TANK THE TECH: The dirty truth about touring, disaster management, and how to land a career in music
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My guest today is not a producer, but I think you're going to find him fascinating. His name is Tank the Tech. And you can find him on YouTube or really anywhere online. He is actually in the touring industry. He is a tech, a tour manager. He's really, really done it all.
A musician to. But the reason I wanted to have him on is because I love his YouTube channel. Basically, he tells the truth about the music industry and specifically about part of the music industry that nobody really hears too much about. You hear a lot about the record industry and about the importance of signing good record deals, but you don't hear much about the truth, the nasty truth of their touring industry these days.
Maybe you're hearing a little bit more than usual with the merch cut situation, which has become semi viral, but there is so much more that goes into touring as far as all the details that bring it tour together, all the different things that cost money, all the different streams of revenue that can make you money, all the different challenges involved with it. And Tank, really, he really tells the truth about it. Some of my favorite videos that he's made are, for instance, how much money are bands really losing on days off? That's a really, really good one. Another one, Our Avenged Sevenfold's bus costs really that bad. It's really, really good. It's really, really honest. And I think that
if you want to tour or you work with touring artists, if you want to understand more of what's ahead of you, like what's coming up, like what you have to look forward to, what you should be ready for. What does this all mean? I actually think that tanks Channel might be the best thing I've ever found on it, and those are big words. But hey, that's how I feel. All right, let's get into this. I'm going to stop talking. Now.
I introduce you to Tank the tech. Tank the tech. Welcome to the You Are on podcast. Thank you so very much. It's awesome to be here.
Yeah. Pleasure to have you here. I, I know I told you this already, but the reason I wanted to have you on here is because even though this podcast is mainly, you know, mainly I have producers on here, I've always tried to have just people that I find interesting who are in the in the music industry who have interesting perspectives on. And I've been following your channel and you've been saying a lot of the things that I wish somebody would say, like their conversations that I've had come up in podcasts with guests or that, you know, you have behind the scenes about a lot of the realities of this facet of life. I guess this being the the touring facet of life. But I think it's a lot of stuff that on the outset people don't understand and maybe they should understand it before trying to get into it. Because while I think it's a I think it's a great life if you're suited for it.
I mean, obviously I've made music my entire career and so I'm all for it. But I also know that it's not for everybody. And there's several reasons for why it's not for everybody.
You know, it could be that like you want to be an artist or you're not good enough to be an artist. It could be that you can't handle traveling. It could be that you're not good with socialization. There's all number, all manner of reasons. Maybe you don't have high risk tolerance or you're not good with instability like there's so many different aspects to this that are beyond just doing cool stuff with your friends. I think it's really cool that you get up there and you're basically telling the truth about the the good, the bad and the ugly of what it's like.
And I appreciate that because it's always been one of the things that I wanted to do with this YouTube stuff ever since I started it. And I'll fully admit, like I would say, the first year and a half of my channel is was not what I wanted it to be. I always wanted this to be a behind the scenes music discussion, like talking about the realities of touring or talking about hot topics and touring, and now there's a lot of music reactions and stuff in there too. You got to grow a channel and that was, you know, that was a popular thing. When I started.
But I would say right now is when I'm really getting to the point where I feel comfortable and confident being able to talk about these things. And I think the one advantage that I have that maybe some artists or bigger artists wouldn't is that I mean, I don't want this to sound like bad or anything, but I don't really have to watch what I say. I'm not signed with a record label. I'm not in the public face, is an artist or anything like that. I I'm a roadie and I can just sit and talk about my experiences and I'm not necessarily going to get the same kind of blowback that like an artist would if they were to say something that people don't agree with or something like that.
So, you know, one of the things I did recently that I enjoyed doing a ton was when I did that video on breaking down the cost of touring right now for bands, more specifically the bus costs. And yeah, he and people were like, Why aren't artists talking about this? And I was like, Well, they they want to talk about their finances with you. That's one thing for sure. But I believe that those are very important things, not just the bus costs but other costs in the industry and how the industry works. Those are important things for fans to understand so that they can more humanize the bands that they like because in this industry there is a lot of dehumanizing that goes on where people are placed on a pedestal. And I mean, you see it on social media where people go after artists and stuff like that.
They don't think about the person behind that image. And I think that's going to help a lot of people if they understand the business side and understand the things that these artists go through when they're touring and when they're doing their jobs. I also think for the youngins, who want to do this for a living, whether it is on the cruise side or the artist side, it's important to know this stuff up front because, you know, I've personally seen bands who were very smart about it and were making a living very early on playing extreme music because they were smart about it and they understood how all this work, like, for instance, Black Dahlia murder, they didn't start using busses until very late into their career. They could have been in a bus way early on because they were doing well very early on, but they stuck in vans for the most part, for, I say, the first decade or more.
And lo and behold, they have houses like they they were they were paying for a normal life back home because they weren't wasting it all on, you know, on fleeting luxury, quote unquote, luxuries. Because I don't think honestly, I don't think a bus is as luxurious as people think it is. I mean, it's better than a van, but like, it's not always better than a van in hotels. It's like let's just say it's not as cool as people think it is. And when you see how much money you're losing, like that could be the difference between you owning a house or not owning a house or like coming back from tour and having to get a job or coming back from tours and being able to just work on your band or whatever else. Yeah, man.
And that's, that's the point about Black Dahlia. Murder is great because the bus and all that stuff looks luxurious. I think a lot of people have been trained to and not met, not just people outside of the music industry, bands as well, especially young bands. We've kind of been trained to this idea that a boss or management or a label or something like that, that means you've made it. Those are the glamorous things that are the telltale signs that you've made it.
And yeah, it's cool to tell your fans and tell your friends like we're on a tour bus. But like you said, the reality that it's like, Dude, there's so much money. Like I'm advancing a tour right now and it's so hard to find busses in North America for tours.
And some of the quotes that I got back were unreal. Dude, Like one of the quotes I got back from a bus company for this summer tour for for a month long tour is like 60% of what my house costs. That's insane, dude. Wow. Yeah, it's crazy. So that's like, multiple times more than what it used to be.
Oh, for sure. I mean, bus costs, even even. Let's talk about, like, bandwagon, which are a good alternative for the bands that want to get a step above a band, but also save money bandwagons. Right now we're like 2 to 3 times more than they cost three years ago. So if you're one of those bands that wants to save money by getting a band wagon so you have more space, but you don't want to go to a bus, well now the price of that bandwagon is what a bus was three years ago.
So if you're looking at it in terms of a couple of years ago, you're not really saving money. Everything's just gone up exponentially. And you know, I've heard that was one of the things I learned when I was younger. I can't remember what band told us this, but they were like, stay in a van as long as you possibly can until you get to the point where if you're big enough to have a crew and you need to pull more gear and stuff like that, like stay in a van for as long as humanly possible, because the second you move to a bus, a you're going to get comfortable with it.
You're not going to want to do anything else, and B, you're going to be sinking so much more money into it that you are going to come home from tours and wonder why you don't have money. Man back. So before my band took our hiatus, so I'll just say round one pre hiatus when we we do European tours and as you know, like it's different when you're over there. So, you know, on a European tour we'd get there and there'd be this €800,000 bus, you know, the double decker deal.
And it'd be like, how like, how is this? This doesn't make any sense. Like we don't belong. I mean, cool, but we don't belong here. Then you go. We go back to the U.S.
and it's like slumming it. But the financial hit that we would take from being on those European tours where it was a requirement to buy into that bus, it was I don't want to say what it was. It was, yeah, ridiculous. And at the end of the day, you do get used to it. And so, yeah, going back, it would be like, Oh man, the van again. But in our reality, even though the bus does get comfortable, it is a giant locker room and it's just a giant locker room that smells really, really bad and like, it's not that cool.
It's really not that cool when you factor the cost of it versus what you get out of it. It's not that cool. Like the ego. The ego boost is not worth that amount of money. Yeah, And not to not to mention the fact that like depending on what your situation is on the bus because I've been on busses where we've had maybe eight people on it and then I've which is comfortable, but then I've been in situations where we've had like 14 people on it. And for anybody listening, a standard bus in the US in North America is 12 bunks and I believe that legally nobody is supposed to be sleeping in the front or back lounges if there's more than 12 people. But I've been in tons of situations where that happens and then when you have 14 people on a bus, like you said, it's a locker room and there's people farting and there's like, you know, there might be people smoking in the front or in the back.
And yeah, it's it's not that's not better than a van. Like, no, it's just a big van, in my opinion. That's just a big van. It's a big van that has a TV.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically. And then, you know, again, depending on the situation, you know, one of the worst ones I ever had in terms of a bus was, you know, most people are used to seeing the busses pull in the trailers and stuff like that. Well, I worked for a band once that wanted to save money, so they didn't pull a trailer, so they put all their gear in the bus bays underneath the bus, which means that there's no room for luggage. Yeah.
So then the entire front and back lounges of the bus are loaded with merch and luggage, so there's nowhere to sit. Anyways, the only place you have to go, you have to go is your bunk. So after a show, when you're done, you essentially get on the bus and there's no room on that bus anyways, and you just go straight to your bunk and you kind of can't do anything else anyways. So yeah, depending on the situation, it is not more glamorous or more or less glamorous than a van. And again, I think part of that is just that ego thing. It's like it is cool for bands to be like, Look, we're on a tour bus, you know, but it's cool at first.
It's cool when you first see it. There's an ego side of it, but that's just not worth it. That's that's all I think is like, yeah, it is cool.
Like because there's a status with it. And the thing, the thing is that the status thing is not, is not as trivial as some make it out to be, because how you're perceived does have a lot to do with what kind of offers you're going to get and you know, what kind of what place and lineups you're going to have. And not that whether you're in a bus or van is going to determine exactly what tour you get. But every little thing contributes to perception.
And I think that, like, you know, perception does become reality. And so there's something to be said for it. However, it doesn't matter enough to where it's worth losing all that money, in my opinion. I agree with that. And, you know, I I've seen this a lot with fans of bands where, you know, even when I was in a band when I was young and we didn't know any better, like we were super impressed, like when we did shows when like a band would show up on the bus and we're like, Wow, they're on a bus. Yeah, sure.
See, that's crazy. And I think some music fans are like that still, too. They see that their favorite bands are on busses. But the problem and I do think this is just a problem with understanding is fans will see their favorite bands like on a bus and then their mind automatically assumes that that band is doing very well. Find it actually and stuff like that when you know, the reality of that is a bus is sometimes necessary.
So like if you're if you're a band to five people and you're carrying, you know, six or seven crew people and you have a lot of gear that you need to pull in a bigger trailer, it's like sometimes logistically that can't be done without a bus. And that's that's the situation I'm in right now. It's where managing a tour is.
Like, these guys did not want to bring out a second bus, but logistically, for the amount of people that they have in their crew and for the amount of gear that we want to bring on the tour, like, unfortunately it's necessary, but it is what it is. I mean, yeah, but the other option would be bringing a truck out or something like that, but that's still financially like, you know, I do the numbers and it's like you're not going to save much more money by having a truck out and hiring a driver and paying for gas and stuff like that. You know, it's it's an interesting conversation because when I was in a band, we never had a bus like we were.
We didn't even have a 15 passenger. We're in a Chevy Astro van and a second hand trailer that we bought from a Boy Scout group in our local area. And and, you know, I will say some of the best times I've ever had were in that band. I mean, yes, it's not glamorous.
And we we didn't make a lot of money and we slept in that van most nights, just five of us guys and stuff like that, you know, Wal-Marts and truck stops and rest stops. But even though now for the last like 12 years of my touring career, working for bands, I've been in busses, I still wouldn't trade any of that time. I had some of the funnest, best life experiences just traveling around in a van and trailer. Sam Yeah, I definitely don't regret that time period at all, and I see it as formative.
I feel like the things that you learn on that level of touring are the things that translate into you knowing how to do it right. I think that being good at touring involves being good at improvising a lot. You don't know what's going to happen that day. I may need to react really, really fast and solve situations. Some of them are predictable, some of them happen. You know, some of them, you know, you know, are going to happen like eight out of the 30 shows.
But, you know, there's always going to be some some curveballs thrown your way and you got to improvise. And I think that the the van touring stage is where you develop the the mental acuity to to deal with that and like the fortitude, the emotional fortitude to not flip out because, you know, some people cannot handle it when the curveballs happen. For instance, I remember once in 2007, we were in a wreck like in a blizzard in Iowa. And somehow even with the wreck and that happening that day, we still ended up making it to the show, not with the van or with our gear, but we still made it to the show.
Somehow we were able to like, walk off of the highway and walk to some place in the middle of a blizzard and like, get our stuff towed. Like it was a whole it was one of those crazy situations where eventually we did make it to the show though 15 minutes of force that time and had worked it all out to where we could use somebody else's gear and did the show and those types of those types of scenarios in the van setting, I think prepare you for being able to tour at a higher level. Like you got to go through that shit in order to, I think, be able to handle the pressure at a higher level. Dude, I have joked so many times that anybody in the music industry, whether you're a band or a crew member or whatever, I've always said that people should be required to do in a van and trailer before they do anything else like it. Boss band wagon, whatever, because I agree with everything you're saying.
There's something about van and trailer touring that mentally prepares you for what the road is really like. And similarly to you guys, we were on a tour once when I was still in a band around in 2007, 2000, seven, eight, something like that, where we also got into Iraq, coming out of the mountains in Washington in the middle of winter. Oh, fun. And it was one of those situations where, like, we're coming out of the mountains and our axle on our trailer snapped and I felt like a lurch. I was driving and I felt like a lurch. And the next thing I see is the wheels from our trailer flying past us in the rearview mirror and then flying past our van.
So we're dragging the trailer down like I-90 and in a blizzard. I was going to say it. Was it flying past you because you were turned around? Because for because in my situation, I saw the trailer in front of us. But that's because we were jackknifed and spinning.
Oh, wow. No, no. This was we were going downhill out of the mountains. So I was already kind of trying to go slow and our tires just took off by us.
And that's treacherous. Get us down the mountain, dragging our trailer. Even though the van was fine, it was the trailer, but that what the situation is, we're broke down on the side of the road.
We have to figure out what to do. So we called like a trucking company, too, with a box truck to come get our stuff. We left the trailer on the side of the road to get it picked up later, and in our minds were like, This can't be fixed. We're in Seattle all like, you know, 2500 miles from home. We have to buy a new trailer right now.
That's an expense that we didn't account for at all. So we get to the shows that you're probably familiar with the venue El Corazon in Seattle. Yep. We play our show like we got everything there. But then that night we couldn't load out because we had no trailer.
So my guitar player and I called the trailer place that was down in like Olympia, so like an hour away to buy a trailer. But the guy said he couldn't sell it to us. Like for a fee. He goes, I understand it's an emergency situation, but I'm not there right now because it's after hours, so I can't get there until like midnight.
You're going to have to pay more for me coming in. Our band sat outside El Corazon on the sidewalk with our gear for like 5 hours while me and my guitar player went and got a new trailer and then had to bring it back. So those are the situations that it's like like you don't plan for that financially and, you know, you know, sitting on the side of the road with your gear like that. But those are the moments that we look back on now and we're like, we we earned our stripes that day as a band and trailer band. We learned a lot that day about how some of this stuff is going to work.
Yeah, that reminds me so much of we had a it was we're doing Ozzfest and we could not afford like you had to have a bus, but somehow we managed to get in without one. I don't know. They made an exception that year and they led bands do it in a van and or like in those like airport shuttle bus things.
Yeah. Which is essentially a van. And the one that we got was really, really we had to have it because you needed a little bit of extra crew for, for that because you literally had a five minute changeover like in like, you know, 20 minutes, that five minute changeover. If, you know, if you take 7 minutes, then your set is 8 minutes long.
Maybe if it took, you know, like there was zero room for error and you had to bring like X amount of crew, like, you know how those tours work. Like there's no room for, I guess, negotiation with any of that stuff. So it was a miracle that they let the smaller bands knock out busses. All we could afford was one of those airport shuttle busses and one of the off shows was at the old House of Blues in West Hollywood.
Oh yeah, I remember that. The hair was that hill right next. Yeah. Okay. So like, that's where the driver parked it after low load in and then when it came time to load out, like the thing just wouldn't move.
It couldn't like, get there was a barrier in front of it. Like they had those barriers in the street so it could go down the hill, but it couldn't reverse up the hill. And when he tried to like gun it, to really try to get it to go up the hill, the engine just exploded. That's that like is dead on a Friday night at a Friday night at midnight. It we got to be at the next Ozzfest show at like 9 a.m. the next day, like 800 miles away. Yeah.
And it was one of those scenarios of like, it's midnight. We're like on the most important thing we've ever done in our entire lives. Like, we can't we can't fuck this up like it's fucking Ozzfest and we have no way to get to the next show. It's fucking Friday at midnight. Like, what are we going to do? And, like, also, what are we going to do with this vehicle that's just like right here in the middle of a city street? Like, how's that going to get out of there? Like, there is a physical barrier preventing it from being moved.
Like what's going to even tow this thing out of there anyways? We figured it out. We got it. We we didn't miss a show, but like having to think through that kind of stuff makes it.
I really do think it makes it to where you can handle just about anything that's going to come up later because nothing, nothing that comes up at the higher levels of touring. In my experience, it could be there's more on the line in terms of, yeah, there's more money on the line, so there's more of that kind of pressure. But in terms of like just the reality of there's no there's no way out of this situation unless you kind of invent something. Mm hmm. I don't think there's anything like that at the higher levels of touring because there's money involved and money solves problems.
So any time that I've been on a bigger tour where there's been a problem like the same kind of problem, the the money in this situation has solved it. Yeah, but I think that the cooler heads prevailing at those higher levels come from having had the experiences of solving those problems where there is no money, there is no money and you don't know what the fuck to do, but you don't know how you're going to solve this. Yeah, I mean, there's there's things now that as a tack that may happen during the day with gear or something like that, I've definitely solved problems by doing it the same way I would have done as a broke 18 year old that was in my band just because I've been in those situations before and in in, in my mindset, it was like, If this is good, what's going to work in the moment and make this happen? I don't care how it gets done like this is what we're going to do. And I really, really quick, I want to take take this back to what we were talking about, about, you know, the mental fortitude and like learning things in a van and trailer and stuff like that before you get to a bus.
There was a band that we toured with way back in the day. I would love to tell you who it is because it would make the story, but I don't know how you are about name dropping out here, but not not great with that. No, not that. Into it. Okay. Even though I'll tell you later, another 40 something like. So we toured with this band years ago and this was like 2007 or so. And there was there was a pretty big rock band from the L.A. area that used to take my band out on tour, which was really cool for us because we were an unsigned band and they were very kind to us and stuff.
But this band blew up from their first single, like platinum, first single they ever released, and this is in the early 2000 when, you know, records were still selling and there was still a lot of money and stuff like that. So these guys blew up so fast that they were never in a van. They were multiple busses in a semi like on their very first tour. Wow.
And they toured in Van or Bus or they toured in busses for years. Well, later in their career when we were touring with them, they started going on a decline like this band used to do, like amphitheaters and arenas. And when we were touring with them, they were like House of Blues sized clubs. And, you know, it was, you know, that happens, man. Sometimes bands kind of start dropping out a little.
And the first tour we did with them, they were in a Boston trailer, and then the next tour we did with them, they showed up in a van and trailer and we were like, Oh wow, this is interesting. Like, and we were friends with some of the band members and they were just like, Yeah, financially we just we have to travel in a van and trailer now. But their singer didn't travel in the van and trailer. He got to hotel every night and flew to every single show every day while the rest of his band and crew drove cross-country in the van.
That's a recipe for good relationships right there, dude. And I was like, I asked one of their band members. I was like, Why? I feel like he's probably spending more money doing that. And they're like, he mentally cannot handle traveling, traveling in a van and trailer.
That's why he's doing it. And he goes, Because we never did. We were never in a van and trailer. We've gone our whole career in busses and the second we had to go to a van and trailer, you couldn't handle it. And that's why I think it is very important as a band when you're young, to have those experiences in vehicles that aren't busses and be in those situations that get you used to just the rigors of the road, like roughing it out because it's like you said, some mentally, some people just think they can't handle the road in certain situations.
Yeah, and look, if if you're a band that blows up immediately, it does happen. And somehow you managed to keep that the whole your entire career. Wow. Cool. But that is just not the norm. There's so that's so like, that's such an anomaly.
Yeah I mean I we all know of examples like that, but that's absolutely not what somebody should count on happening. Like if it happens, awesome. But do not count on it and also don't count on it lasting. Hmm.
I wanted to talk to you about this. Not too many people that I've spoken to can relate to this. Just because I haven't known that many people who have done the touring thing and then also branched out.
There's some, but not not that many, basically. So my band was active from like 2006 to 2010. Signer was like Roadrunner in Center Media.
All this did all kinds of stuff when I had is back. Now, however, in that hiatus is when I started u r M and you know, did all my production work and just did a bunch of stuff. And the reason for all that well, I always want to do I wanted to do a lot of stuff, but I remember being on tour in those days, and because we did get signed to Roadrunner Out the Gate, which was kind of a miracle, like they they shouldn't have signed us. Like we had no business being on that label.
And I knew they were going to drop us on the first record. It was a the conversation was, Do we go with an indie label or do we just get on Roadrunner knowing we're going to get dropped within an album, But take the momentum from being on Roadrunner? Because in 2006 that was it meant a lot. So decide to get on Roadrunner and going, We're going to be on indie next time around. But anyhow, being on Roadrunner got us some opportunities that wouldn't have come up otherwise, so we got to be around much bigger bands, hence Ozzfest and stuff.
So I remember sitting around on busses and hanging out with all these bands that are far bigger than my band and just paying attention and thinking, okay, so this is best case scenario right here. These dudes have best case scenario. This is if everything goes right, this is what it's like. How cool is this? I don't know. It's not that cool.
Like, how much cooler is it than our situation? Yes It's cooler. Yes, it's absolutely cooler. But is it like a thousand times cooler now? Is it like twice as cool? It's than twice as cool, but it's not like a thousand times cooler. And what about what do I predict and are these people doing have like, it turns out that like someone in the band does something really fucked up and the band has to stop or somebody dies or the fans don't like them any more or like they get injured or like any of these things that I just mentioned that we all know have happened to our friends. Like, what if this stops? Like, what? What are these dudes going to do? And I was trying to predict, like I remember thinking, Nerd, go from Behemoth, he's going to be fine.
He'll just start a fashion company or like become a politician. That dudes, when we find Jamie from Hatebreed, that dude is going to be fine. And I mean, like, look at how many different things that guys ended up doing. But oh yeah, out of all those people, like I could only count on one hand the amount of people I thought would be fine if the band ended.
And I was thinking to myself, all these musicians are squandering this incredible opportunity that they have because this is not going to last forever. And they all have this platform upon which they can build an actual career that can sustain them for the rest of their lives. And they're not doing it. And it's kind of sad. And I think that they're living in this fantasy that this shit's going to last forever and it's not going to last forever.
And they need to be thinking about what's next. So for me, I was always thinking about what's next and was able to transition. But what do you think about where you see musicians headspace? Is that these days about the bigger picture like that? Because man, I used to see it. It was it was bleak, man. That's such an interesting thing you bring up because that is really quick before I get into that, that's not that's not something I thought about until I was older.
When I was young, touring, I was like, This is going to go forever. I'm just going to work for bands. And I'm I'm not talking about being in a band because I quit a band to become a roadie because I actually, in a weird way, enjoy working for bands more than I ever enjoyed being in a band.
I had that mentality that this is going to go forever. I never thought about what if this ends one day and I have to find something else to do. I never thought about it.
Then I started getting older and I started thinking about it. And then luckily I had thought about that enough that like when the pandemic happened, we all got sent home with no warning. We literally loaded in for a show one day with everything fine.
And then at the end of that show to our managers, like we're all going home and we're not working. And that was my moment where I was surprised. Yeah, that was my moment where I was like, What do I do? And I've talked to this to my wife about this with my wife for years. It's like I don't have what a lot of people look for in normal, what we would call a normal job.
I didn't finish my degree in college. I quit. I dropped out to be in a band. I mean, as a roadie, am I? I'm suited to maybe go be a manager at a guitar center, like, so those are the things I started thinking about as I got into like my mid twenties. And what I started doing was networking like crazy. I started making connections everywhere to the point where I've not taken them at this point, but I've gotten offers to be a rep for like big gear companies.
I've got offers to work at labels and those are the things that I thought were important that go along with what you're saying, What happens after this road life is done? And to go back to your question, even for me, man, not a lot of bands I've worked for, I don't think they've really thought about it either because there are some bands I've toured with that definitely have side hustle going on where there are. They are aware like this may not last forever and I need to set myself up. So for example, like in the country music industry, I spent six years before the pandemic working for the same artist in in country and Nashville, and a lot of his like hired gun players all do different things outside of touring. Couple of them are producers that work on a lot of stuff in town. His drummer was a session guy for a lot of other people.
Like they had their hands in a lot of different things, not just one artist, but a lot of the bands I worked for, like rock and metal bands and stuff like that. It's usually the bands that aren't thinking about that kind of stuff. They think that, you know, our career is our band, this is it, this is going to be forever. This is going to pay for the rest of our lives.
And that the sad truth about. That said, even if you are a pretty successful band, that's probably not going to happen. Like you got to be Slipknot. Yeah, exactly. I was just going to say, if you're Nickelback or you're Slipknot or you're like, If you're in metal, you have to be an arena or amphitheater headlining sized band to be, I guess, what you would say, like Comfortable for Life, Anything below that do, They could stop at any minute and you're going to be back to trying to find a normal 9 to 5 job if you don't have something that you've been thinking about. So I will say lately, especially the past year, I think the pandemic kind of forced everybody to get into a mindset of, Oh, what else can I do here? And that's why we see a lot of artists now that have gone there's a lot of artists more than ever right now that are in content creation.
You see artists streaming on Twitch all the time. You see artists doing YouTube videos and stuff like that. We've got guys like, like Gnarly from Periphery, like one of my favorite bass players, like, Dude has his hands in so many things now because he enjoys production and stuff like that.
And there are certain musicians in the metal community that have now built names for themselves as themselves away from the band. But I guess that's the point I'm trying to make. If you don't build a name for yourself outside of your actual band, you're not really going to have much to fall back on. If something like you mentioned happens, it will like because everything can be gone like that. It could. I've seen it happen.
Just. Just done. Oh yeah. And if you don't have something to fall back on, I mean, it's that your choices are going to be very limited.
Yeah. The thing about a band too, is like you are hinging your future on the behavior of the other people in your band. And if one of them does something super fucked, like, it could be over for all of you overnight. Just like that.
And there's any other number of things that could happen. But yeah, it could disappear the blink of an eye. It's crazy how fast it can go away. Yeah, I think that. Well, gnarly is a fantastic example. Honestly, when Periphery are like, in my opinion, the the gold standard for how it should be done.
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It's over 500 hours of content and man, let me tell you, this stuff is just insanely detailed. Enhanced members also get access to one on ones which are basically office hour sessions with us and mixed rescue, which is where we open up one of your mixes and fix it up and talk you through exactly what we're doing at every step. So if any of that sounds interesting to you, if you're ready to level up your mixing skills and your audio career, head over to u r m dot Academy to find out more. I mean, every single one of those guys has their hands in other things outside of the band. I think they understand that.
Like you said, the band doesn't may not be forever, but if they can continue to work on other things like in the industry and stuff like that, I mean, all of those guys, every single one of them are doing tons of other stuff and you know, along with what you're saying about, let's say somebody in your band does something horrible because we all know if one person in a band does, it's going to reflect the whole band. It's not going to reflect one person. It's it's it's going to reflect the whole band.
That's how I treat being a roadie, because when I'm working for a band, I am representing that artist. If I, I and I usually tell new crew people this when I'm in a like a leadership role on a tour, whether I'm a tour manager or crew chief or whatever, if we have a new crew person, I'm like, Always keep in mind that whatever you do, you are representing the artist you work for. If you're a dick to an opening band, they're not going to say, Hey, you know, that tank guy's a dick.
It's going to be so-and-so's guitar tech. Yep, he's a dick. And by association, then that story is going to turn into all that band and their crew are dicks, even if it was just one person.
So that's why it's very important, even in a role like mine, to to understand that anything I say or do is going to reflect on the artist that I'm working for as well. So essentially me doing something horrible could impact that person's career, even though I'm just working for them and I'm not even in the band. Absolutely. That's a very, very important thing to understand.
I actually I want to talk about something you mentioned earlier, because this is something that I've brought up a lot, that it's like a message I want to put out there that I've been trying to put out there. You said that you enjoy working in crew more than you enjoyed being in a band. And I think that that's like a great thing to have figured out because because I think that is really important in music, especially that you figure out who you are and what it is that you can be best at and that like you can do and like really put yourself into because that's it. Because if you're trying to be like, say you're trying to be in a band, but like, that's not what you're actually truly passionate about. There's other reasons for why you want to be in a band. You want to travel for a living or whatever.
Like there's any number of things, say like there's, you know, the professional luthier types, the types who love working on building, fixing guitars, like I would never want to do that. That sounds like the worst thing on earth to me. Like, I love playing, but thank God for luthiers and text. Like, seriously. But the thing is, the best ones I know are not interested in being players, like their passion is working on the instrument and it's just this level of precision and that's what they find their Zen and and by figuring that out about themselves, they're able to like, really pour themselves into their passion and make great careers out of it.
And same thing goes for, you know, sometimes you get these producers who started as band members and they realized, like, I hate touring. Like, I don't like, I don't enjoy being in a band. Like what I like is being part of the creation process and it doesn't even have to be my music. Like they figure that out about themselves and then end up having a great career as a producer. And the reason I'm saying that it's important to realize this is because I think a lot of people have this weird idea that if you don't become a rock star, you're a failure. And it's like, it's a binary thing.
It's like you're either huge or you're shit. And the reason it's called the music industry is because it's a whole industry with thousands of different ways to to, to contribute and be a part of it. And there's not just one road, one fulfilling, awesome road you can go down.
But I think it's very, very important to to be very honest with yourself because like, for instance, say you want to be a guitar player, but you're really not that into getting good. But like you're, you know, you're into those virtuoso types and like that's what you think you want, but you're not willing you're not willing to practice six or 8 hours a day like you're with 30 minutes, but you're like putting up Instagram videos of playing solos and like, that's what you want to be like. Clearly, there's a dissonance there. Like, clearly your your efforts don't match your ambitions for some reason. What is that reason? Usually the reason is you really don't want that. Like is you want something in music, but it's not that.
And you haven't done the mental work to figure out what it is. It's not that you're a lazy person, it's that you're you're of going down the wrong path for yourself. Like you think this is what you want. It's not actually what you want. You should as you should sit down and actually take a little bit of inventory and figure out, well, what is it that I'm actually going for here? Because I've noticed that people who do that, that they will figure out, Oh yeah, I don't actually want to be a guitar virtuoso. If I did, I'd be practicing at hours a day. Like when I had John Petrucci on the Heart podcast, I asked him like a listener question, How how do you get motivated to practice? And he said exactly what I thought he was going to say.
I don't have to get motivated to practice. Of course he doesn't have to get motivated to practice, like that's just what he does. And so I think that if someone wants to be in music and they're not just like into the thing that they're going for, they need to ask themselves, Well, why? Like, why is there something else that like still in music that you might be better at or better suited for or that you're actually into? Because like, like you said, you realized the crew life is what you're into, not, not the band life.
Yeah. And from a young age, I knew I wanted to do something in music, but with, you know, us growing up and seeing all these rock stars and stuff like that, the only thing I understood when I was younger was band like, you want to be, you know, we see all our artists on the covers of magazines and music videos and you're I think at that age I didn't understand that there was more to the industry than just being in a, in a band. So don't get me wrong, I enjoyed playing. I still play. I have my guitar, my bass is here. I play a lot. But
the original thing that got me away from being in a band was that if I'm being honest, I just tired of being broke all the time. I mean, we toured for three, four years straight in a van and trailer and I kid you not. I try to emphasize this to people. I was the most broke in that four year period of my life I've ever been. I'm talking there were days where I would have to borrow like $2 from a band member that I actually had money to, like get get a McDonald's double cheeseburger to eat, like I had no more than like $10 in my pocket at all times.
And that is a very difficult, stressful way to live. And I was kind of talking about this with a band that we were opening for, like the assigned band, and I was like, I'm thinking about just quitting. I don't know what I'm going to do.
I don't know if I'm going to go back to school or what I'm going to do. And they were like, If you quit your band, come for us, we'd hire you to be in your group. We've we've seen how you are on the road. Like it might be a big change for you not being in a band anymore, but we would take you on the road with us and I made that decision. I quit my band and I went and started working for a band and I kid you not on that first day ever working for a band. It hit me that this is what I need to do in music.
I'm I am tailored to work for bands, not be in a band or be a star like I am. I get more joy out of working for a band than I ever got playing on stage, and I know that's probably sounds weird to some people, but not to me. That makes perfect sense. Yeah, there's there's something about being trusted and being relied upon where a band knows that they are not going to have to worry about anything all day except for going on stage and putting on a good show. They know their gear is going to be good. They know like there's something about that feeling that's like, you know, I could have the most stressful day in my life in a show setting up.
And then the second that show starts, if the band is happy, I'm like, Yeah, like my whole day is better. Like, I love it. And, you know, there wasn't one necessarily. There wasn't necessarily one specific thing I wanted to do.
I was open to learning new things. A lot of people I know in the industry that that work for bands, they go in with one thing. They're like, I'm a drum tech or I'm an audio engineer or I'm a lighting director. When I first got hired by a band, I got hired to be a lighting director because I did lights at a club outside of Chicago where I grew up. But then they were like, Hey, we need a merch guy. Do you think you could do that? And I was like, Yeah, why not? And then it turned into, Hey, we really wish we had somebody that could tech our instruments.
Could you do that? Yeah, sure. Why not? So, like, I just started learning every little thing I could on the road to the point where that opened up my opportunities so much because I started getting this experience doing other things. I mean, people know me as like, like tank the tech now, like I'm a guitar tech, but the first half of my career I was pretty much doing merchandise for anything from like club bands to like stadium sized bands, just merchandise. And then I slowly started changing and getting into different things.
I was a bass and a drum tech for a while. I have tour managed bands, I staged manage bands and now I'm mostly guitar taking but also tour managing. And you know, that's one of the big things I tell people to is like always be open to learning these different things on the road because you never know what band is going to ever give you that opportunity or need something. And knowing all these different things is going to help with that and the honesty. Yeah, honestly, I've enjoyed every little thing because there is a weird totem pole kind of thing on the road where like as, as a merchandise manager, I'm kind of towards the bottom.
Even on large tours, like I've been talked down to because, oh, you're just the merch guy or somebody wants the info. Just the, just the guy that handles all the income pretty much. And I've, I've been insulted by what I a regular person that's not in the music industry. I've had people on my YouTube. When I talk about the tours, I've done merchandise and they're like, Oh yeah, you've toured with this big arena band, but you were just the merch guy. They say it like it's an insult.
It's funny because if they only knew I'm not going to say on camera for like secure security reasons, but if they only knew what that actually the reality of doing merch for an arena band is. And not only that yeah, but I'm like, You think that's an insult calling me just the merch guy. I'm the only person on this entire tour.
It's not an expense. I'm. I'm, I'm making the band money. Yeah, everybody else is an expense. Audio engineer, lighting director, guitar tech and needed expense. But I am making money for this band every night selling merch, so like, none of those insults ever faze me. I'm like, whatever.
Like, the other bands have always treated me like I'm an integral part of their tour. And it's fine. And, you know, they're they're I don't know, it's just funny. I see that totem pole, like, even even nowadays you get what's very popular on tour is like tour videographers and photographers because everybody's about that social media content. And there are people that I've seen that have tried to knock down like tour videographers to Pegg where they're like, like you're not a part of the show.
All you do is take pictures and video. And the reality that I've seen with tour videographers, they they might not put in the physical work that other people do, but most of the tour videographers I've ever seen are putting in the most hours. Like every night I would go to bed on my last tour, our our tour videographer was still up working and I'd get up in the morning and that person is already up on their computer working and editing like it's, you know, these jobs that seem menial to the normal person are sometimes extremely important to that operation, and they're also not understanding their I guess they're not putting a human element to how they get the things that they consume, which is kind of, you know, you could make a bigger a bigger point about that with our with our culture, not not appreciating the human element of where we get the things that we consume. But
people are used to just wearing band shirts or getting on Instagram and seeing a tour video and not thinking about the fact that a human put that together like that didn't just spontaneously generate. Someone had to make that and with bands that are on tour and you see a new video like every single day, like where do you think that's coming from? You think that that's like a I generated like there is a person who is making that shit and that shirt you're wearing. It didn't just poof, appear out of nowhere. I think that like people don't like, they don't connect with where stuff comes from.
And I mean, same way that we we try not to think about where our iPhones come from and what's in them, like all the way to where people don't think about who's making an Instagram video for of a tour, you know, of of a show from a tour or whatever. Like, they don't see that and they don't value it, which I think is a it's kind of sad, but it is reality. People just don't connect with where things come from. Yeah. And and in terms of the video stuff, mind blowing thing to me is, you know, people write it off because it's like, dude, it's a 32nd video.
It's like, do you know how much footage that videographer shot to make? I mean, you're talking hours of footage. Yeah, they have shot all day that they are then going to have to skim through just to find the clips for that 30 seconds. It's a lot of work. And, you know, even going back to merchandise, it's like people think that, you know, our merch is you just sell shirts. Okay, Well, what you're not seeing is that on some of those tours, when I was a merchandise manager, I advanced everything I would do in advance with the venue, so I knew what was on. I was getting show contracts from the from the booking agents, so I knew what the merch fees were because I believe that is a very important thing that a lot of bands, merchandise managers aren't doing.
My day would start at like 9 a.m.. I'd get in the semi, I start pulling the merch. Like not to mention the fact that I had already done a projection the night before when I was staying up. Pull the merch that's needed then you got to count it all in, then you got to display everything.
And then once all that's done at the end of a show, I'm up for 2 hours on my computer doing accounting every job on the road, whether it's the merchandise manager, the videographer, the techs, audio engineers, the bus drivers, the caterers, everybody has a way bigger role than I think the normal person would actually think. And I think that it's honestly, at the end of the day, there's an element of it where and I noticed this as a producer, both as a producer and an artist, I've had the experience of like spending a long time writing a part and, you know, put so much work into it. And then the producer just cuts it out of a song and like, it like, stings a little. It did that first.
Like I put so much time into this. So much time. And the first time it happened, the producer was like, Yeah, nobody cares. Like, they only care if they like the song. They don't care how much time you spent on it. And I like, I tried really hard to like, get myself comfortable with the idea and still to this day that like, no matter how hard I work on something or how many hours I put in on the other end, nobody's going to see that and nobody's going to care about that.
They're only going to care about do they like this thing or not like this thing? Do they resonate with this thing or not resonate with this thing? The end. And I think that with what goes into the work on tour, really all the concert goers cares about is are they having a g