One important thing to check when you tour with a six piece band (four musicians, one sound guy and one tour manager) packed in a van, is the good operation of your electric windows. The acid smell of sweat, feet, sometimes cigarettes and sometimes « a mysterious smell coming from nowhere » will force you to ventilate the cockpit after one or two hours driving. Even more when you decide to tour in the south. In our case, we went directly from Luik (Liège) to San Sebastián, to Madrid, to Granada, to Sevilla, to Malaga. That means, the more southwards you go, the more you drive, the warmer the sun gets and the more you sweat and so the more acid the smell gets.
You also don’t have much time to visit the cities you play at. You arrive only one or two hours before your get-in. You unload your backline, set everything up on stage, do your soundcheck, maybe chill a little bit before dinner and then the doors open and you stay around until it’s showtime. Depending on the time you have to wake up the next morning, you just go back to the hotel and have a little chat with the crew before you go to sleep. Of course, if you get to wake up at 9:30, you might have time for a few drinks before you go to bed. If it’s your lucky day and you can sleep in, you’ll have time for a karaoke with locals in Granada.
Instead of visiting cities, we developed an expertise on highway gas stations. We tried to stop every two hours and discover new parkings, new shops, new coffee machines or different kinds of plastic food. Sometimes you get surprises, like that one time we found a group of 20 cats chilling under the sun behind the station. Or when we decided to check tire pressure and Laurent our sound guy started to spray water all over the van to wash it. And so wash the band. And our coffee. And everything else. (Please note: A tire pressure that is 25% too low increases rolling resistance by 10%. This increases fuel consumption by approximately 2%.)
During one of those stops, we were still in France on the first day, we also continued our collection of « Relais Routiers », the kind of restaurants that make food especially for truck drivers. It’s like a snack, but bigger. With a parking, for trucks, so, bigger. You pay a cheap fee and you have an open salad bar and one hot meal. If you’re a vegetarian you’re screwed – even at the salad bar, there’s meat everywhere, you’ll only get to eat some cucumber, celery and bread. On top of that, for only one euro you also get an open wine bar. Wine at the pump. Like beer. But wine.
We also did some business in gas stations. Like that one time we had an one-hour-long phone interview for a radio in Madrid. The rest of the crew was playing football or chain smoking cigarettes or got bored on a swing while one of us was getting a brain cancer while listening to his phone.
We also talked a lot about music, not only on Spanish radio, but also in the van while driving. Not necessarily good music, but still music. We cannot explain here (maybe in another episode?) why we talked about these songs but we decided to put them in a playlist. You can find it here and we hope you will enjoy it.
Bryan, Damien, Elliot, Mike, Laurent & Simon.