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15 Lessons From Touring Musicians That Apply To Everyone

According to Danny Brown.

Danny Brown has been on tour forever.

Photograph by David Brendan Hall for BuzzFeed

Well, not forever. But he’s been out on the road almost constantly for the past three years. Ahead of an insane show at this year’s Bonnaroo, he talked about what he’s learned about partying, friendship, and getting dressed along the way.

1. Traveling doesn’t mean you’re actually seeing the world.

 

“People would think that you’re traveling, that you’re able to go and see all these different cities and cool places. But for the most part you’re working. You’re not a tourist, you don’t actually tour. Maybe some people make time, but I don’t know how to schedule like that. So I’ve been everywhere in the world, but I’ve been nowhere.”

2. Little disagreements can derail your whole day.

 

So you’ve got to make sure to bring friends who can get in arguments AND make up on the road. “When you’re around somebody in closed quarters for that amount of time, everybody’s gonna get into a fight at least once,” Brown said. “But it’s all about what happens after you get into it. If you can make it past a fight with someone, then that’s your real homie. If you can’t argue with somebody and then be friends two hours later, then they shouldn’t be on tour with you.”

3. What you eat matters.

 

“You wanna put all this junk food shit on your rider that you love, but I’ve learned that the best thing to do is just to put the healthiest shit on there. Even if you’re hungry, if all you’ve got is healthy food, then you end up taking care of yourself. I got fruit, almonds, and celery — that’s my one vegetable I can eat, snacking-wise. I might eat a sandwich or a pizza nearby but for the most part, you eat what’s on your rider.”

4. Like, it REALLY matters.

“‘Cause you’re gonna be on that bus and you can’t take a shit. So you’ve got to watch what you put inside your body.”

5. A big bag of clothes will weigh you down.

 

“I pack light, period. I try to have one outfit that I wear onstage, some pajamas, maybe some workout clothes. If I need anything else, like underwear and T-shirts, I’ll just buy that around.

I used to pack a whole bunch of outfits, ‘cause I’d never know how I was going to feel or what I’d want to wear that day. Then I’d come home with a bunch of clothes that I didn’t even use, and I made myself uncomfortable carrying around this heavy-ass bag. Walking around with a big bag of clothes and five pairs of shoes? Nah.”

6. You can’t party every night.

 

“I used to do a shit-ton of drugs and be up all night, then be asleep by the time it was time for me to get onstage. They’d have to wake me up. But with a real intense tour schedule, I couldn’t keep doing that. It was catching up to me.”

7. Things will always go wrong at the airport.

 

“If you’re too early for your flight, it’s delayed. If you’re just trying to make it on time, you’ll fuck around and miss it. So just be early for your flight, regardless, ‘cause there’s nothing as bad as running through the airport.”

8. But tweeting complaints at brands totally works.

 

“Airlines and hotels, those feeds don’t get a lot of traffic on their timeline. So if all of a sudden all these kids that follow me are like, ‘Fuck Delta,’ they’ll have to get to the bottom of it. And they’ll figure out how to make it right. That happened to me with a hotel. I got there and my room wasn’t ready, I tweeted that the hotel sucked, and my room was ready in 20 minutes. That’s the power of Twitter.”

9. Texas and Arizona are best-behavior zones.

 

“You have to be smart: You don’t wanna be smoking weed in public in some place like Little Rock, Arkansas. But Arizona and Texas are the big ones — you don’t wanna get in trouble there. Be safe in Arizona. They’re looking for you.”

10. The Canadian border is hard to cross. For a reason.

 

“They always give me shit when I go to Canada. Because Canada is so much of a fun and good place, and the people are so cool, that they have to be that strict about the border. Anyplace that cool, they’re gonna govern it. You gotta be on the guest list.”

11. Even if you’re not a *huge* celebrity, people will notice you on show day.

 

“I can go to a lot of these cities where I tour and chill and have no problem. But if it’s a day that I have a show, somebody always notices me. If I go walk around in the crowd right now, it’ll probably be a nice wait before I get a hot dog. I’ll have to take 10 pictures before a hot dog.”

12. Performing badly feels bad.

 

But it’s not the end of the world. “When a show goes badly, it sucks,” Brown said. “It feels shitty and you’re emo about it. But anytime I have a bad show, I make sure I go extra hard at the next one and try to make up for it.”

13. And working in your twenties can suck, period.

 

“Being in your twenties is just way more stressful than your thirties. In your twenties you’re learning. You just stopped being a teenager, everybody has this pressure on you that you’re supposed to do good in your life. You’re learning how to be an adult. By 30, you should have it figured out.

I’m 33 years old. I’ve learned I’m too old for the after party. I can have my own after party. By the time I’m 40, life should be great.”

14. Your job gets boring, because it’s work.

“As much as I love playing shows, once you do it every day, two weeks of that shit, it’ll eventually become boring. No matter how turnt up the crowd is. Anything can become repetitious.”

15. But when you finally get home, you’ll be ready to head right back out again.

 

“When you finish touring, you get bored fast. Like, What the fuck did I used to do? Why am I so bored? Then you realize it’s because on tour you were at work, doing a good job.”

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