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The times I booked a tour when what I really wanted was to book a vacation

An excerpt from Normandie Wilson's upcoming book, Misadventures, Mistakes, and Miscalculations in Independent Music.

The times I booked a tour when what I really wanted was to book a vacation

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012


My first touring shows were with Red Pony Clock. I started small, joining on for a few shows up in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. I turned down a 2006 summer tour because I was still at my day job and didn't really have the vacation time to get away. In 2007, it was all fair game. I had fallen in love in February and then been dumped unceremoniously in April on the sidewalk outside the Third Street Promenade Hooters in Santa Monica. My bosses had given me a stern talking-to in January and warned me that if I didn't step it up, I'd be fired. My emotional life was a mess, so my living situation became a mess. My roommate and I began having major conflicts. (It's okay, she's still one of my best friends) By May, I just didn't give a shit about anything anymore.

Gabe Saucedo, the songwriting genius behind the explosion of pop that is Red Pony Clock, told us that he was planning a summer tour. It was a long one; I'm pretty sure it was at least a 6 week tour. I agreed to do it. I told my bosses I was quitting my job to go on tour. (Also: not a good idea) The emotional state that I was in affected me pretty heavily. A 6 week tour was the perfect thing for me. It was exactly what I needed: a total and complete escape from everything in my life. I moved out of my apartment. I sent my dog to live with my parents. I put my stuff in storage and I got out of town. I had no plans for when I came back. I made up my mind to deal with it all once I got back.

That tour was an incredible experience. It was also pretty brutal, but not really until the very end. Six weeks is a long time to spend in a van with ten people. This particular tour was also very easy for me, because I wasn't in charge of booking the tour. Gabe was. I wasn't in charge of paying for gas. We were not getting paid, but basically, all I had to do for this tour was show up and play my instrument decently. The arrangement was that Gabe took care of all the bookings and financial stuff, and we were all responsible for our own food and other money. I did a lot of fun things. I shopped a lot. I splurged in Seattle and went up the Space Needle. I discovered how much alone time I truly need (a lot) and as such, spent a lot of time wandering around and exploring the places we played. It was great.

But it wasn't a vacation. Touring is exhausting even under the best of circumstances, and much of that tour was under the best of circumstances. It wasn't until I started booking my own tours that I realized the exact distinction between a tour and a vacation. My 2008 solo tour was full of enormous, poorly planned drives and empty rooms. Every tour got better and better, but even the best of tours is still not a vacation. There are four parts to booking a tour, and all of them are demanding...

Read the rest of this article on Normandie's blog...


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