Chris Howorth’s Off The Record: “It Is What It Is”
Gun Shy Assassin is proud to bring you the first column from our newest contributor, In This Moment’s Chris Howorth. We’ve known Chris for years now, and think he is one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet. Chris checks in with GSA for a hard look at life on the road…away from your own commode. Now, for the first time, it’s Chris Howorth’s Off The Record.
I have been thinking about what to write for my first column for Gun Shy Assassin for the last couple of days. I was told it could be about anything I wanted, so I decided to write about the phrase “It is what it is.” I have heard this slogan over and over again for the past couple of years — and unlike “off the chain” or “where’s the beef?” — this one never seems to go away or get old. Every day is filled with instances where “It is what it is” is the best response or words to use to rationalize or accept mediocrity.
Example: At our show two nights ago, my wireless pack cut in and out through the first five minutes of our set — basically ruining the whole first song and putting the entire band in a crappy mood. After all the bitching and moaning and finger-pointing, someone said “It is what it is” and although we all felt a strong urge to kill the person saying that, we had no alternative but to agree that it really is what it is…and the reason everyone uses these words is because its true.
It is what it is — that’s life. If In This Moment always lived by “It is what it is,” we wouldn’t be where we are today, but if we didn’t have the wisdom to accept the things we can’t change, we would be miserable all the time. So it works both ways, kids — you have to strive for more than the status quo, you have to push down all the barriers and negativity to achieve your dreams…but at the end of the day, no matter what you do or say, “IT IS WHAT IT IS.”
Toilets on tour. The hot bag. “IT IS WHAT IT IS”
Every day, no matter what town, city, state, country or province and no matter what the weather is like outside — we as human beings feel the call of nature. In normal everyday life, this isn’t much of an issue — we all have a bathroom right down the hall or somewhere in close proximity to where we sleep so when you gotta go, you are comfy. Once In This Moment became a national touring band, we realized quickly that having a bathroom close by is something that most people take for granted.
When we started out touring in a van, we had to immediately get used to gas stations, truck stops, and all types of public restroom facilities (and unless you have lived under a rock your whole life, I’m sure most people have had to deal with the unreliable nature of these types of bathrooms too). The difference between us and your normal weekend warrior is that we are out on the road for months at a time in a different place every day so the odds are good that we are going to run into issues from time to time. Here is the run down…
The Club Tour: You are usually driving yourself around in a van so when someone feels the call of nature, you can pull over at a truck stop or gas station. These places are hit-or-miss on cleanliness, but that’s what the toilet seat covers are for. Once you get to the venue, you can expect a pretty nasty public restroom (tip: guys should always go into the girl’s restroom before the club opens — it’s much cleaner). If you are really lucky, they will have a “BSS,” or a back stage shitter — a private bathroom for the band only. The BSS is usually really sweet unless the club is a dump.
The Summer Festival: Some of our favorite tour memories come from summer fest tours…and some of the worst! The restroom facilities at festivals mostly consist of port-a-potties or out-houses. There are usually hundreds of them, but no BSS. On the surface this doesn’t seem like the worst situation in the world, but when it’s over 100 degrees outside, the inside of those things are like an oven…and unless you get to them before the festival doors open, your chances of a clean bathroom are gone. Most people go to a festival and deal with the facilities a couple of times in the day and then they go home at night and its over. Bands on tours like Warped or Mayhem deal with this every day for two to three months at a time. You start to really appreciate — and miss — that bathroom down the hall at home.
The Arena Tour: This is usually the best kind of tour for clean restrooms. If it’s a proper tour, all the bands get a dressing room with a BSS and everything is great, but there are always the days when — as the opening band — you can’t get a dressing room or something and then it’s public bathroom time again…and unless you get to said public bathroom before doors open, you are in for a less than awesome experience.
The Overseas Tour: The restrooms around the world are amazing and shocking depending on where you go. Japan = Amazing. These toilets do everything but fix you a cup of coffee while you wait. China = Shocking. A hole in the floor. No joke! The public bathroom at one venue had custom holes in the floor! Europe = Slightly bizarre. The toilets have a shelf…a little ledge that your business sits on in case you want to check things out before flushing. Gross.
Tour Bus Etiquette: Lots of bands tour in a bus if they can afford it and buses are great, but for the most part you can only put liquids in a tour bus toilet — no paper, no deuces…so it really isn’t very helpful in a lot of situations, and if the driver is on a tight schedule, they can’t always stop for every person who has to go. Here is where the big shocker comes into play…it’s called a “hot bag” or “bagging it.” I don’t think I need to go into too much detail on this because the name kinda speaks for itself. Desperate times call for desperate measures, my friends. If you ever have to “bag it,” you are harshly reminded of how amazing that toilet at home really is.
I guess the point of this is to appreciate the little things; or that every rose has it’s thorn. Touring is the adventure of a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I would “bag it” every day to stay on tour and play music. My message to you, dear reader, is this — appreciate those little things! We live in an amazing time where most everyone has access to water, food, toilets, showers, TV, video games, movies, etc. etc.; Don’t take anything for granted. One minute you are standing on stage in front of 6,000 screaming fans, and the next, you are “hot bagging it.” IT IS WHAT IT IS! \m/