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Tommy Tours: Don’t Puke in the Van

Ripping a gig in Boston. Photo Credit: Loren Ipsum

Welcome to the first edition of Tommy Tours – a semi-regular column featuring the best advice and bizarre stories from my experience touring with The Weak Days, Dollar Signs, and other bands.

Long story short, I love touring. I want to tour for the rest of my life. While I’ve only been hitting the road for the last 3 years, traveling the country playing your heart out to strangers for any amount of time will give you plenty of practical life lessons with bizarre background justification.

I recently completed a 3 week tour with one of my bands, Dollar Signs (shameless plug – if you’re into party music for your personal apocalypse, check us out!). We rented a Ford E-250 dubbed “The Death Missile” from Almost People, a punk trio from North Carolina.

Gigging in their majestic 12-passenger was one of the best times of my life. It also instantly affirmed a key piece of tour advice and this column’s namesake very early on in the run –

Don’t puke in the van under any circumstances.

To the uninitiated, this might sound like perfectly reasonable common sense — I’m confident nobody chooses to spew in their car. However, touring is a different beast — common sense can easily fly out the window with little notice or regard for boundaries, yours or your tourmates.

(Meet Barney – a really good boy who didn’t puke in the van & loves riding shotgun)

Small gripes can become passive-aggressive blowouts faster than you can pass the aux cord. That’s okay, touring isn’t for everyone. If you want a glamorous free vacation traveling the country with your best friends with no rules or responsibilities, don’t go on tour. Getting along is crucial to succeeding at just about any job, but being on the road is a 24/7 hustle. The longer you ignore your companions’ idiosyncrasies, the sooner your operation implodes over a single phone charger.

Puke is a liquid, and any liquid in a jerry-rigged steel tube catapulting sweaty dreams at 80mph is a potential disaster. Every inch of van space is precious. The last person you want to be is the one who spills a large Dr. Pepper on your bandmate’s pedal board (or worse, their pillow) because you weren’t paying attention in the drive-thru.

Puke adds a whole new layer to the equation. Even the faintest trace of bodily fluid can spell certain death because, let’s be honest, even air-conditioning on tour is a goddamn luxury. A single burp can somehow manage to sear it’s stench into the collective psyche of your glorified mobile pressure-cooker if not timed just so, deteriorating what little goodwill your band managed to build up over a few shows. Last night’s fast-food regret, stewing in beer and poor decisions as you nap in a Wal-Mart parking lot? Nobody wants to deal with that.

Thankfully, highway hurling is entirely preventable! Squeamish? Take precautions like medication or riding shotgun. Hungover? Chug a gatorade and pay attention to rest stops. Sick? Tropical Smoothie is your homie. Eat some vegetables. Don’t try the fish anywhere. Pay attention to your intake. Love yourself a little and don’t be an idiot.

Don’t blow chunks in the van, and everyone will hate you less. Guaranteed. <3