‘Five Things to Always/Never Bring on Tour’ by Josh Elmore of Cattle Decapitation
Josh Elmore knows a thing or two about the triumphs and struggles of a touring heavy metal band. Since 2001, the guitarist has been laying down the grind with California death dealers Cattle Decapitation, playing every scummy club the group's booking agent throws their way. Throughout that time, the band has issued five full-lengths including the recently released Monolith of Inhumanity, an 11-song collection featuring some of their finest songwriting yet.
With the new album in stores, Elmore will be getting back into the van when Cattle Decapitation heads out on the inaugural Shockwave Festival tour next month. The North American trek will also feature Fear Factory, Voivod, Misery Index, Revocation, Havok, Dirge Within, Last Chance to Reason, Vildhjarta, The Browning and Forged In Flame. Head over to this link for a chance to win free tickets to the tour.
In celebration of the upcoming tour, Elmore has written up a list of five things you should always bring on tour, and five other things you probably, no, you definitely shouldn't. Check out the list below ... this is practical stuff!
1. Wipes- Let's see, you've been wearing the same pants for four days, you've eaten nothing but Taco Bell, Waffle House and Little Caesar's (or as some promoters call it; "catering") and sweating balls 95% of the time. They're no substitute for a shower, but they will take an edge off that tasty mélange of skid marks/balls/crotch funk you've acquired.
2. Gift Cards From Distant Relatives/Co-workers- This one should be a no-brainer, but the savings those coffee shop gift cards amount to are pretty significant after a while. If you're like me and work in an office and/or have relatives you never see, then round about Christmas time or your birthday you should get a treasure trove of $10-$15 gift cards that will be an amazing resource when on the road. If anything, it's a break from truckstop coffee or the only opportunity to eat at a PePe Giuseppe.
3. A Second Pair of Shoes- It will rain/snow/sleet/hail on the road. You'll have to load in/out in it. With no way to dry your only pair of shoes, you're pretty much guaranteed to get trench foot. The skin on your feet will always be moist and at best you'll get athlete's foot and at worst the pruny skin will get irritated and almost slough off. Go get a second pair of shoes. I know it's another item to take up space in your bag, but I think you can afford to leave a couple of the 50 black shirts you're bringing at home.
4. An Ability to Not Sleep, Like Ever...- If you are a support band and in a van whilst the headliner is in a bus, then prepare to learn how to survive on cat naps. A 12 hr. drive between shows matters not if you have a bunk to sleep in, but if you are in a captain's chair, trying to sleep on a bench or actually piloting the vehicle, the third night in a row of overnight drives tends to wear you down. Actually, the situation really doesn't matter. You will not sleep. Got a few short drives in a row? No problem. Any opportunity to sleep/bathe will be squandered because the short drive means that everyone will stay/be kept up until 5AM by partying and you'll manage to still be late for load-in after only needing to drive and hour and a half.
5. A Good Hoodie- The way. The truth. The light. You will live in this garment and it can and will be your everything.
Watch Cattle Decapitation's "Kingdom of Tyrants" Video
1. "Gift" Food- Although a well-meaning gesture by a friend/relative/tour tail is appreciated, the logistics of having any sort of food that is not prepackaged on a van tour is challenging at best. In the inevitability that you receive some homemade delights, it would be better to just cut to the chase and immediately mash the cookies/cake/lasagna into your van's carpet. Rejecting these types of thoughtful gifts is hard, but a good enough friend should be able to "get it."
Note: this still will not prevent mom from bringing you Fondue.
2. Lots of Books- There's the one you've been a couple chapters into for the past month, the one you'll look cool reading and the one that you've always wanted to tackle but never got around to it. Get a Kindle or leave them at home. Odds are you will only get about half a chapter in on the current read and the rest of the tour you'll spend time yelling at your bandmates for stepping on them in the van or having to pack and repack your bag to make space for your library.
3. Anything of Sentimental/Actual Value- Thinking of bringing a RealDoll or your copy of the Articles of Confederation out on tour? Despite all logic opposing such a thing, there will be the guy that will inexplicably bring grandma's ashes, potted plants and a Faberge Egg on the road. Their fate will resemble that of the cookies in the first example. Expect the demise of these items to occur at the hands of your vocalist and be accompanied by the DUDE! FUCK!! soundtrack.
4. A Friend to do Merch- Guess who took the most comfortable spot in the van again? Guess who got the only bed at the house we're staying at? Guess who left the van unlocked? Guess who wants his crust punk friends to come along for a couple shows? Guess who took off to get laid and is now stranded at a rest stop an hour in the wrong direction? Guess who has weed on them at the border? Guess who gave away six hoodies to a bunch of old friends? Guess who threw up on your pillow? Guess who tried to convince us to let him bring his dog? Guess who was found sobbing under a table? Guess who is going home on Greyhound?
5. The Significant Other- Although the most glaringly obvious example, folks often need to be reminded of this one. A couple days is one thing, but "hey, my girl will totally do merch for that June tour. Cool?" is the death knell for tranquility. Pretty Polly may be the nicest gal in the world, but guess what? Any unnecessary dude/chick is just like any other excess baggage on the road; a liability. In essence, a boyfriend/girlfriend is another mouth to feed, another person to take a 1.5 hour shower (see merch dude/dudette) another person to bitch about everything and most importantly, the dictator of the (un)happiness of your bandmate. If the s/o is pissed that means your bandmate is pissed, which means everyone goes down with that ship. The worst case scenario is if two of your bandmates hookup. Having to witness the pukey cuteness and overhearing them getting the boot stuck in the mud in your hotel room is revolting. Also, unless they are Captain and Tennille, they will eventually break up, and your band very well could too...
Cattle Decapitation's latest album, Monolith of Inhumanity, is available now via Metal Blade.
Make sure you ask Josh about his list at one of the following Shockwave Festival tour dates. Oh yeah, Fear Factory, Voivod, Misery Index, Revocation, Havok, Dirge Within, Last Chance To Reason, Vildhjarta, The Browning and Forged In Flame, will also be there:
7/06/2012 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
7/07/2012 Vogue Theatre – Vancouver, BC
7/09/2012 The Republik – Calgary, AB
7/11/2012 Pyramid Cabaret – Winnipeg, MB
7/12/2012 Station 4 – St Paul, MN
7/13/2012 The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
7/14/2012 Kool House – Toronto, ON
7/15/2012 The Armouries – Windsor, ON
7/17/2012 Imperial Theater – Quebec City, QC
7/18/2012 Le National – Montreal, QC
7/20/2012 Northern Lights – Clifton Park, NY
7/21/2012 Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY
7/22/2012 Reverb – Reading, PA
7/24/2012 Revolution – Amityville, NY
7/25/2012 Palladium – Worcester, MA
7/26/2012 Empire – West Springfield, VA
7/27/2012 Alrosa Villa – Columbus, OH
7/28/2012 Mojoe's – Joliet, IL
7/29/2012 Tebala Shrine – Rockford, IL
7/31/2012 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
8/02/2012 Nakai Hall – Window Rock, AZ
8/03/2012 The Marqee Theater – Tempe, AZ
8/04/2012 House Of Blues – Hollywood, CA