Tin Man Heart artist Sonja Sleator has recently completed a mini UK tour. Clocking up over 1,200 miles and playing shows in Edinburgh, York, Leeds and Manchester in what can only be described as a heatwave was an experience to say the least.
Here are five things we learned on the tour… some more important than others.
Don’t begin to get the car/van sorted at 5pm the day before you’re set to head out. It’s admirable to ensure the oil is topped up, the tyre pressure is correct and the little bit of water will squirt up over the windscreen when you hit moth number 4,000 on the A61 near York. It’s less admirable to then get the car bonnet stuck open and have to enlist the help of a very sympathetic mechanic just so you can make the boat the next morning. Give yourself plenty of time to get the motor in good shape and account for anything going wrong, or you’ll get nowhere!
Be open minded
It goes without saying that gigging outside your home city can be a mixed bag. You don’t always know the venue or promoter before you meet them on the day of the gig and you never know who you might be playing on a bill with. From performer to performer you could be listening to anything from heartfelt ballads to wailing guitar solos to songs containing more Star Wars sex puns than you could shake a lightsaber at. The ability and confidence of acts can vary wildly, but the key is to be courteous and just go with the flow of the night. Always listen, you must.
Spares, Spares and Spares
Spare strings, spare batteries, spare cables, spare picks, spare CDs, spare microphones. Everything you can reasonably bring, bring it. It never looks good for a touring act to show up to a gig and appear unprepared. On the recent tour we had two battery failures, a couple of lost cables and a several complete string changes, sometimes mid-performance. Be prepared and be as professional as you can.
Getting new people to listen to your music is only half the battle. Getting another gig in the town is the other half. Go into every gig with the intention of leaving with plans to come back, whether it’s to the same venue or a different one in the area. Chat to the other musicians, bar staff, regulars. Not only will they be more likely to pay attention to a friendly face who later appears on stage to perform, but if you impress they’ll often be happy to have you back. On the boat back to Ireland after the tour we already had Sonja Sleator’s next tour half planned based on contacts made during the trip.
It’s beyond clichéd, but make time to enjoy it. Several people we spoke to commented how lucky we were to be touring around and playing music, and they’re right. As much as you reasonably can, build in some time to take a day off and do some sight seeing, explore a new town or simply pass out on a sofa. Have a few drinks with new friends and other musicians. In short, make the most of it! It could be a while before you’re back out on the road, and many musicians don’t even have the stones to get out of their home town in the first place.
Here endeth the lesson. We had a great time playing for the people of Scotland and England, topping everything off with a band show in sunny Bundoran.
If you’re hitting the road let us know where you’re going in the comments, and if you’d like PR support for your next adventure click here to get in touch.