How We Got Here: (Part 10) “One Paying Customer”

 

Touring. I don’t think I’ve said one good thing about it during this blog series. Truth is, I loved it, for a certain time at least. We would see friends in bands who had record labels that actually helped them. We’d see them get on a big tour, come home, then have a booking agent book them a 2 month run. The longest run the Undeserving ever made was 3 weeks, I think. We just didn’t have the means without a record or support and were always limited booking ourselves.

I did love it though. I especially miss the van rides. Kyle, Jim, and Brennan were all amateur impressionists, and my skill was laughing at them. I’m pretty sure the hardest times I’ve ever laughed were in the band van laughing at Jim on a long drive on no sleep. There is such a comradery when you’re in a band, especially one as “successful” as we were. When you struggled, you knew that there were 3 other guys who knew exactly what you were going through and when you were flying high, you had people to share it with. I miss that. I miss the uncertainty of late night driving in a city you were unfamiliar with. I miss hanging in the green room before shows with some of the most interesting and hilarious people.

I miss the stage. I miss that feeling where you are allowed, expected even, to let your narcissism completely take charge. I miss that feeling that I had every once in a while where the whole room was at my beckoned command. I miss the moments when you feel like you’re absolutely killing it. I even miss the times I messed up, fell down, tripped over or forgot my words, or made jokes that bombed. Most of all I miss that feeling of the show being over. The feeling of relief and exhaustion. I miss hanging with people at the merch table after the shows. I miss hearing their stories, and learning about their towns. I miss the adventure.

In the fall of 2011 we had but one choice: tour. We finally had our record to sell and promote, and had to get it in front of as many people as possible. We got hooked up with some friends in a band called Mike Mains & the Branches to do a couple week run through the Midwest and the south. Some of the shows we got paid for, some we didn’t, so it was vital we got people in the door and put on a good show. Our merch money would be our lifeline. I was never one for sleeping in the van, especially in the summer time, so we stayed in more than our fair share of cheap hotels. Rooms that smelled like all sorts of things. Rooms with running water that was brown. It was the life we chose, so we had a good time with it.

This particular run was fun because we shared it with good people. We got to see some cities that we had never seen before. After a show in Tulsa a guy came up to us. Only about 50 people showed up that night. The guy told us he had heard our song on Idol and had to do some homework to figure out who we were, but found us. He said he was shocked that only 50 people were there, and he was expecting like a thousand. “Welcome to the music biz” we said.

At the end of the tour we had a show outside New Orleans on a Sunday night, then the final show was not until Wednesday night in Little Rock. A day off on tour can be fun and restful. Two days off? That’s a recipe for trouble. It means an extra day of expense with no income. Little Rock was not all that far from New Orleans, so we spent Monday exploring the Bayou, the gulf, and the city, saw some gators, and got into Little Rock early Tuesday afternoon. We checked into the hotel and I asked the lady at the front desk: “What’s there to do in Little Rock?” She gave me an odd look and said matter of factly, “drink”.

We wandered around town that night, got some unforgettable BBQ, and tried figure out what were going to do the next day and a half. Wednesday afternoon came and we grabbed lunch at the city market. It was a really hip, vibey place full of millennials and good food. Matt, who was running sound for us on this tour, was single. There was a pretty girl about his age working at one of the little stores and we all pressured him into talking to her. Matt is a great guy, but it’s fair to say he’s probably a little shy, especially at the time, but he finally gave in. We all watched from a distance as he talked to her. It looked to be going well, and he came back looking accomplished. He had invited her to the show that night and seemed to think that she actually might come.

They always say you should play with the same passion for 2 people as you would for 2,000. Well whoever said that has never played for two people. I don’t remember the name of the club we were at that night, and apparently no one else did either. Two people were here to watch us and Mike Mains. Who were these people? Friends of Mike Mains who were hosting them at their house that night. We delayed the start but no one showed up. The sound guy got us ready and left. What a disaster. We could’ve gone home Monday. This is when I learned about that passion thing. We were pretty dejected and upset, and gave a half hearted performance, even cutting short our set. We were supposed to be pros and knew better than that. Mike Mains and the Branches blew us off the stage that night, and we deserved it. We packed up and got ready to drive home. The promoter walked in and handed us $4. “You sold one ticket” he said. We were confused, not sure who paid. The two there were on the guest list. No one in the other band knew anything, nor did ours. We got in the van and asked Matt if he knew. “Yes, I bought a ticket for the girl from the market, but I guess she didn’t come.”

Sounds about right.

“Well, here’s $4 back.”

To Be Continued…..

How We Got Here: (Part 11): “We Fought the Law and the Law Won”

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