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Dave 'Stik' Furlani

For people who want to tour the world drumming


Although I started out with the intention of this being a drummers only page, the information here may be valuable for any musician getting ready to tour.



If you want to make sure you've done all the right things when booking your tour, or want to make sure you book correctly, or want a list of more places to book with, check out the Indiendant Bands Booking guide.

Always travel as light as possible. Go with bare minimums, don't take anything that isn't totally necessary. Comfortable clothing for long travelling, light stage clothes (or the formal attire if it's that sort of tour). Unless you have a backlog of reading to catch up on, buy books along the way. This lightens the load and allows you to experience a wider culture. Buying music where ever you travel is also a good way to experience the music of the world, and possibly gain musical knowledge, experience, influences, etc.

If you are travelling overseas, make sure your passport and visas are all in order, current, and up to date.

In addition to your passport, you might want to carry an agenda book (Filofax) or "Wizard"/Casio-type organizer (address book, information, etc).

AT+T/Bell/Telstra/Telecom account for telephone calls to home, or use the local post office telephone service in each town - hotel telephone calls are EXPENSIVE! The phone cards also help get around foreign countries operators.


Equipment!

If you are taking your own gear - make sure it is roadworthy stuff. There is a lot of wear and tear on your gear when you travel. If you are travelling with your own drums, make sure you have good roadworthy cases. Try to keep each case as light as possible. If, on the other hand, you will be using whatever drums are provided at the venue on the day, then carry:

  • your own sticks
  • your own cymbals
  • your own kick pedal
  • a drum fix-it kit (felt pads for cymbal stands, wing nuts, rubber-tubing for cymbal insulation, 'normal' and Sonor-type drum keys, a Swiss Army knife, etc. and a small flashlight (for hotels in case of emergency, and on stage for fixes with stage lights off.)
  • Have a check-list of the gear you need. This will make sure nothing is left behind each time your gear is packed before leaving a town or venue. Do a dry run with this list to a local gig, or to practice to make sure it is complete. This inventory of your equipment may also come in handy if gear is lost. On that note, have good instrument insurance with each piece of equipments serial number registered.


    Cases!

    Either individual cases for each drum, and a traps case, or go for the full pro touring setup (like big name guitarists parade in front of in magazines - big black wooden boxes) which consists of 1 large case for all drums, and 1 large case for all hardware and racks. The bigger ones are really heavy, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone without roadies, or huge muscles. Wheels and trolleys are excellent for dealing with long hauls and stairs.

    If you are playing at the one venue a number of nights in a row, pack down any mic's and effects pedals, and anything else readily shoved in a pocket, to prevent someone walking away with it.


    Finances!

    A Visa, Diners Club, or American Express card are a valuable item as much as they are a money trap. They are useful for getting out of binds, and they beat carrying around wads of cash, but that are so easy to abuse, and forgetting the payments is too easy. A necessary evil.

    Store some mad money, or leave some cash with someone you trust back home. This is to get you out of a bind, bail money, starving fund, manager did a bunk to Switzerland with my cash recovery fund, etc. Make sure there's enough there to get you and your gear home from the furthest point you will be travelling to.

    Having someone at home that will take care of all your bills, collect your mail (or allow their post address to become your post address), forward you your letters, keep records, etc. is a very handy thing to have arranged. If you can't, there are world traveller mail depots that will hold mail for you, in most of the bigger countries. They are cheap, they hold mail for you, and forward it after you have gone, as long as you organise things with them.

    Keep every receipt for anything you buy. Do this especially if you are using a Visa/Credit card arrangement. Theses are good to check that the debits to your account match up, that you spent what you thought you did, so you can return a faulty product (or prove to the dealer in the next country when and where you bought it), and if your country has a tax return system the receipts may make your return more profitable.


    Clothes!

    As I said at the top, have appropriate clothing for situations you will find yourself in often. Really comfortable clothes for long trips, in varying climates. you might leave Hawaii, and arrive in Greenland.

    Find out a little about the area you are travelling to, especially what sells cheaply there. No point packing extra sox, if your first stop is notorious for cheap clothing, as much of Asia is.

    Try and use common since when chosing your travel clothing. Things that need little maintenance to look cool, that suit the climate(s) you will be travelling in, that are robust enough to last the journey, and that won't get you arrested on arrival.

    Laundry-in-sink supplies (Woolite, inflatable hangars, etc.) are good for removing that "I've had a very bad night" smell, and keeping your "let's impress someone" clothes looking good... enough.


    Food and Diet!

    Eating and diet are very important, and relate directly to your physical condition. Often on tour you don't get to decide when you eat, and may end up eating when you aren't hungry. Slipping into the MacDonalds and pizza routine is very easy, but unfortunately very damaging to your body. Bad diet can leave you open to illness, tiredness, and stress. Eating a balanced diet gives the body more energy, better defence against illness, and keeps the stress levels in control. Also try not to eat too much of that great rich food in countries like Italy (nearly impossible).

    Drink lots and lots of water. Make sure it's boiled, or fresh bottled spring water. Be wary of water in foreign countries. Your body adjusts to the chemicals and bacteria's in your local water. Depending on the country, the water may contain elements that your body will react badly to. Always boil, then refrigerate any water you are unsure of.

    Exercise is something many people forget to do. Keeping fit is the best way to make it through a show without getting exhausted. Jogging, bike riding, , aerobics, swimming, and other such sports keep up the heart rate, keep the muscles toned, keep the body (therefore also mind) in good condition, and need little or no bulky equipment (to drag around) to participate in. Competitions with the other band members can make it more enjoyable, and keep the band a tighter clicking unit.

    If you are on some form of medication that is needed for your survival, have letters from your doctor(s) supporting your need for the medicine. Some countries may have the medicine you can buy at any supermarket on their banned list.

    Speaking of doctors, if you are travelling over seas, make sure you have your shots. tell your Doctor where you are off to, and let them recommend a course of shots. Some countries require you to have had shots before you are allowed in, and as some courses require a number of shots given over a number of weeks, get to your doctor early.

    Medical insurance for overseas is also a wise investment. Sure, you may not have anything happen, but if something goes wrong, getting the best private medical care available may mean the difference between continuing the tour, and being shipped home with some blood infections.


    Keep in touch, as much as possible, with your family, especially by way of FAX or E-mail. E-mail is cheap, and quick, and scanned photo's can be sent as attachments. Many youth hostels and backpacker accomodation offer internet access. There are web sites like HotMail, RocketMail, etc that offer free e-mail accessable using a web brouser. Don't forget to mail postcards, letters, pictures, band flyers, review clippings, etc. home to family and friends. Phone calls are expensive, so keep them short, and to the point.

    Your family, or girlfriend, or flatmate, or someone real important who cares should have a copy of your travel itinerary, and should be kept up to date with any changes of plan. These people will be the ones you end up calling for extra cash, or to bail you out, or to help sort out lost luggage, and will contact you if there's an emergency back home.


    If you are flying, ring ahead and order a special meal. They is usually no extra charge, and it's always better eating. Join a frequent flyer club for the airline you are travelling with, as these points soon can add up to a free flight.

    Drink water before going on the plane, it helps stop dehydration (funny that), and helps fight off jet lag. Also try some high carbohydrate food/bars.

    Sleep on long flights where possible, the in-flight movie isn't worth being tired in a new country. Eat the food - it's free, it's reasonably healthy, and it beats being hungry later. Have your passport in your hand luggage because it's a good thing to keep customs officials happy, and being a musician, they're bound to want to search you for drugs.


    DON'T LEAVE VALUABLES ANYWHERE UNSECURE. Be very careful of theives, in some countries they'll take your sox while your wearing them. You would be supprised how much something is worth to them on the black market. Keep in mind that in some countries, $5 of your money is a few months sallary. Hostels are often targets because of their slack security, so be careful what you leave behind, and never leave anything valuable in an unattended vehicle where people can see it.

    DON'T LOSE YOUR PASSPORT OR YOUR MONEY. Register with your countries Embassy when arriving in a foreign country, and call them first when trouble strikes. They may offer to help with travel tickets, accommodation, phone calls, or faxes for free if the trouble is bad enough.
    Passports can be worth a lot of money in some countries, depending on where you are from. This can also be a way of making a quick dollar, but make sure your embassy will prodide you with a new one - it might mean deportation.

    For more about the dangers of travelling, travelling tips, and good places to go, check out LonelyPlanet.


    Being prepared mentally is one of the hardest things to achieve. A positive outlook, confidence in your abilities, and a friendly professional attitude will make the tour more enjoyable and less stressful. Things will most probably go wrong, being prepared, in control and mentally capable of dealing with the situation are the best you can do.

    If you are religious (I am not), stay spiritually in touch by visiting churches or temples where ever you go, whenever possible. In times of trouble your church may also be a good contact for help and assistance. Try not to overuse the musician image there though.


    Amongst the super helpful clues was one from Tommy Lee. In '96 I asked if there was anything he did before leaving for a tour, and he said "Service the wife". Yeah, we've seen that too, and you've got an ugly dick.



    E-Mail Dave!

    If you want to know more about anything here, or have something of value to add send E-mail to me.

    Back to the Touring drummer page


    Hopefull there's now more preparred drummers touring out there.

    Dave's Phone
    0417 534 325
    Australia