“When I first started touring I would pack as if the route was running through the deepest part of a remote jungle. I was afraid to forget anything. As time passed I realized if you leave your toothbrush behind, you can actually buy another one ANYWHERE,” said Ed Rodriguez of the experimental indie pop band Deerhoof.
Cue wacky tour essentials. Paste’s thirdrun of the series, we’ve talked with 10 more touring bands to find out what they can’t travel without. And while the road may feel like a remote jungle sometimes, there are no toothbrushes included. There’s Best of What’s Next artist Jeremy Quentin of Small Houses, Noelle Scaggs of Fitz and The Tantrums and new project Dark Rooms from former St. Vincent violinist and film composer Daniel Hart, and they bring everything from masks (lots of masks) to personal pharmacies.
Take a look at what your favorite artists take on tour below.
Photo courtesy of Fitz and The Tantrums
1. Mr. Black’s Denim Refresh Spray – I tend to only pack one or two pairs of jeans on tour because I only wear them before sound checks or out it dinner. This spray is a lifesaver in preventing odors and keeping my garments fresh. I also use it for clothing I perform in to keep it fresh in the wardrobe case. Helps with the lack of dry cleaning on the road.
2. Raw Denim Jeans by Paige Vedugo Cut – These are the softest most comfortable jeans I own, perfect for the air flights. Can be dressed up or down.
3. Drones Clothing Tank Tops by Bryden Lando – This line is created by an artist based in Los Angeles known for his Pop Art paintings that focus on cultural icons and mocking overused trends. The cut of his tanks are sexy and edgy. I wear them with skirts, or with jeans under a fitted blazer. Gives me just the right amount of rock and roll chic, effortlessly.
4. MOVMNT Marcos Sneakers in Black and White – I love these sneakers they are great for my everyday running around on tour and can be worn with various looks for stage or for play. They are constructed from organic or reused materials, non toxic glues and a percentage of the sales go towards the effort in reducing the usage of one use plastics. Style with a cause :)
5. Dolce and Gabbana Eyewear – These glasses have slowly become apart of my everyday look. I love the large frame and my ability to wear them day and night due to my transitional lenses. They are my ode to Geek fashion.
Photo courtesy of Desert Noises
1. The Pig Mask (keeper of the gates) – May it always protect us.
2. ‘Merican Camping Chair – Sit free.
3. Classical Meditation CD – Let the dojo boost your mojo.
4. Pants – Keep them secret, keep them safe.
5. Nillow – The perfect home for your head.
Photo courtesy of Noah Gundersen
1. B12 – Magical life-giving vitamin of the gods. Preferably consumed in powder form, the “B12 Shooter” became a pre show ritual during our tour early this year. Better than caffeine, with no crash. Also good for hangovers.
2. Risk for iPad – A little healthy competition on 8 hour van rides is what I like to think of as “Team Building.” Pass ’n’ play is a must. Don’t try and hold Asia at until you have North America and/or Europe on lock-down.
3. Ray Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses – Just so everyone in the Quality Inn Lobby knows EXACTLY how cool you are when you walk out of your room in the morning.
4. Reading Material – Don’t get stupid, read a book. Helps alleviate “Tour Brain,” while expanding your mind. “Take a look, it’s in a book….”
5. Levi’s Trucker Jacket – I wear this jacket pretty much every day, on stage and off. It’s kind of a comfort blanket at this point. Amidst all the inconsistencies of tour life, my jacket is always there for me. Or there on me.
6. Filson Large Duffel – Not necessarily as convenient as a roller bag, but hella durable. Filson has been making quality products for outdoorsmen since 1897. I like to think of myself as an “urban outdoorsmen”…
7. Jack Black Face Wash – People are always coming up to me after shows being like “man, your face looked so FRESH tonight!” And then I’m like, “Solid face wash is the core of the modern Rock ’n’ Roll lifestyle. Duh.”
8. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones – In the immortal words of Rupert Holmes, from his timeless classic “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” “bla bla bla…..and escape”. Alone time is rare and fleeting on the road. My headphones are my coping mechanism, my safety bubble, my escape.
Photo courtesy of Deerhoof
1. Oatmeal Packs and a Spoon – I’m vegan and I often run into problems finding food after shows or when we fly in late. With this I can fill the little empty spaces of my maxed out 50 pound bag with meals. I can always find hot water in the lobby or run water through the coffee maker and I won’t have to eat a can of Pringles because it’s the only thing I recognize in the Swedish 7-11.
2. Earplugs – I always wear them in the van or plane. I sleep deeper and if I stay awake I don’t feel as taxed from the constant dull noise (bandmates talking) and incessant droning sounds (bandmates talking). I use molded musicians plugs because they don’t make your ears feel weird if you wear them for 14 hours (of bandmates talking).
3. Tiny Notebooks and Tiny Pencils – Not only are they cute as hell, they’re a must for jotting down music, ideas and moments of grocery list inspiration. (Bread! Of course! I’m a genius!)
4. Noise Canceling Headphones – A must for mixing recordings in the van or plane or just for watching movies. If you use regular headphones you’d be amazed at how loud you’re listening to Matthew McConaughey charming his way into the heart of some other person you also don’t care about.
5. Personal Pharmacy – Have at least a days worth of pills for whatever might hit you or a bandmate. Assume you’re going to start getting sick after a show when nothing’s open or everyone is too tired to look for medicine. Even more important in a different country. Something for a headache, flu, wellness, upset stomach, anti-plague pill, Barney vitamins (but no Freds), aspirin for before flights (thins the blood), fudge pills (thickens the blood) and jagged little pills (in case of irony).
Photo courtesy of Small Houses
1. 35mm Camera – A hobby of mine that is starting to feel just as important as music.
2. Coffee Kit – I even bought a device that boils water powered by the cigarette lighter in my car.
3. London Fog – Plenty of pockets for my car keys, cell phone, and tooth brush.
4. Regional Apparel – Just trying to fit in.
5. Favorite Mic – I’m not sure if everyone knows this, but in-house microphones smell like a thousand people’s mouths.
6. Duck Boots – Small Houses winter tour 2015!
Photo courtesy of The Pharmacy
1. Power Strip – Incase there is an impromptu generator show.
2. Pepper Mill – For salads.
3. Weird Smelling Leather Hiking Backpack – For making friends with dogs.
4. Rabbits Paw – For making enemies with rabbits.
5. Demon Mask – For parties.
Photo courtesy of The Backyard Committee
1. Cholula Hot Sauce – Road food is usually pretty hit or miss, but Cholula makes it all taste better. And more Mexican.
2. One Million Blue Guitar Picks – I can never have enough, really. I’ll put them in every pocket, litter the floor of the van with them, put them in road cases… yet somehow when it comes time to play the show, I can’t find a pick. Ever.
3. New Haven Tee – Bands from Connecticut occasionally claim to be from NYC (because it’s so close), which I’ve always thought is a pretty lame thing to do. This shirt was designed by Andy Purcowkiss of New Haven’s Blackunicorn Studios. He also made our band logo.
4. Heart-Shaped Sunglasses – Tour can be stressful, but these guys help to keep things mellow. Except maybe at truck stops where they sometimes solicit unwanted attention.
5. Black Composition Notebook – Lyrics and thoughts flow easier while in transit, so it’s best to have something handy to write them down. But the only kind that work are the marble-covered ones we had to use in school. A spiral notebook will not yield good lyrics.
Photo courtesy of Mirah
1. Running Shoes – I never turned into a barefoot runner so I’m stuck lugging these bulky things around.
2. Hot Plate and Cooking Pot – This only happens when I’m really organized, but the dream is that I cook myself the most beautiful simple dinner after soundcheck, no matter how unpleasant the green room.
3. More Tote Bags than Seems Natural for One Person to Have – I try to keep my exploding bag syndrome episodes to the hotel rooms and so I’ve devised an intricate system of tote bags for use in the van.
4. Sense of Wonder – No matter how weirdly draining tour can be, I try to always remember how lucky I am that my job is to travel around and sing to people.
5. The Love of My Life – The other one, my guitar, a 1965 Gibson ES-120 which I bought from Phil’s Guitars in Seattle in 1995. I used to sleep with it back then, and it has been with me at every show I have ever played. Every single one.
Photo courtesy of Luke Brindley
1. Yoga Mat – I’ve been doing hot yoga regularly for the past two and a half years. It helps me feel great physically and mentally. If I have the time, I try and find a good yoga studio wherever I’m traveling. I used to drink, smoke, and eat poorly and then decided that I didn’t want anything I had control over getting in the way of my music.
2. Nail Care Supplies – Sounds frivolous but I play mostly fingerstyle guitar and I need to keep the nails on my right hand strong and in the right shape. There’s a place near my house that does a great job putting acrylic on them but when I’m on the road, my whole game is thrown off if I have a nail emergency!
3. Good Headphones – Essential for keeping focused in noisy coffee shops or not disturbing others when sharing a hotel room or van.
4. Notebook/Pen – My iPhone and laptop are the songwriting tools I use the most, but I always keep a good pen and notebook on me. I find old fashioned pen and paper helps me avoid the distractions of messages, checking emails, etc on the iPhone. I draw/doodle a lot, too.
5. Pics of my Family – One great thing about digital images being ubiquitous is that I always have photos from home at my fingertips. They can make me feel homesick but it’s better than nothing. Generally, I avoid talking on the phone, but Facetime is great for keeping in touch with the family.
6. Dexter the Boston Terrier – Well, I can’t always take him with me, but I do any chance I get!
7. Starbucks VIA – I need good coffee. Starbucks Instant VIA Coffee has become indispensable when good coffee can’t be found on the road – when motel or gas station coffee are the only choices.
Photo courtesy of Dark Rooms
1. Minimum One Package of Dandies – Dandies are vegan marshmallows. Dandies taste better than non-vegan marshmallows. And they roast really well. Not in the van, though. However, they are one of the things in this world that make me think, “Hey, there are other people out there like you, who don’t particularly want to consume ground up animal bones, but who really love marshmallows”. And that is a comforting feeling, indeed. (Daniel)
2. The Purple Tour Pillow – It’s not memory foam, but it’s incredibly heavy. And always has a purple pillowcase on it (why is that, Bobby?). Bobby puts this behind his back in Portland. And when he gets out of the van in San Francisco, his back doesn’t hurt as much as my back does. (Bobby)
3. Tea Tree Therapy Mint Toothpicks – This is a direct quote from Casey: ”[They] clean teeth, freshen breath, make you look cool. And because they’re treated with tea tree oil, these babies bite back.” I would never use the word ‘babies’ to describe toothpicks, and that’s why I wanted everyone to know that Casey said this, not me. (Casey)
4. a) Makeup Bag – Because it’s pretty.
b) iPod – For when i go running, er, jogging, I mean, when I walk the 2 blocks from the venue to the coffee shop.
c) Disinfectant Spray – Sometimes tour is gross.
d) Santa Maria Novella Incense – These things are MAGIC! They basically neutralize bad odors. There are so many opportunities for life to smell unpleasant while on tour. Why not tip the scales in the other direction?
e) Tide Stick – So I don’t have to spend the next four weeks wearing burrito pants or chocolate donut shirt. (Rachel)
5. Little Robot – Little Robot has been with us on every single Dark Rooms tour. He’s always excited to be there, even in thunderstorms/heat waves/super long drives/this van smells like old dog and we don’t own old dog/why are we driving through a blizzard to play in a coffee shop again?