The musician’s biggest enemy apart from him or herself, the lack of sleep, the over intoxications, the whole bedlam of the situation is the road. No escaping the grey snake that goes on for ever, or so it seems.
We found out about the road the hard way, no gentle limbering up it was straight in at the deep end. Our German tour promoter Dietmar Lupfer had the personality of a paving slab,he seemed to be on a one man quest to even the score for events that happened in the past, 1945 to be exact, his approach was to denigrate us, belittle us in any way he could.
He was into Henry Rollins and worked for him, I have no idea why he worked for us or rather we worked for him but the worst thing was we had to take this large lump of an idiot around with us so he could do a head count every night.
Dietmar did what every tour promoter did and that was book the band into any venue he could with absolutely no concern about logistics, the consequence was that the band would zig zag around Europe like mice in a maze. You would stare out of the window and watch the scenery but inevitably you ended up staring into your own mind.
Dietmar put too a heavy load on a young band and it practically broke us, he was simply a greedy man with no empathy or understanding of what made us tick. I knew as soon as a European tour was on the horizon another dumb promoter would be stitching together a tour and not giving a thought about the distances so long as the percentages added up to enough to make all their hard work worth it .
The Darkside covered the most road until it made us go insane, the other guy’s may disagree but I say we are lucky to be alive. A major factor in staying alive on the road is to have a good driver, preferably a non musician, Sonic excluded as he is the best musician driver I know, the best but least sane driver was Goff Roderick.
Goff loved driving, he could take things to the edge but that gave him a complete understanding of the parameters, he knew where the edge was, he could take you there and say look but you always got to the gig, he had that special quality, even when he was snorting charlie on the fast lane of the M1 or ploughing through snow, even when the famous hurricane of 87 hit the UK we happily trundled through the epicentre of the storm, avoiding fallen trees and debris , we were unstoppable.
No matter how good your driver is the road will get you in the end , I became sick of constantly being in transit , the long journey’s often negating the potential of playing to your best ability , so many times arriving at venues feeling numb from road fever ,sick to death of confinement , still feeling in motion .
Last year I went on an ill conceived trip to the South Of France, nobody thought it through and it was a disaster, 24 hrs constant travelling was enough to bring back the horrors of touring, it had been over a decade since I last spent time in a van and I was really surprised how it all came back to me, it really is one of the worst feelings in the world to be trapped in van for a 24hrs.
Any fatalities on the road is a deep tragedy, why we did not die I don’t know, just luck I guess, the road was certainly less busy back in the 80’s and 90’s and the space made a difference, the only real dangers were imposed by the tour promoters who always stretched the limits of your endurance.
As a collective you felt invincible at times,certain of your destiny, any serious band had to bite off a fair chunk of touring however un palatable and accept the risks imposed on them, nobody would have much of idea of the reality of touring except the few musicians that have chosen to undertake this work, it was at times brutal, it derailed you from a conventional life, conditioned you to accept the unconventional and it also made you take risks way beyond anyone’s acceptable parameters and most of the time you made no money.
My touring days are maybe over but someone else’s are maybe just starting, my advice would be never take risks, stay safe, the road will alway’s be the master .