It’s crucial to build days off into your touring schedule – of course I write this in the midst of a day off, but it’s a day off that I desperately need. In a world where so much of our time is spent waking up at 8 in the morning to get in the car for 8 hours to play a show to thirty people it’s hard to justify a day off – don’t you just want to get through the touring experience? Make your money and go home? But the thing is – you need to embrace the days off, use them as a time to recharge your batteries, catch up with folks back home and steel yourself for the road to come. Your days off are your opportunity to sit back and relax, to take in all that has been offered to you and figure out what you need to move forward, a good meal, a night of sleep in a real bed, a new tomorrow. Your days off are the best way for you to move forward in one of the most grueling processes you can put yourself through, so you had damn well better use them for all that they are worth.
When I’m on the road and have a day off without a major drive or anything I try to spend as much of the day as possible away from whoever I happen to be touring with. This isn’t because I don’t like them but merely because we need space. When you are stuck in a van with the same people every day, all day you really don’t want to be with them during your down time. You want to take some time to appreciate other things – maybe go to a museum, chill out a little extra, see some old friends. These are the things that make tour life worthwhile after all. It’s really easy to get burnt out on tour and forget why we started doing this in the first place, so we might as well appreciate it for what it is. You get to find yourself with a spare day in a city you probably won’t have time to visit for another few years – you might as well make the most of it! If you don’t, you’re kind of doing yourself a disservice – so why travel that much in the first place?
If you are hanging out with your bandmates, try to at least bring a new element into the mix, be it buddies or a museum or something. I’ve seen bands spend their day off hanging out around the van and they want to kill each other by the end. That just feels like a wasted day. You need to spend your day off going to music stores to restock on gear, calculating your merch situation, figuring out where you want to go next and maybe even getting a head start on getting to the next gig – after all, you know what’s better than one solid night of sleep? Two solid nights of sleep. There is a lot of bullcrap that builds up over the course of a long tour. A lot of stress and frustration you are inevitably going to have to deal with. If you have a day off then you can use that time to start to get some of that frustration squared away. You can get that real meal you’ve been needing and change the oil in the car without worrying about having to be somewhere in six hours, and that’s a beautiful thing.
I love using days off to call home too. It gives me a chance to make sure that all is well on that front and that my cat is alive and my roommates surviving. Checking in at home can also be reassuring. It helps you get a little bit further away from the dangers of homesickness and shows you that life doesn’t stop – a difficult thing to remember when you are lost in America. It’s great to keep things moving forward at home, if you lose track then when you get back the post tour depression is going to be all the worse. If you keep denying yourself the importance of the home life you’ve left behind then the odds are you won’ be earning any favors when you get back even if you don’ have a family or anything, dropping out of your world for a month can have weird societal repercussions you should be aware of. It’s just another one of those little things that makes tour life so goddamn weird, difficult and incomprehensible.
Days off are few and far between – as it happens we can’t really afford them. Days off are a good thing to be sure but you have to be careful when you plot them. You also need to remember that a day with a two hour drive is practically as good as a day off and that a day off with a fifteen hour drive hardly even counts. In other words – days off aren’t always where they seem and are a crucial part of routing your tours it’s a huge morale booster, but too many days off can leave you in the dregs of despair. Pushing through those is the key – tour days off are hard to justify for, it’s a day you’re not generating any income and on a tight budget that can be hard. The thing is – on these long haul month long tours you need to take your day off like a weekend – even if you don’t take weekends back home, you deserve one now. You’ve been working 16 hours a day and sleeping on floors for a week – if you don’t think that you merit a day off to chill then I feel very sorry for you.
Tour is a grind and days off are one of the few blessings. You are far from work and home – you don’t need to worry about those silly things. Sure you may need to do band maintenance, but in the end – you have a day in a new place with old friends where you don’t need to follow ANY goddamn rules and can go out and get drunk just for shits and giggles. Take advantage of that – most people never get to leave their hometowns without their families or a million work obligations. You are out on the road with your buds living it up, and for one day you don’t have an ungodly drive and a show to play. Appreciate that. There is so little left to love in music, so little we can be truly grateful for as thing get increasingly stratified, so we might as well take what few benefits we can get.
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