From an outside perspective, being on the road and getting to travel the country is really what some people consider “making it.” To be quite honest, there’s no better way for me to be spending my post-grad life than playing music every night with some of my best friends. While I’d never take it all for granted, what goes on after the show ends, proceeding to the next day is what truly makes it worth while. I’ll try my best to condense this even though I could probably go on for ages about everything that we’ve seen, but that would require many photo albums and even more paragraphs.
First, I’d like to start out with the positives, and then the negatives because let’s be real… when you’re DIY and going across the country a few times a year, you’re bound to run into some bad luck.
On one of Crafter’s West Coast tours in May 2017, we were out for about a month and happened to leave for this tour right after my college graduation. This was the first time I was going across the country, and honestly had been looking forward to everything for months. Keep in mind, we travel everywhere out of an 11 passenger van, filled to the brim with our equipment in the back, and then a futon mattress on the floor behind the driver’s seat. Considering we can’t afford hotels each night, we make the most of camping out wherever possible, showering at a gym where one of us may have a membership, and eating local foods or cooking out at a campsite.
I remember us driving to a campsite one night, getting lost, and ending up in a field full of cows walking up to our van. We were somewhere in Colorado and ended up just staying wherever that field was. Upon turning off the van and looking outside, the views of the night sky were what made everything worth it. On the flip side, some days you wake up and all of a sudden you’re on the side of a cliff with a coastal view.
Fast forward a bit, and we decided to swing by the Redwood Forest before a show, and then ended up visiting the Grand Canyon for an entire day when we had a show fall through. At first you think “wow.. this sucks, we’re not getting paid at all today.” While that’s true, visiting amazing places like these are all part of what keep the moral, and motivation up to keep the tour moving, along with playing a great show.
Now I’ll touch on some of the negatives.
There is one day in particular that you could not pay me to live through again. This was when we finished a show in Colorado Springs and had to leave right after the show for a 24 hour drive, to play in Northern California. Side note, we didn’t have fully working AC in our van at the time of this, and it was in the middle of August.
You can be best friends with your band mates, but a 24 hour drive without stopping (except for gas, etc) is the true test of your friendship. If you aren’t left behind at a gas station or haven’t killed each other by the end of it, well congrats, you’re probably in a good spot and are fit for touring. It was brutally hot, the driver and co-pilot were getting sunburnt from just sitting in their seats, and it was 112 degrees in our van with the windows down.
Sometimes you show up and it turns out to be a great show, sometimes you show up and play to 2 people. It’s all the luck of the day, but the most important thing to remember is that you can still put on an amazing show for those 2 people. It’s super easy to get bummed out by small things like this, but every band goes through it at some point and it always gets better.
As for breaking down, it’s just another things that well.. it happens. We broke down in Texas and had to replace our brake calipers, but were left stranded for a few hours until someone could tow us in the opposite direction of where we were heading (which was the only place to go). Lets be honest though, it’s not the full band experience until you have to shell out your hard-earned personal money to get your van back to working order, while being all the way across the country.
The best and only thing you can do in these situations is just to find the little things that are entertaining and make the absolute best of it. Thankfully, our tour mates on this particular run (shout out to Remain & Sustain) stayed with us until a tow truck came. We turned us breaking down in the middle of nowhere, into a good time.
All in all, most people only get to experience going to the show, and never actually know what goes on after that, leading up to loading in for the next one. This is where true memories are made, and where the magic happens. Some days are amazing, some days make you question why you ever did this in the first place. However, none of us would trade the world for it.
This type of lifestyle teaches you to a great deal of humility, how to be humble, to truly appreciate the small things in life, and to make the best of what you have in front of you.. all music aside.
I’m a DC native that specializes in portrait, travel, and event photography. When I'm not working at home, Im most likely on tour with my band Crafter from Massachusetts. I also have 4 dogs back home who are the my world.