10 things you won’t believe bands used to do on tour
Before the internet and smartphones, touring was a lot harder on a groupSeptember 11, 2018
Here in the year 2018, we’re all very online, and so are our favorite bands. But way back in the pre- and early internet olden times, touring groups did a lot more menial work on the road just to get by. Below, check out 10 of the tasks a traveling act once had to master.
Use an actual paper map
How did touring bands go from city to city without GPS or Google Maps? Back in the day, navigating the roads for rock ’n’ roll meant braving some gnarly navigational hurdles. There weren’t any computerized voices to guide musicians to their destinations—they printed out MapQuest directions or picked up a folded, atlas-style enormity from the gas station.
Make calls on a payphone
It’s almost difficult to think of a time before mobile and smartphones. If a touring band needed to make a call, they literally had to stop the van and find a landline. Gotta make sure the next gig’s not canceled? Missing a significant other and wanna chat? Better pull over, find a payphone and kill some valuable traveling time by the side of the road.
Agree on tour van music
Before the untold instant song choices offered by satellite radio, music streaming, iPods or even CD burners, bands either agreed on their in-van music selections or someone went to great lengths to craft a customized mixtape for the journey. (Keep in mind, a mixtape back then meant an actual cassette that had each song manually recorded from elsewhere.)
Get the word out the old-fashioned way
So. Much. Paper. Prior to the internet’s convenient avenues for self-promotion, bands kicking from town to town had to go grassroots with getting people to the show. That meant handing out fliers and relying on IRL word-of-mouth assistance. Elbow grease that online show announcements don’t require.
Stop at the library to check email
Once online communication finally hit the mainstream, things started getting slightly easier for touring bands. Sure, emailing around to inquire about support slots and promoter contacts is great. But there was still that awkward era when you had to sit at a desktop computer to email someone, and on tour, the local library was usually the place for that.