Here’s something for all the aspiring bands out there looking to tour. This Summer we sponsored our first slew of shows. This included the Wings Denied “Do You Ever Prog Bro?” Tour. Seeing that it was the band’s first major tour, we drafted a series of questions for them to answer afterwards. Several topics are covered. Read up, learn, and prosper! Also check the music / live coverage just below!
• Make: Ford
• Model: Econoline (extended)
• Year: 2004
• Mileage when purchased: 150,000
• MPG: around 15 miles per gallon
• Total Miles driven during tour: Around 4000, not exactly sure
Tour Vehicle Expenses
• Total Paid for the vehicle: $5800
• Maintenance that needed to be done BEFORE tour: Full workup to make sure our vehicle was alright for tour.
• Maintenance that needed to be done DURNING tour: oil changes, engine coolant
• Maintenance that needed to be done AFTER tour: Transmission maintenance and oil change
• Weekly gas total: The car cost about 100 dollars per tank and we filled up every 6 hours of driving.
• Weekly sleeping expense (hotels or whatnot): We stayed in a hotel three times on tour each totaling around $80. Every other time, we crashed with friends or people we met at the shows.
• Weekly parking fees: Generally none
• Weekly tolls fees: Spent around $60 in tolls over 30 days
Instrument Fixes (EX. Strings, drum sticks, picks, etc.)
• Luka Kerecin (Vocals): TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic vocal pedal -1
• Zach Dresher (Guitars): Guitar input jack re-sodder- $20. Action/Truss Rod re-adjustment (free, done by friend), Digital Reference Wireless set $150, various sets of cables and strings averaging to about $60.
• Jackson Smith (Guitars): 1 Pod X3 Live: $200, 3 packet Ernie Ball Power Slinky: $18, 15 foot XLR: $25, Boss Chromatic Tuner/Metronome: $30, 20 foot 1/4-1/4: $30, Planet Waves Stringer Winder: $8, 2 Pack Dunlop Tortex 1.14mm: $8
• Alec Kossoff (Drums): five new Evans drum heads (totaling: around $100) and two cymbals (totaling around $400)
• Rob Moore (Bass Guitars/Vocals): Sonic Maximizer ($50), Boss Overdrive Pedal ($80)
• Weekly Food/Drinks: Food and drink cost basically whatever we could afford to eat. It wasn’t a lot.
Top 5 Shows Played (in chronological order, it’s impossible to rank these five)
• 1) 7/7 Greensboro NC at Somewhere Else Tavern
• 2) 7/9 Washington DC at The Velvet Lounge
• 3) 7/11 Philadelphia PA at the Trocadero
• 4) 7/12 Brooklyn NY at St. Vitus
• 5) 7/30 Atlanta GA at WonderRoot
Top 5 Favorite Venues To Play At
• 1) Somewhere Else Tavern, Greensboro NC
• 2) St. Vitus, Brooklyn NY
• 3) WonderRoot, Atlanta GA
• 4) The Pour House, Raleigh NC
• 5) Annabel’s, Akron OH
Top 5 Worst Venues To Play At
• 1) Every venue that supports our style of music is the best kind of venue. There are no worsts in DIY prog.
• T-shirts: $183 for the white ones, $301 for the red ones
• Did you have to pay for the Graphic Design? No, Luka did it
• Stickers: $70.83 for 500
• Shotglasses: $92.88 for 72
How did you go about booking shows?
The absolute first step is planning a rough sketch of the route. This doesn’t mean what cities in particular you’re looking to hit, but more of a “within 100 miles or so” region. Then, it’s a matter of doing tons of research on the areas, to find out what venues have built-in crowds, what local bands have a similar and draw to message about trying to work together, and finding regional promoters. The next part of the process is sending literally thousands of emails, and getting tens back, followed by endless pestering, for very little success. But when that success happens, it’s the best feeling in the world.
How long did it take to have every venue set in stone?
I had the route planned by the middle of March, and started officially booking at the beginning of April. I was booking literally until we got on the road, on July 5th, though 85% was done before the beginning of June.
Did you have any help outside of your band to set up tours? (Sponsors, friends, or managers you might know)
We had lots of help from bands and promoters that I contacted, and we got a bunch of sponsors to raise awareness about the tour, but the sponsors did not assist with the actual booking of the shows.
What was the best way to book a show? (Calling the venue, other people recommendation,connections, email the venue)
Generally, having a local band that has played the venue before with a positive response set up the show is the best way to guarantee a crowd.
How did you guys find other bands to play with?
I did an absolute ton of research. I have a database on my computer of my musical connections sorted by state and city, with all sorts of info on each group, and it’s easily got over a thousand bands/promoters/booking agents in it.
Was there one main person in your band that handled booking, transportation, sleeping arrangements, or bills?
Zach did the booking and bills, Rob locked down and bought the van, and everyone kinda worked together to figure out the sleeping arrangements.
Did you guys ever play a show just by yourself on the tour?
Just one, in Carrolton GA. Small crowd, but we had tons of fun!
Did other bands back out last minute?
We were supposed to tour with Caricature from the 13th they had lineup changes and had to cancel their support. A few local groups also didn’t show at times, but none that I had booked directly.
Tips for other bands wanting to go on tour?
Start planning early, have less than 3 hours driving distance between venues (because chances are, if you’re a DIY band, your reputation isn’t big enough that people will drive from farther than that to see you, and you can hit as many cities as you can), and most importantly, HAVE YOUR FINANCES TOGETHER BEFORE YOU LEAVE. There is literally nothing worse than getting halfway through a 30-day trek, and realizing that you have a hundred dollars for the entire rest of your food for the whole trip. Make an estimated budget for how much you will spend per-day on things like food and drinks (both alcoholic and non), and then add $2-300 to cover expenses that come up. Also, make sure you know as much about your sleeping situations as in advance as you can, and plan accordingly with your finances.
What did you do right and what did you do wrong?
Things we did right: We started booking early enough to get the shows we wanted, we maintained connections, we made sure to always be on time or early to every city, and we NEVER got any sort of intoxicated before playing.
Things we did wrong: Severely under-estimated our costs for personal expenses, almost got our merch shipped too late to tour with, forgot a few nights of sleep plans which led to some hassles, and relied a little too heavily on the PAs of certain venues, that certainly weren’t accustomed to running two guitars and vocals through them.
What is something that you did not plan for?
Caricature dropping off the tour left us almost homeless for a few days, without support for a few dates, and led to the cancelation of a show. We definitely also probably should’ve bought more CDs, as we sold out with 3 days remaining.
What would you do differently?
Nothing, honestly. We learn every tour, we find the places that are good to go back to, and the ones that aren’t. We find the bands and promoters who are good to us, and those that aren’t. We’re happy with the experience as one which was, although stressful at times, incredibly fun, educational, and one we’ll never forget.
Don’t give Jackson the keys, don’t let Zach give you directions, don’t be anywhere near Luka after he eats any food that can give you gas, and try really hard to just not let Alec drive ever.
What things should any band ask a venue before booking it? (EX. Lighting, how many ppl can it hold, can you re-enter, etc.)
Whatever technical equipment the band might need (such as a PA), whether they’re 18+, 21+, etc, and whether they book local support, or you are expected to.
How did you discuss payment?
We had 4 guarantees all tour, all of which were less than $100. Most of the time, payment came as a percentage of door sales, though some venues had the show be free and gave you a percentage of alcohol sales as pay.
Did they pay you to come to the venue to play or did you play to play there? (I know its different per show, but it’s interesting how it all works)
We never paid-to-play for this tour, since we couldn’t pre-sale tickets in cities where we didn’t know anyone. That being said, if the crowd was not big enough to cover their expenses, we didn’t get paid.
What was the average pay per show?
Most shows were between $40-$60. Some didn’t pay at all. Some, we received over a hundred. Most of our earnings came from merch sales, which averaged $10-30 / show. Most of our merch is $10 or less per item, though at one show, we sold almost $200 worth.
Did you guys ever lose money on a show?
We never paid-to-play, so we didn’t lose money in that way, but there were times where we had long drives, and then made no money from the show, and we lost the money that was spent on gas.
Where was your biggest show attendance? (Also why? EX. Promotion, friends in the area, first/last show of the tour, etc.)
Greensboro NC, at the Somewhere Else Tavern on 7/7. 183 people in a 220 capacity venue, and it was because the local groups did such a fantastic job of promoting it. We could not have done it without them.
Where was your smallest show attendance? (why?)
Carrolton, GA had four people, plus the bartender. Not really sure why, except that it was a Monday night, but the show was free, so we hoped more people would show up. Oh well. Gotta say, those four people and bartender were awesome!
What do you think is the best way to promote a show? (EX. hiring a promoter, FB, twitter, making a FB event, playing with bigger bands than yourself?)
Having strong-drawing local bands on the show that will promote both the show, and Wings Denied.
What would get you/the band the most hyped for a show? (EX. A certain song, yelling at each other, beer, etc.)
Being on time and having a chance to meet the other bands and see the crowd helped a lot. The more people in the room, the better we’re going to play; we really feed off of crowd energy. We also listened to Do Not Look Down by Meshuggah a lot before shows, when we could get Alec to stop playing Periphery for one fucking second (just kidding <3).
Any drama happen on the tour? (EX. Btw band members, managers of venues, family, personal, girlfriends. Etc.) **This might be the most personal question I ask. You don’t have to name names of who did what or get anyone mad at each other. It’s just for other bands to make sure they try to avoid.
To put it simply, everyone fucked up at least once, and did something that really pissed off the rest of the band, but at the end of every day, 90% of troubles were forgotten, so I guess I’d say that there were no “major” dramas.
Most exciting thing about being on tour?
Seeing all the new places!
Craziest thing you did/saw on tour?
Transgender Mannequins in Dayton Ohio (saw, not did).
More vehicle questions
How did you find the vehicle you drove? (EX. ebay, cragslist, etc.)
Looked around locally. Found a van at this place. That van was already sold but Tesla was in the back.
How did you purchase it?
We bought it with cash saved up!
Is the van big enough for the 5 of you guys?
It seats 11 so it was a nice trade up from previous tour vehicles!