It seems like I was just in Europe, with Ludicra, but here I go again with Impaled. Some years are just like that. I must remember to be thankful and try to forget my crippling debt, my age, and the work hours I’m losing out on. Oh no, touring is fun. It’s great to be 35, have no money, and sleep on floors in strange lands.
If I make touring sound like a hard job, it’s because it is. I use the word “job” loosely, considering there’s no money in it for me. I take it seriously like a job, though, albeit a fun one, and one where I can drink and the supervisor can’t yell it me. One part of that job is playing bass and yelling like a cookie monster. The tools involved are my bass and my bad attitude. Check, I got that part covered.
The other part of the job is WAY more involved. That is the part where you spend all day traveling, setting up, fixing shit, selling shit, trying to eat, and basically missing out on all the comforts of a life at home. This part requires tools, too. Lots of them. This is what I use when I’m traveling abroad.
One of the most significant and best tools I have is my Leatherman Charge TTI. This was a Christmas gift years ago I asked for from my brother to replace the cheap bullshit multi-tool I’d bought at some gas station in Germany. That said, anybody in a band who can’t afford a Leatherman ought to at least have a bullshit leathercousin. I lend this thing out constantly, because it’s imminently useful. Knives, screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, it’s got most everything. I’ve used it to prep food, cut guitar strings, and even extract broken earplugs from head of Profound Lore, Chris Bruni’s ear, basically certifying me as a real doctor. It’s always strapped to my belt and ready to go. Unfortunately, one time it was strapped to my belt while going through security at a Finnish airport. It was a happy ending, though, right after the unhappy rear-ending behind closed doors.
Let there be light. Preferably one on my head. I like the headlamp style LED light, but everyone should at least have some kind of flashlight, or as Brits call them, wubby dubby torchy doolies. John Cobbett always had the headlamp kind, and I liked it for fixing shit, so I got one, too. I’d prefer mine had an on-off switch instead of the ridiculous screw on-off function which invariably gets shifted to on while floating around in my pocket and wastes batteries. Bah.
Because luggage fees are basically legalized rape, you need one of these… a hanging scale. Don’t be surprised at the airport when they say you’re bag is 51 lbs. and going to cost you three times as much because of that one pound. And never mind that I only weigh 142 lbs., and the fat piece of crap behind me in line is taking up the same weight as me and my luggage put together, but pays the same for his Twinkie gorging ass. I always make sure that I got about five pounds under the limit when using this, too, because the airlines are liars and have their foot on the scales. They made 3.4 billion in fees in 2010, more than they did profit on selling tickets. Fuckers.
The Swiss Tech Utili Key is handy because it fits on your key ring when folded up and feels just like a key. I actually did get one of these on an airplane once. Oops. It’s basically what you give the biggest idiot in your band when he asks for your multi-tool, and you know he or she is going to lose it.
Drum key… nope, I’m not a drummer, but I have to wait for them all the time. So, after picking up many lost drum keys from many stages, I finally strapped one to my key chain. When I can help the drummer, I can help myself to not sitting around all god damn night waiting around for their Escher-esque excess of stands and shells to be packed.
This is the Bottle ‘Biner. I picked mine up at a Beverages and More (fuck corporate abbreviations and nicknames like BevMo. I’m not a child). Not only do a get another carabiner to strap onto my Carhart pants like some kind of Swiss Army crusty punk, I get a wine opener. Sometimes beer gets old, and when you get backstage, see a bottle of wine, and there’s no opener in site, it’s rather frustrating. Never more! Plus, I guess you could stab someone with this.
This is just me being a jerk. When I can whip out any kind of tool anyone asks for, the icing on the cake is having a foldable fork, spoon, and knife set. Sure, I can make a bunch of hay about how I wanna save the Earth by not using plastic utensils, which I guess could be true, but really I just like showing off this one. It was great for the can of mac ‘n’ cheese I cooked like a hobo over the fire while camping with Ludicra. My friend Scott Bryan found this for me on the floor of L.A. Murderfest. Gross? Nothing a good washing and a will to ignorance couldn’t fix.
Want a steady flame device that a stoner won’t steal because it makes their pot taste like shit? Zippo windproof lighters… a time honored classic for any traveler. Fire from a real Zippo comes in handy a lot more than you’d think, whether it be to restart ball point pens, get a campfire going, or just to look like a bad ass while lighting a lady’s cigarette. I’ve gotten five or six of these for free while attending the right shows where they give these away. I’ve got an extra flint stuffed in the cotton. One thing, airport security does NOT count this as the one lighter you can bring on a plane and they will confiscate it. Zippos are the superior way to light your shoes on fire, I guess.
Tweezers are good tools for many reasons… not least of which is keeping my eyebrows as a pair instead of a united front. Screw you, I’m vain and I don’t like looking like Bert from Sesame Street.
The Ring Thing is a way to show who is your first love… beer. It’s a ring and a bottle opener. Nuff said.
It should go without saying, but get a watch. Mine happens to look bad ass, because my mom bought it for me from Amsterdam and she only buys me things with skulls on them. That’s cute. The point is, you’ll be in Europe and you need to know what time the show starts or you’re a dick. No more excuses that you were visiting the Eiffel Tower and lost track of time. Raul, I’m looking at you.
My band money pouch is super lame, but it gets the job done. Extra bonus, the dorky thing attached to my belt loop makes me look more like a native German.
I keep a tin of ear plugs at all times. They’re good for sleeping, on the plane, at a show, tuning out retarded conversation in the van, whatever. The tin is always empty by the end of tour, however, because no one else brings one and always gets them from me. Jerks.
A sweet, sweet, bootleg Impaled wrist band. Well, really, you should just bring any wrist band or you end up like John Cobbett, trying to spare the finish on his SG by jumping into every goth shop in Europe and finding out no one sells wrist bands. Well, except the one oh-so-clever shopkeep who said John would need the wrist band with the American flag, covered by the wrist band with fire, and that he’d have to borrow money from the wristband with the Chinese flag to put out the fire on his flag wristband. A sale was not made.
I’m not a super uber traveler, but I’ve been to Europe enough times I thought I could afford a Euro plug style 9v adapter. No more weird and bulky inverters for me. I’m going simple this time with just a tuner and my modded Rat2, so I clipped the end off an octoplug so I just have two plugs and will feed the power that way.
I bought a Mac World Traveler set years and years ago when I used to cart around my laptop on the road. Fortunately, the modular adapter tips are still useful for my iPhone which has replaced the needs of a laptop, iPod, cell phone, and camera. Unfortunately, the iPhones sold in America don’t come with the cool modular USB power adapter, but you can buy the new style Apple World Traveler Kit for about half the cost I originally got my kit. It comes with the adapter instead of having to buy one for the same price of the whole fucking kit in a European computer store like I did. Learn from my financial follies, tigers.
You never know what kind of stereo you’re going to get in a touring van, so I got this radio transmitter. Also, my van has a radio only stereo, so it does double duty for personal reasons. I prefer the Monster iCarPlay 300, because it works with or without the cigarette lighter adapter, and with it, it doubles as an iPhone car charger. Can’t get it at Best Buy, though, because they only sell Belkin products which do not work. It’s a curious store policy to sell electronic items that absolutely do not function, but I guess their success belies my doubts.
European pharmacies are the only places to get drugs that we in America deem as “over the counter.” You have to talk to people in white lab coats and describe your symptoms in pantomime. Best to pack up on what you need, like ibuprofen, sudafed, claritin, or anything of that nature in the U.S. It’s a pain in the ass in Europe, not to mention everything closes at 6 and isn’t open on Sundays. Socialized health care makes a continent lazy.
The price of water bottles are expensive. Get over your bad self and fill up a Kleen Kanteen in the bathroom sink like a man. Also, plastic water bottles give you tits. That may be your thing… if so, ignore me.
Europeans make great espresso… they have no idea how to make a cup of joe. I’m sorry, I drink coffee like a god damned Big Gulp, not like a girl playing tea party with some stuffed animals. Therefore, I need a travel french press to make a big ass amount of coffee. Sure, the name says “french,” but the travel mug version is as American as french fries. Confused? Maybe you’re tired and need a big cup of joe.
Now I’m packed and ready to live a little bit less like an animal. Of course, there’s all that stuff like underwear, socks, pants and shirts, not to mention toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, and deodorant. Really, though, who needs a change of clothes or showers or a pleasant smell. Just ask Wolves in the Throne Room.
So long as I got my tools to tour, I’m good.
Doktor Ross Sewage