"The thing about living on a tour bus is that there is no fresh water," says drummer Chris Culos
The thing about living on a tour bus is that there is no fresh water.
There is running water which the bus driver fills up at truck stops, but it's not potable. That means it's not treated to drinking water standards and is definitely not meant for human consumption. So, say for instance you're like me and you want to start your day off by brushing your teeth, before you head into the bathroom on the bus you need to grab a bottled water. This is a big factor in why bottled water is in such hot demand on the bus. And thank G-d for that waterless antibacterial hand soap. No water? Just rub the soap on your hands and go?? Holy s***! The guy who invented this deserves the Nobel. But he also needs to get back to work. I want waterless toothpaste, shampoo, face wash, body wash, etc. This would make life unbelievable, especially for us on the road.
Every morning I wake up praying that there are bottled waters because some days there just aren't any. Simple as that. All are gone.
Most of the time it's because they've all been used, but occasionally it's because we forgot to stock the bus with more. We call situations like this "un-sussed." It's a minor thing, but as each day goes on in the tour somehow the little things add up and become a much bigger thing.
Another example of a minor thing that adds up is how I wake up everyday knowing that I have to go annoy our tour manager to find out if there are showers at the venue, and if so, find out where they are, where the towels are and if there's soap. All the while I know that, like always, the showers in these venues aren't exactly the spa at the Four Seasons. Let me take that back, I don't want to sound like a complete snob. It's not that I need a spotless bathroom to shower in, it's just that I don't usually feel comfortable standing there even fully clothed in some of these shower rooms.
Anyway, this is just part of life on the road. It makes me really appreciate my time off at home (especially when I wake up in the morning and have my own bathroom to shower in), but I hate having to continually ask our tour manager for something as stupid as whether or not there are showers because I can see how it would drive a person nuts. In my head he's thinking, "I don't know, go find the damn showers yourself"! Obviously, he's not, it's his job, but you can see what I'm talking about if you had to field stupid questions like this day in and day out.
We have had an amazing couple of weeks full of all kinds of exciting shows and TV appearances like "TRL," "Last Call With Carson Daly," "Extreme Makeover Home Edition," Current TV, sold out shows in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, but all I can think to write about are the little things that happen to us on the road that somehow blow up into big, gigantic proportions for no apparent reason. I may sound like I'm complaining, but that's not the truth. The truth is that I love my job. I love everything about it. But in reality there are certain things that will come up in any situation no matter how good or bad yours is.
In our case, we are very fortunate that we travel in a tour bus. We traveled in a van for many years and have a lot of respect for all the bands that are out there traveling the country this way. But in reality, after two months out on the road, that large, luxurious bus starts to get smaller and smaller by the day. And when you're surrounded by the rest of your band and crew all day for two months, even though you love them like brothers, you definitely need to treat each other with respect and constantly communicate or things will build up and explode. So I try to think about what I say and what I do as often as possible because if I got on someone's nerves the way some people get on mine I'd feel like strangling myself. But then I start getting weirded out and think about every little thing I do or say. "Did that just piss him off"? "Am I getting on their nerves"? "Did I drink the last bottled water"? Stuff like that. I know it sounds crazy, but in my mind I'm just trying keep it as smooth as possible for everybody. But I end up just acting plain weird. And that ends up being worse than if I had drank the last bottled water anyway.
But there is one story that I think I just need to get off my chest.
I usually sleep like a baby on the bus, something about the engines humming is very calming. But on the night after our show in Omaha we had an unusually bumpy drive to Ames, Iowa. After a terrible night of sleep, I wake up and stumble out of my top bunk (ahh, all the glamour of rock n' roll. I'm 26 years old and basically sleep in a bunk bed, thanks). I try to make my way forward towards the front lounge of the bus through the darkness of the bunk cabin, tripping over various shoes that lay sprawled across the thin hallway.
The bus takes a turn and I fall into the closed curtain of someone else's bunk, waking them a little. "Hey!" I hear mumbled from inside the bunk in an annoyed, yet not fully awake groan. Damn, and I was seriously trying to be careful. "Sorry", I say. I hear others shuffle in their bunks but not quite wake up. This is not going well so far.
I regain my balance and bearings as best I can and move ahead. The sensation of walking through the hallway on a moving bus is much like walking down the aisle of a plane that's experiencing a little turbulence. Except in this case it's pitch black, more obstacles like shoes and backpacks to trip over, and I'm still not fully awake myself.
I move on and finally get to the door. (By the way, on almost every bus we've had in the last four years of touring there has been an automatic door where you push a button and the door glides open and close. Everyone says "cooool" and "wow, just like Star Trek". Well, I never liked Star Trek, but I do know the reason we like these doors is because they are quiet. The regular doors make a lot of noise when they latch shut no matter how gently you try to shut them. Just getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night wakes everybody up.)
Now, I'm standing in front of the door and I realize that this new bus we're on doesn't have Star Trek doors, just regular doors. I think, "S***, I'm going to wake everybody up for sure this time". But then I think, "Well, not if I'm extremely careful." I make a plan to open and close the door as if it's the laundry room window you would sneak out of on a Friday night when you're 16 years old: Veeeery slooowly.
I hold my breath and unhook the latch. Pop! More shuffling from behind the closed curtains of my bandmates, but it doesn't seem like anyone actually woke up. I take another deep breath, this is the hard part. I step forward and turn around to close the door. Slooowly. Like a surgeon with hands of precision, I ever so gently guide the door. I'm inches away from the latch. The bus takes a turn. SLAM!!! as the door catches shut on the latch. "WILL YOU PLEEEASE NOT SLAM THE DOOR!!" I hear yelling back at me from at least two angry voices from behind the un-Star Trek-like door. Great, now everybody hates me. G-d, I hate f***ing Star Trek.
This just isn't my morning. I need to brush my teeth and I'll feel better. I go to the drawer where we keep our bottled water supply. Empty. Un-sussed. I turn back and go to the fridge knowing damn well that there has never been and never will be bottled water in there. (For some reason, water goes in the drawer, Gatorade, soda and juice go in the fridge and beer goes in the cooler. There is no real reason for this beverage classification system, just that over time it has become standard operating procedure.) I check anyway and find that protocol is still in order. No bottled waters in the fridge. Frustrated, I close the door a little harder than I intended to. "PLEASE DO NOT SLAM THE FRIDGE DOOR!" yells our bus driver. I'm dying out here.
I open the fridge for one more look. There is orange Gatorade, Diet Coke and sugar-free Red Bull. I'm not sure I should be telling you this, but for a moment I contemplate which of these three choices would be best to brush my teeth with. I close the door again, a little ashamed of my thoughts. I just want to brush my teeth. So in a moment of spontaneity, it became clear that all would be better when that was done. So I open the fridge again, grab a Diet Coke and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth with it. It did make me feel a little better, but I couldn't help but think that they definitely would've had waterless toothpaste in Star Trek. "Cooool."