Fort Collins' Sour Boy, Bitter Girl started 2011 with a weeklong tour of our neighboring states, playing shows in Kansas, Missouri, Texas and New Mexico. They released a record last year, but this was mostly a "because we can" situation. These sorts of tours, however brief, can be pivotal moments in bands' careers and see them facing... unusual challenges. Which is why we're introducing a new feature where we gather reports from the road.
First up, we bring you Sour Boy, Bitter Girl front man BJ Buttice, who shares the tour's highs, lows, and encounters with locals.
Westword: What did you travel in?
BJ Buttice: We still haven't come up with a band vehicle. This time around we took my Four-Runner. Four sleepless, restless, showerless guys packed into a pretty tight space. We had to pull a trailer for the gear. Then we hit ice, and the trailer pulled us. Into a ditch. Hopefully we'll have a van next time.
Where did you sleep?
Sleeping was all pretty comfortable this time around. Friends floors. A friend's parents' house -- which was pretty killer. And I believe there was some sleeping in the car outside the venue.
What was your cheapest meal?
The cheapest meals were the amazing free meals we had at our friend's parents' house. They were great hosts. Or the free pizza at the Record Bar in Kansas City. Also pretty great. Other than that, it was mostly gas station food and a buy-one-get-one chicken sandwich deal at... I think it was Burger King. Doesn't really matter. It was cheap and not as disgusting as it could've been. Most surreal meal was at a Waffle House in Kansas where all the very loud customers knew too much about each other and too little about us. It ended with the band getting to play with puppies!
What was your best show?
The best show, for me, was Dallas. Good turn out. Good bands. Really nice people and a good response. Plus the drinks were cheap as hell. And i got to see a very old friend for the first time in too long a time.
What was your worst show?
There really wasn't one. They were all fun. They all payed at least a little. None of the sound guys hated us for breathing. There was an incident in Lawrence involving a microphone stand that ended with me rolling around on stage, kicking and screaming like a lunatic. But that was fun too.
What did you bring with you in the way of merch and music, and what sold best?
We brought three t-shirt designs and Songs About the Landscape. We do "great deal!" bundle pricing to trick people into buying a shirt AND a CD. Seemed to work pretty well. At least on the folks who had any interest in buying anything at all. Of the three t-shirt designs "the biclops and his horrific stereo vision" was the most popular.
What was the best band you played with?
We actually didn't have to play with any really lousy bands this time around. They were all good at what they did and pretty professional about doing it. My favorites were probably The Ambulants in Kansas, who play great pop music at less than half the speed, and J. Charles and the Train Robbers in Dallas, who were a super tight alt-country Americana sort of band. They both put on a great show.
What do you feel you gave up in order to go on this tour?
Sleep. Time at work getting paid. I think I gave up some lung capacity to the road smokes. But honestly, it doesn't feel like giving up much. It's exhausting and trying, but we get to play shows to new people every night, make new friends, see new bands and have new adventures. Oh, and drink for free. If it didn't cost so much money, I would tour as often as my band mates would come with me. Maybe do solo tours when they wouldn't. I like it more than the real world. Maybe because every time i come back to the real world I'm broke.
What do you feel you gained on this tour?
We made a lot of new friends and made a lot of new, slightly foggy memories. And hopefully, we gained some fans. I'm told, if one can come up with enough fans, one can actually break even on being an entertainer.
What piece of advice do you have for other bands considering a similar tour?
Save up a lot of money before you leave. It's no fun to be counting your pennies and trying to convince yourself you're not hungry when you're trapped in a car with a bunch of restless guys who are doing the same.
Also, we had a bunch of shows get canceled on us. That sucked. Find a way to avoid that. The singer from The Eight Bucks Experiment once gave me this advice about touring: "Just do it. Break up with your girlfriend and go start some chick on fire." I'm not sure what he meant, but that's either brilliant or awful advice. I've not decided yet.
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Kansas. Photo courtesy of BJ Buttice.
Got a road story of your own to share? drop us a line.