Nick Peay Goes on Tour, or Alone for Hours
Everybody’s heard the stories and seen the movies about what it’s like as a band on tour. There’s the crazy parties, trashing the hotel rooms, jumping in the pool with your clothes on and consuming everything from the minibar. There’s days on the bus, the sporadic fights over who ate whose peanut butter, and spontaneous sing-alongs. And the shows, of course. The sold out, standing room only, everyone singing every word, and smashing instruments after the last song.
Ok, so some of that may be true and some of it may not be. But there are plenty of movies and stories that indicate that this is how bands are on tours.
While I haven’t been on any months long tour, I’ve definitely spent my time on the road. I’m fortunate enough to have a fiancee who loves traveling and listening to me perform, so I don’t have to travel alone. But there are some times that she can’t make the trips with me (I try to make those few and far between, but unfortunately, it happens).
On May 14th, I hit the road headed for Rockford, IL and the Independent Ear 5th Anniversary Show. I had packed some breakfast, plenty of coffee, and some snacks for the road. I double, and triple checked to make sure I had all my gear. Guitar, gig bag with cables, merch box, video and audio recording gear, overnight bag, all loaded into my Honda Element, which we named Emmett (Emmett became Emmett L. Brown, which then got shortened to The Doc, obviously).
At about 9am, I got on I-65 North and, accounting for the time difference, estimated my arrival time at 1pm local time.
I think I ran out of coffee around 10am. Not that big of a deal, but with 5 plus hours left to drive, I definitely wanted more. I ate my breakfast and turned on some music.
I’ve been listening to one of my favorite bands from college, The Katies, a lot lately. They made one album and recorded a bunch of demos of songs they always played at their concerts. I can’t remember exactly how I got it, but I have a CD with all of those demos on it. It’s so good!
After listening to The Katies demos, I put in a mixtape I made in college of 90’s rock bands playing hard rock / punk covers of 80’s songs. Apparently that was a thing because there are a tons of these covers. I actually made 2 CD’s from them.
At this point, I should mention that there’s a ton of construction and traffic on I-65. It’s pushed my arrival time back about 30 minutes so far. I get through Indianapolis pretty easily and hop on I-74W. I’ve never driven on I-74 so I was a little excited. I love traveling and seeing new places, so a new interstate means new sites!
Without going into a lot of detail, because that would be impossible, I’ll just say that there’s nothing to see on I-74W.
This is when being alone in a car for several hours can start to take its toll. The scenery all starts to look the same. The exits seem to be farther and farther apart. I’m starting to get hungry and I have to go to the bathroom, so I start looking for exits with something decent to eat.
This brings me to another point. There’s nothing decent to eat on the road. When you’re on tour, you basically eat whatever fast food restaurant is at the exit when you find yourself the hungriest.
I finally got to Rockford, IL about 2pm local time (3pm my time), only about an hour or so later than I had figured. Since I’m talking about what it’s like on tour and being on the road, I’ll keep the rest of it short. I played my set around 4pm and I thought it went pretty well. Then I was asked to do a radio interview on WBOM.
The hotel I had booked for the night was in Schaumburg, Illinois, which is just a little north of Chicago. I figured I’d cut some of my drive time down on Sunday if I did some of it Saturday night. What I didn’t figure was how long it would take to get to the hotel from Rockford, IL. With traffic and construction, it took about two hours.
By the time I got to the hotel it was almost 11pm. I was starving and exhausted. I got checked in and carried all of my gear up to the hotel room and called my fiancee. We talked for a bit and then I called the local pizza place which was next door. They don’t deliver that late.
So, I put my boots back on and walked over there to order a carry-out pizza. Fortunately they were able to get it done sooner than the 45 minutes they told me it would take. I walked back to the hotel, took my boots back off and dug in.
Full and exhausted, I climbed into bed. I never sleep very well in new places, so even though I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly, I woke up quite a bit through the night. It’s no surprise that when my alarm went off, I didn’t want to get up.
I showered, packed, carried gear downstairs, checked out, bought the biggest coffee available at the hotel bistro, loaded everything into the car, double checked, triple checked and got back on the road to head for home.
Being on tour isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it out to be. I love traveling, seeing and performing in new places. But it’s definitely not easy driving several hours every day. Still, I’m looking forward to the next city and the next show.