On Tour – by Edna Sway
Ok, here goes:
Flying, driving, trying to get as much sleep wherever you can, learning how to sleep, sleeping in parks, not showering, going on long tours that remove you from reality, going on short tours that squeeze as many shows into a few days as possible, avoiding the rain, passing the time, making up drawing games while sitting on an aeroplane, playing pool before a gig, drinking beers, trying to find free accommodation, trying to find a free jukebox, being careful not too drink too much before you play, album tours, single launch tours, shitty venues, awesome venues, car bars, car hire, taxis, venue bookers, borrowing gear, sound engineers, always taking a book to read but never getting around to reading it, searching for some silence, going to places that you usually wouldn’t, flying or driving back and forth within 24 hours, radio interviews, street press getting your name wrong, doing and saying things that you normally wouldn’t, changing eating habits, talking politics, sharing beds, sharing couches, sharing floors, obsessive iPhone photos for Instagram and Facebook, making friends and making enemies.
I’ll now work backwards and try to briefly describe from the last tour I went on to the first. (Warning, details will get blurrier the further away they were).
Hobart, August 2013:
It started by nearly missing the check-in to our 8 am Friday morning Jetstar flight. But we made it just in time. Got to Hobart with some time to kill (which is usually the case on tour), so we went to the Lark distillery for some whiskey tasting. Then we went onto the Cascade Brewery for some beer tasting – we stayed there for a while. We then drove to a friend’s family property where they were kindly putting us up for the night, dropped off our gear and headed to the Republic Bar where our gig was that night.
It was a good gig, but we missed the dude who, when last time we played there, threw $20 notes on the stage during sound check. We met some awesome people this time anyway though.
Saturday, we had the night off, so we went to MONA, then to a dinner party at a friend’s house and ended up crashing there for the night. Sunday, we drove up Mount Wellington, froze our faces off then went to Salamanca and played a arvo gig. Then the night got a bit wild… details are blurry…
Sydney/Wollongong, June 2013:
We decided to have a road trip and drive up on Friday morning. In a van; with six people. Driving is preferable to flying on tour – because it just is. First stop was Wollongong at Yours and Owls, which is a tiny little café that transforms into a music venue at night. The gig was really fun as it was a friend’s art exhibition opening party, so it was packed and everyone was in a pretty good mood.
The next day we had to check out of the backpackers at 10am so we went to get breakfast via the scenic route to Sydney. It was at this time that the phrase ‘Chunky FlaxMuffin’ which was a recipe in the local paper became the most hilarious thing we’d ever heard and this stayed with us for the rest of the trip.
That night, the night that Sydney had a torrential downpour, we played at the FBI Social in King’s Cross. Let’s just say that there weren’t that many people there. And it was Sydney, in King’s Cross…
Sunday was spent passing time, wandering around Newtown, and then playing pool, drinking beer and eating food at the Erko pub before our Sunday evening gig at The Midnight Special in Newtown (which, by the way, is the best bar in Sydney). This is where we discovered Fireball whiskey mixed with apple juice. We played two sets from 6-8pm then got in the van and started our drive from Sydney to Melbourne.
Lionel Ritchie’s song All Night Long, was the theme song. We listened to it twice before we got sick of it, and McDonalds filtered coffee was the drink of choice. We got to Melbourne at 7am the next morning. All I can say is let us never speak of the shortcut again…
…was all over the country. We toured with a couple of bands from Melbourne – an East coast tour of Australia. We road-tripped to Newcastle/ Sydney/Wollongong – the Sydney show involved us leaving the venue/being kicked out because they wouldn’t give us our rider and then buying a slab and hanging around a friend’s car outside of an apartment block then having someone from said apartment block come down stairs with a stick threatening to hit us if we didn’t keep it down, only to simmer down when we offered him a beer. That was fun.
Brisbane/Byron/Surfers Paradise was the next weekend. Brisbane set the precedent with Jameson’s mixed with alcoholic ginger beer before we played. In turn, this then made us wear costumes for our gig – the drummer in a dress, the guitarist with angel wings and the bass player (me) with a purple wig. There was clothes swapping and drinking out of boots, then terrible hangovers the next day.
Then the one before that:
…was another nation-wide tour, which went for about a month. We all really got ‘involved’ in the party vibe of the tour starting with Hobart, then onto Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Bunbury, Albany, Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Frankston. I got swine flu and whooping cough on this tour and was probably the sickest I’d ever been. The problem with gigging and touring is that you can’t just call in sick. So instead of a beer bottle on stage, I had a box of tissues and some meds; and on the plane, on the way home, I was close to tears because the pressure in my head and ears was so painful. That tour had its ups and downs.
I also went on a couple of single launch tours to Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney:
During these tours we got lost, got people to play saxophone with us on stage, partied hard at The Grace Emily (Adelaide), stayed in too many Formule Ones and splashed out on fancy accommodation for one night.
All in all, touring is pretty fun. It has its ups and downs but you get to meet great people, go to amazing places, see great bands and you always come back with a bunch of stories to tell.