Master mechanic/goddess of metal Mary Bielich of Derketa (day job: Honda automotive technician) has plenty to say about ripping things up on stage, on tour and under the hood. Take notes.
Compadres, the spring season has sprung, marking the beginning of a conjunctive season that is even more important to us and to the other musical degenerates in our lives that we refer to as friends, and on some days, bandmates. Baseball season? Cycling season? Wabbit season? Finally, following the seemingly-endless months of frost, darkness, indoor-only living and the seasonal depression that accompanies all of these things, we may once again welcome that “thing” we call “the sun,”the slightly better attitudes of those waiting in lines at our neighborhood coffee shops, and TOURING SEASON!
“Guitars – CHECK!
Heads, amps, cables and pedals – CHECK!
Bass – CHECK!
Drums, cymbals, hardware, sticks – CHECK!
T-shirts, stickers, patches, records – CHECK!
Backpacks – CHECK!
Then, we’re ready!”
No, you’re not.
Q: How can a gig turn into the biggest waste of time, effort and MONEY?
A: By NEVER ARRIVING to that gig.
Have you ever really considered the fallout of failing to get to a show after you spent shiploads of time booking and promoting it, but not playing it? It equates to lost time, lost moneyand the possible loss of a great show hook-up. You’ve also let a lot of people down, including yourselves. If you multiply the numbers of gigs that you’ve arranged with the distance that you must travel to get to them, then figure in the amount of money that it costs to actually get there and pull them off — that’s what we masochistic musicians refer to as “touring” –then the negativity multiplies.
All traveling bands rely on the advancements made by the automotive engineering geniuses to get us where we need to go. The bad news:Vans are expensive to maintain. SO IS YOUR MUSICAL GEAR, but you stay on top of that, don’t you?Your merch is expensive to make, but you make it, right? I mean, it’s your bread and butter.(Sometimes, it’s your bread and peanut butter, you poor, hungry, broke bastard.) Yes, merch is what you must sell to ensure that you can insert gas into the tour buggy tank and feed yourselves while you’re on the road, especially if shows fall through or no money comes in through the gig doors on any given night. In order to stay mobile and deliver your tuneage to the masses –or to the minimums –while selling tons of merch to your adoring fans, YOU NEED TO ARRIVE AT YOUR SHOWS and IN ONE PIECE, preferably ON TIME.
If you slack on servicing your buggy and hit the road, you will pay.Literally, dig? You may not even make it to your own gig to play your specific brand of _________ (insert genre here, combined with at least one other genre, most likely sounding nothing like the first genre that you mentioned) ________ to the fans who worship you and who want to thank you by ravaging your merch table. You will instead be stranded by the side of the road, most likely in the desert, as Murphy’s Law always applies in these types of situations. You will be thirsty, hungry, tired, cranky, and at the mercy of a “backyard mechanic,”who is going to take you to his “backyard” to “fix” your van, where you will sit for hours (or DAYS) while he does “backyard things” to that buggy. Sound scary? It IS. Sound expensive? Do you really want to find out?
My purpose here is not only to penetrate your noggins with the importance of maintaining your vehicle in relation to how it can affect your shows and tours as a whole, but to also offer suggestions that will help you remain on the road once you’ve left your town for inevitable world domination via “the road.”
Repeat after me: “GO = GOOD. STOP = BAD.”
So come now, children of the beast.Be strong, and… uh… start paying attention to what’s gettin’ your band around the globe!
Stay tuned for your intermittent doses of automotive transmissions.
To mobility, and beyond…