Taking Your Band On Tour Internationally
Sydney heavy metal band, As Silence Breaks, took touring into their own hands and endeavoured on an epic quest to the west coast of the United States. Self funded, self organised and self motivated, the band took it on themselves to make it happen. I spoke with drummer Reece Kirby about their planning and execution to help share some knowledge for others looking to do the same in the future.
In late 2011 they flew over to L.A. to begin their 5 state US tour, the result of months of preparation and sacrifice. As Silence Breaks saw great increases in their following, their merch sales and especially their online sales during and after the tour. They’ve put themselves out there and people have stood up and taken notice.
our facebook followers jumped up a lot, most of them are from the west coast of the US. We also sold a bunch of merch and shifted a lot of units on iTunes since the trip.
Countless hours went into preparation for the tour and each band member made a whole slew of sacrifices to reach the end goal. Extra shifts at work, selling stuff on eBay, one even sold his house; all just to make sure they’d be comfortable and be able to make the most out of the tour.
It was extremely hectic but we all made a decision that if you want this dream to work you cant just half-sacrifice to get there – you need to be willing to sacrifice everything. It will all come back to you in the end, hopefully 10 fold!
For a smaller crew it can work out cheaply to travel with a car or van, either sleeping in it along the way or checking into hotels. As Silence Breaks had a bigger crew and so they hired themselves an RV, giving them plenty of space for equipment, a constant home ground and an answer to the question of accommodation. This worked out to be the far cheaper option. Although, the RV can be an unwieldy beast… so pick a good driver.
However you choose to get around, you’re going to be in close quarters and passing a lot of time with your bandmates and this can really be a challenge within itself. You’ll be missing the luxury of open spaces and privacy and being in constant close quarters can put a strain on things.
A big challenge was living in such close quarters for so long. The novelty wears off, sometimes you just want time to yourself while you’re on the road and it was hard to get that.
You’ve gotta get along and you’ve gotta try not let egos get the better of you. Roll with the punches and take it in stride. Let it be known that you’ll all probably be on edge. There’s a lot of energy and emotion going into the tour and it’s understandable for things to go awry and nerves to get trod on. Everyone is going through the same thing and you’re all going through it together. Try to be understanding and patient and don’t be afraid to ask for a timeout if you need it.
Meet some locals
Make friends or find someone trustworthy from the country you’re from to take with you on tour. They know the good and bad spots, they can drive and they know the shortcuts that will get you where you need to be.
You’re not from ’round here… you’re basically flying blind. A local knows the traps, has insight into how the scene works and has the resources to help you out in a pickle. And this isn’t just from a technical point of view. A local will also know the best way to get across town, where you’ll be able to park and pick up some quality food on the way. Depending where in the world you are, a local might also be able to help you out with the finer points of their language.
The more locals you can meet who know about or are a part of the local scene, the better. They’ll be able to give you information, connections and opportunities that might otherwise have passed you straight by. They’ll also be around to help you out when you come back for another tour.
Which of course means:
If you want to get anywhere in this industry you really cant have an ego. We were just really friendly and talkative and met some amazing people who really helped us out and formed close bonds with us.
You’re going to be meeting a lot of new people and relying a lot on those around you. Be open and friendly to everyone you meet. You never know who’s going to be able to help you out and what opportunities might crop up.
We didn’t care that some shows had no people or that we all got food poisoning 3 days in. We we’re just stoked that we had built up our band enough to warrant going overseas to showcase what we love doing and that there were people there who actually knew who we were and were singing along and buying merch.
The actual ”success” of the tour is subjective and your attitude and how you approach it will define how you feel about it afterwards. Be prepared to take the good with the bad and expect some disappointments. It’s probably not all going to run to plan but you’re out there doing some amazing, pursuing your dream.
Take pride in your work and what you’re doing. You’ve built up your band enough to warrant going overseas to showcase yourselves. That’s no mean feat.
And most importantly you want to be able to kick back and enjoy the ride. Don’t get too tied up in the details. Relax and let it happen. Have fun. You’re on tour, in another country, chasing your dream. Soak it up, enjoy it.
Too many bands get caught up in trying to micromanage their trip and end up missing out because they’re so damn stressed. Focus on having fun as much as possible, don’t let the organization and stress deter you from the fact that you’re on tour! in another country!
The Wrap Up
There’s a lot of time and money that goes into a tour. If your band is ready to give it a go, be ready to commit to making it happen.
Use the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. Be friendly and network, you never know where a contact might lead you.
We were just stoked to be in the US makin’ friends and playin’ metal
As Silence Breaks are big players in the Sydney Heavy Metal scene. Their new album The Architecture of Truth was released in July 2012. You can hear more about them and their music on the official facebook page and youtube channel