Lessons about performing, lesson nine: Bring spares!

The last lesson was about bringing extra clothing. This is a bit more than that. This needs to be its own lesson.

If you don’t know what I’m doing, click this link right here. That’ll tell you what I’m doing. Basically, I’m telling you all the rules you probably haven’t heard before. They’re important but I’m taking a lighthearted approach to ’em.

Got it? Good.
Rule #9: Bring Extra Kit

You should already know what to pack into your gig bag. It’s not enough. It doesn’t matter, it’s not enough.

There are some musicians who will tell you to travel light. They’re wrong.

No, get a bigger vehicle – ’cause you’re going to wish you had it and, probably, need it. In fact, get a truck. I recommend a big box truck, van, etc…

Now, the truck isn’t actually a very economical (or environmentally friendly) way to get groceries – so this is going to be an additional expense. Being a musician is full of additional expenses.

Now, inside this large vehicle, put extra stuff. In an ideal world, you’ll have at least two of everything. Alas, the world isn’t an ideal world and you probably don’t really have room for that many contingencies.

You’ll want spare amps, stacks, stands, an entire extra drum kit, spare instruments of *every single type* that you play on stage. If you’re on the road, you’ll want spare practice amps, instruments, etc…

Don’t blame me. It’s not my fault.

Shit breaks, gets stolen, etc… Tubes die, cords go missing, entire mic stands just disappear, and the list of things that will go wrong is too large to list.

I once had a bass player disappear for a month.

I’m not suggesting that you kidnap a bass player and put them in your equipment truck, because that’d be a felony. (So, you’ll have to read between the lines.)

By the way, the worst part about the disappearing bass player was that he answered the phone and said he’d be there. We’d stop by to check on him and he was always not home.

Where was he? In jail. It was a miscommunication with his roommate who was doing a good impersonation of our bass player when we called. He’d told his roommate to, “Tell everyone I’m fine and I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

Ah, the vagaries of youth and severe cocaine addictions! Seriously, his roommate would sometimes come hang out with us and he had so much coke it wasn’t funny. Well, maybe a little funny. He wasn’t a dealer – just a pipe fitter.

Now, how are you possibly going to fit all that shit? Well, you’re actually not going to put *everything* into the equipment truck. You’re still going to lug your instruments – probably in your personal vehicle. You’re going to learn to fill the truck and your vehicle.

Also… You’re going to master the art of packing. You have to maximize space usage and remember the order. The order is essential. No, that’s not a joke either.

See, your spare stuff goes way in the back. In an ideal world, you’re not going to take it off the truck. Then, you have to put the gear on the truck in the order that you want to use it in setup. When you loadout, you load in the exact opposite direction.

Pick one sober(ish) person on the truck. Their job is to put things back in the exact order that you need to take it off the truck. I recommend (oddly enough) the drummer. I’m not kidding.

Why? Because it can be fast-paced and the drummer has good rhythm. It’s fairly simple a task – or it can be. It also helps if you make a damned map. That’s right, write stuff down. Make a map, make copies, get it laminated, get some dry-erase markers, tape them both to the wall of the truck, and then tell the drummer to not eat them.

When you change your plan (and you will) then just write over the map with the dry erase markers.

In an even more ideal world, your box truck will have shelves and cases. My current one doesn’t – but I’m thinking about having them built and installed. When that happens, I’m going to go batshit crazy with a label-making machine and put labels on *everything*.

Secret Encoded Message: I know you’re reading this and I know you know I’m talking directly to you. Learn to drive a manual and stop riding the brakes. Also, it’s your job to get things on the truck in the right order. I have a label making machine. I highly, highly recommend you not make me use it. I fucking love making labels. You don’t want to witness this.

Sorry, that message isn’t for you. That’s for someone who is reading this and works with me. Well, technically he works *for* me, but I am not overly fond of that expression.

Not one of you is going to actually do this. None of your are going to follow this rule. You should…

I’m telling you that I want you to even put a spare drum riser on the equipment truck. I don’t actually know if we have a spare on the truck – but I think we actually have that. (If not, call me and I’ll have one ready today.) Yes, yes I do own a drum riser.

See, we’re going to need this drum riser for the next show. I’m going to set my ass behind a kit to do a couple of numbers.

One more time, shit’s going to break. You’re going to want spares.

I take my show guitars with me in my personal vehicle. I bring six. On the truck, I have three spares. If you’re curious (please don’t break into the truck) there’s a GLP, Strat, and a newer D-28. Those are doubles. In my personal vehicle, there’s an Ovation (12 string, model number forgotten), Telecaster, and whatever Ibanez I picked for when I need to look like a fucking rock star.

Seriously, it’s impossible to play an Ibanez (most every model) and not look like a rock star. Nope, they don’t pay me.

I also carry a pedal station – an exact duplicate of what’s on the truck. Err… I carry spares in my gig bag. My gig bag is actually a giant sack. It takes two men and a boy to carry it.

Spares… Carry them… Your gig bag will be a whole other subject/rule. This is just for the equipment truck or your own personal vehicle. Fit it. Figure out how. It’s going to break. There will be problems. You will want spares.

Once again, thanks for reading. I enjoy pushing buttons until words come out. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song! (I’m way too fond of that.)

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