It’s Sunday afternoon, well, no, evening. Six minutes to seven to be precise. I’ve had a quiet day, which I believe I truly deserved after yesterday. I watched Bayern Munich slaughter Dortmund 5-1 and my favourite club Karlsruhe grab a surprisingly lucky 1-1- draw against Freiburg earlier today. Also, I went out to have brunch with some of my best friends. I didn't have a show yesterday, but it took me almost nine hours to do the drive home from Nuremberg (where I spent the night after my last show with Tim Vantol) to Hamburg, which included a massive 18 kilometres traffic jam. Yay! The good thing about this long drive was that it gave me time to process the events that lay behind me.
Touring as a support act is always different from touring on your own. Why? Well, first of all, you get to play different (usually bigger) crowds than your own, which means that there is this certain fear inside of me that they don’t like me, don’t listen to me, ignore me, don’t turn up for my set, and many more. Turns out in this case these fears were without a doubt ungrounded.
Tim’s crowds were superb. Attentive, friendly people who were happy to sing along and gave me a great feeling at every show. It also staggered me to see people here and there wearing my shirts at the shows, or people who actually sang along to every word. You may not realise this, but it means so incredibly much, more than you might imagine.
Another reason why touring as a support can be different is because you often times don't know if "bigger bands" are going to treat you as a "smaller" act (well... at least that's one of my fears!). See, a huge part of my personal feel-good factor depends on how I get along with the people I am touring with. While I am yet to make really bad experiences, I can say that some bands make you feel more welcome than others. Some may be are nice, but are not too interested in inviting you into what I call the “inner circle”, which means they prefer to stay among themselves (which is totally cool. As long as you’re not a dick, all is good with me!). With Tim and his band this was different, though. I’ve played a couple of shows with Tim here and there and we know each other quite well. To describe him and his band as welcoming would have been the understatement of the century. From the first moment on we joked around, helped each other out, talked about god knows what and got along as if we’d known and toured toured with each other for years. Also Tim was heartwarmingly concerned about my well-being. I have no idea how often he asked me whether anything was ok or whether I needed anything. Lovely people, really hard-working, lovely people! Safe to say I do miss them already and that I would like to thank them again - publicly this time. Tim, Hector, Maurits, Adrian, Robert, Steffen, you're brilliant! Thanks for taking me along and being just the way you were. I do sincerely hope (and believe!) that our paths will cross again soon.
So, being on tour, as you can imagine, is hard work, but it also means constant excitement, especially when crowds are big and nice, when people come up to you after the show and tell you how much they liked it. As a consequence, once you get home there is this emptiness that kicks in all of a sudden. Think about it that way: No matter if you’re married, single, living alone or with friends, nobody is going to applaud you for taking out the garbage or cleaning up the toilet. Nobody is going to make you compliments for sitting on your sofa. Also you don't get random strangers show up in your living room just smiling and singing your songs. Well, I’m not saying anyone should expect this to be any different (and yes, some of this would be downright absurd), but it can be hard to deal with, especially if the tour has gone great. Generally, the better the tour, the harder post tour depression… they say!
The first time, I experienced post tour blues was after touring with Frank Turner in September 2013. The last show we played together was on a Friday night in Cologne. I remember walking off stage and being given a hug by Brian Venables of Lucero. He looked at me and said that this tour had “spoiled” me, in a sense that after all the experiences I made, I couldn’t see myself as anything else than a musician anymore. Spot on, man! I remember waking up in my hotel room on Saturday morning and all I could think of was that I wanted this feeling back. I wanted to go back on stage, I wanted to hit the road again immediately. I didn’t want to go back to my normal life. The contrast between life as a teacher and life as a touring musician was massive and it killed my mood for at least two weeks.
During the last couple of years I did most of my touring while on school holidays. So coming back from tour always meant having to go back to school, sometimes as soon as the next day. After having toured with Krist Krueger and Ghost of a Chance in March 2014, I remember sitting at home after the last show, feeling depressed and lonely - especially since this was my first ever proper tour with other people and I had started to taste blood. I think I even cried when I said goodbye to Krist. When Laurin, mine and Joe Ginsberg’s tour manager dropped me off at home last summer after what was an amazing two weeks of fun and great shows (it even ended up in a tour tattoo that I wear with pride on my forearm), I remember standing on my balcony, waving goodbye into the darkness as I saw our old, dirty and stinky touring van vanish behind the corner of the street having that same heart-wrenching feeling. Lonely, alone, lost and without orientation. Fearing that the others are not going to miss me quite as much as I will miss them. Envying them that they could hit the road again almost immediately while I had to go back to my job. When I took Joe McCorriston to the airport last May, it felt like I was losing a brother. I am not even exaggerating here. If you get along with your tourmates, you turn into something much more profound than colleagues or mates. You turn into comrades, family, you form a brotherhood, a union of faith. You share so much on the road: food, drinks, experiences (both, good and bad, but especially the bad ones are going to weld you together!), beds, bathrooms, countless hours in cars and conversations about virtually everything (again, this only goes for tours where you get along with your touring buddies… but since I always have, what else can I tell you?).
What depresses me - I am almost willing to say kills me - most after a tour is that I always and wholeheartedly believe that it is never going to be as good again as it just was. This might sound stupid and naive, maybe, but then again you cannot really control emotions, can you? The only thing really that helps me is to acknowledge that while post tour depression is cruel, it will always go away. It might take a while, days, maybe weeks, but it will go away and there will be another tour just as cool as the one you have just been on.
But as you might be able to perceive from the first paragraph, I don't seem to be all bluesy right now. True!
These days, things are a little different. Much different, in fact. Why? Well, for a number of reasons.
First of all, this is my job now. This is my normal life. There is seemingly no end to this summer holiday that I call my life now. I would like to make the point that this is a job I have chosen NOT because I didn’t like or even hated teaching and going to school, but a job I have chosen simply because music is the love of my life. So, these days coming home from tour does not mean that I have to go back to marking exams and preparing lessons (an important and interesting job, but as you might imagine not as thrilling as playing music to people in a random city of your choice!). These days coming home from means that I actually get my mind around enjoying all the ups of being at home: my own sofa, my own bed, my Playstation, my record player, my friends and the comfort of not having to sit in a car for a large chunk of the day. Most importantly though, these days coming home from tour means it’s only a matter of time (of a couple of days usually) until I get to take to the road again and in the meantime there is much stuff to do like washing and writing and relaxing and sleeping.
Secondly, to try and conserve the emotions of tourlife, I have started to put out a guest book at my merch stand where people can write in thoughts or draw things (I already do have quite an impressive collection of penises haha!). This does help without a doubt. I can browse through it at home and kind of recapture much of the love that I was given on tour. And man, people are somewhat creative and lovely.
What helps most right now is the fact that I get to fly to England on Wednesday. My first time properly touring in another country is an adventure that I am looking forward to immensely, especially because it means reuniting with my mate Joe McCorriston and with some old friends that I haven't seen in a while. You know I used to spend all my childhood and teenage summers in a little English city called Lancaster, north of Manchester and Liverpool and I still have my old friends there. We might see each other very often, but I have known them for more than two decades. Seeing them again is like a trip back into childhood. So pPost tour depression right now is just an early form of pre-tour excitement. I am really grateful that I get to live this life these days.
So again thanks to everyone who came out and sang and smiled and danced. Thank you for buying merch, writing into my guestbook and being generally nice. Also a massive thanks to all the people who spent their time with me, who let me stay at their places. You guys rock!
You're definitely going to read from me soon.