American synthwave band The Midnight will make their return to Australia later this month.They'll set stages on fire (figuratively of course!) with headline performances in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
Before they head down under, Tyler Lyle (vocals, guitar, synth) shares five things about touring that fans aren't supposed to know. . . hehehe, he said poop!
Don't Poop On The BusThere's no pooping on the bus. The reasons for this make sense. It's on a moving vehicle with 12 to 16 people. A lot can go wrong. Still, it's not something you'd normally assume. Some band/ crew members are told this on day one of their first tour by a thoughtful tour manager or bus driver. Some of us learn this the hard way. The hard way is always a good story.
Ask a touring musician about their pooping on the bus story. They'll tell you. Often times when a bus pulls into a venue, there are fans already wanting to talk to you and get an autograph. But! Because there's no pooping, there is a bus full of people who cannot wait to get into the venue. This creates a tension between the fan and the artist that the fan doesn't know is there.
The artist is very often experiencing what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. I often wonder how many stories of musicians who acted like jerks merely needed to poop and couldn't say so. Don't poop on the bus!
Don't Eat Too LateFour hours before set is the ideal time to eat. Too early and you perform hungry. Too late and you're burping uncomfortable. Or worse.
In my singer-songwriter days, I finished a large plate of exquisite pulled-pork barbecue 30 minutes before a set and found myself throwing up into my harmonica during a harmonica solo. Had to throw that harmonica away. Don't eat too late.
Riders Are ImportantThe rider is known about by most people from the Van Halen brown M&Ms story. A rider is a document where you ask for what you need: a list of snacks and drinks for the band and crew and a production rider.
The story goes that Van Halen had 'no brown M&Ms' on the rider. This is not a story about Van Halen being insane, but making sure the venue production properly read the rider. There are many reasons you want the venue to read this document (especially if you have pyro and elaborate stage set-ups).
Our 'brown M&Ms' on our rider has been 'Predator on Betamax' and 'John McClane's sweater from 'Diehard 2'. Predator was never released on Betamax (this is the point), but it was rare that we didn't have a printed poster of Predator smiling down on us in the green room as a reminder that we were in good hands.
Once in Glasgow, the promoters even presented Tim and I with the famed sweater, which we still wear. The most popular food item on our rider is the Smucker's Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These are often stolen, hidden, and stockpiled. Riders are important.
We Don't Experience The Same SetMost (not all) musicians that perform in rooms of a certain size use in-ear monitors (these are basically just headphones). This protects our ears and gives us a personalised mix of the set.
For example, I'm the lead singer and guitarist, so I crank the bass and click track so that I never lose my place in the song. None of us onstage actually has ever heard the mix that the audience hears. We also can't see the lights or the video wall.
You're watching and listening to a show the performers never experienced firsthand and never will. It always seems strange to think about. We don't experience the same set.
Musicians Are BoringThe lifestyle of touring isn't like the movies. For most working bands, especially ones that have been at it for awhile, things like groupies, trashed hotel rooms, hard drugs, and smashed guitars are non-existent.
Live shows are meant to serve the audience. We're trying to put on the best show we can while balancing things like fuel and transportation cost, gear rental, merch projections, instrument maintenance, budget projections.
This is a service industry. No one smashes guitars. The drugs we take are for heartburn (don't eat too close to bed time!) and indigestion (too many deli meats and PBJS from the green room) and sleep (sometimes it gets hard to sleep on a moving bus). The groupies are our spouses and kids.
The hotel rooms on days off are booked on our Marriott Bonvoy card to maximise points and get 2pm checkouts for everyone. Musicians are boring. We need to be boring to be consistent. We need to be consistent to do our job (which is to give you an amazing experience). Musicians are boring.
The Midnight 2024 Tour DatesThu 29 Feb - Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Fri 1 Mar - The Tivoli (Brisbane)
Sat 2 Mar - Forum Melbourne* sold out
Sun 3 Mar - Prince Bandroom (Melbourne)