
11/22 Toronto, ON - Sneaky Dee's
11/23 Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa
11/24 London, ON - London Music Hall
ACRES OF LIONS