Post tour depression is a really interesting thing. After three weeks of the stress on tour you find yourself longing for it again after a few days for some stupid reason. Even though weeks turned into years on the road and you thought you were going to die you can’t wait until you get to go out again for no other reason than that tour still seems simpler than regular life. As much as you might hate the late nights and early mornings at least tour means that you don’t have to deal with all the usual torments that makes life in this industry such a nightmare for so many. Touring is a different sort of torture and it can be easy to lose track of it.
As a band manager I charge the industry standard of 10% of the gross. This means that every day when we tally the previous nights earnings I know exactly what I made. When I come back to my day to day life consulting for bands and writing my income becomes a lot less quantifiable, but a lot less unstable. While I certainly make more per hour when I’m at home, being on the road provides a certain comfort. There is the knowledge that I am currently in the process of making money and unless I get physically sent home I can pretty much guarantee that I am going to end up getting paid. It’s weirdly reassuring and it means tat you only really need to be focusing on touring rather than all of the madness that comes in day to day music industry life.
That being said tour is not always fun, I have a ton of articles about that. I’m not trying to say that tour is fun, merely that it is a lot more straightforward. And when you are stressed out with the day to day bullshit of having a music industry office job then sometimes you long for the road. Hell, the time zone issues alone have me going to bed way later than usual, and considering some early morning meetings I have coming up this is going to be less than ideal. Sure I’m getting enough sleep and am not locked in a van with a bunch of sweaty dudes, but at the same time, my life is infinitely more complicated when not on the road.
Maybe it’s a Stockholm Syndrome type thing. I still haven’t ruled that theory out. Alternatively the road could just be that much better than real life, but I somehow doubt that. I think ultimately the reason that we get post tour depression is that even after years on the road there is a certain romance to touring. Every night there are new people, old friends, and attractive girls. Then you go home and it’s like “Oh, well uh, what else do I have to dig?” It’s hard to sink back into normal life because you find yourself no longer driving forward like a machine. Again – you get exhausted and it sucks, but it’s the mechanical drive that is going to keep you fresh faced and excited for the new challenges that this industry will launch at you when on the road.
Meanwhile on the home front it’s just people constantly flaking on you and the knowledge that no matter how hard you work you are still going to have to deal with people screwing you over. On tour you can move on to the next thing, after all the next day you will be a few hundred miles away. One asshole doesn’t necessarily have super long term consequences. At home you have to fix issues over the long term. The road provides a certain freedom, it forces you to embrace the impermanence of the human condition and reminds us why we do this in the first place. It’s easy to get bogged down at home, we need to circle back to that vital freedom.
I’m having a hard day, perhaps that’s why I felt compelled to write this article, but I genuinely believe it’s so much more than that. Musicians across the globe have complained about post tour depression. It’s hard to go from something exciting and vicious back into the fairly bland ether that is normal life. It has its place to be sure, regular nights of sleep and no travel is good for the psyche but man the road sure is fun. Now I have to spend a week sober and make sure I didn’t accidentally break myself on tour, but that’s fine, because ultimately the wounds that I bear are the wounds of love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.