Something you may or may not know about me, is that since mid 2012, I have been tour managing for my husband who is an electronic musician. (You can read more about him here!) In all of the years of doing this, we have always done fly dates. What does this mean? It means we fly to and from the gig versus being on a tour bus. That is, until this summer. As of early June I have been living on a tour bus managing for All Hail The Silence, who is opening for Howard Jones in the states. Read on to find out what a Day in the Life On a Tour Bus is like.
When I found out we’d be touring this summer on a tour bus, I was excited but also nervous. I had a TON of questions. (Like where will all of my skincare live? Lol) I had never lived in such tight quarters with people, and especially not 11 other people. (Yes, there are 12 of us on a bus!) Brian explained some of the ins and outs to me from past tours he has done, but until you do it yourself it is truly hard to imagine. (For tips on traveling well with others on group trips, you can read about that herehere.)
I tried googling some before we left and couldn’t find much information, so I wanted to share what A Day In The Life On a Tour Bus is like for me. That way, if you find yourself working for a touring band or musician, you’ll be a bit more in the know!
Everyday on tour so far has been slightly different but it is generally the same typical routine:
9:30-11:00 AM: This is the time I generally wake up. The time varies depending on the time I got into bed, what is happening that morning and so forth. But it is a lot of late nights so I sleep in more than I would at home. When we wake up the bus is typically parked at the venue for that day.
I sleep on the bottom bunk of three. There are 12 bunks total, so four stacks of three, if that makes sense. And when I say bottom, I mean BOTTOM. Floor level. Getting in and out of your bunk on the bottom takes some finesse. I essentially roll out like a little turtle. LOL. Life on a tour bus isn’t all glamourous.
11:00-2:00: This is where I have the most free time in a day. During this time I usually have a coffee with collagen, answer emails and eat some gluten free oatmeal on the bus. I also do my morning skincare routine during this time as well!
If you’re wondering about showers, showers usually happen at the venue. Venues have dressing rooms for artists / crew use. So I tend to shower during this time as well. All venues are different, so some dressing rooms are super nice, while others…are not. It’s kinda like if you take a shower in a locker room, so I always wear shower shoes.
2:30-3:30 For this tour I have organized VIP Meet & Greets for All Hail The Silence that happen during this time. It’s called Coffee & Conversation with All Hail the Silence in each city, so the meet and greets happen at local cool coffee shops near the venues. This has been super fun so far! While the guys do their thing with fans, I get some more work done. Email, blog posts etc. I’ve had some GREAT coffee so far!
3:30-6:00: A day on the tour bus can vary, but during this time I try to eat some lunch/dinner. How food gets handled each date is different. Sometimes venues provide catering so we eat meals on site. Other times they provide what is called a buyout, where they give each person $20-25 a meal so that you can pick up some food.
Also during this time is when the guys sound check. Their set up is fairly simple, so I let them setup and they rehearse a couple of songs, make sure sound / volume and levels are all cool with the venue etc.
While they sound check is when I set up their merch. We are selling three different styles of t-shirts, CDs and Vinyl. I want to be set up before doors open so I can be prepared to sell.Every night you have to count how many of each item and size you have and let the venue know your starting numbers. The reason you have to do this is because at the end, they need your numbers again to calculate how much you’ve sold. Why? Because venues take a percentage of your merch sales. Which kinda sucks, but it is what it is. This number varies place to place. Some venues may only charge 10%, while the other night in Canada they charged 35%.
Point being, SUPPORT BANDS AND MUSICIANS YOU LOVE! Without going on a long tangent, between how tiny streaming royalties are and the way musicians make money these days, the best way you can support artists you love is coming out to shows. Buying tickets and buying merch keeps musicians afloat. Support music!
6:00-7:00: Doors are open so you can find me at the merch booth. If you want to catch me on the road, come say hi and buy a shirt. (And another one for your dog/ cat.)
7:00-8:00: It’s show time! Since All Hail The Silence is the opening act on this tour, they play for 30 minutes. I pop in and out from the merch booth during their set to film some videos and shoot some photos to use on social media.
At the end of their set I run on stage and help get their gear loaded off of the stage. Change overs can be a bit stressful if you don’t have a lot of time between sets. So we just get everything off to the side of stage quickly, that way the guys can pack up and wrap cables up in a more calm fashion.
8:00-11:00: The rest of the night I am mostly parked at the merch booth. During the times when Men Without Hats or Howard Jones is on, it’s pretty quiet. But during change overs gets pretty busy!
After the venue clears out at the end of the night, I count my merch and pay the venue their percentage. I also go and settle with the venue for the band’s performance fee.
11:00-2:00: When we’ve been paid, it’s time to start load out. The crew loads all of the gear into the trailer attached to the bus. These guys work so hard as Howard has a ton of equipment and lighting. Super appreciate what they do on tour.
Once I know All Hail The Silence’s gear and our merch is accounted for on the trailer, I like to go do my night time skincare routine and get into my jammies. Sometimes I do this on the bus but it is easier to do it in the venue since there is more space.
Next I grab my suitcase and take it back to the tour bus and chill out for a while. This is always a fun time of the night. When work is done everyone likes to hang out. If it is nice out we have some lawn chairs to set up in the parking lot. Otherwise we hangout on the bus, people have a couple of beers and talk. I am on a tour with primarily English folks, so there is a LOT of laughter. Definitely some of the funniest people I’ve been around.
I think so far that is my favorite part of life on a tour bus. You have no choice but to get close to people, literally and figuratively, so might as well make the most of it! I imagine if you were sharing a bus with dramatic people or those who maybe party a lot it could be not very fun. Thankfully that isn’t the case for this tour. Although our crew does like to cut loose a bit more when it’s “Crew Year’s Eve!” (AKA we have a day off the next day.)
2:00 AM: The tour bus departs! I get in my bunk around this time and try to get to sleep. Sleeping on the bus isn’t too hard unless it is extremely bumpy. Overall I sleep fairly sound considering you’re on a moving bus.
Then once you wake up, it’s time to do it all again!
I hope that this gives you an idea of what A Day In The Life On a Tour Bus is like. It is a pretty wild adventure and I feel really grateful to get to experience it. I started out so nervous but after one day on it became pretty natural.
Life is all about saying yes, trying new things out and being in your “challenge zone.” Where is your challenge zone? Well, it is obviously out of your comfort zone, but not in your danger zone. You’ve gotta be uncomfortable to grow. So here’s to the things life throws at us that keep us growing. See you on the road!
What else would you like to know about life on the road?