So far, being on the road with twenty-some of the most genuine and talented men that I’ve ever met in my life has been nothing short of a dream come true.
Nevertheless, not all that glitters is gold on tour. Traffic? Expected. Breakdowns? So far so good! (Knock on wood) But people – oh dear, some people. With such an eclectic group of guys it wasn’t long before we had a major mouth off and were threatened by the cops.
Soon after waking up in St. Petersburg, several of the guys informed me that we were conveniently parked right next to a laundromat diagonally opposite from the apartment we crashed at. SANCTUARY! I thought, considering that I hadn’t been able to use my blanket or my pillow in three days (to find out why, read over my first tour check-in here).
Over the course of an hour everyone’s eyes were open, jaws stretched, and arms up to the sky. I went around and collected a few of the other guys’ clothes to rack up a full load. As we were standing outside, killing time and prepping ourselves for the day ahead, an elderly woman (who we later found out is the owner of the laundromat) came out to “greet us”.
Lady: Ahem. “Can you tell me what is going on here?” as she directs her cane to our trail of cars. “Are you guys moving in? What are you doing here?”
Puzzled by her tone of voice, one of us finally speaks out.
Olivia (the only other female on the tour): “We’re on tour!” She says as sweet as can be. “We’re just getting up and putting ourselves together before we head to the beach.”
Lady: “Well you’ve been parked here since yesterday and you’re blocking the street for our customers.”
Despite being a customer ourselves, we hadn’t actually parked there until 4am.
Freddie genuinely inquires: “Isn’t this a public space?”
The laundromat lady became instantly offended and continued passive aggressively with: “Why are you getting a tone? If you don’t want to be friendly we don’t have to be. We’re in Florida, we Floridians are nice people, but you say this is public space. Fine.”
She continues to bad mouth the crew to her other customers and indirectly threatening to call the cops on us and continued to do so until our laundry was done and we left.
Meanwhile in Bored’s caravan…
…they were facing more detrimental issues to the tour. After the first stop in Augusta, GA, Flaco had already lost his voice. Forty-five minutes of ad-libbing, jumping around, and fifteen minutes of his solo set can definitely put a strain on one’s voice, but not like this. After talking to a few of the Bored guys, I learned this has been a reoccurring issue for Flaco since SXSW 2014.
A little fun fact about Flaco is that he truly does everything in his power to take care of his instrument; his voice. In every city, he goes out and runs to get his body used to the air. He practices 10 minutes of vocal stretches before every show. He’s so cautious about his body that he hardly drinks or smokes while he’s out on tour.
Yet, unfortunately for him, he is seemingly more prone to straining his voice than any of the other guys, but that doesn’t stop him. Searching for every avenue to remedy the situation, who better to come through than Ace One with his ‘Magic Elixir’. In addition to the elixir, there was talk about how Flaco damn near chugged an entire bottle of honey over the course of a couple days.
Later on, we come to find that he’s not the only one on Bored who needs the honey. Long days, extensive drives, and little to no sleep- next thing you know, Benny gets an itch in his throat and you hear Tag getting the sniffles. Despite their struggles, they just cough, brush it off, stay on top of their hustle and keep the flow goin’.
On top of that they take such good care of each other and vibe incredibly well as a group, that they simply won’t let sickness get in the way. Eight boys packed in a tiny room with wooden floors and limited blankets and pillows; Tag makes sure sleeping articles are fairly distributed. Sick Benny was looking miserable in bed the next morning then the ‘Beats by Dre Pill’ turns on and all of the sudden I look over and he’s jumping on the bed all hyped up with a few other bodies getting their sway on too.
Poised #GLIYDT A photo posted by Timothy Garza (@boredtag) on
South by South West
This tour was so DIY that despite having a couple shows lined up at designated venues, the crew had also brought a tent and a PA system to set up a renegade stage in the midst of the SXSW madness.
The first day in Austin, the Bored crew took it easy by bringing the ‘Beats by Dre Pill’ to promote their music throughout the street, only to be stopped by a cop who says that anything that is amplified will not only result in confiscation but also arrest.
With the renegade stage being the primary goal for the boys during the festival, Freddie manages to fit the crew into a few time slots for a Saturday set.
By this time we’ve been on the road for seven days and through eight cities. Nostalgia escapes the breath of some of the guys during pillow talk. Some can’t wait for their beds, or their pets to greet them at their front door. Paigedro (pronounced like “Pedro”) of Bored can’t wait to start on new music projects; Niq (aka Sirius Blvck) can’t wait to get back to his precious newborn, Khida. But Niq isn’t the only new-found father on the trip.
Father to be A photo posted by Timothy Garza (@boredtag) on
First thing in the morning on the third day of tour, Tim Garza aka Tag of Bored woke up in St. Augustine to that ‘late-text’ from his love back home with an affirmed picture of the pregnancy test. Inevitable shock strikes the 24 year old at first, later followed with pride. After getting to kick it with him one night, he shares with me that he truly looks forward to being able to shape the mind of his very own child and it’s all the more a plus that it’s with the love of his life.
So despite the nightmares we’ve faced along the road, there is a grand light at the end of this tunnel for all of us, some even more luminous than others. The Good Luck In Your Dreams Tour has been incredible, but Indy – we’re coming for you and we can’t wait to be home!
For more on the Good Luck In Your Dreams Tour, read my first tour check in and watch the video below from Bored:
These tour stats are impressive, but they barely begin to scratch the surface of understanding what it takes to produce a DIY tour with fully independent artists. As he prepares to take his entourage on the fourth #ghostgunsummer road tour in a year, I asked Freddie Bunz to talk about his plans for this run and how he keeps track of all the moving parts.
The Necessity of Touring
The tour will consist of a caravan of three vehicles: one van carrying the nine-person #ghostgunsummer team (a hybrid of Heavy Gun and GhostTown Collective members & their road crew), another van occupied by nine members of Bored. and one car with a filmmaking group from Musical Family Tree. All in all, a grand total of 22 people.
Bunz, the organizer of the tour, didn’t get here over night, though. In fact, he credits Andy D for taking him under his road warrior wing .
“Andy D really did show me a lot. A large part of it is all about making real connections with the people you meet,” Bunz says reflecting on his first time performing on the road.
Building on that momentum, Bunz hit the road again a few months later (this time without Andy D’s guidance) and then again in more recent months. This time around, he’s nearly got it down to a science – right down to the hired driver who doubles as a roadside chef.
Bunz says he never saw himself playing this role (“I thought I was just gonna be like, Freddie Bunz – the artist.”) but one day realized that people won’t just stumble onto his music and become life-long devoted fans on their own.
So he started booking tours because, he says, “That’s what it takes is… leaving here.”
It’s all part of the bigger picture that focuses around building a network of venues and promoters across multiple states and cities. Local fame is great, but Bunz isn’t quick to settle into the idea of working in a bubble, either. And for him, it’s not enough to share Naptown talent with the rest of the country; he wants to bring new styles and sounds to The Circle City, too.
“I used to think, ‘Man! There’s just so much talent here,’ but the truth of it is –there’s dope stuff in every single city on this planet. There are really great, passionate artists of every stroke everywhere you go and I want to be able to feature as much of that as I can.”
Which speaks to the necessity of touring: He has to build that network of contacts that both trust him and who he can trust when it comes to quality, reliable artists so that they can trade dates and share audiences whenever new talent is ready to try their hand at touring.
The Art of Touring
Bunz says he learns something critical every time he and the #ghostgunsummer crew start another adventure on the road. The biggest lesson he learned on the last tour, he says, is timing. Arriving at the destination long before the show starts that night is a crucial part of keeping morale high and stress levels low.
Because of this, they often leave in the middle of the night (this is when having a hired driver comes in handy) and sleep in the van to make sure they comfortably (time wise) get where they need to be the next day. This approach ultimately buys them more chill time on travel days, allowing hour-long rest stops to stretch their legs and make a sandwich out of the cooler.
Which is another key learning Bunz has found only through trial and error: how to stay nourished for cheap while on tour. Fast food catches up quickly with both the wallet and the stomach, so it’s a luxury they reserve for days when they’re most pressed for time.
Instead, the hired driver doubles as a roadside chef and plans as many meals in advance that he possibly can. From smoked, cured meats to pre-boiled, vacuum-sealed pasta – these are all signs that suggest this ain’t these boys’ first rodeo.
But there’s so much more to gain than just how the logistics of moving and feeding bodies works. There are also valuable lessons to be learned about business, communication and networking.
In fact, it’s someone’s job on the #ghostgunsummer road crew to collect the contact information of everyone they meet at every stop on the tour. Then Bunz uses his downtime in the van to connect the very next day on all the appropriate platforms and start working on the next project, before the current one has even concluded.
“I don’t think that there’s ever a bad show,” Bunz says of the unique learning opportunity that is touring. “You might not get the turnout that you want, but something positive happens at every show – whether it’s another artist that you might want to collaborate with or him giving you a lead on another place to book a show. Something positive always comes out of it. It just happens.”
The Success of Touring
Bunz says one of the biggest keys to the success they’ve seen is by finding their niche within mid-level markets – the small-but-large cities that are often overlooked on major tours carrying mainstream acts with big record deals and deep pockets. Noting the willingness of independent artists and promoters to help each other, Bunz says he’s always amazed at how enthusiastic strangers can be when they connect on tour.
“It’s so righteous because people just care about what you’re trying to do. Most people that have pull (like promoters) see it like this: These guys are out here thousands of miles from Indiana doing something their passionate about, not even guaranteed that they’re gonna make fifty bucks. And then they just help you. It might not be money. It might be a place to sleep – and you might be laying like sardines on the floor – but it’s not in the van and that means everything.”
But, ultimately, touring is about connecting with new fans – something Bunz has seen no shortage of, either. This is also a result of the fertile mid-markets they frequent, he says.
“Cities like Augusta, GA; Chattanooga, TN; and Greenville, SC have a good population but they don’t get a lot of stuff coming through,” Bunz says of the warm reception they’ve found in these and other cities across the south.
“People just go out to shows there. That’s a thing that I’ve noticed in other cities: they have venues that people just go to no matter what. They know if the venue has something going on that night, it’s gonna be cool and they just show up.”
The closest he’s seen to something like that – a place that’s truly accessible and approachable by all social circles and musical tastes – in Indianapolis is the HiFi, which is why he’s selected it for their tour kick off show this Monday March 9th.
If you want to help support what Bunz and the rest of the #ghostgunsummer crew are doing, cough up the five bucks (proceeds to help fund food, gas and lodging on the tour) and come give them a good send off.
Curious what tour life is really like?
We are, too. That’s why we’re sending Mojo Minute correspondent Jackie Dee along on the Good Luck In Your Dreams Tour. Keep a close eye on our social media feeds using the hashtag #ghostgunsummer (on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for updates live from the field until they return home on Sunday March 22nd.
Monday March 9, 8:00 PM – $5
HiFi (1043 Virginia Ave Suite 4)
#GHOSTGUNSUMMER (FREDDIE BUNZ, OREO JONES, GREY GRANITE, SIRIUS BLVCK, JOHN STAMPS, WITH ACE ONE.)
SEDCAIRN ARCHIVES ( FORMERLY DMA )