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Andy D Discusses His DIY Touring Experience
Posted March 21, 2018 by Seth Johnson
WRITTEN BY
Seth Johnson
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March 21, 2018
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Musical Family Tree is excited to announce its first event of four in an educational series for Indiana musicians in 2018. This lecture and panel discussion will explore details on what to do after a musician or band has saturated local markets and is ready to start touring. Attendees will be able to learn how to get started from experienced local musicians, while also finding out what to expect and watch out for while on the road.

Longtime Indianapolis artist and DIY touring master Andy D will be one of the featured speakers at this event officially entitled MFT's Smarter Scene Vol.1: DIY Touring how to thrive on the road. Get to know Andy via this blog post, and also be sure to get your ticket to next Thursday’s event at the LO-FI Lounge in Fountain Square.

Seth Johnson: Give me some background on yourself and how long you've been making music locally.

Andy D: I've been playing locally since my high school days on the south side in the late ‘90s — I had a weird metal band heavily inspired by Primus and Ween. Then, I left for school in NYC and started playing music there, then, moved to Bloomington in 2008 and started playing Indy in 2009, then went on tour full-time in 2012 and ostensibly lived on the south side again between tours until 2014 when we moved to the east side on a more permanent basis.

SJ: When did you go on your first tour, and what was that experience like?

AD: We did our first tour in spring of 2011—we went out for a week in the Midwest with Atlanta-based band Baby Baby. Before that, we'd only gone on weekend-long tours, sometimes as far as Mobile, Alabama. This time out, we played Dayton, Toledo, Detroit, Lexington, and Cleveland. It was super rad, and I'm close with those guys to this day. They were younger than I was, and they taught me a bunch—both what to do and what not to do. We were all figuring it out together. They definitely convinced me to get a smaller, more economical car, especially because we didn't have a lot of gear to haul around.

Since then, we've saved hundreds of dollars driving our little hatchback on tour rather than the rusty old Jeep Cherokee they lightly ribbed me for taking on the road. It was still like a spring break, and I was swept up in their closer-to-college-age antics, but we fought off belligerent show-goers and toured the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame together. So we'll always have those bonding experiences. When I left them in Cleveland right after the show there to drive all night and play the Snake Pit at the Indy 500 at noon the next day, I got about an hour outside of the city before my eyes started to feel like something was stuck in them. It was a miserable drive back. After getting home at dawn and sleeping a few hours, I woke up with conjunctivitis/pink eye in both eyes and had to play the Snake Pit wearing sun glasses. Luckily, it was sunny outside, so I could get away with it. But every clinic was closed for Memorial Day weekend, so I couldn't get treatment until Tuesday. It was gnarly and gross. I don't know where I picked up conjunctivitis on that tour, but clearly life on the road can be gross and dangerous to one's health. Glad I learned that early!

SJ: What are some things you wish you knew before going on your first tour?

AD: As I said above, I learned a lot on the first tour, and we had a booking agent that first tour. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known how to book a tour AT ALL, and we'd never had made it out on the road at all!

SJ: Since that first tour, how many times have you gone back out on the road?

AD: Our next big tour was spring of 2012, and we went out for seven weeks, ending the last two weeks opening for Electric Six from Bellingham, Washington back to Detroit. We never did one that long again, but we've gone out a dozen more times domestically for as long as up to five weeks and twice in Europe.

SJ: With the experiences that you've had to this point, what is the biggest key to planning your own successful DIY tour?

AD: Know your revenue streams. Have plenty of merch; plan your lucrative weekend dates wisely. Be in your best markets those days; take time off. Monday shows are rarely worth it. It may be wise to hunker down at a fun place to chill/recharge so you don't end up hating your bandmates.

Head here for more info on next Thursday’s educational event on DIY touring.

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