Are you a band taking your first tour? This post is for you! Víctor Fernández, from Iwanna Management, an expert in tour and band management, outlines the 12 most important tips to keep your band together through the thick and thin of tour-life.
“Do we have spare guitars and drum patches?” “Do do we trust a telephone conversation with the owner of a room?” “Where do we park the van?” “How long should sound-check typically run for?” These are the kind of non-musical questions thrown in at rehearsal venues around the world.
The first concert on tour is an event full of nerves, not without its adrenaline rushes and on-stage energy. And all that is obvious to the audience. Not even a full backstage pass can reveal and prepare a band for the true test of fire a tour truly is. Tours challenge all members and managers and test the mental state and cooperation of a band’s interpersonal relationship.
It comes out in all the small little things: can bandmates share small spaces and deal with each other’s living habits? Sure, they can compose and play live but are they ready to take on the nuisances and hardships that will definitely arise out of spending every waking moment together for the next few months?
Not everything is a pain, though. To make sure your band not only survives the first tour but actually thrives, we’ve put together pearls of wisdom, straight from the horse’s mouth: one of the souls behind Iwanna Management, Victor Fernandez, shares 12 of his best tips for the most common pitfalls.
And he would know — Iwanna Management is a magnificent, independent music agency based in Spain, with expertise in organising concerts, tours and festivals down to the “tee”. Like any effective management team, the mark of their success is in the success of their bands. Recent showings of The Allah-Las, The Limboos, Airbag, The Crowns, Brighton 64, Eilen Jewell or the Flamin Groovies all have one thing in common: the focus and dedication of Victor and his partner Pepe Iwanna.
And if you’re thinking he looks more than a little familiar, you’d be right: Victor Fernandez is responsible for some of the hip-shaking moments at festivals like Go Sinner Go, Euroyeyé, Purple Weekend or Low Festival. Who’d be better to present the 12 tips to touring without breaking up, if not him?
Sealing the deal on a concert
1. When you book a concert, either with a total stranger or with your best friend, try to always get an agreement in writing. This avoids misunderstandings and you can refer to it if you do not agree at some point. Make sure to try to include hotel accommodations and meals.
2. No one wants to MacGyver a second bass guitar at the last minute. So make sure you always carry all your spare parts for any problems that could come up. This means, a second guitar, strings and spare patches, pedal batteries and fuses for the amps. Having these on hand can save your life (and the show!) at any given time.
For the pros: bring on spare valves or two bass drum pedals. For lovers of ‘Spinal Tap’: carry a spare amp.
Before you hit the road
3. If the agreement does not expressly agree that there is a room included for the band or that the promoter is responsible to provide room and board, don’t panic. The band has options.
Ask the owner of the room for some direction because he or she will have insider information on the best local places to sleep and eat on a budget. And, if all else fails, you know that the Internet is a great ally.
En route to the concert
4. Let’s say you’ve adjusted your budget to rent a large van or have chosen to bring your own cars. Once you’re on the road, don’t compromise your route by filling up at the cheapest station. In the long run, you’ll find that this will cost you more.
Arriving on location
5. Arrive early to your accommodations before playing but don’t drive like a madman to get there. Relaxed and calm is what your bandmates should be. This is the moment to do important things like checking how the ticket sales go, especially if you have agreed to go to the box office. Check the ticket sales at the door and those sold in advance.
6. Getting to the room is where speed counts. Unpack as quickly as possible and set everything up. Someone should always be there to keep an eye on the equipment and vehicles. Try to find on-street parking space that allows you to freely unload the van. The best thing is to find a parking lot that lets you in and out as many times as you want at a single cost — that way you’ll have the whole night sorted. Most importantly: the drummer should never leave to look for a parking space. He is the first to do the setup and test the sound. This is a classic mistake, so be sure to avoid.
During sound check
7.Try to run sound check as quickly and efficiently as possible. You don’t want to drive the technician crazy with demands, of course, but be sure to be comfortable and listen carefully to your sound mix by the monitors. Remember that during the concert you can adjust some of these details and work out the kinks live. Above all, remain very calm.
Before the show
8. Don’t overeat at dinner because the last thing you want is to feel uneasy on stage. Keep it light or make sure you either eat a larger portion several hours before showtime or you celebrate the end of a show with a large dinner.
During the show
9. You’ve made it – you’re here now. Forget all the previous points and play with your band. Enjoy yourselves. This is your moment to let go and be with the music and your audience!
After the concert
10. Picking up the equipment and packing up backstage is definitely one of the more chaotic and annoying things about touring while being in a band. Make it a team effort with each bandmate responsible for a certain part, working as fast as you can. If you’re selling merchandise, make sure there’s a member of the band representing everyone. It’s a lesser known fact that with an actual band member present, you’re likely to sell way more discs and t-shirts. And, lastly, make sure you’re always monitoring who is loading the equipment back on the van — and how.
11. Settle accounts with everyone in your room, at a point when everyone is sober, and make sure you have all the accounts and receipts in writing.
12. Rinse and repeat point 9: Always try to have fun all the time.