It was the summer of 2010. We had 40 shows booked across the country from BC to Newfoundland. We had a $2500 eight passenger van, six band members, two friends, camping gear, next to no money, and a whole lot of hope. In what felt like overnight, we had gone from a band that played locally at jam nights to a touring band. This was going to be the best summer of our lives.
We had just recorded our first album and released it independently. Most of the venues that hired us had no idea what we sounded like because when I was booking the shows we only had recorded “Ghost Inside My Head” and “I Hate Work,” but they took a chance on us anyway. In 99% of the situations we were playing for the door. $5 a head, band keeps the money. On most nights we were lucky to make $300 to divide six ways.
That summer we quickly realized that hotels were way out of our budget. I remember pulling into Saskatoon at 2am and driving to every hotel trying to find us a good deal. This was before the Internet existed on phones, so we had to go to every hotel to get a quote, before realizing that our home for the night would be a rest stop 15km away on the outskirts of town. $120/night for 50 - 60 days was not going to work. At that point, even campsites were considered a luxury. So if we could find a town park, lawn, rest stop, or open space underneath telephone wires, we would take it. We pretty much pitched a tent in any place where there was a bit of flat space to ensure that we could save our money for a loaf of bread, sandwich toppings, and gas for the following day.
We quickly discovered the generosity of close friends, family, acquaintances and strangers, as we were welcomed into the homes of many for a place to spend the night and to have a meal. We started adopting band parents. People who extended their homes and their kindness to us, and offered us support and encouragement when we really, really needed it.
Our biological parents, quickly became the extended parents of the rest of the band members. My mom’s cousin in Ottawa became our Ottawa mom. Our drummers dad’s friend, who he hadn’t seen since University in the ‘70s, and his wife became our Thunder Bay parents. Our acquaintances in St. Albert became our St. Albert parents. The trend continued as we adopted a support system across the country.
Because of the kindness of these people we were able to each walk out of the summer with $600 for two months of work. Most bands who tour for the first time end up completely broke, but we each had $600! We collectively considered the tour a success, and agreed to continue making music and touring across the country.
Just recently we have started to tour in Germany. Again, we are building from the beginning and are very reliant on the generosity of strangers. Once again, we have been overwhelmed by how much people are willing to give. We have now adopted parents in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Munich.
I am so grateful to everyone who has supported us in any way over the past seven years. I can confidently say, that we owe everything to them.
Album to Download This Month
Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Canadian Indie Workout Playlist
- “Flesh Without Blood” - Grimes
- “Saturday Night” - Yukon Blonde
- “I Heard I Had” - Dear Rouge
- “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” - Chromeo
- “2 Heads” - Coleman Hell
- “Spirits” - The Strumbellas
- “Monster Hospital” - Metric (MSKRKRFT remix)
- “So Down Low” - The Elwins
- “Lightning Tent” - Wildlife
- “Muscle Relaxants” - The Rural Alberta Advantage
- “Robin” - Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party
Fernie Stoke Fest - Saturday February 18 at The Fernie Community Centre. Fred Penner and Shred Kelly - All Ages Saturday February 18 5:30pm. Tickets available at www.ticketfly.com and Freyja Lifestyle Fashion.