24 Things I Learned From Hour 24
Recently, I was given the unique opportunity to see the U.S. by selling merchandise for an incredible rock band called Hour 24. They brought along alternative band Racing on the Sun for the Suit Up Tour. For 52 days, I left behind everything I knew to traverse the United States with complete strangers. Here are 24 things I learned from traveling with Hour 24.
- The Music Scene is NOT a Competition. This is arguably the most important thing I learned on tour. All too often, I saw bands jumping to judge others instead of supporting them. Thankfully, Hour 24 and Racing on the Sun (ROTS) focused on supporting bands instead of bringing them down.
- Don’t Be a Pompous Asshat. See Rule Number 1. Every band will have at least one good feature. Focus on that instead. Tearing other bands down only makes you and whoever you are associated with look bad. Also, don’t boast that you are the best band on earth. You come off as a braggart and become an instant joke.
- Be Professional. Don’t show up drunk. Don’t show up 10 minutes before your set. Try to look presentable. You are representing yourself as well as your band. Don’t make people hate what you stand for.
- Remember to be Open. The people you’re with are inevitably going to have different views and tastes than you. Even something as simple as music taste (one word: Northlane) can shape you so long as you are open to it.
- Embrace Weird Eating Habits. Along with being open, the people are going to have strange eating habits. By the end of the tour, ROTS was throwing Old Bay on everything and we had a bottle of hot sauce in both vans. You won’t know if you like it until you try it!
- Try the Local Food. If you’re going out, try to find the local’s favorite places to eat. It will teach you so much about the community. If you’re old enough, ask for the local beer. Even if it’s just fast food (Whataburger was interesting), you really get to appreciate where you are.
- Take Care of Yourself!. I was lucky enough to tour with a band that really cared about themselves. Most of the tour consisted of vitamins, healthy foods, and Planet Fitness. You lose so much muscle tone when you go on tour. Planet Fitness let us stay in the parking lots overnight, then we would work out in the morning and shower.
- Maintain Good Hygiene Habits. Even if you really don’t feel like it, brush your teeth twice a day, change your underwear daily and wear deodorant. Even if you aren’t suffering, the people you’re with don’t want to smell your stank.
- No Frivolous Spending. Most bands don’t want to believe it, but it is actually possible to sleep in your van. Instead of buying unnecessary things, like hotel rooms, you can spend that money elsewhere. I cherished our parking lot cookouts, where the tour package all threw in a couple bucks to buy hamburger patties and a bag of chips.
- Play Your Heart Out, Regardless of the Crowd. All too often, I saw bands become discouraged with the crowd turn out. Their performance was lackluster and unremarkable. Every single show, regardless of crowd size or sleep deprivation, I watched both Hour 24 and Racing on the Sun not just play their music, but put on a performance. Singer Rachel Mayer made sure to interact with every single member in the audience, which pushed it past being “just a show” and turned it into an unforgettable experience.
- Don’t Get Separated from the “Real World”. When you’re on the road, you’re essentially disconnected from current events happening around the globe. Whenever you get the chance, try to read the newspaper or watch the news. This will also help minimize the culture shock when you return home.
- Make “You” Time. There was always about an hour between setting up my booth and the time doors would open. This is what I designated “me” time. I would walk around the block, check out local music stores, and just made sure not to get lost in the bustle of the daily routine. These minutes kept me calm and in touch with myself.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings. Look up what’s around you whenever you stop. If you’re staying by a beach, go to it! If you’re staying 5 minutes from Compton, for the love of God sleep with the doors locked. This helps both with getting the most out of your trip and not dying while on tour.
- Take In the Scenery. As I travelled the country, I saw everything from snow-capped mountains to sandy beaches, from rolling hills to Arizona deserts. Take pictures, but make sure to enjoy it firsthand too.
- Help Up and Coming Musicians. Even if you’re screaming internally at the stupidity of local bands (stop breaking your drum kits down onstage, it wastes SO much time) you have to realize that you were there once too. If you show them the way, they will learn from you and become better.
- Make Connections. Befriend the bands! Always introduce yourself to the sound guy and the promoter. Establishing those connections will make these people want to work with you in the future.
- And Form Connections with Fans. Make sure to thank people that came out. They didn’t have to sit through your set. These are the people that will support you and spread your art to others.
- Strive to Help the People You Are With. I didn’t know any of these people before I left on tour. I didn’t have to help promote, or load in, or take pictures. But I, along with the 10 other people in the tour package, strived to help each other. Everybody helped bring in the gear, regardless of whose band owned it. I’d watch ROTS’ merchandise when they were on stage, and both bands would have “family meetings” where they would constructively criticize each others’ performances to help the bands progress. Tour went flawlessly because everyone continually worked their asses off.
- Remind Yourself to Be Nice. With so many people crammed into such a small space for so many days, squabbles are bound to happen. Remind yourself to not get involved, and if you are already involved, try to stay level-headed. Arguments happen, but if both parties focus instead on figuring out the core of the problem, it will blow over quickly.
- Promote, Promote, PROMOTE! Go to the mall in each city and hand out fliers for the show! Unless you’re One Direction, people probably haven’t heard of your band. At the very least, they’ll probably check out your music and dig it. But they could also come out to the show with their friends and support you.
- Give Credit Where It’s Due. There will always be better musicians than you. Just accept it. Instead of shrugging it off, tell them that you appreciate what they’re doing. They might even have some tips and tricks to help you out. Plus, you’ll be establishing that crucial connection with them.
- Stand Up For Yourself. Odds are you love what you’re doing, which is why you’re driving across the country in a crowded van and eating cold Chef Boyardee for two months. DO NOT TAKE SHIT FROM ANYONE. If another band are being assholes, say something. You worked hard to get where you are.
- You Will More Or Less Become The Same Person. You’re isolated in a van with just a few people. You will inevitably pick up on their habits and sayings, good or bad. This can literally range from overusing a word (realistically) to developing your own language. But you will come out stronger in the end.
- Celebrate Your New Family. Hour 24 and Racing on the Sun really became a like a family to me. We went through hell (aka Texas) and back. We have created our own memories and have so many new stories to tell! Both bands are working on new things and I am so, so proud of them! Three months ago, I didn’t know that they even existed, but now I couldn’t imagine my summer without them. Hour 24 is about to go into the studio with Dan Korneff, who has worked with bands like Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Mayday Parade, Pierce the Veil, among many others. Racing on the Sun is recording a music video for my favorite song of theirs, Luna, and gearing up to go on another tour.
If you’d like to check them out, you can like them on Facebook here:
Hour 24: https://www.facebook.com/Hour24band
Racing on the Sun: https://www.facebook.com/RacingOnTheSun
And listen to them here:
Racing on the Sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rglkdQU0pE
I’d like to thank every single one of you; Rachel, Forrest, Mikey, Dan, Cody, Chris, Fonzie, Oscar, Donathan, and Bryan, for letting me go on this unforgettable journey with you.