Life In A Van: Tips For The Touring Musician

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This week, a tearful Adele revealed that she may never tour again. During her final concert of a 13-month world tour, she addressed fans in Auckland, New Zealand, saying, “touring isn’t something I’m good at.” Adele may have parked the tour van for a little while to spend more time with her son, but scores of musicians aren’t blessed with the luxury of time off. For the remaining majority, the following tips should make life on the road a little smoother.

1. Plug Up Or Go Home

If you think wearing earplugs only applies to metal musicians, think again – not least because you can’t always account for the volume of the bands playing before/after your set. Concerts generally clock in at between 100-120 dB, at which level irreversible hearing loss can easily occur after just a half hour set. However good a gig may be, it’s never worth a lifetime of tinnitus.

Given that musicians’ ears are integral to their livelihood, protection is well worth investing in. If you’ve got the budget, custom earplugs with decibel filters are well worth the payout – they protect your hearing without eliminating useful frequencies. If you’re on a more realistic musician’s budget, standard shop bought plugs will more than suffice.

Beware tinnitus. Take precautions. Beware tinnitus. Take precautions.

2. Plan Your Shows

Gigs need planning. That means requesting the correct backline, settling the timings for soundcheck and set, securing meal tickets or dressing room riders and post-show accommodation.

It’s not glamorous, but knowing where to park your tour van is also critical; no-one wants to spend the early hours of the morning driving a splitter van around city one-way systems in search of a spot within walking distance of your hotel or hostel. And on the subject of driving, ensure you leave sufficient time to reach your gig destination. A European tour often requires you to arrive on time in the middle of a major capital city right in the heart of rush hour: no mean feat.

Send promoters details of your band's set up in advance. Send promoters details of your band’s set up in advance.

4. Eat Fresh At All Costs

Any touring musician needs to know their way around a service station. You’ll find yourself at roadside diners at all hours of day and night; more often than not emerging from a fitful sleep to offload fluids and grab a quick snack. If you’re going to be hitting the liquor after your shows and exploring local nightlife scenes, your body will need every bit of help it can get in order to weather the touring routine. That means stocking up on fruit and greens at every god-given opportunity. Service stations aren’t going to provide you with much nutrition besides aspartame and caffeine, so stock up before you set out on your journey.

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