It’s hard for me to say exactly why I took such a long pause from touring. It falls somewhere around being utterly exhausted, contracts running their course, shuffling through booking agents, and getting stuck between album cycles. It just sort of tapered off, but I also think it’s best described by what happened the hour before I left for my very first tour. While packing up the minivan for the two-hour drive from White Plains to just north of Albany, I slipped and broke my arm. I still played the three shows we had lined up, so no one believed I was truly injured, no matter how much I cried that it hurt. I went to the hospital a week later and got an x-ray. It was just a slight fracture, but a fracture nonetheless. I spent the next six years on the road like my arm -- just a little bit broken.
I grew up in a normal family. We lived in a small upper middle class suburb outside of New York. I shared a room with my twin sister until I was 13. I used to read her diary when I was bored. She hid it under the second panel of her Ikea bed frame. I dreamed about being an artist as an adult, but not so much that it was dangerous. I had only left the country twice, and once was by accident; Canada is a lot closer to New England than it actually seems.
Compared to that Maine vacation where we got lost in Montreal, touring was a thrill. It was also an adjustment. Occasionally, I’d get overwhelmed and beg my team to let me slow down. I’d plead with them that I just couldn’t do one more overnight drive, but every time, they’d tell me that I was lucky. That people like them don’t work with hobbyist musicians. “Did I view this as a hobby?” they’d ask. Of course I didn’t. So, I sucked it up. I went on Prozac. I played the shows. During travel days and the rare stretch home, I slept for what felt like months, and for the 25 minutes I was on stage, I couldn’t imagine a better reality.
The thing about tour is that it’s an unending series of highs and lows. There is no high like staring out past the venue spotlights to a sea of blurry faces screaming your words. There is no greater ache than the one that chains itself to your soul when you first discover the impossible blackness of the West Texas desert at night. You will never feel closer to any single human being than you do picking apart your fears at 4 a.m., because you’ve exhausted every other part of your biography and you need to talk about anything to keep yourself from falling asleep. You learn to live without the middle ground, and you don’t miss it. It’s like choosing Grape Nuts when you could have Lucky Charms. Who would do that?
By the end of Warped Tour ‘15, my hair was thinning, my right hip had a permanent bruise from where my guitar smacked against it, yet my body -- which subsisted on mostly Smartfood popcorn and McDonald's fries -- felt resilient. Like a cockroach, I survived no matter what happened, but I admit, I was relieved to crawl into a bed that didn’t move. I needed a break, which was a short-lived feeling.
Chaos is a powerful drug, and the same way I built up my tolerance for it, I struggled with withdrawal once I was home. It’s not dissimilar from the way your legs quickly get used to the swells of the ocean on a cruise ship, but you start to stumble when you finally walk on solid ground.