When Doomtree pulls up to the Walker Art Center this Saturday for Rock the Garden, it will serve as a mere pit-stop for a crew of hard-touring artists who have spent the better part of 2012 in their tour van.
Earlier this spring they circled the entire U.S. in support of their latest full-crew release, No Kings, and then flew overseas for a set of dates in Europe. After Rock the Garden, they will head back to Europe for more cross-continental action and come back to the States for another major festival, Lollapalooza.
As a way to catalog all these miles spent on the road, we’ve worked up an interactive map (similar to last week’s feature on Trampled by Turtles) that follows Doomtree around the world. You can use the slider at the bottom of the map to navigate through a timeline of their tour, starting with last month’s initial trek to the U.K., and click on each pin to learn more about the venues they’ve played.
Now that Doomtree have touring down to a science, I thought it’d be a good time to catch up with beatmaker Lazerbeak to learn more about their neverending life on the road.
Local Current: What’s your primary means of transportation?
Lazerbeak: A 15-passenger tour van named MOUNTAIN has been Doomtree’s vehicle of choice for the past year and a half. You can follow MOUNTAIN on Twitter (@MOUNTAINGOOD) to get a glimpse inside the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a hard working tour van in this current day and age.
What does an average day on tour look like for you?
Nothing super glamorous, unfortunately. Generally it’s check out of the hotel in the early morning, drive for 6-10 hours (handling business emails and conference calls from the van), load in to the club, sound check, set up merch, crush a few brews, and get on stage. Then there’s the hour and a half sweet spot after the show where you get to hang out and drink a little more before packing up and heading back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Do you have any road rituals as a band? Tried-and-true ways to stay sane and fight boredom?
This last tour we all downloaded a pushup app to our phones to try and stay in a little bit better shape. You could find us on stage before soundcheck timing ourselves, counting off pushups, and breaking a sweat together. To pass time in the van I tend to Wikipedia anything that comes up in conversation and give everyone all the insider facts (like the population of the city we’re headed to, or how many Subway franchises there are in the ENTIRE WORLD). Other than that, it always helps to get out of the club for at least a half hour after soundcheck and explore what you can of that city before doors open. Good way to clear your head and feel at least a little normal again.
Are you able to create or write while on the road?
Absolutely not. The only person in our crew that seems to be able to get a little bit of musical work done on a daily basis is Cecil He can throw headphones on and make beats from the passenger seat for hours sometimes. I unfortunately don’t have the attention span at all for that. The constant drives and shows tend to wipe out all of my creative energy. I’d much rather play travel Monopoly (my alias is Thimble Man) and eat Mom Snacks all day (huge shouts to Mom for over a decade’s worth of delicious tour snacks).
Is it hard to shift between “tour life” and “normal life”?
It always takes me at least a few days to make the transition. I’ve asked my wife to give me a one day grace period after I get home where I’m relieved from big household chores and errand running. It’s hard to go from 24/7 music/business/party mode immediately into mowing the lawn and picking out groceries for dinner. I need at least one night to just lay around, watch movies, and decompress before going back into totally normal life mode again. It doesn’t take too long though to adjust, and luckily for me, the wifepiece has been very understanding.
Where is the most unusual place the band has had to sleep while on tour?
We slept in an old barn outside of Pittsburgh last year. That was actually kind of awesome.
Doomtree perform at Rock the Garden this Saturday, June 16, with Howler, Trampled by Turtles, the Hold Steady, and tUnE-yArDs.