One of the biggest pains with working with a new band is that they have no idea what touring or bus etiquette is and you spend the first month teaching them the ropes. The only thing you can hope for is that they don’t make mortal enemies in that time and any misstep can be forgotten and forgiven. I am going to focus on the bus this time and hopefully a few of these tips can help you from being one of the hated once you get to hit the road.
DON’T SHIT ON THE BUS – You probably have heard this before and think it is smell related or just an urban myth. The truth is most buses are liquid waste only. The cost of maintaining the chemical septic system is just not worth it just so you can take a crap. I say most because there are some of the bigger artists out there who do allow it but only by the small staff that travels on their bus. The words you should be paying attention to are LIQUID WASTE ONLY! Don’t throw toilet paper or tampons into the bowl, there is a waste basket right there for those very things.
RESPECT THE DRIVER – He isn’t there to be your friend, he is there to keep the bus on the road and to get you where you need to go safely and on time. Say hello and get his name the first time you see him and keep it friendly and respectful. If he just drove you a few hundred miles while you slept you should thank him and wish him a good sleep as you exit the bus. If you are going back on the bus during the day then keep it down and don’t slam the door – chances are he (or other crew members) may be taking a nap. If you pick up some swag then don’t be shy to offer a cap or t-shirt to the driver. Little things go a long way with your driver. Same goes for the crew.
SACRED BUNK – Your bunk is like your apartment on wheels. Keep it clean, keep the noise down and respect the space of others. Never go into another bunk unless they ask you to grab something for them. Stuff goes missing all the time and the people sharing the bus with you need to have a level of trust for you. Watch out for them and they will do the same for you. Keep the noise down, too. You have a dozen people in that cramped space, they don’t need to hear you on your phone or the music you have blasting. Also, don’t complain that it is cold in the bunk area. Germs grow in heat and you don’t want the band and crew getting sick. Bring a blanket with you. One last thing – turn off the notifications on your phone. Nobody wants to hear that fucking bird at 5am because Lenny in Georgia wants to show the world the morning birds.
LIMIT YOUR GUESTS – Close friends are cool, just try not to drag a party onto the bus every night. Consider the other people on the bus before loading it with a dozen of your new friends. There are lots of personal items on the bus and you don’t want to be the idiot responsible for stuff going missing. If you see one of your guests grabbing a drink on their own or going off exploring then take responsibility and have a talk with them.
THE LOUNGE – The tour manager will usually decide what the lounge will be used for. Sometimes the singer gets it as his personal space, other times it is a game room or a space reserved for business and meetings. If it is a game room then use common sense and don’t hog the console. As with every other aspect of bus life, remember there are probably a dozen other people there who has equal rights to the space.
That’s it, those few basic rules give you a head start on how to live on a bus. Every tour is different and rules change but this simple list is enough to save you from making an ass out of yourself.