7 essential tips for a stress-free tourMark Ellis
Taking to the road as a sound engineer is as exciting as it is stressful.
Days, weeks or even months away from home are a novelty at the start, but that soon wears off as the people you find yourself living, working and playing with become more irritating each day. Suddenly, things that you’d otherwise dismiss as in irrelevance turn into the exact opposite.
Despite this, touring should be fun. You only live once, after all, and if you spend an entire tour ruing the day you agreed to get involved, you’re simply throwing away a significant chunk of your life.
To embrace touring and make sure you stand the best chance of it becoming the adventure it should be, simply follow our seven essential tips for a stress-free time on the road as a sound engineer:
1. Label all of your gear
It’s your stuff, and if people become accustomed to ‘borrowing’ it unnecessarily or treating it with the same respect venue-owned kit often receives, you’re likely to react in the worst possible way.
To avoid this, make sure you clearly label all of your gear. There’s an unwritten rule in the world of gigging that says “if it has a name on it – don’t touch it”.
2. Work with a smile on your face
This isn’t easy, particularly if you’re feeling a little down (that’s common, while on tour) or if someone has riled you, but by putting a brave face on each day and approaching every gig with a big smile, you’ll feel better and your happiness will be contagious.
3. Set aside regular time for yourself
Living out of the pockets of everyone else on the tour isn’t healthy. Squabbles will emerge and what may otherwise have been strong relationships will quickly fracture.
To avoid this, set aside plenty of time to yourself. Go for regular walks (see next point), take a half day off to explore the local area or simply lock yourself in your hotel room and indulge in something that is entirely non-band related (stop laughing at the back).
The more time you can devote to yourself, the more you’ll appreciate the time you spend with the rest of the crew.
4. Get some exercise
As noted above, getting regular exercise is vitally important while on tour.
You may not have the luxury of a gym while on the road, but a swift walk or twenty minute run will be enough to reinvigorate you and raise your spirits.
Stay active – it’ll keep you healthy in a traditionally unhealthy environment.
5. Don’t say “yes” to every post-show party
One more drink? How about no drinks at all? Just because you’re part of a crew that appears to spend any spare time it has in front of the bar, doesn’t mean you always have to get involved.
The more after-show parties you attend, the worse you’ll feel. A constant hangover is never nice, and regular drinking of the touring kind will do terrible things to your liver.
Say “no thanks” more often and ignore the jeers you’ll probably receive – you’ll feel far better than them the next day!
6. Treat your colleagues as friends, not family members
Anyone who has worked on live productions for extended periods of time will know how easy it is to make friends. And they’ll be friends that last a lifetime – providing you don’t get too close.
Treat your colleagues as friends rather than close family members and you’ll stand a far better chance of it remaining that way, as opposed to degenerating into tetchy disagreements and needless arguing.
7. Book your own accommodation
This isn’t always possible and very much depends on the type of gig you’re undertaking, but if it’s possible to book your own accommodation and you can afford to do so – grab the opportunity with both hands. Your own hotel room will be a slice of heaven after a long day and night working closely with the same people.
Follow our tips above and the time you spend on the road as a sound engineer will be memorable for all the right reasons. Remember – you’re as individual as they come, and you need your own space; don’t be afraid to seek it out at any given opportunity.