There are a lot of ways to travel the world. Most of them involve being extremely wealthy. However, if you weren't born with the gift of mommy and daddy's golden checkbook, you can still find a fairly respectable way to see the world, provided you're OK with sleeping on a pool table and using a blood-stained pillow once and a while.
Just start a band, play some shows in your hometown, then tell everyone you're too cool to hang around and go book a tour. When you're not fighting off hordes of attractive groupies as they paw at your clothes and try to hand you money, you can experience the joys of beautiful national treasures/glorified gas stations like Wall Drug and South of the Border. Tour is also your chance to justify eating seventeen gas station burritos over the course of a few weeks.
Are you itching to spend a week wearing the same underwear while you chug cheap lager every night yet? You should be. To seal the deal, here's six more reasons why you need to take your band on tour.
6. You Suck
Nobody ever buys you a drink after you play. People stare at you blankly between songs -- even when you're not playing on the east coast. Nobody even glances at your merch table with the badass three color t-shirts -- the ones where Dennis Rodman's head is exploding and shooting out magic mushrooms. It's not because the crowd isn't friendly or just inherently dislikes your style: It's because your band sucks.
Going on tour won't write better basslines or stop your singer from reading poetry to the crowd while you tune your guitar, but it will sharpen whatever turd you've been polishing into a nice and pointy piece of shit that you can stab the hearts of your audience with. Play the same songs twenty nights in a row and you're bound to get better. We hope. Or maybe you'll get worse to the point where people at least have a good time laughing at you.
5. You're Boring
Remember that time in Washington when you smashed a beer bottle over your head and then wiped the blood all over the girl wearing the white fur coat because she was the only person that was too drunk to realize when to get away from you? And that she was actually a girl from your hometown that you used to talk to on AOL thirteen years ago?
And then, do you recall how your 30 year old van broke down after you ate hot dogs outside of a gay bar, still covered in blood, then you almost punched out your drummer because he blamed the van breaking down on you and your need for hot dogs? Do you remember the homeless guy wearing the Monster Energy hat that the girl in the fur coat let come back to her house with you guys because she didn't realize he was just some dude sleeping on the sidewalk and not a member of the band?
You probably don't remember these things, because they happened to me, not you -- because I'm not boring, because I went on tour with my band.
4. No One Cares About You
It's 2014. This means we have entire generations of people who listen to and adore music who have only consumed it by using the internet. Do you really expect people to find your Bandcamp out of 23,000 others just because you posted a few links on the Explosions In the Sky Facebook fan page?
There's this thing in the sales world that is constantly reiterated -- customers don't buy the product, they buy the person. And while it's lame to think of your band as a product, the same rule applies. Going out on the road, getting in front of people and playing every single set as hard as you can (even if it's for eight people) is the way to build a rewarding and loyal following. You may not ever get famous, but you'll at least experience that shamefully narcissistic feeling that you're "cool" -- even if it's only for a little while.
3. You Don't Really Know Your Band
Your bassist is a compulsive toenail chewer and your guitarist once had scurvy and believes in UFOs. Your drummer is deathly afraid of barn swallows. You and the keyboard player will punch each other in the face if you drink Ouzo together.
Like any relationship, most of us have a lot of practice at pretending we're not completely psychotic in the presence of people we care about. Going on tour forces you to storm into the inner sanctum of perversions and neuroses that lie within the people you've pledged to create art with. You'll either emerge from tour as supernatural allies or you'll come home and enroll in a religious college to become a youth minister.
2. It's Good For The World
There is a Kurt Vonnegut quote that best exemplifies this point:
"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured."
Art brings people together. It forms deep and meaningful connections with people you would otherwise never meet. Go on tour and find out that there's beautiful, unique and genuine people in places like Billings, Montana or Lima, Ohio. Show them your stupid art and smile and kiss their hands after they show you theirs.
1. You Don't Have Enough Problems
If you live in America, you probably own the computer or smartphone that you're reading this article on. While you get pissed off and prepare to spend ten minutes writing a comment on this article that the author is just going to show his friends and laugh at, the second largest city in Iraq (Mosul, population 1.8 million) is currently in the hands of Islamic extremists.
So lie to your boss and go on tour with your band. Accidentally chip a tooth while swigging whiskey out of the bottle. Meet a nice guy or girl and spend the next week dreaming of an impossible romance. Reignite that fiery, minty love you had for chewing tobacco that you dropped back in your junior year of high school. You could probably use some excitement.
And if it gets a tad bit out of hand, just remember -- they're making a musical out of crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford's life. Develop enough problems and you just might get a Broadway production of your own.
Follow Drew Ailes on Twitter at @CountBakula.
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