It’s time now. You’ve spent the past four months working as many hours as you possibly could to pay the rent for the month and a half you’ll be gone. For the gas to go in the van. For the van’s insurance payment, and the last payment on the van itself.You try to get some shuteye, but all you can think about it how well tomorrow night will go. After hours of playing with your mind, you fall asleep.It isn’t enough.You wake up much earlier than you wanted to and haul yourself for one last run through over the songs before you pack everything up and head to the van at the storage center. Your blisters have partially healed, thanks to the superglue you used to keep them shut. After a couple of hours, you’re satisfied. Everything’s to your liking.You spend the next hour breaking your kit down and making phone calls you need to make before you leave town. Mom, dad, sis, best friends, girlfriend, pastor, everyone. They all know the years of sacrifices you’ve made to get to this point. The thousands of dollars you’ve invested, the sleep you’ve lost wondering if it’s worth it, being there for your bandmates in the bad times, and rejoicing with them in the good times. The literal blood, sweat, and burning tears that have formed the foundation of your life.
It’s time. You drive out to the van, and your guys are all there. Vocalist, guitarists, bassist, merch guy, and you. Your best friends out of the 7.3 billion human beings on the planet. The ones that know you through and through, and know you better than you know yourself. Another two hours is spent checking inventory. Sticks, picks, strings, guitars, backup guitars, bass, backup bass, heads, electronics, cabs, drumheads, pedals, stands, every bit of it is checked off. Merch count is done.It’s loaded up. The trailer’s full after two semi-pulled backs and an overstretched ligament. But it’s nothing ibuprofen can’t fix.You’re off. The bunks are occupied. Captain and copilot have the wheel for the next seven hours. You retire to your bunk built from a 3/4’ths single mattress and wood bought from home depot, and you settle in.Check your bag. Realize you forgot half the stuff you needed three hours later. Spend $40 at a Love’s or Sheetz to make sure you don’t offend the nasal passages of everyone else in the van.Luckily, you have your essentials. Macbook. Ipod. Phone. Debit Card. 80 gigs worth of pirated movies, tv shows, and games. Phone charger and macbook charger. IPOD charger. Isolation earbuds. And that nifty little curtain you installed around your bunk to keep the light out.You miss the town you just left. Familiar faces and good friends. You miss her.You drift off dreaming of your own bed, and a hot meal.You awaken hours later(it feels like 20 minutes) as you feel the big door slide open. You poke your head out for a second to see where you are. It’s the venue. Time to load in.After a few more sore muscles, the gear is loaded in, and soundcheck is done. You’re playing fifth tonight, which gives you a few more hours to doze off.
You happily retreat back to the bunk. You fall asleep for an hour and wake back up. The van isn’t running, and the a/c isn’t running. You’re baking. It’s dead summer too.You flip the electronics on for a second to roll down all the windows. The breeze flies through the van, cooling you in your damp tank top and shorts.This moment, this blissful moment when you’re finally allowed to sleep well. It won’t last.Your vocalist shakes you awake a couple hours later. It’s time.You grab a fresh pair of sticks from your bag and walk inside. The crowd is big. Bigger than usual. They’re chanting the band’s name. The stage darkens are you all get ready.You settle on your throne, doing final stretches as the intro sample kicks in.Click click click click goes the click track in your ear.Here we go.It’s 40 minutes of non stop movement and aggressive playing. You’re going crazy, the crowd’s going crazy, and your guys are going crazy. It’s nuts. The kids know the new song, and you can hear them over your vocalist.Two weeks later, the process is still being repeated. You’ve watched all 80 gigs of the movies and tv shows you downloaded. The games have lost their allure.Sleep is scarce now, and your health is fading. The taco bell from yesterday made you puke at the truck stop. You stopped to look at yourself in the giant plate glass window.You hadn’t showered for days. Your hair is matted and clingy, and seems to grow in patches. You can’t afford the pay showers at Love’s. You can barely afford to put in your share of the gas money, let alone feed yourself. You can’t afford to eat healthily. Soda is cheaper than water, and two day old gas station burgers are 50 cents apiece. You have no choice if you want to have money when you get home.By this time, hygiene products and clothing are disappearing. Blame is shifted around the van, and it most of the time has just been misplaced or left at a venue. You spend more on keeping yourself presentable than keeping yourself fed.
People are getting fed up with each other from time to time. It’s cramped, and it’s hot at night. You can’t afford to bust the gas to let the van sit idle all night. You find a walmart parking lot, roll down the windows, and open the sliding door to let the breeze in.Some nights there’s a breeze to lower the temp in the van to a respectable 70 degrees. Some nights there’s not.Everyone smells now. BO and terrible food smells permeate the air in the van. Nothing can be done. Laundry hasn’t been done, and no one has clean clothes at this point.Some mornings you wake up, and you’re caked in sweat and grime. You stumble out of bed and wander into the walmart with your laptop, intent on skyping people back home by piggybacking off of any unsecured wifi.It helps. Mom and Dad say hi and wish you well. So does sis. You’re three hours behind them, and the sun is still coming up. Twilight outside, which casts a weird color inside the van.
Three days later, you have a shower. The water is lukewarm, and it lasts for thirty seconds before the back door bursts open and you have to run. You didn’t strip completely bare.Only this wasn’t a shower. You used a hose behind a KFC to wash your hair and get the grime off your body.You didn’t manage to get all the soap out of your hair. You take the hose behind the Hardee’s to finish the job.You can’t wait to be home and be clean. To have a hot shower, eat food that doesn’t come from a drive thru or a chip bag or soda can, and to see her.
The drives are long, and your straw gets pulled. A lot. The longest was seven hours for you. That one was bad. You almost ran off the road four times, and you had to replace a flat tire. No bueno. The drives are worse than having to endure the heat.Your body has deep aches. Your arms constantly feel like you just hit the weights for an hour straight. The blisters are extremely painful. The callouses are constantly red and tender.Kids have been telling you what a sick drummer you are, you’ve been taking it in stride. It humbles and honors you, and it makes you think about what a blessed life you lead. It makes it worth it.Fast forward to the last night of tour. You didn’t sleep at all the previous night, and drive thirteen hours to play this one last show. The rest of the tour package went home, it’s just you and local bands filled with your best friends.Your phone has been off for a week. The company screwed up the autopay system, and you’ve been out of contact with everyone. You’re frustrated, and so is everyone else. But you’ve never been closer to your brothers, and you’ve never been happier.
It’s the hometown show for you. Mom, dad, sis, pastor, friends, family, and she is there. She smiles at you as you sit on your throne, ready to go.The intro kicks in, and it’s 40 minutes of pouring sweat and high energy hardcore.It’s done. The kids are cheering, and it’s time to go home. You quickly pack up your kit and load it into the trailer. You grab your bags and throw them in your car, which Mom drove up for you to take back to your apartment(which you share with the rest of the band).
Mom and Dad hug you and tell you they’re proud of you. You weep openly at their acceptance and cognizance of the work you’ve put in.Friends hug you and pat you on the back and welcome you home. You politely decline requests to go out to eat.You secretly hope you never eat anything unhealthy again.You reek of BO and sweat.The van takes off and take the trailer back to the storage unit, where the van will also stay.You pile into your car and throw your bag on the passenger seat. You take in the solitude and sink your head into the seat for a moment, inhaling deeply.
You made it.The drive home seems so short compared to what you just went through.You’ve got the apartment to yourself. Everyone else is with family or girlfriends.You’ll see her tomorrow. She’s got school and went home after you reconciled at the show.Shower time. You strip down and throw your incredibly dirty, smelly clothing into the laundry bin.You sit in the shower til the water turns ice cold, and then some. The dirt just came off in waves. Your hair turned a lighter color after it was done.You notice the six pounds the tour diet added to you in the mirror.You throw on the clean pair of clothes Mom and Dad gave you, and you dive onto your mattress. Literally.You’re out in a matter of moments.
Two things cross your mind before you close your eyes.You have to be at work at noon tomorrow.And you can’t wait to be back on the road again.It’s that set time. It’s what you live for. What you dream about.
When you can do you what you were born to do for this phase in life. When the world melts away and five people become one cohesive, creative instrument. When the heart takes over, and the mind takes a backseat. Violent passion surfaces, and you’re home.”