Wendy Fonarow, “Indie Professor” over at The Guardian (and actual anthropology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles), has some dos-and-don’ts advice for bands about to head out on tour.
Despite the fact that most indie bands I know aren’t in any position to hit the road in a tour bus or make a habit out of staying in posh hotels (which makes her advice regarding tour-bus etiquette and hotel-room afterparties somewhat puzzling), there are plenty of helpful tips to be found here. (The part about being nice to the crew is a good one—Lord help any band that pisses off a venue’s in-house sound guy.) However, after hearing countless horror stories of touring bands having their vans broken into and all of their gear stolen—which can end a tour (and, in some cases, a band) very quickly—I was a little surprised to to see Fonarow neglect the whole “Protect your equipment from theft!” issue that has plagued acts such as Torche, Phosphorescent, and Maria Taylor in recent years. (Seriously, bands: If it can happen to Iggy Pop And The Stooges and Sonic Youth, it can happen to you; meanwhile bands such as Mae and Kill Hannah have had their gear stolen right here in Philadelphia.)
It goes without saying that you probably shouldn’t leave any equipment unattended in the van overnight—most music folks will tell you that if you’re not up to hauling all of your equipment inside every night, you should a) have someone sleep in the van with the gear and/or b) have the equipment locked inside a secure loft (preferably with the back of the van parked against a wall or telephone pole). But what you don’t hear a whole lot of bands talking about is renters insurance—which, as far as insurance goes, is one of the cheapest and most useful deals you’re going to find, especially for touring musicians.