There is a very specific type of hell you experience before hitting the road – a very specific type of hell that makes the music industry uniquely miserable. It is the hell of pre-tour anxiety. It is the hell of knowing that you have done pretty much all that you can do and for some reason you now just have to sit here and wait and desperately hope, pray even, that something works out in your favor. It’s the kind of thing that is intensely stressful for no other reason that n that you literally can’t do anything other than wait. You have to keep busy during the build up and it’s hard to find stuff to do – especially as you let your other activities wind down since, after all, you’re going on tour next week. It’s a hard thing to deal with and is the sort of thing no one who hasn’t put together a tour will ever be able to understand since it’s just a terrifying and uniquely personal experience that will leave you biting your nails in frustration and angst.
So imagine sitting there with the knowledge that you’ve just laid down a bunch of money to fund this tour, be it on merch, van repairs, van rental, whatever and now you can’t really do that much but sit around and wait for the whole adventure to start. You sit around and wonder what you’re going to do for the next few days while you wait for the rest of the music industry to catch up around you and wonder if this tour was a good idea in the first place. You have to just accept the fact that there is nothing more you can really do. The deals are in, some bad stuff will go down to be sure but unexpected good stuff will happen too. You are about to go see all of your friends, but also have to deal with scummy promoters trying to make a quick buck and awful local bands who you just don’t understand.
I’m not the only one who feels this way by the way – though it’s easy to think that you are. Like, shouldn’t you be excited that you are about to go on tour and do all of this cool stuff? Oftentimes I am excited to go out on the road. I’m excited to explore myself and America. I’m excited to see where it all is going to take me but I am also stressed and nervous. The thing is, after a certain point it’s out of your hands. You can’t really do a lot right now about how merch sales are going to be in Missoula – it’s simply beyond your control. Merch has already been ordered, you’ve already figured out how to get their early to sell the most in the smallest amount of time, you don’t have anything else you can do right now. When you’re on the road there will be stuff to fret about – reupping shirts, figuring out when things need to be expanded and getting everything done right but as for now you have none of that hands on market research, you just fret.
Everyone who goes on tour feels something like this. It’s kind of like the feeling you get before you go out on a long exquisitely planed out vacation. It took you a long time to get this far and now you need to make sure that something doesn’t screw up – but you can’t do anything about that for a long while yet. You are stuck until you are there and living in the madness, picking apart every second of this weird nightmare that is the music industry. Sometimes you just don’t have enough projects to keep you busy because everyone else is occupied with people more important than you and has other things to grind away on. That’s fine.. That doesn’t mean you are screwed or anything it just means that you need to be careful in how you budget your time that you don’t get caught up in all of the day to day madness that is going to define your life for the next month or so. No matter what you do these nerves are going to get to you so you might as well embrace what they represent – you figured everything out.
So I’m sitting here on my couch quietly freaking out. There isn’t much more that I can do today There isn’t much more that I can do at all. As a matter of fact I think I might go stir crazy. Hell I took a nap and I never take naps. Pretour anxiety is the absolute worst. When you’ve nailed down every crazy factor that could go wrong and then sit there wondering about all the stuff you have no control over you can’t do much more than say ‘fuck it’ and try to continue your day to day. Ultimately – touring is a lot of fun and it’s how a lot of us make all of our money and we need to respect that, but we also need to respect the fact that this can lead to ebbs and flows in peoples work cycles. When you have a quiet day when you are used to high power busy days then you start to feel a little weird. When things chill out and you’re used to being always on you have to step back and appreciate those moments without letting them slip between your fingers.
Waiting to go on tour is an adventure. It’s scary. It is the calm before the storm. But in the end it’s worth it. It’s a valuable period of self reflection to sit back and enjoy all that you have been given. To get a real nights sleep, in a real bed before you have to dive off into the land of no return. In other words, going on tour is possibly the best and possibly the worst experience of your life and you aren’t going to know until you get out there and are actually doing it. So sit back and enjoy the ride, you’ve worked hard to get here, so just let the vibes wash over you until you need to go once more to war.