We met the talented indie folk artist Adam Wendler between two concerts of his current international tour and asked him to share his experience and anecdotes as an artist on the road. If you are thinking about planning your next tour, this interview is a must for you:
1/ Could you please introduce yourself and your project?
I’m Adam Wendler, an indie folk-pop artist born and raised in Canada. I started off playing around my home town with a band and have since become a solo artist. I released one EP and one full length album, and am in the process of recording another one.
2/ When did you do your first tour and how was it different from your current tour?
When I finished high school, a friend and I travelled around Europe doing a busking tour. We played on the streets wherever we went and found spontaneous gigs along the way. That was basically my first kind of tour experience, which was virtually unplanned.
After that, I continued travelling and playing shows as I went and managed to do a couple of small tours in Ontario with my band.
However, my first proper solo tour was done throughout the summer of 2017 in Germany, and the shows ranged from small cafes and living room concerts to festivals.
Now after having proper tour experience and a bigger fan base, I have a lot of shows at places that I have played at before, and we are seeing more people out at the gigs.
3/ What is your best and worst moment about being an artist on the road?
The best moments on the road are when everything goes smoothly – little traffic, arriving on time, no car troubles or delays, and having a decent spot to sleep figured out. Also, I always love it when I play in a new place and see people really enjoying my songs, and singing or dancing along. It makes all the effort worthwhile.
The worst moments are generally when everything seems to be going wrong. When there is vehicle trouble, or there is excessive traffic that wasn’t planned for, or technical issues at the venue… I have also spent quite a few nights sleeping in a cold car when there is nowhere else to stay. However, even times like that are fun in their own way.
4/ How much do you get inspired by your travels when writing music?
Generally, I am always trying to write when I have any down time, whether it is on the road or back at home.
However, it usually works out that I do most of my best writing when I have a decent amount of quiet time. I definitely feel that travelling provides me with a lot of inspiration, and having a lifestyle that doesn’t have a specific routine seems to help the creative process. Sometimes I get an idea for something while driving to a new town so I write it down and add to it whenever I get to a quiet place. I do most of my recording near my home town in Canada, so I usually write wherever I am and head back to my home town for a little while to record it.
5/ How much do you plan in advance and leave for improvisation while traveling-touring?
My manager usually starts booking tours at least a few months in advance, generally the earlier the better. However, we have found that a lot of places in Canada only book shows a month or two in advance where as venues in Germany start booking at least a few months ahead of time. Either way, it is best to start getting things figured out early on.
We try to get as many shows as possible logistically figured out but we are always up for spontaneous gigs or interviews and recording sessions when there are no other shows booked.
6/ What are the challenges and rewards of being an artist on the road?
There are always a few challenges, including financial, logistical, and promotional.
It is important to have a rough idea of what sort of income will come from the tour, to insure that costs can be covered and if possible, earn some extra money to go towards the next project.
It can also be difficult to have a tour perfectly planned so that we can go from city to city without retracing our steps. Sometimes there are also vehicle issues that need to be figured out.
The other thing is trying to make sure that each venue I play at has a decent crowd. Generally, the more I tour, the better this gets.
Being an artist on the road is definitely full of rewards. It is always a fun time, and you meet so many great people everywhere you go. I love travelling, so it is the perfect way to experience new places. But by far, my favourite part of playing in new places is when I see people having a good time and enjoying my music.
7/ You left your previous band to go on your own. What are the pros and cons of both configurations when you are touring?
One of the biggest pros is that it is much easier to schedule around one person rather than a whole band. If I tell my manager I am keen to play as many shows as possible in a certain time frame, she books as much as she can and never has to ask me if it will work or not. Also if it is just me playing, there is less difficulty finding accommodation and fewer issues with figuring out what food to get.
The main con of being solo is not having a band to jam along with while on stage. There is a good energy that comes from musicians playing together who have a good chemistry. I can usually achieve it on my own, but sometimes it takes a little longer to get in the groove. Also, it is just an all around good time driving from place to place with a bunch of buddies.
8/ What would be your tips for the artists who want to follow the same kind of path as artist on the road like you?
I think it is smart to start off playing shows in a small area. Try to keep the travel distance to a minimum at the beginning to keep costs down, and get more comfortable on stage. It also makes sense to focus on playing in venues that you can fill. It is better to play a small venue that is packed, rather than a big venue that is only half full. As your experience grows, start travelling further distances and playing to bigger crowds. The more shows you play, the better you get.
Overall, I think it is good to not set your expectations too high, and just enjoy the experience. Not every show is going to be filled with cheering fans, but it is important to just roll with it and enjoy any experience that comes your way.
Listen to Adams Wendler’s playlist “Travelling & Songwriting”: