Tour Guides from Hell

Tour Guides From Hell: The Dillinger Escape Plan Stage Tech’s Top Ten Things To Bring With You On Tour

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Background artwork by Thibault Fischer
Background artwork by Thibault Fischer

Torrential Downpour are a favorite band of ours — they joined us to record at Converse Rubber Tracks x MetalSucks last summer, and we included one of their songs on our completely free digital compilation, NYC Sucks, Volume 4. Their new album Truth Knowledge Vision comes out TODAY, and you should most certainly order it here. Check out a track from the album below:

It just so happens that band’s vocalist PrKr (his momma calls him Jason) moonlights as a production assistant and stage tech, most recently for the The Dillinger Escape Plan. Guy oughtta know a thing or two about touring, eh? Take it away, Jason:

Greetings readers!  Recently I had the great pleasure of touring the good ole US with The Dillinger Escape Plan, working for them as a production assistant and stage tech. Being a musician as well, I’ve had the opportunity to do some small four or five day runs with some great bands but never have I embarked on a full five week tour across North America (with six shows in Canada), so needless to say I wasn’t as prepared for life on the road as I would have liked.  For those of you who haven’t embarked out on the open road, or for those of you just about to start your summer tour across the country, I have — very nicely I might add — compiled a list of the Top Ten Things To Bring With You On Tour.

Dillinger Escape Plan all access pass

1. A Towel: This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I met on the road who didn’t bring their own towel. Unlike me, most musicians going out for the first time won’t have the luxury of having a shower in their tour bus, but don’t fret, kids, there are many venues equipped with bathing facilities. Towels are also very versatile! Did you know that if you roll them up they can be used as an impromptu pillow? AMAZING! But yeah, bring a towel, you’ll be happy you did.

2. Heavy Work Gloves: If this is your first time out on tour, chances are you are either supporting the main act or working for them. Which means you’ll be hauling a lot of heavy gear.  Most venues don’t have ramps so you’ll also be doing a lot of lifting up stairs, or straight dead lifts onto the stage. Heavy lifting gloves are a life-saver on your hands. I learned this one the hard way. After four shows of unloading the trailer, hauling gear into the venue, setting up the stage, breaking down, rolling out and loading back into the trailer my hands had been ripped up, dried out and blistered to shit. I recommend the fancy ones with the strip of soft fabric between the thumb and forefinger for wiping sweat from your brow.

3. Money: Again, this may seem obvious, but then again most musicians are broke. If you are going out on tour you can’t always rely on your per diem to get you through, especially when rolling through Colorado! Gas and food prices are expensive out there, so plan accordingly and save some dough to bring with you on the road, even if just for emergencies.

4. Coin Pouch: Ah, is that pesky change building up on you?  Are you weighed down and walking around clattering like a crusty Jacob Marley? And it’s only the fifth day of tour??  Do yourself a favor and bring a coin pouch on tour.  Make sure it’s a decent size; I recommend a microphone pouch. You’ll thank me later for this one, especially if you are rolling through Canada. That is, if you are allowed into Canada… ::contemptuous grimace::

5. Flashlight: Chances are you’ll be playing dingy clubs and dark back rooms of bars. Even the mighty DEP performed at some “modest” venues on this past trek across America. These places are extremely dark, and having to navigate equipment, cables, plugs, lighting rigs, etc in these places can be challenging to those not equipped with night vision augments.  Your next best alternative to Predator-vision is a trusty flashlight. Not one of those stupid apps on your phone that doesn’t work when you need it to, but a real, small handheld flashlight.

*Bonus Tip:  You can also use your flashlight to clear a path and navigate through a crowded area by simply flashing it in people’s faces and saying “OUT OF THE WAY, THANK YOU!”

Dillinger Escape Plan live

6. Board/Card Games: There’s going to be a lot of down time before show time; doubly so on days off. Having games is a great way to pass the time when bumming around in the van/bus or in the green room.  It’s also a great way to get to know some of your new touring buddies or new members of the crew, as people’s real selves tend to come out during competiton. As an ice breaker or a time passer, a good board game or a deck of cards can help keep you sane on long road trips.

*Recommendation:  Cards Against Humanity.

7. Headphones/MP3 Player: We all don’t have the same musical tastes, and agreeing on what gets played over the radio on the road seems to be a challenge. General rule of thumb, whoever is driving usually has control of the music. Perhaps you are tired of hearing that Type O Negative album your drummer loves for the one-hundredth time this tour, or that Katy Perry album that your guitar player claims is “just a guilty pleasure, LOL!”  This is the time to lay your head back on your crumpled towel, put your sunglasses on, slide on your ‘phones and submit to your personal playlist. It’s also a great way to check out for a little while as alone time on the road is extremely rare.

8. Socks: Having the opportunity to do laundry on the road is not common.  While some venues have laundry machines and dryers, most don’t, and you will probably be too broke to spend money at the laundromat. Most of us can get along wearing the same shirt and pants for days at a time, but socks are only good two days at most before they start to get crusty, and extremely smelly. You’ll be changing your socks more frequently than any of your other clothes, and yes, that includes your drawers. Also, socks have that magical ability to just disappear into thin air, so even keeping track of your socks can be an extra challenge! This one is important kids, make sure to bring plenty of socks!

*Bonus Tip:  Save yourself some money and request socks on your rider!

9. Zicam/Emergen-C: Being on the road for an extended period of time can be very taxing on your health and well-being. In the small confined quarters of a van or bus, germs are everywhere and if you do not take precautions you are liable to get sick, which let me tell you, sucks extra hard when you are on tour. Popping a Zicam or drinking an Emergen-C pouch once a day is a great way to keep your immune system up and help fight all the germs that lurk in sweaty and smelly vans and venues.

10. Stage Rugs: This one is often overlooked by most band members who aren’t drummers. Most stages are not carpeted and can get very slippery in a packed, sweltering room when sweat, alcohol, and water get all over it (if touring with DEP add vomit and blood to the list). Having a stage rug or carpet can reduce slippage onstage ten-fold. Carpets are also a great way for you to keep your footing while rocking out, and they also act as a cushion to give your feet, knees and back a break when doing spinning dive bombs off your cabinet.

I hope this was helpful to all you n00bs hitting the road this summer. Most importantly remember to bring your “A” game and a good attitude; nobody likes touring with a wet blanket.  Good luck out there on the road and remember to be safe out there and enjoy yourself!

Dillinger Escape Plan live

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