After just a few short years my band, The Mydols, appeared on the Today Show and in People Magazine, we opened for some great bands and vise versa, and performed at all the hippest clubs in our hometown. And then the unthinkable happened. We were nominated for “Best Pop/Rock Recording” at the Detroit Music Awards for our CD Born to Iron. Considering where we started, a music award nomination seemed surreal. It seemed as though we were living the rock ‘n’ roll dream except for one thing—we never toured.
I’m in a “mom” rock band. That’s right, all the members are mothers. In addition to expecting our husbands to schlep amps, we also count on them to do the dishes, feed the kids, and clean the bathroom. Of course this only applies if we are sleeping in the same bed. If we’re in a hotel room somewhere in Iowa, we don’t count on getting much support. I know touring sounds like fun, but asking my husband to manage the kids while I gallivant from coast to coast to the tune of, “Honey, I’m running our credit cards dry,” (Hey, that's a good title for a song!) isn’t going to fly.
Hitting the Gravel
The closest The Mydols ever came to touring was a 3-day stint we did with a Norwegian all-girl band called The Launderettes. In Norway, they are huge, but in the United States the Launderettes need to ride some coattails or at a minimum some apron strings. That’s where we came in. We teamed up with another local band and were able to use our combined resources to book 3 shows—one in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Cleveland.
Our mini-tour went something like this. I dragged my husband and kids to Chicago where we booked a hotel with a pool on a Sunday night. The kids got to swim AND miss school on Monday. They were thrilled. My husband was not overjoyed. He stayed back at the hotel while I played at a small club called Cal’s in downtown Chicago in front of maybe 50 people. The Mydols got paid $50. Our hotel room was $140.
Monday morning we drove back to Detroit. In addition to the kids missing school, my husband and I had to take the day off work. I slept in the car on the five-hour drive home so I would have enough energy to play again later. We did a small show at a club called Four Green Fields in the evening.
On Tuesday, after a full day of work, my band mates and I drove to Cleveland. It’s normally a 2-½ hour drive but there was construction and it took us almost 4 hours to arrive at a cool but small club called Pat in the Flats. We jumped out of our minivans to play and then jumped right back in to drive home. We got paid with a case of Red Bull, which came in handy. I arrived back in Detroit at around 3 am. I slept for 2 hours (in my clothes) and went straight to work smelling of stale beer and second-hand cigarette smoke.
I sat at my desk debilitated. “I’m too old for this”, I thought.
Our tour didn’t exactly have the energy of the Warped Tour. It was more like an AARP Tour.
It All Comes Out in the Wash
Our 3-day odyssey cured us of wanting to tour. Until we’re a mother act like Faith Hill, who can afford to bring her children with her on a luxurious tour bus, we are content with one or two out-of-town shows a year.
It’s fun to get away with the band; to not have to eat in restaurants with “Play Places” or watch cartoons in your hotel room. But the reality of getting everything in order before we leave (bringing us to the brink of exhaustion), hours in a cramped minivan and the expense of it all usually makes a road trip a wash.
I’m not saying it’s not worth. Of course it is. You really want to expose your band to as many potential fans as possible and out-of-town shows look great in your press kit. I’m just cautioning you. In the beginning, your little jaunt is not likely to resemble anything you saw in the documentary about Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour. Don’t count on Antonio Banderas coming into the green room to meet you. In fact, don’t count on a green room.