Not only was my dad at the show yesterday, so were my daughters as well. Family day and since their mom works for Pearl Jam and is currently on tour as well, the little people have been parentless for a bit. The good part is is that they are well cared for, safe and happy and the downside is that the two tours are awkwardly and consistently overlapping and putting them for longer periods without either parent in town. Regardless, what it means right now is that I step into full time dad mode instantly which is all good. Unfortunately though, I live too way far away from where they go to school so after the weekend I say bye-bye to my home and move up to their mom's place for the break, good thing my bags are already packed.
At this point tour has pretty much become the norm and getting back to home feels more like just an extended set of days off. Time to play catch up until get ready to leave time comes around.
As far as touring schedules go, this is one of the best in my opinion. Three weeks on and two weeks off is the rough pattern we follow. Many if not most bands will do six weeks as a typical segment length with ten weeks out not being too uncommon. My first tours was four months long and in the pre cell phone era, pre internet era, a four month tour meant total and complete disconnection from the other world. At the peak of my touring I was doing sound or PA tech for three bands with interwoven tours flying directly from one to the next. I used to try and call home when I had someone I wanted to talk to in my life but it was pretty easy to spend 1/2 the tour pay on calling cards and hotel phone charges. The largest hotel phone bill I saw was $ 1200. One of the guys had used a hotel phone to talk for a few hours to his gal from Europe. It happens to most new touring humans at least once. That hotel phone just looks so tempting sitting by the bed, so easy, how bad could it be? I have paid the bill of shame myself but where and how much I have long ago forgotten. There was even a "mail day" because our schedule kept changing, as did our hotels and the cities we though we were going to. So any mail was sent to the management and they would then forward it to certain cities. Motion meant disconnecting and that disconnection is both the best and worst part of touring.
In it's purest form disconnection can be one of the most invigorating and wondrous experiences imaginable. Completely letting go of everything. No bills to pay, no car to register, no set schedule to follow. Each day is just a simple set of instructions to follow cryptically written in a the book of life called the itinerary. Lobby at 8 am, eat, set up gear, eat, tear down gear, shower, eat, sleep in bus, wake up, repeat. Each day someone paints a different picture of the world outside the bus and makes it a bit hotter, colder or wetter. Each day the gear comes out of the trucks and each day your focus slips farther down from the horizon to seeing only that which immediately is at hand. It is at that point where living distinctly in the moment is all that matters where the sensation of true freedom solidifies. That sensation is the essence of what I believe is the allure and magnetism of choosing a life on the road.
The price paid for disconnection is that when the tour ends and reality is crushingly dropped back into your lap, you have no where to stay, all your worldly belongings are scattered in various garages, the battery is dead in your unregistered car. Motionless is depressing. New cities and music and crowds of excited humans all gone. I used to dig through all my stuff stored at home and rediscover things I tucked away and forgot. Drive somewhere, I guess, eat food and begin to miss the endless string of adventures that had presented themselves daily. Instead I sit with four walls waiting for the phone to ring and take me away from motionless stagnation.
After about 16 years of touring and around 5 years ago, I made the conscience decision to try to learn how to be a normal human and try and adapt to a more normal life. I wanted to learn how to not to travel and also to be happy at the same time.
I love reading this blog! From someone who once considered the touring life but ended up in an corporate office job, you can't help but wonder 'what is it really like?' Thank you Dave for your thoughtful, insightful, and entertaining posts - always fascinating.
I would also like to add my thanks to you doing this blog, the geek stuff and the "life"stuff are excellent plus the RHCP are one of the best groups on the plannet.
Me, I look after a modest church sound system, but I can relate in a very small scale way as I an the sound bloke as well as roadie and manager.
Thanks again, really appreciate you doing this.
Wow, even being only 15 and from the UK, this has really shown me what the industry is like from the inside, and finally i can get an unbiased picture from someone. This has further strengthened my desire to go into the industry. I have made it essential reading for the rest of my crew at school, and at other events.
:-) *keep up the good work man* :-)
Dave! I have been reading this since day 1 when Greg Cameron posted it on PSW. I have always wanted to do this and this whole internet thing really helps out. I really appreciate your time and effort . BTW, What camera are you using for the concert shots? They are amazing. The definition is great. Can we get more gear shots? FOH racks, GTR rig, Bass rig? Thanks again,RF