The roadie herd is an ever evolving entity. With each tour comes new faces while once daily faces drift off on to different tours and adventures in life. Time travel ont the road is a strange progression. There are people that I see year after year and others that I re-meet after decade and pick up where we left of as if we both just gone home for the weekend. As I approach my seventeenth year touring with this band and twenty first year working with them, I have seen nearly everyone leave no one is left from when I started except for Ak and Flea. Some people leave due to the realities of no longer being alive, some have gotten confused and forgotten or failed to play their part in orchestration. Still more have allowed distraction to take them away or political rifts, power plays, incompatibilities, oversights and poor timing have towed many roadie in other directions. Above all, the same looming fact hovers over all 'roadies by trade' as it does any herd in the wilds of the tundra. "To be a part of the herd you must hunt and fend for yourself or you will be left behind to be eaten by the vultures." Translated into the realities of roadie terms this means that there is diminishing place for elder roadies and when you are too old to lift and load and move fast from city to city, a younger fierce roadie will replace you.
Unlike other jobs, roadies worldwide can typically be fired without cause, they have no medical insurance, no pension plan, no sick leave, no set hours, no overtime or anything close to a set of "acceptable treatment guidelines." Roadies for the most part are throwback from the 'days of old' or third world labor in many ways. But not all tours and not all bands operate the same and Peppers are beautiful and compassionate organization that is one of of the better to best tours one could hope to work on but still, like all tours, this tour will eventually end and spill a pile of jobless roadies out into the open roadie market. That inevitable outcome will happen to all, including myself. How prepared each roadie is to deal with that reality is up to the roadies themselves.
There are several types of roadies I have encountered in my travels. The Curious Adventurers, the Big Eyed Climbers and the Life-ers are three common ones. The Curious Adventurers are the ones that have some other skill or life alignment whom have chosen to tour for experience and growth, they may have a solid gig at home and the opportunity to take it on the road appeared or they have some sort of career training to fall back on when the tour luster fades. The Big Eyed Climbers are the dedicated roadies that follow lines of opportunity with a voracity that radiates the sensation that wherever they are, they will somehow succeed and the same tools that got them here will get them somewhere else wham the time comes. The Life-ers are the ones with perhaps nowhere else to go aside from the road or lack any other skill that they are aware of that will allow them to survive any other way. In some cases they are stowing away a nest egg for their future but all too often I see them wrapped and blinded by the cash flow and tour motion as they head toward the same inevitable outcome as an old hooker with no other skills.
My long time friend Nick the Fly has decided to take some time off of the road to rock out on his own projects. What you may not know about Nick the Fly is that he used to own a sound company, he is highly skilled at building cabinetry including the many of the Rat designs and he is extremely adept with computer skills among other things. Nick, rock out on you adventures I look forward to hanging out with him off the road when this trip ends! I will miss him but know that it is every roadie's responsibility to pursue their dreams. Rock on Nick!
Pirate Lee Vaught who is the Rat Sound crew chief on the Peppers tour will now be full time FOH tech! And here we go to do some more rock shows!
Count down to fly away date - 3 days 23 hours and 45 minutes till take-off
The getting ready to pack my bags,
Oh, and for you sound humans, I wrote a short blurb article on touring in the December 2006 issue of Sound International Magazine.