Tour de Force

Tour Guides From Hell: Voyager Guitarist Scott Kay’s Seven Tips for Not Being a Total Dick on Tour

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Background artwork by Thibault Fischer
Background artwork by Thibault Fischer

Voyager

Australian progressive metallers Voyager are set to tour North America with Swedish melodeath royalty Evergrey later this month and into September, along with Oceans of Slumber and Borealis (dates at the bottom of this post). To celebrate, we asked the band’s guitarist Scott Kay to put together a Tour Guides From Hell feature for us in which he lists the ways you can be most respectful of your fellow tour mates when you’re out on the road — and make the whole experience better for yourself in the process. These tips can really be applied to a band at any level, whether you’re just weekend warrioring it around your region in a crappy old van or  you’re getting the full, fancy bus treatment the world over.

Stream Voyager’s most recent album V here, and watch the video for “Hyperventilating” below.

Sometimes, things can get hairy. When they do, shave it off by following some of these tips:

1. Try not to stink

This is a no-brainer. When even you are offended by your own smell, you know it’s too late. Stay on top of your hygiene; even go one step beyond neutral, and try to smell good. This keeps everyone’s senses in tact, and you don’t need to have that uncomfortable conversation that usually starts with, “Dude, you reek.”

2. Help with all elements of loading in and out of venues

While this doesn’t apply to those bands that have roadies, I would assume people with roadies wouldn’t need to read tips on how to tour. For everyone else, just help a brother/sister out. If your drummer has a massive kit, help load it. If there’s a way to tighten up your efficiency with getting in and out of venues, this makes everyone’s life better and easier. Even set up a process so that you know who is doing what. Less time faffing about, more time for checks, more time for chilling out.

3. Small compliments and the two words “thank you” go a long way

If someone organized something for you, played well, helped you with your gear or was just a good pal, thank them for it sincerely. Make sure you also make others feel good about the small things that may or may not have to do with the professional element of being on tour, but are useful, or just encouraging and positive. Maintaining a base level of respect for your band members and crew keeps everyone happy, and that can be easily maintained just by regularly thanking one another.

4. Be honest, but do your best to avoid being overly hostile about it

Pet peeves and little things that people do can get under your skin. Sometimes it’s best to be upfront about those things so that they don’t explode later on down the track. Everyone has moments where they are annoying, rude or make mistakes; just don’t crush their spirits in the process of expressing your frustrations. Do your best to make it non-personal.

5. Get your space when you can, respect that when someone else needs it

If you can find those rare times where you can get away for a bit, even so much as walking around the block that the venue is on, it’ll be enough to calm your senses and ready you for the day/night ahead. “Me time” is hard to come by, but it doesn’t need to be a long time for it to be refreshing and rewarding. Take it when you can get it, and both you and everyone else you’re with will benefit from it. On the flip side, if someone else needs their “me time,” let them have it.

6. A clean van is a happy van

If your personal stuff is cluttering the general space in the van, clear it up. If you stay on top of your own cleanliness, the van doesn’t stink (see #1) and it remains spacious. Plain and simple: clean up after yourself as often as you can.

7. Have fun on and off the stage

If you have to force yourself to have fun on stage you shouldn’t be touring, but always keep that energy flowing in your shows. Off the stage, find ways of making the tedious processes more enjoyable. Re-string/re-skin instruments together so that you can have a conversation. Talk to other bands; make friends with people you don’t know at all. I find talking to fans after the show is a great way to feel good about yourself too. I’m not one to support the rockstar mentality of keeping distance from your fans. I think if you’re feeling in a rut, the fans who tell you, “Man, that was AWESOME!” and really mean it, they can get you out of a slump in no time.

Catch Voyager on tour with Evergrey, Oceans of Slumber and Borealis at the following dates:

Aug 26 – Chicago, IL – Reggies
Aug 27 – Cleveland, OH – Agora
Aug 28 – Detroit, MI – Token Lounge
Aug 29 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Aug 30 – Montreal, QC – Cafe Campus
Sep 1 – Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle
Sep 3 – New York, NY – The Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Sep 4 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls
Sep 5 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Sep 6 – Springfield, VA – Empire
Sep 8 – Charlotte, NC – The Casbah
Sep 9 – Atlanta, GA – Midweek Mayhem @ ProgPower USA (The Loft) **
**Evergrey and Voyager Only**

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