I have a love/hate relationship with touring, even the kind of quickie mini-tours that we are forced to do out of life circumstance, day jobs, etc. Don't get me wrong...I love every moment of playing onstage, maybe even a little more so when it's playing in a city where the band either hasn't been in a very long time or has never played at all. The rush of a good show can keep you going for days. It can also, much like the joy of hiking up a really badass mountain (or, I've been told, childbirth), can leave you with a distorted picture of just exactly what the pain-to-joy ratio was (that'd be high, if you're wondering). Just like that amazing feeling of conquering the big peak often obscures the substantial effort and exhaustion it took to get there, so can the great hour onstage dull the drudgery of the rest of the touring experience.
And drudgery much of it is. You wanna know, figuratively speaking, just how far up each others' asses four guys can get after six days in a van? That'd be pretty damn far. That joke was funny the first time, but not so much on Round #57. That annoying thing you do when you eat? Someone may kill you for it. Someone's penchant for too many (or too few) rest stops? This could all go postal in a short time. But, thankfully, if you play well together, most days the glory of the show that night will blot out all the bad vibes of any of the rest of the trip.
But this is not to say that there are not some really basic rules to make everyone's life a lot easier. There are, and no one has nailed those rules better than this guy. I don't know who he is, whether the band he plays in is crap or godhead, but he has pretty well gotten this aspect of band life perfectly. Just this past week, while on a Mondo Topless swing that went something like Philly to Ypsilanti (Michigan) to Milwaukee to Chicago to St. Louis to Columbus (Ohio, not Indiana) to Philly, I found myself chanting a few of these (silently, mind you, so as not to further annoy) like a mantra. I particularly like the one about the road making everyone bi-polar, so let the bad times pass by quietly, and things will get better. No life-changing decisions while in the midst of a "this/I/he/they suck(s)" bender.
But, at the risk of adding one too many rules to an already lengthy set of them, let me propose one more: when you get back, back off. Don't have band practice for a little while. How you define "a little while" can be dictated by circumstance, of course. For some, it might be a week or so. For others, take a couple months off. In our case, we are currently penciled in for a practice 10 days after we returned home. That seems about right, but, honestly, if an extra week makes it 17 days instead, that'll be just peachy too. I love playing in this band, and, when not cooped up like chickens, these guys are great to hang with, but it's a tough nut to stay shiny, happy, smiley, peace-loving for six days in close quarters. That's a fact. Dealing with it honestly is better than trying to ignore it.
Next stop....a few musical memories of the tour, 'cause it was a good one, and, yeah, I'm sure we'll do it again.