Road Warriors: Bands Share Their Best Tour Stories
For musicians, writing, recording, and marketing themselves is only half the battle. The other half is getting into the van – or a bus for those more fortunate – and living out of a suitcase for months, if not years on end, in the hopes of winning over audiences night after night.
While it can be a grind, touring does have its memorable moments. We here at Riffyou.com took it upon ourselves to ask some of the artists we’ve spoken to lately for their best tour story, or what they like most about the process. Here are the results:
James Bowman – Against Me!
“We did pranks at our Ft. Lauderdale show in January. After our set, we were going to come out and do one more song, and we were off to the side getting ready when [opening band] The Sidekicks all went on stage, grabbed our instruments, and played a Rage Against the Machine song. The crowd was pretty pumped! Everyone started moshing and stage-diving, so we ran up and did backing vocals.”
Tyler Ramsey – Band of Horses
“This is not so much a story, but my favourite part about touring these days has been having time to get out and get away from the cities we’re playing. If I can head out and find something a little remote…I like to get away from the craziness of the bigger cities. We had a couple great days off this past year and I was able to look at a map, walk a certain way, and I find a river that I could walk along. That’s been my thing of late – seeing how far I can walk and what I can take in. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time travelling and playing shows, only to get home and not really have seen anything except for your venue and the few square blocks around it. That’s not very exciting, or super rock n’ roll, but that’s what I like to do.”
Meredith Graves – Perfect Pussy
“There’s the time we had to play hookup escape taxi and pick our roadie up from a stranger’s house in the middle of the night. There’s an audio recording of that somewhere…”
Shane Told – Silverstein
“We used to tour in a van and couldn’t afford hotel rooms, so we’d sleep on peoples’ floors. [Eventually] we had graduated past that, got a bit more money, and started sleeping in hotels. We were in Prince Edward Island and I met these fans that were having a party, and they said we should come over and sleep there. I convinced the guys to do it for old-times [sake]. Everyone in the band was skeptical, but went along with it anyways.
“We get to the house and it was so shitty. We’re sleeping and at 2am these female roommates came home and I swear they were on crack. They’re being obnoxiously loud, and start taking everything out of the refrigerator and smashing the food all over the ground.
“I finally fall asleep, but I woke up suddenly because it felt like somebody was licking my face. The first thing I think is, ‘are these fucking girls licking my face while I’m sleeping?’ I open my eyes and nothing is there. I close my eyes, and I feel it again. I wake up, and I see a bat flying across the room! Instead of telling everyone, I went to sleep in the van.
“Apparently the [Silverstein] guys saw the bat too, but it was in a fish tank that was covered. And one of our guys liberated it because it was drowning from falling in the water. When I told them my story, they thought I put the bat in the fish tank to drown it. They didn’t know how it got in there.”
Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons – USS
“We started a tour in Berlin, went to Cologne, then we were in Munich and Vienna. By our third show, Ash (Buchholtz, USS frontman) and I were in-sync in Europe – we knew exactly how to handle the German crowd. We came out guns-a-blazing, and in Vienna we walked off stage and the crowd was chanting ‘USS’ over, and over, and over again. Going there for the first time and having these amazing German friends – who were there to see Walk Off the Earth – support us like that, was great.”
Stefan Babcock – PUP
“One day we a played a show with this band…which I won’t name because this may be bad for them. We ended up at this after party at a frat house, and the guys were giving us bad vibes. So we decided to leave the party and as we were leaving, the host of the party yells out ‘fuck your band, you guys fucking sucked anyways, get out of my house!’ One of the guys from the other band said, ‘oh yeah, that’s cool,’ and walked around the corner, whipped out his dick, and pissed all over the wall. It was great – that guy’s house is going to smell like piss forever. There was a bad vibe – those guys were looking to fight the band…that was the situation.”