Dear Hunter: Episode 12 — Preparing For Tour

Dear Hunter

One question often raised is “how do I prepare for tour?” There is so much detail involved that I can’t possibly cover everything, but I’ll do my best.

The first thing to realize is that we have a management team that takes care of a ton for us, but I’ve always been pretty hands on, and wind up helping out quite a bit.

Each tour is different so I’ll discuss what I’m up to this month in preparation for the upcoming run we are about to embark on. This tour will support our new album, Crown of Phantoms so the first thing in order is deciding what new songs to play. We don’t want to kill the crowd with new songs they don’t know yet, but at the same time these are the songs we are the most excited to play. Emails go around the camp, and we decide on what we feel is an appropriate number of new tunes.

The next thing to do is plan on when we will rehearse. Clearing out dates on a map to dedicate solely to jamming the set list as a full band. In the meantime, the string section uses Skype to practice with each other, while Austin plays along to the songs at home.

Z and I usually sing in the car to warm up the pipes. I think if I sang at home, my dog might become terrified of me. We can’t allow that to happen. The method of learning your shit before the tour makes things so much more efficient when it comes to full time rehearsal. There is nothing worse than having to watch someone learn a part. Know your shit!

I usually handle the travel arrangements, and that’s pretty easy. Since we have the dates carved out, a trip to Kayak.com is all that’s needed. Most of the guys in the band drive to Cleveland, but there are a few that live pretty far, and flights are in order. The average cost to get the band and crew in town for a tour is around $2,500. The crew consists of a backline tech, light guy, merchandiser, and usually a sound guy/ tour manager.

Sometimes we have more crew, sometimes less. I’ve been known to handle the tour manager duties from time to time, as it’s a pretty easy gig. We don’t ask for much, in fact, we ask for very little.

A big aspect of tour preparation is Social Media. I spend hours leading up to a tour hanging with the fans, promoting the shows, and doing what I can to help spread the word. I can’t count how many times we’ll play a city and the next day a fan asks “when ya’ll coming to blank?” No matter what we do, we can’t seem to inform all the masses.

Press plays an important role. I’ll spend a few hours a week chatting it up with various outlets across the globe. Radio stations to magazines along with blogs and podcasts. I don’t mind press as much as it seems other bands do. The only thing that can be bothersome is questions that try and get you to start controversy or take what you say out of context to appear controversial. This is a rarity, but it can be a nuisance.

I start to focus intently on my health and diet. I get in shape the best I can with the amount of time I have. I’ve been on tours before where I haven’t been at full potential and it’s never fun to see myself on YouTube totally out of gas. I take my health, and touring seriously now, more so than ever. I eat as healthy as possible, practice HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with sprints and Thai boxing, and up my fat intake so my brain fed and my body uses stored glucose for energy.

A trip to Target is always on the agenda. The toiletries are on the shopping list. I try to bring minimal items with me so I often opt for the 3 in one products to save space and time. I can’t wait until they combine toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream into the shampoo/bodywash/conditioner hybrid. Just give me one bottle that does it all.

The biggest, and often most depressing aspect of preparation is the budget. How much money are we making, and how much are we spending. Will the band walk away with anything? There are some tours I would recommend blowing money to make things easy, and for the experience and others I recommend playing it smart and making sure the band makes as much money as humanly possible. This particular tour we are about to do won’t make us rich by any means, but we will be comfortable. There are only 4 days off and we hit all 4 corners of the US. Luckily, we will be able to at least pay all the bills and put a bit of coin in our pockets –- if all goes according to plan.

We’ve made budgets before that didn’t mean a damn thing by the end because of unexpected costs. When we went on tour with Disturbed for example, before the tour started we learned we had to buy 2 new risers that cost us over 5 grand. We didn’t plan for that. But, shit happens.

Advancing dates is on the agenda if I am tour managing. This means I have to call (hunt down) each promoter and discuss the details of the show. My time is often spent discussing the obvious and I want to invent a streamlined way of dealing with this. It’s not rocket science, but some promoters are painfully slow when it comes to common sense. “So, ya’ll need a place to park?” Yes, yes we do.

A ton more goes into preparing for a tour and I’m sure I’ve left out key elements but I think you get the idea. It’s a lot of work, but if planned far enough in advance, it’s pretty easy at the end of the day.

Come hang out with us on this upcoming tour, we have been working on it for months and we can’t wait to jam this new shit.

7/26: Springfield, VA @ Empire
7/27: Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
7/28: Orlando, FL @ The Social
7/29: Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
7/31: Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
8/1: Dallas, TX @ Trees
8/2: Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s
8/3: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
8/4: Tempe, AZ @ Rocky Point
8/5: San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues
8/7: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
8/8: Hollywood, CA @ The Whisky
8/9: Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
8/10: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
8/11: Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
8/13: Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
8/14: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
8/15: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
8/16: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
8/17: Columbus, OH @ Frontier Ranch
8/18: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
8/20 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre Of The Living Arts
8/21: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
8/22: Boston, MA @ Middle East
8/23: Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
8/24: Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
8/25: Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s

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About Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter was the lead singer of Cleveland metal honchos Chimaira. You should follow him on Twitter at @chimairamark. The band released seven albums, including their most recent, 2013's Crown of Phantoms, before calling it quits in 2014.

  • Brutal Brandy

    This is going to be a rad tour!