Thursday, July 31, 2014

Moving Is Easy Until You Have To Stop

One of the most liberating parts of being on tour with your band is the constant flow of movement from one city to another. You never fully digest a city's experience because in less than twelve hours after you've played a show, you need to leave. Sometimes driving straight through the night and the entire next day. This is the constant motion that creates the energy for a band to stay on tour.

I know that some would argue against this. Often on tour you only get to stop in each town for less than twenty-four hours, which is never enough time to explore much of anything. If you've found something valuable in a relationship, a record store or a taco place in the city you're visiting, it can be tough to get back into the van. But you have to. The van has to move - with everyone inside - to make the tour work.

Something about the immediacy of being on the road makes each show seem like a pressurized social event in which you have a variety of duties to fulfill. You need to thank the promoter, the local bands, the venue, the bartender, the people that watched you play, the friend with couches and anyone else who in any way helped make your time in this city comfortable. You have to catch up with old friends while making an impression on new ones, find a place to sleep, find a place to get cheap food and get a line on how to make your next show in this town even better. You need to stay near the merch without looking to desperate to sell your own crap, keep an eye on your gear and try to have a good time. Touring is a team effort though, and having solid people in your band makes this stuff a lot easier. Eventually though, the time always seems to come when you're missing an amp head, don't have a place to sleep, haven't closed out your tab and the bouncer is throwing you out for bringing Taco Bell into the venue. Mostly I just try to have a good time and tell myself that I'll be hundreds of miles away the next day.

Which makes it very strange when you stop or get stuck. We were stuck waiting for van repairs to be made in Austin for a few days earlier this month and it's alarming how quickly the momentum vanishes. Not that anyone was especially bummed out, just that we weren't doing our thing - we weren't on tour. We stayed with friends and soaked up as much as we could but there's the ever present feeling that the faces, buildings and climate need to be changing with each sunset and sunrise.

Now we're in Oakland, the last stop for James, Charlie and I, living on a tiled living room floor with our friends and spending each day searching for jobs, places to live, dogs, girlfriends, weird vegan food, caves, beaches, volcanoes, forests and whatever else is out here worth discovering.

I didn't leave Indianapolis because I didn't have friends. I had an amazing group of people supporting me. I didn't leave Indianapolis because I was bored. There are a million things that I'd still like to do in Indy. I left because I needed to fight for a fresh start in a new place, and that's what I'm doing in Oakland. My favorite part about this city is the diversity in cultures, people and activities. Everyone I meet has something unique going on. There's a lake in the middle of downtown, a volcano in the hills, a thriving DIY music scene and an entire Bay Area community within reach.

So this is my home for now. We've got an incredible practice space in an enormous complex that we're sharing with amazing people. The band has projects to work on for comps, EPs and some new things that aren't quite sorted out. I've got plans and I'm ready to work towards them, wherever I am.

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