New Noise Magazine reached out to a diverse group of artists and asked them to speak about their personal experiences with dealing with their overall wellness. The topic of being in good physical and mental is an exclusive spotlight coinciding with Issue #32 of the print magazine, deemed The Wellness Issue. Each artist speaks with a refreshing transparency on the struggles they face and how to better go about their own health.
Featuring Lydia Loveless
Who is Lydia Loveless? A documentary exists exploring that question. Blessed with a commanding, blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room voice, Loveless was raised on a family farm in Coshocton, Ohio—a small weird town with nothing to do but make music. With a dad who owned a country music bar, Loveless often woke up with a house full of touring musicians scattered on couches and floors.
Upon moving to the big city of Columbus and turning to punk rock, her sound developed with nods to country, pop, and punk and got her noticed by alt-country label, Bloodshot Records. Her songs honestly and unapologetically cover love, boredom, and bad decisions. She cites her influences as Richard Hell, Hank Williams, and Britney Spears and has been on the road touring in support of her 2016 album, Real.
On Oct. 13, Loveless and Bloodshot will release Boy Crazy and Single(s), a collection of her out-of-print five-song EP, Boy Crazy, from 2013, plus six non-album and B-side tracks, on vinyl for the first time.
I don’t have staying sane all figured out. It is almost comical to see me at the beginning of a tour, sacks of essential oils, neatly rolled yoga mat, journal I’ve vowed to write in properly and not just fill up with shit-talk about my bandmates. Two weeks in, I’ve practiced yoga once and my bag smells like someone bombed a Trader Joe’s. The letters I’ve promised to people go unsent, excuses have been made to not call home.
The main thing I’ve learned—after many years and later than I’d hoped—is that I am only human and must do what I am capable of in a frantic frenzy. When I’m on tour, it’s difficult to make a structure for myself and maintain a pattern beyond: get to the show, interview, or radio stop and make sure it goes well. It’s why it gives me hope that artists—even big, plush stars like Charli XCX—are taking breaks [and] being more open and honest about our hang-ups and anxiety that can be worsened by loneliness, stress, and feelings of insecurity.
These things used to hide in the shadows. It’s why so many artists explode in a cloud of Skyy vodka and tweets about how much more they had to offer. I myself wanted to shy away from the movement. I didn’t want to appear a maudlin millennial who spent her teen years overdosing on emo and now wanted to shoot my emotional wad on everyone, complaining about my cool job. I know that unless you have toured, the concept of it being difficult doesn’t always sit well, and I didn’t want to try to express that. But all I really want to say is that I’m not superhuman. As much as it unsettles me to “rest” and “take a break”—something that makes me feel lazy and worthless—it won’t do me any favors to run myself ragged.
It didn’t occur to me until touring on Real, my fourth record, to be easier with myself and set boundaries, and I did stay sane, and I did survive, and I didn’t “have an incident” the way I would have in the past. The past me would have answered a question about mental health on tour with a bullshit spiel about how yoga keeps me grounded, knowing that, that morning, I was hallucinating in a Love’s beverage aisle, because I hadn’t slept or even tried to in a week. I would get burned out and angry and lash out at people who are undeserving.
It’s taken me until just a few months ago to know I’m much better off putting aside the “whiskey-soaked firebrand” Lydia. Instead of drinking with a fan until 4 a.m., I can perhaps spend 20 minutes or so with everyone and—gasp!—go to bed afterward. That way, I actually can wake up in the morning and take care of myself. Instead of sparring with a bandmate over who is the loneliest or horniest, I can accept that the only person I am in control of is myself, and things are rough for everyone. I can take 15 minutes a day to myself, no matter what dark and self-pitying me wants to think. I can be gentle with myself rather than subjecting myself to an incessant internal lashing. I can take baby steps and not worry about things out of my control—which is about 99 percent of touring.
It’s hard, but it doesn’t have to be hell. That’s all I’ve got.
Featuring vocalist/percussionist Nico Espinosa of Deaf Poets
The Miami garage rock duo, Deaf Poets—comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Sean Wouters and vocalist and percussionist Nico Espinosa—have been friends since elementary school. Their combined childhood influences, ranging from Jimmy Page to Kurt Cobain, make for a gritty mélange of ‘70s rock, ‘80s punk, and ‘90s grunge. Their debut full-length album, Lost in Magic City, came out on May 5 via WaxRomantix and Limited Fanfare Records and is inspired by their experiences growing up in Miami.
Hello New Noise Magazine readers! My name is Nico E.P. and I play drums for Miami’s garage rock duo, Deaf Poets.
Wellness is often an overlooked concept when it comes to touring. The road is a place where both mental and physical fatigue occur quickly, and performing every day straight for an extended period of time can be as rigorous on your body as playing any high-intensity sport. Being in good physical shape goes hand-in-hand with knowing how to play your instrument well, and this means also focusing on your health in the weeks leading up to a tour.
In my 14 years of drumming, I have learned what it means to stay healthy while on the road the hard way. Here are some practical tips any emerging artist can incorporate to ensure a well-balanced tour.
Wellness Begins Before the Tour
As a drummer, I exert a lot of energy during every performance, and I have found myself getting easily winded at some shows. It’s a different dynamic performing once a week than five to six times. Therefore, developing stamina to withstand the hours performing and traveling is very important.
In order to get into touring shape, I readjust my workout schedule about four weeks before hitting the road. I’ll go for a 30-minute run three times a week and bike 15 miles on the weekends. Another way to get into tour shape is to be onstage as much as possible before hitting the road. Playing live is a good way to measure how your body is adjusting to playing shows back-to-back, because we all know rehearsals are not as demanding.
It’s important to find a window where you can get some proper rest. Budgeting places to sleep may not always be an option when you’re touring on limited funds. But if you’re driving five to 10 hours after gigs and playing shows nonstop, sleeping in the car is not going to cut it.
One way to ensure a bed on the road is to develop a friendship with local bands and see if they are willing to host you for the night. Not only are you developing a friendship [and] network with a band, you will hopefully save some money, get much-needed rest, and return the favor if they make their way to your hometown. Bands need to take care of each other! A lot of locals have approached us after a gig and offered a place to crash, which is also a great way to get to know the new market.
Food and Vitamins
EmergenC is our best friend while on tour. We also stop at juice bars for fresh juice and ginger with cayenne shots when possible. Your immune system will thank you for this one. Even simple things like minimizing the amount of dairy can help prevent phlegm build-up for the singer(s).
I love exploring new foods while in a new city, but I like to keep it in moderation. Burgers and beers 24/7 will crash you and affect performance, so keep those greens in your diet. Lots of waters!
Something as simple as carrying baby wipes and hand sanitizer can be a practical and affordable way to keep the essentials cleaned.
Meditation and Relaxation
Before loading in, we like to listen to guided meditations on Spotify for 15 minutes to get in the right mindset. So much repetition can be tiring, so it’s important to keep a clear mind and focus on other things that will help you relax and get in the zone. Create a good playlist for the long drives. Bring other things that interest you while traveling—book, camera, notepad—so you can unplug from the shows. If you’re planning to visit cities you’ve never been to before, search for landmarks or things you’d like to see. Have some fun in the process!
A good read for any drummer is “Anatomy of Drumming: Move Better, Feel Better, Play Better” by John L Lamb. This book gives insight to the human anatomy in relation to drumming. It breaks down proper technique and tips on how to approach playing and avoid any sort of long-lasting injuries that could come from years of bad habits.
Hope this helps. Thanks so much for reading!
Featuring Jasamine White-Gluz of No Joy
Montréal shoegaze revivalists, No Joy—comprised of duo, Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd—released their latest EP, Creep, on Grey Market Records in early 2017. Their huge sound is impossible to pin down and incorporates influences ranging from industrial to New Age.
A Few Thoughts, All Over the Place
Be nice! The music community is a small one, and everyone is—generally!—working toward having a great show, tour, event, etc. Being polite and nice to staff and crew working at events can go a long way, and what goes around might eventually come around. Tour karma!
I think it’s important when you’re on tour to remember to take some time for yourself. Usually, for me, that would entail exploring the city we’re in, but often on tour, there is very little time for exploring other than the area right around the venue. But still, taking that short walk to a nearby record store or park can really clear your head and give everyone in your touring party a little space!
Document your travels. Sometimes, after a tour, you can forget about little fun details or certain cities, because everything melds into this blob of blur. I like taking pictures on tour with my old camera and then developing them months later, because it is a sweet reminder of where we went and what we saw.
Featuring Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads and Anxious And Angry
The rotating cast of characters in Off With Their Heads are held together by founder and mainstay, vocalist and guitarist Ryan Young, who made a name for himself outside of the punk band in 2014 by launching the Anxious And Angry webstore and podcast—we’d call it a “lifestyle brand,” but he’d probably slap us. Young uses the podcast to talk about music and his own—and many others’—struggles with mental health, a theme that also consistently appears on Off With Their Heads’ output.
The band released a full-length, Home, in 2013 via Epitaph Records, and over the next few years, slowly rolled out a flexi series covering artists such as Laura Jane Grace, Neutral Milk Hotel, Langhorne Slim And The Law, Bad Religion, and Jim Ward. Their newest LP, Won’t Be Missed, dropped in October 2016 under the Anxious And Angry label, and the band are set to play FEST 16 in Gainesville, Florida, this October.
How To Tour—Without Acting Like a Total Asshole
I think of all the million different things you can speak about on touring, there is one major thing that you need to understand before you get in that van: touring isn’t for everyone.
It takes a certain kind of crazy to be able to operate long-term on the road. So, if your bandmate or best friend who you are doing this with decides that it isn’t for them, it never will be. Just cut them loose on good terms and move on. I only say that from my craziness. I’ve kicked people out of my band for chewing with their mouths open. That is fucking insane behavior. If you are an adult and can’t have some fucking common sense and close your halitosis-ridden mouth, get out. See what I mean? It’s crazy of me to even think like that. Hence finding the right people who mesh with your craziness.
Now, if you want any sort of longevity, take care of yourself. Partying can be fun. Canceling shows because you lost your voice due to you being up all night drinking and being an idiot—I’ve never done this—sucks. The one way I found to stay healthier is to drink a gallon of water a day. Eat an apple for breakfast. Have a salad for lunch. That will counteract the 35,000-calorie pizza you will be crying into at 3 a.m. For real though, we found that when you treat your body a little less like the wife of a ‘50s father of five who is hiding that he lost his job, you will feel better all around.
Ultimately, you need to tour in a band because that’s what you want out of your life. You can aim for certain things and have goals, sure. But if you do it because you truly believe in the spirit of it, you cannot fail. You are out there doing what so many people wish they could. You are doing it because you made it happen. You don’t need anything more than that.