Keeping Home Secure While On Tour

Touring with the band for weeks and even months at a time is awesome, but like Dorothy said there is still no place like home. For some of us though, there is no one back home fanning those fires while we are away, making it necessary to find ways to make sure that the house is still standing once the tour is over.

Hire a House Sitter

This is the absolute best thing you can do to protect the house while you are away. Ideally the sitter should be someone close to you and able to stay at your house while you are away. This would be a my home is your home type of set up. For it to work you need to do a few things first:

  • Set Ground Rules: You may think you wouldn’t have to tell an adult not to throw parties in your house while you are out of town, but you should at least mention it. This isn’t you being petty, there is a certain liability you would still be responsible for if your house sitter decided to open the doors to your house to his or her whole list of acquaintances.
  • Stock the Fridge: For the most part, your house sitter will be responsible for his or her own meals, but it would be a nice gesture on your part to set them up to start. Especially with seasonings and condiments that they would use to cook with.
  • Secure Your Dog: Not everyone is going to be in love with your dog as much as you are. Invest in a petsafe wireless pet containment system to keep your pet and sitter as far apart as possible. Your dog is going to be upset that you are gone, but if you have a petsafe wireless pet containment system in place (check it out here) you will be disrupting their life as little as possible, while not leaving your sitter terrorized.
  • Be Clear on the Responsibilities: Make sure that your sitter knows exactly what they need to do. Make a list and include such things as bring in the mail, water the plants, feed the dog. This may seem second nature to you, but a house sitter may need some reminding.
  • Bill Paying: You should have an emergency stash of cash available for your sitter in case of a sudden emergency. Pipes seem to wait until we are gone before deciding to burst. Also try to have as many of your normal monthly bills set up on auto pay through your bank account. If there is anything that your sitter will have to take care of for you make sure that they know exactly where, when and for how much and that you have left them the money for this.
  • Make Sure to Stay in Touch: You are the one moving around a lot, so make sure to check in often with your house sitter. They should have a basic itinerary for where you are in the event of an emergency, plus a phone number of someone who definitely will in case your plans have changed.

If you want to get home from touring and just crawl right into your own bed worry free, you will have to have someone watching over your home for you. Pick someone you trust and know is reliable and you will be able to focus on playing great music while they are focused on taking care of your home.

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Staying Fit on Road

Staying Fit As A MuscianAs a touring band, life on the road can be difficult. I remember my very first road tour when I was fresh out of high school with my first band. We decided it would be a good idea for our band to tour for a month and a half through California up to Washington State before travelling back home . None of us had really spent much time away from home let alone a month and a half in a Van touring the West Coast. I think before I left I weighed in at a solid 160 pounds and when I returned I was a much pudgier 175. I wasn’t happy about it but to be honest I didn’t really know how to prevent it either; there was so much great food to try!

Life on the road as a small time band is tough. Long drives from small town to small town, very little money for accommodation to have a good night’s sleep and when you 18 years old with your band mates, the last thing you want to put in your gut is a salad; especially when I can get a cheeseburger for a dollar. It didn’t really hit me until about 4 years into touring pretty consistently that I would have to make a change.

I had a good friend in high school who eventually went to University to study kinesiology and had actually taken a job doing some personal training at a local gym. He was always passionate about nutrition and living a healthy life so after a tour I consulted him to ask if he had any tips for me when I was on the road. We decided to do a few sessions together where we would explore some exercises which could be done in a hotel room or a park and then talked about nutrition. I then got the band together as a group and had him present what he thought would provide us with a more sustainable tour menu.

The plan was simple, limit carbohydrates and sugars (AKA limit beers) and increase our vegetable intake. Another big thing was staying hydrated because when you’re travelling in a sweaty van for 8 hours a day, it’s easy to lose hydration and not even realize it.

The next tour we took nutrition and exercise more seriously and it was amazing at just how much better felt as a group. We were performing better and we still felt fresh even a month into the tour. Even into this day we are a better prepared group for hitting the road because of the nutrition plan we follow and I think we owe a lot of our tour success to it.

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Touring the Country Allows Us to Try Great Food

foods, restaurants, knives, sharpenersTouring the country with your band is quite an experience that holds a lot of great perks. For one thing- you get to tour the country with your band!

Half of the fun comes outside of the actual band activities and have more to do with just experiencing new things like meeting new people and getting to eat new food. When touring all over the country, you get to eat at restaurants you do not usually get to eat in. This gives you the opportunity to try out meals you haven’t tasted yet and eat food that have slightly varied preparation from the ones you are used to. Here are a few foods you should really try in the places you get to travel to.

  • Salads-When one thinks of band tours, the word salad rarely comes up. Make no mistake, when it comes to salad, there are usually no two restaurants that have the same kind of presentation and taste. You would be surprised how delicious salads can be especially if they are quite different from the ones you are used to back at home.
  • Burgers- No matter where you are, burgers are just about the most accessible and somehow most welcoming food you can find. You really do not need to settle with fast-food franchise burgers since they are usually the same everywhere you go. Instead, you can opt for unique burger joints in each town so you can see for yourself which you prefer.cut that burger up - use a butter knife
  • Steaks- Steaks are also some of those things that somehow do not taste the same in different places. Each steak that you partake in would be a blend of flavors and presentation that would most likely be unique for you and your palette. You should get your knife and keep your best electric knife sharpener beside you since you are in for some tasty adventures.
  • Pasta- Though not necessarily different from place to place, pasta is one food that you will most likely crave at least twice a week. Which is why, you should be sure to check out the locale for any pasta joints that would satisfy your pasta craving quota.
  • Pizza- Another type of food you can’t really overlook when you are on tour all over the country with your band is pizza. Sure, you feel like you won’t really be craving for pizza when you’re on tour and exposed to new places and new food, but you would be on the road a lot and pizza is always the most accessible food for any group. You could at least make use of this opportunity to try out newer pizza places and try out different kinds of pizza. You’d be surprised on how much you’ll love them.

 

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Tour with the Band: Road Life

Touring with a rock band in the US can be amazing, especially if you do it with the right people. However, if you are a new band on a budget, the living conditions may not be as glamorous as being in the comfort of your own home, with luxuries such as your own cosy bed, or access to a fully equipped kitchen to cook your meals. Cooking is an important part of life for many people, especially to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and cooking with the best appliances can really make it an experience. However, while on tour, this may not always be easy. When on tour, it is important to stay healthy and make sure that you are performing at your best, as you don’t want to let your fans down.

Food preparation and cooking are probably some of the most difficult things to do while on tour, especially for a band on a budget. It may even be impossible to prepare your own food, which means having to resort to buying takeout for most meals, which is not really a healthy diet, nor is it good for your bank balance. I find that a healthy, cooked meal is a much better option, especially when touring as it can keep you at your peak. Musicians and artists who have made themselves a name in the industry may have better facilities and resources to have a healthy lifestyle while on tour. Take Cheryl Crow for example. She tours quite frequently, but will make sure that she still has a healthy diet, which is proven by her new healthy eating cookbook.

Being on tour is a tough job. You are on the road for days, weeks or months, and also need to perform maybe every night or second night. This is why is so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as if you don’t, then your will get burnt out and will most likely get sick. Many musicians and artists suffer from exhaustion while on tour, so by ensuring that they keep up their strength through eating healthy and taking care of themselves, it reduces the risk of burnout.

Although celebrities may not have time to prepare their own food while on tour, that does not mean that they can’t have a freshly cooked meal. Many artists and bands have the luxury of being able to have chefs and cooks that can accompany them while on tour. This means that they can have quality food waiting for them while traveling, as well as before and after going on stage. By having a chef, or even a team of chefs on tour will mean that bands have more time to spend focusing on their jobs as well as being able to still have a have healthy diet. Being on the road can really take it out of you, especially if it is for long periods at a time, which is why bands and artists need to take care of themselves while on tour.

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Best Songs About Food

Food and music – these two go together so well. What good is an Irish drinking hymn without the drinking? One could even say that music is food for the ears, is sustenance for the soul. Whether you’re deep frying bacon or using an outdoor smoker, you could say – it’s always good to have some rockin’ grooves playing in the background to accompany the symphony of sizzling meat and veggies. The following are some of my favorite songs about food (to see another of my top ten lists - click here if you like nirvana).

Zach Deputy – Chicken Pot Pie
Sure, the song consists of a single lyric song over and over the entire song, varying in intensity. “Chicken pot pie, chicken pot pie.” (At least every Fall he changes it up with “Turkey pot pie, turkey pot pie”, am I right?) But the song is brilliant, cheeky, and hilarious. And if you’ve never seen Zach Deputy play, it’s a sight to behold – a one-man-band using loop stations. Very impressive stuff.

Snoop Dogg – Gin and Juice
Ok, so maybe only the chorus is about gin and juice. And perhaps it IS only a passing reference. But one could also argue that Snoop Doggs relaxed, calm demeanor is highly influenced by both the substances he ingests into his lungs, and the liquid he imbibes, the gin and juice.

Black Sabbath – War Pigs
This one I kind of cheated. War Pigs isn’t about food at all. But what Black Sabbath’s War Pigs lacks in lyrical content depicting food, it makes up for in the perfect soundtrack to cook some BBQ to. This sizzling of pork meat seems to crackle right on tempo to Black Sabbath’s early epic. For some bonus points, check out the live version with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

Weird Al Yankovic – Eat It
Weird Al Yankovic may be notorious for taking other peoples songs and altering them in a dazzling display of hilariously cheesy satire, but make no mistake, his parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” contains perhaps the most impassioned lyrics about food from any artist I’ve ever heard.

B-52′s – Rock Lobster
Rock Lobster is a timeless classic. Catchy and chock full of strange vocal hooks and refrains, Rock Lobster is certainly a unique and catchy number, and worthy of any list about radical songs composed with food in mind.

Genesis – Supper’s Ready
Long before anyone was “feeling it in the air that night,” Phil Collins was drumming for Genesis, an infamously talented progressive rock band that are well known, particularly for Supper’s Ready, a 22 minute epic that is required listening of any fan out there of the progressive rock sub-genre of music. The song is a dazzling display of compositional prowess and musical insight that is not to be missed.

There are dozens of songs to be named in this category, but those are some of my personal favorites, including some must-listen tracks that aren’t to be missed!

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A Little Music and A Little Pig

I remember this one show my band played. My keyboardist is quite the chef, easily on a professional level. The man has, in fact, cooked meals for members of various famous bands, including (but not limited to) Parliament Funkadelic, members of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and many others. In any case, we were throwing a giant party to jam for our friends at, and decided to do a pig roast. So we dug a hole in the ground and lined the pit with rocks, pits, and coals. Then my buddy throws in the pig, which he had been flavoring with his cooking voodoo skills. We threw it in the ground, awaiting the festivities that would lie ahead. Needless to say, as the band raged the stage, the fans were too busy chowing down on top-of-the-line pig roast pig to be dancing. It was a delicious and rocking combination.

Should you buy a smoker?

So is buying a smoker a good investment, or should you go the DIY route and dig a pit and throw coals and bricks in it like my progressive rock funk band did that one summers night? Cooking is a timely procedure no matter how ya smoke it. I’m no cook myself, but I think the pig was being smoked for a good 12 hours before it was completely ready to be digested. On top of that the time to build the fire pit was an hour or two to get it right. The results were to the satisfaction of the entire band and all of our friends and fans their that night. So I’d say it was worth the hassle. However, maybe you’re looking for something more permanent than a hole in the ground. Maybe you’re looking at the long term, plan on roasting a lot of pigs in your future. You can always go the MacGuyver route with it. This guy on Youtube, for example, built his own smoker for less than $25. Now we’re cooking with gas! Er….I mean…..now we’re cooking with….smoke?

If you aren’t the type to design and build and prefer the arguably lazier (but arguably safer) method of purchasing a smoker for yourself with your hard earned cash, you’re looking at a variety of options. While you can likely get something in the $50 – $75, if you see an abundance of smoked pork chops in your future, why not splurge a bit and get yourself a top-of-the-line smoker? Porky Pig, Babe, and the 3 Little Pigs will thank you for the extra money spent – it seems far more humane to use a machine designed exactly for the purpose of smoking pigs than feeding the stereotype of spinning a pig over a fire pit with an apple in it’s mouth as people surround the fire brandishing spears and war paint.  You could go shopping for the best gas and propane smokers and spend as much money as you can dream of if you need to have the latest and greatest!

Fact – smoked pig is delicious

In any case, the argument of whether or not you should try smoked pig is moot. It’s delicious, and a worthy investment of time to try at least once. Our band had a memorable feast and performance, and the process itself (even from my peripheral perspective as a chef’s assistant) was rather educational. So whether you’re digging a pit, building a $15 smoker or going out to Wal-Mart and grabbing a manufactured one, do yourself a favor and indulge in the delicious taste of smoked pig.

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How We Stay Fresh On The Road

Being on tours and traveling all the time isn’t all fun and games. At least not 100% of the trip. Yes, we have fun and goof off as any band will on the road, but one thing is for sure, and anyone will tell you…no one likes a stinky van.

This will happen more than you’d imagine unfortunately. Stick 4 or 5 guys in a van and you’ll see just how interesting the trip can get. There are things you’re going to want everyone to get on board with before hitting the road, trust me. I always make sure that the other members and I all have a list of things to bring so that we all have our own, we won’t run out, and we pack wisely so we don’t have too much stuff jam packed in the van. Chances are, someone will forget something anyways, so it’s good to make sure everyone’s on board.

Here’s a list and some tips we always use before and during a tour:

1) WET WIPES.

Yes, wet wipes, baby wipes anything of the sort. You might be lucky enough to have places to stay after shows while you’re on the road, but you can’t always count on it. And even if you do, it might be rare that all 4 or 5 of you can shower while you’re there. Wet wipes are great for a quick wipe down after a show, on the road, after meals, and yes….after bathroom breaks. No one wants a funky smelling vehicle. Be sure that hand sanitizer is close by as well, keep some in the glove box.

2) Keep your mouth clean.

Seriously, this is overlooked a lot. Bring your own toothbrush and make sure at least one person has some toothpaste.

Bad breath makes a huge difference when you’re in close quarters with more than one person. Brush your teeth just like you should at home; twice a day. At least. Something that made a big difference for me and a few of the other members in the band is a water flosser. None of us want to put our sweaty hands in our mouth at the end of the day, so we used to just skip the whole flossing routine. Now we all have a travel water flosser that we take with us on tours. It’s thousands of times easier and faster than typical flossing, and you won’t get those swollen gums like normal floss does.

3) Bring a couple changes of clothes.

Try to have a few things you wear during shows, and separate clothes to wear while traveling/during your down time. Your band mates will thank you! Getting into the vehicle with sweaty, freshly played-in clothes can get smelly really fast. If you can do laundry at any point during the tour, do it. If there’s a laundromat near where you’re staying/playing/killing some time, round up some change and throw in a load while you hang out!

Don’t underestimate how laid back your friends might seem, everyone values hygiene.  Also, in the anticipation of your trip, don’t forget to secure your home so you have something to come back to!

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Song Writing: Give me Some Tools!

Gearsofsandpic-PBNOne of our favorite things to do is create new music for our fans. To create new music, a number of things need to happen to get it to the level it needs to be. Essentially each band member needs to create a piece of the song which is specific to their instrument. Naturally, it sounds a lot easier in theory than it is in practice as not only does each band member need to create a piece but each piece needs to work together in perfect harmony to create a song. For me, as a song writer, my job is to create the lyrics to go along with the music. There are many different methods that song writers will use to get there lyrics on paper however I prefer the old fashioned way: pen and paper.

Pen and paper is the age old method and one that doesn’t require much explanation. However one thing I have learned over my time with the band is the importance of a reliable pen. As we are often travelling from city to city, we spend a lot of time in the van with nothing to do. This is naturally the perfect time to write music. The inspiration of the road really helps to create song ideas and there is always something about the road that brings emotion to a song. 

When I started writing, I would use whatever pen I could find. I didn’t care much about quality, in fact it never even crossed my mind. It didn’t cross my mind until the start of one particularly long 5 hour drive where my brand new 50 cent pen wouldn’t work. I could feel the words in my head but I just couldn’t get them down on to the paper because the damn thing wouldn’t work. It took one more experience when my cheap pen exploded in my writing binder ruining all of my current pieces before I got really frustrated.

Now a days I rely on a tactical pen for all of my song writing. A tactical pen is a lightweight writing utensil made of anodized aluminum which will not break unless exposed to an extreme stressor. It is made to use refillable ink and the ink which is used is always of the highest quality. I really like this as I know that no matter the climate I am writing in, the ink will never smear or cease to flow. 

As we are travelling on the road a lot, another feature of the pen i like is that it also doubles as a self defence tactical pen.Featuring a chiselled tip, it can actually pierce flesh in the rare case I would need to use it. I have never had to use my tactical pen as a self-defence tool but I bet if I did, it would inspire me to write a pretty cool song.  

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top 10 nirvana songs

Nirvana was an extremely popular band first formed in 1987 and plummeting to a rather tragic end in 1994. The band was formed by the infamous Kurt Cobain, lead guitar and singer, along with Krist Novoselic, bassist.

Nirvana had its share of drummers in the first two years but Dave Grohl finally became a long-lasting figure behind the drum set. The band sold over 75-million records since it’s debut in 1987, and, consequently, Nirvana is one of the world’s most loved rock bands of the time period.

Nirvana’s reign of the rock world ended unexpectedly with Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, apparently brought about by a long battle with heroin addiction. Nirvana’s music lives on and the band is set to be inducted to Rolling Stone’s Hall of Fame in 2014. This is the first year the band is eligible for this honor. This is my list of Nirvana’s top ten songs of all time, and trust me when I say, this list was hard to narrow down.  In fact, check out my list of top songs of the 1990′s and you will see Nirvana on there, too!

10. Aneurysm

“Aneurysm” was released on the album From the Muddy Banks of Wishkah as a live recording. The song is widely accepted as a parody about the conventions of pop and the use of drugs for the band’s 1990’s time period.

9. You Know You’re Right

“You Know You’re Right” was released on the band’s compilation album. It was also the last song that the band recorded before Kurt Cobain’s death.

8. Sappy

“Sappy” was originally recorded with the name “Sad” in the band’s first year 1987. However, the song was recorded several more times in studio and is recognized to be released on the album, Nevermind.

7. About a Girl

“About a Girl” is on Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach. Oddly for a song on his debut album, the song breaks the bands go-to sound and is a tribute to the sound of Cobain’s most admired artists.

6. In Bloom

“In Bloom” comes from Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind. The song is widely recognized as a message from the band to those who otherwise did not understand the band’s message beforehand.

5. All Apologies

“All Apologies” appears on Nirvana’s last ever album, In Utero.  The song was the band’s third number one hit to hit the charts.

4. Come As You Are

“Come As You Are” represents the epitome of Nirvana’s go-to sound, a hushed verse followed by a loud chorus and repeat. This song comes from Nirvana’s album Nevermind and helped Nirvana become a band loved by the world, not just the US.

3. Heart Shaped Box

“Heart Shaped Box” is another great song from Nirvana’s final album, In Utero. While the label worried the song was not going to get much hype from Nirvana fans at the time, the song received a lot of air time on the radio and landed number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Track’s chart.

2. Lithium

“Lithium” appears on Nirvana’s album, Nevermind. It is the story of a man who looks to religion after a breakup. Much like a dose from the popular drug, this newfound love of religion numbs his pain.

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is hands down the most popular song that Nirvana ever wrote, and one that many argue changed the face of rock forever. Unbeknownst to us, Cobain admittedly hated this song and openly said to the Rolling Stones that he thought the song was “an embarrassment.” Regardless, the song has earned its popularity and maintained its popularity among many Nirvana fans.

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top 10 songs of the 1990s

The 1990s lent itself to some legendary rock and roll bands. From one hit wonders like Marcy Playground to full fledged success stories like Nirvana and Foo Fighters, the 90’s is a treasure chest filled with rock gems from all facets. Here is our list of the top ten rock songs from this great decade.

10. Marcy’s Playground, Sex and Candy

“Sex and Candy” spent a record 15 weeks as the billboard chart’s number one song, but then Marcy’s Playground disappeared. Many might argue that “Sex and Candy” consequently doesn’t deserve a spot on the top-ten list, but it’s success in ratings cannot be denied, “Sex and Candy” is still a 90’s classic (and one of my favorites) today.

9. Radiohead, Creep

Radiohead, a now infamous band, released its first true hit in 1992 with “Creep.” However, the song’s release in 1992 was not what gave the band its true success. Rather, it was the song’s re-release in 1993 that gave Radiohead true success on the charts.

8. Guns N Roses, November Rain

“November Rain” is one of Guns N Roses most famous, and long lasting, songs. In its original version, the song was over 25 minutes long, but was cut to a mere eight something minutes for its debut on the band’s double album: Use Your Illusion. “November Rain” is one of the longest songs to ever make the top ten billboard hits charts, the music video won a cinematography award in the 1992 MTV awards.

7. Rage Against the Machine, Gurilla Radio

“Guerilla Radio” won a grammy for best hard rock performance for the well known band, Rage Against the Machine, in 2000. However, the song was released on the band’s 1999 album, The Battle of Los Angeles.

6. The Smashing Pumpkins, Tonight, Tonight

“Tonight, Tonight” appears on The Smashing Pumpkin’s 1996 album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and was written by the band’s lead singer, Billy Corgan. The song was an instant hit and recieved the highest praise from Rolling Stone who describe “Tonight, Tonight” as The Smashing Pumpkins “at their finest.”

5. Pearl Jam, Black

“Black,” is a typical rock song from the 1990’s in that its essence is extremely dark and mysterious. Some critics said it was a bit of a play on the words of in the song Jeremy. (It was a song ahead of its time…gun safety and school shootings.) The song appeared on Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten and can be credited for much of the band’s subsequent success.

4. Green Day, Basket Case

“Basket Case” appears on Green Day’s 1994 album, Dookie. The song spent five weeks on the Billboard Modern Rock Track’s number one spot. The song also won a 1995 Grammy award nomination.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Under the Bridge

“Under the Bridge” appears on the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s fifth album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and was extremely well received by the public. The song’s popularity peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 100 charts, but its popularity continued to grow with the release of the music video, which won two awards at the MTV awards that same year. The song’s popularity has continued to grow, and it is now considered one of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s greatest songs of all time.

2. Foo Fighters, Everlong

Dave Grohl is arguably the greatest rock genius of the 1990’s which reflects in his involvement in both The Foo Fighters and Nirvana. “Everlong” was written in the wake of his break-up with his first wife, and its success paved the way for the Foo Fighter’s continued success into the 21st century.

1. Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit

There is no argument that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the greatest rock song of the 90’s and the greatest Nirvana song by extension. The song even reached Rolling Stones list for top songs of the year where it landed in the number two spot.

 

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