For those of us who know the rigors of touring, many will attest to the importance of traveling light. After all, who really wants to have a one-bedroom apartment to pack away when lobby call is 7am? After all is said and done, after the hours of practice and the years of paying your dues, when the time comes to take what your mama gave you on tour, baggage can become your best friend and your worst enemy. Much like the art of the groove, when it comes to baggage, sometimes more isn’t better; it’s just more.
Unless you are Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney, I am guessing that you have limited room for baggage in your current circumstance. Once you hit the big time of course, take all the baggage you want and more. There is always someone, besides yourself, to deal with it. For now, however, you will no doubt have many other factors coming into play.
First and foremost assess your current baggage set up. Before you head out, have a good long look at what you take with you. For those of you packed inside hot, sweaty, foul-smelling rental vans, how much of your baggage is taking up precious room in your current situation? The baggage you bring on the road affects a multitude of other players; be very certain of what you need (not want) to have along for the ride.
Is That an Iron in Your Carry On or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
Are there things you routinely bring with you that you just don’t pay attention to, but take along out of habit? Maybe it is time to look at that baggage and ask yourself, does it really need to collect any more Air Miles? Often we, as drummers, are notorious for being creatures of habit and many times what has been deemed as a necessity may just be extra weight.
While you do have the right to live in the level of comfort you have grown accustomed to, until you get your very own Sliver Eagle tour bus, there will be some fat trimming in the ol’ baggage department on your ascent to drummer stardom.
Keep in mind a tour is a lot like life in a fish bowl. Every thing inside the bowl is amplified 100 fold. Only you and your select comrades are privy to the day-to-day grind of the tour, as those on the outside continue life as they know it. The more baggage you bring to that situation the less water for the rest to swim in, my friend.
Selfish vs Self-centered
The definition of selfish has been given a bad rap. To be selfish can mean taking care of one’s own needs.
I need this baggage to perform at my best, therefore it comes with ma and I will keep it from affecting your space.
However don’t get that confused with self centered.
I need this baggage to perform, therefore it comes with me and I don’t care who it affects.
Your bandmates are your bandmates, and under normal circumstance you all have your quirks, but on tour you are all the epitome of an ecosystem (and a small one at that). Once one part of the system breaks down the whole environment becomes inhospitable.
George Carlin, in my opinion, has the best advice about stuff:
“That’s the whole meaning of life isn’t it? Trying to find a place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. Ain’t nobody interested in your fourth grade arithmetic paper. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore. And maybe put some of your stuff in storage. Imagine that, there is a whole industry based on keeping an eye on your stuff!”
How much do you need? What is it time to let go of?
Wake Up Call
Much like the stage, a tour really comes down to what you bring to the proverbial table. Have a look at your stage set up and really get honest about what you need and what’s there for your ego to feed from. If you’re a pack rat and life is a rat race, guess what?
For those who have read my many of my previous rants you have no doubt become accustomed to my metaphorical style of writing. While an article about baggage may seem somewhat more mundane and predictable, fear not, for I will not disappoint. Go back to the beginning of this article and read it again, this time place the word emotional in front of the words baggage or stuff and it all still applies. Bon voyage!
Sean Mitchell is a drummer/artist, songwriter and the creator of Drum Geek.