“We cut our teeth on our first tour. We didn’t know what to expect. Most nights we didn’t get paid, and slept in the van because nobody was at the shows to put us up”
says Joe James, Vocalist from band Blitz Kids, talking about their first touring experience. How is it possible to breakthrough when you don’t even get paid for shows? The struggle these musicians go through is enough to put anyone off the idea of making music for a living. At times it’s tougher than serving a prison sentence, at least they get three cooked meals a day and a bed to sleep in.
Some bands want to make it in the music industry so much they are willing to look past the seemingly endless struggle of touring. New band, Five Miles North Of Nowhere, are currently trying to break through but have realistic expectations. One experience involved the band taking a 650 mile round trip to play 2 gigs without getting paid.The difficulties haven’t yet broken the bands spirit, Guitarist Dave Parker said “It’s something that every band has to do. You can’t expect to get paid for playing gigs straight away, its not how it works.” Bassist, Shaun Kirtland added “It’s a right of passage to test you as a band, to show that you’re worth people investing money in you.”
If you’re on of the lucky bands who manages to get on bigger tours and progress their career, the bleakness does eventually look up. “we get dressing rooms now. They’re small, but it’s much better than having to stand at the bar until we play. We get a case of beer as well, so we save a bit of cash these days. We’ve come such a long way from touring in 3 cars with our gear in and sleeping in our seats at service stations.” Says Blitz Kids James.
So just how do you become one of the lucky ones? It isn’t without it’s fair share of blood sweat and tears. Dave Best, Bassist from The Pigeon Detectives, suggests “The more you gig the better you get and the more chance of a booking agent, or a bigger band spotting you and offering you a tour. We turned up and played anytime anyone asked us to back in the day. Every gig is invaluable experience”.
As hard as it may be, touring is a way of weeding out the weaker bands. With such a saturated market not every band can make it. You could be lucky and get your big break early or you could make like Blitz Kids and have to cut your teeth for years before you get you’re break. However hard it may be, this right of passage is key to making it in the industry.
By Rebecca Rayner