12 Touring Pros Share Their Advice for Life on the Road

Summer is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that for bands old and new, the time has come to pack up the van and hit the road for the annual peak touring season. Some tours span the globe, while others may only comprise four or five dates in neighboring cities or towns. But no matter what the extent, it can be an exhilarating and draining experience.

To try and do our part to help the summer journeys of countless bands, we've reached out to some wizened touring pros and asked for their tips on how to live your best life while on tour. Keep reading to hear it straight from some rock 'n' roll lifers and pavement-pounding up-and-comers.

Remember to take photographs. Dan and I started touring before camera phones and we almost never took photos, so I have to rely on photos friends of ours took who tagged along.

- Patrick Carney, The Black Keys

Remember to take photographs. Dan and I started touring before camera phones and we almost never took photos, so I have to rely on photos friends of ours took who tagged along.

- Patrick Carney, The Black Keys

Stay aware and present in each moment as you navigate all the moving parts that happen around you. Make your needs known to the people you work with everyday, and don’t be afraid to ask questions that help you understand the process, the money, the various roles, etc. It’s easy to get lost and carried away on tour and miss important things that require your attention. You are part of a business and infrastructure on tour, so it’s important to pay attention and make sure people are working to maintain your best interests as the artist.

- Kimbra

Stay aware and present in each moment as you navigate all the moving parts that happen around you. Make your needs known to the people you work with everyday, and don’t be afraid to ask questions that help you understand the process, the money, the various roles, etc. It’s easy to get lost and carried away on tour and miss important things that require your attention. You are part of a business and infrastructure on tour, so it’s important to pay attention and make sure people are working to maintain your best interests as the artist.

- Kimbra

Find the right people with the right attitude and commitment… Finding the right people is very important here—and for good reasons—you may be with these people for many years.

- Charlie Benante, Anthrax

Find the right people with the right attitude and commitment… Finding the right people is very important here—and for good reasons—you may be with these people for many years.

- Charlie Benante, Anthrax

In the immortal words of Ralph Mooney: 'Pick one good drug and stick with it, kid.' Or, 'Quit while you still can.'

- Shooter Jennings

In the immortal words of Ralph Mooney: 'Pick one good drug and stick with it, kid.' Or, 'Quit while you still can.'

- Shooter Jennings

Take time to breathe. Take time to enjoy the small stuff.

- ZZ Ward

Take time to breathe. Take time to enjoy the small stuff.

- ZZ Ward

Find a tour-hobby! For me, it's food and coffee. Any downtime that might have otherwise been spent sitting in an anonymous, dark green room (probably refreshing my Instagram feed), I instead ask friends, fans, or local crew to recommend their favourite spots and go for a nice pre-show stroll.

- PLINI

Find a tour-hobby! For me, it's food and coffee. Any downtime that might have otherwise been spent sitting in an anonymous, dark green room (probably refreshing my Instagram feed), I instead ask friends, fans, or local crew to recommend their favourite spots and go for a nice pre-show stroll.

- PLINI

If you’re the headline act, treat the opening act like you like to be treated. Someday you may be opening for them. If you’re the opening act, silence is golden, especially at first. Try not to be always in the way of the other bands, and especially the working crews. Keep your band members, your wives, your partners, and your friends under control. Nothing pisses off others more than an entourage of noisy wannabes in the way.

- Rick Nielsen, Cheap Trick

If you’re the headline act, treat the opening act like you like to be treated. Someday you may be opening for them. If you’re the opening act, silence is golden, especially at first. Try not to be always in the way of the other bands, and especially the working crews. Keep your band members, your wives, your partners, and your friends under control. Nothing pisses off others more than an entourage of noisy wannabes in the way.

- Rick Nielsen, Cheap Trick

If you are on your own—let's say doing small clubs—get there and set up on time. Introduce yourselves to the monitor and front-of-house guys as soon as you get there. Remember their names and be friendly. They really appreciate this. Keep in mind, at times it's a thankless job and they do not get paid all that well. So pulling the rock star thing is a good way to fuck your show up! This applies in any situation—support act or on your own at a club.

- Earl Slick, David Bowie / John Lennon / Yoko Ono

If you are on your own—let's say doing small clubs—get there and set up on time. Introduce yourselves to the monitor and front-of-house guys as soon as you get there. Remember their names and be friendly. They really appreciate this. Keep in mind, at times it's a thankless job and they do not get paid all that well. So pulling the rock star thing is a good way to fuck your show up! This applies in any situation—support act or on your own at a club.

- Earl Slick, David Bowie / John Lennon / Yoko Ono

It’s always important to play the kind of music you believe in and not just what you think people want to hear. Because music styles can change quickly and you can find yourself genre-hopping and people never really knowing what you stand for.

- Deryck Whibley, Sum 41

It’s always important to play the kind of music you believe in and not just what you think people want to hear. Because music styles can change quickly and you can find yourself genre-hopping and people never really knowing what you stand for.

- Deryck Whibley, Sum 41

It's scientifically proven that a good podcast will make the drive go by 4.7 times faster than listening to music.

- Caroline Rose

It's scientifically proven that a good podcast will make the drive go by 4.7 times faster than listening to music.

- Caroline Rose

If you’re serious about touring full-time, then be prepared to go all in. I spent the first year of my career paying my band by pulling bartending shifts as soon as I got home from tour and spending every dime I had on merch. At times, my own team was probably a little concerned with my bank account balance, but I had a feeling that if I kept putting myself out there, it would all work out. No one wants to tour around the country for $250 a night as an opener with a full band, but unless you get a lucky break, it’s the only way to get that $500 gig. From there, it just keeps doubling up. You just gotta stick it out.

- Nikki Lane

If you’re serious about touring full-time, then be prepared to go all in. I spent the first year of my career paying my band by pulling bartending shifts as soon as I got home from tour and spending every dime I had on merch. At times, my own team was probably a little concerned with my bank account balance, but I had a feeling that if I kept putting myself out there it would all work out. No one wants to tour around the country for $250 a night as an opener with a full band, but unless you get a lucky break, it’s the only way to get that $500 gig. From there it just keeps doubling up. You just gotta stick it out.

- Nikki Lane

Get ready for a decade to pass by like a flash... Then maybe you'll make it. Work your ass off some more... Then maybe you'll make it. Oh damn, you've always made it. You're breathing. Live it, be it. They will come.

- Paul Cauthen

Get ready for a decade to pass by like a flash... Then maybe you'll make it. Work your ass off some more... Then maybe you'll make it. Oh damn, you've always made it. You're breathing. Live it, be it. They will come.

- Paul Cauthen

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