Archive | July, 2013

living in a van

2 Jul

So here’s what it’s like living in a van as a touring musician.  I’m sure everyone has been dying to know, so here goes….it’s pretty rough.

When I was in my band, I spent a good portion of my days, months and years in a 12-seater van we named Brianna–eating out of a cooler, driving ungodly hours, not bathing properly for days, passing the time with my bandmates reciting scenes from Star Wars.

Okay, so it wasn’t that rough, mainly because we were young enough to think of it as the good life. It was easy to bounce back from a bad night’s sleep parked in a Wal-Mart parking lot at that age, but the thought of doing it today sounds horrific.

But here’s a few highlights of life on the road as a touring musician.

–On a couple different occasions, we drove for twenty four hours straight–once from Las Vegas to Springfield, Missouri; the other driving from Kansas City to New York.  There were a lot of long drives, but those were the serious ones that nearly drove us crazy.

–We had a lot of wrecks. Once we flew into a ditch in Arkansas. Another time I hit a deer in Nebraska and screwed up our trailer really bad. Another time we were in Wisconsin and the wheel on our trailer just fell off in the middle of the highway for no apparent reason.

–We slept in the coldest and hottest of conditions. I could tolerate the hot weather.  We’d be parked at some rest stop or Wal-Mart and stripped down to our bare essentials to fight the heat, but the cold weather was another story. We couldn’t leave the engine running all night, so we would curl up in our sleeping bags and pray for a solid fifteen minutes of uninterrupted sleep until the cold woke us.  In radio interviews, we would joke that each of us snuggled with one another for warmth. We called it “the man ball”.

–I was driving really late one night/morning and had to pull over and let my guitarist drive. I went to sleep in the back and dreamed I was still driving.  In my dream, I had gotten us into a life-threatening wreck and woke up screaming to our Lord, Jesus Christ, with an F bomb serving as his middle name. When I realized I had not killed us all and my guitarist was, in fact, still driving, I laid back down and went to sleep.

But we also had a lot of great times. I had played music with these guys for years and some of our most intimate and revealing conversations occurred during those drives or hanging out in the van before or after shows.

It was in that van where we got the call that Sony Records was coming to our show in Kansas City, then flying us to New York for a showcase at their label.  When we’d drive into whatever city we were playing, it was in that van that we would hear the local radio station playing our songs.  It was in that van that I saw so many of our beautiful states.  Every once in a while, we brought acoustic gear with us and would have jam sessions while heading down the road. 

We would talk for hours about where our music might take us someday–dreaming of the day we could live this lifestyle in an actual tour bus.  But honestly, it probably wouldn’t have brought us as close together as being crammed in that van together.

A lot of people dream of driving through America, taking awesome road trips like in the movies where things go awry and back to perfect again. Well, for a good portion of my life, I lived those dreams.

I looked forward to those trips in the van with my best friends more than the actual shows.  For a brief time in my life, I had the best time of my life.

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