Life on the road – the perfect lifestyle?

Was scrolling through the Twitter-news and found a Tweet that said:
“Children of Bodom frontman on touring: “To me, it’s the perfect lifestyle”.

I can see that he means. Back in 2007 I was welcomed by Jon Oliva’s Pain to join them on their tour bus. I can’t say that it’s in any way an ideal lifestyle in terms of health (forget the sleeping and eating healthy-thing when you’re on tour], but there was something about that whole experience that left me wanting more. I envy those that live the rock’n’roll vagabond life on a regular basis. 

If you are a free spirit and open for adventure, it’s a perfect way of life. My first touring experiences was with a female Swedish band, and we toured in a rented VAN. That was in the 90’s. The Oliva-tour and accomodation was quite different. :)

I had the first floor bunk, it’s like sleeping in a coffin – but I’ve never slept better. It’s dark and the movements from the bus just rocks you to sleep, like a baby. Maybe I fell asleep so quickly because I know it so well from my childhood. We used to drive through Europe, dad, mom and me – and I had the back seat all to myself when I was little. I used to love that when I was a kid. So falling asleep in a dark rocking coffin wasn’t too far from what I already knew. I would fall asleep listening to the jokes and the laughs til early in the morning.

[The bunks on the bus. Light-tech Hanneke and The Mountain King (hidden behind the latest issue of Sweden Rock Magazine.. ;-) ]

 

If the show ended around midnight, it would still take a while before the bus would get back on the road. It was the showering (and it’s always war to get to the showers when at least six or more people are standing in line for that ONE shower), the meeting fans and friends, the loading of the bus and everything else, before the bus could get back out on the freeway.

 

[One of the more creative solutions…! :-) If there’s no dryer, you just use whatever you’ve got! ]

I loved waking up, pushing the drapes to the side in the morning, smell the coffee that someone had made, not quite knowing what time it was or what city we were in. The ultimate gypsy-life.
For some people, it’s the only way to live. Living a “normal” life is like locking a bird in a cage.

I can relate to that too. I need to go out in the world and see gigs everywhere, anywhere, at any time, for any reason, because I feel trapped if I don’t live the way I feel I was supposed to. 

Life on the road means that you never really know anything for sure. When is food – and what are you gonna get? Some things you remember very clearly – like the catering at Pestpop in Belgium… It looked like dog food or like someone had thrown up on the plate.

Or the catering at The Rock in Copenhagen, the whole band stood there trying to identify what was in that casserole. Light-tech Hanneke and I ended up going out for Chinese take-away instead.

We all went to a restaurant almost everywhere, now that I think about it. But that’s pretty much the only meal you got, if time allowed it. On busy days there was no time for food, which meant that in the middle of the night, someone would want to stop for a break at a gas station to get some kind of junk food and take a leak…

[John Zahner at the Indian restaurant in Gothenburg]

Oh yeah. That’s another interesting aspect of life on a tour bus. Don’t use the bathroom. It’s so small that you can barely fit in an anorectic midget in there. And I was informed about the meaning of the expression “piss-foot” the very first day I got on the bus. I was warned NEVER to go there. I didn’t.

Some everyday tasks took some time for me to figure out. How to change clothes for instance. The first day I tried to change in my bunk. Uh – let’s just say it was nearly impossible to dress or undress in a bunk. Maybe after years of practice but I certainly never got to the point where I could master that.

Either you change outside your bunk or you wait until you get to the venue and the dressing rooms. Or both.

Makeup? Didn’t work. I looked like Alice Cooper, trying to put on decent makeup in a moving bus…

[At Z7, Switzerland. Nah, it’s not the running-order for the show, it’s the running order for the washing machine..! :-P ]

The showers… Yeah, that was always interesting. .)

When you pull up to the venue and open the doors of the bus (or in this case it was 2 buses, the opening acts travelled in a separate bus) you get a shitload of people just welling out, looking for the nearest shower. It’s like a race – who gets there first before it’s time for sound check, catering or unloading the bus? 

[The LOVELY shower at the Viper Room in Florence, Italy…]

 

I accidentally walked in on one of the guys from the opening act cause he hadn’t locked the shower-door and he totally forgot there were women on the Oliva bus. He was so embarrassed he didn’t come out for the longest time, cause he was hoping I wouldn’t be outside when he was done. Like hell I was doing anywhere, I desperately needed a shower! Lol!

[Stuck in traffic on the way to Oslo…]

There were all kinds of little things that are still popping up in my head from that 2007 tour: The toothbrushing using toothpaste and Heineken beer instead of water cause there was no water… Chocolates, leftover potato chips or popcorn that someone left the night before – that would have to do for breakfast ….

…the search for available sockets to charge cellphones, cameras, laptops. It was always a mess there around the two tables in the front of the bus. EVERYBODY needed at LEAST one outlet.

The frustrating internet connections (or the lack thereof) – either none to be found or extremely slow. If there was a good connection people would gather around someone’s laptop to check out the YouTube videos that fans had uploaded from the tour.

There’s a lot to say about the whole touring thing I guess, but most of all, you really bond with people, they become your family.

I’ve never felt so content in my life. I was surrounded by people who were just like me – we all shared the passion for music.

In my everyday life, I meet nice people, but they don’t necessarily “get it”. With a crew and a bus full of musicians, you can start talking about pretty much anything that’s music related, and people will immediately GET it. That’s such a fantastic feeling.

In everyday life you’re always slightly different than “normal” people, whereas HERE, you were normal, because everyone else is the same.

But most of all, it’s the privilege of being surrounded by MUSIC 24-7. Touring is really about living that life to its fullest.

Is it an ideal life? For most people I’m sure it’s not.
For restless souls and people who live for rock’n’roll – I can’t think of a better way to indulge in the rock’n’roll lifestyle!

 

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