We’re all aware that bands eat like shit on tour. It’s something you sort of know without being told like, say, that girls fart or that your parents still have sex. Food on tour is high in starch, low in nutrients, and processed to the point that it bears no resemblance to any major food group. Of course there are some health-conscious exceptions, but the majority of touring musicians look like depressed manatees with a bit of scotch egg hanging out their mouth.
The problem is two-fold. Most bands make a pittance from playing shows and probably begged their manager at Nisa Local for the three weeks unpaid leave to do the tour in the first place. So dining out isn’t an option. In addition to that, touring makes for erratic hours. Bands rise after breakfast, remain trapped in a hot box on wheels during daylight, and have to fit in meals between soundcheck and playing. Home cooking becomes a wild fantasy, petrol station pasties become a flaky reality, and the only viable option for getting some veg on the road would be by roasting courgettes in the exhaust pipe.
Alas, another year of touring lies ahead for the struggling artists reading this piece. So, in order to make the whole process a lot less painless for stuffed colons and Little Chef toilet attendants the world over, I’ve asked a load of your favourite rock bands to bestow some culinary advice towards a watertight, budget-friendly and entirely irrefutable guide to eating on tour.
THE DORITO SANDWICH
Tyler Szalkowski of State Champs says: “We've been known to make sandwiches out of just chips (crisps) and bread. There's nothing like a chilli heatwave Dorito sandwich! We'll also eat candy instead of a meal to save money. Ryan frequents cold canned baked beans. He lets nothing go to waste either. If something falls on the ground he will absolutely still eat it. Beer is also a great and filling dinner entrée.”
TRY DUMPSTER DIVING
Jake Duhaime of Citizen says: “About a year before joining Citizen, I was out on a west coast tour where I linked up with some dumpster divers at a Tragedy show. The night was spent raiding commercial dumpsters around Seattle. To my surprise, we actually found some good shit. We took our finds back to their garbage palace where there was as much food in the fridge as there were fruit flies. I ate a lot of garbage that weekend - most of which tasted exactly like garbage.”
AVOID BRITISH FOOD - IT'S AWFUL
Kelen Capener of The Story So Far says: “Like many other American bands, The Story So Far’s dining habits in the UK fuel the stereotype that most British people can’t seem to wrap their minds around: “Why do all American bands enjoy Nando’s so much?” Between Nando’s and Wagamamas, our American obsession with eating at these establishments is simple; every other affordable meal option sucks. Whether it’s a sweaty meat pile-on between cardboard white bread, or after-hours kebab shop cud, deep fried or festering by a heating lamp, the culinary landscape in England is as grim as the weather forecast. Either my pallet isn't sophisticated enough to enjoy fries drenched in mayonnaise and vinegar, or the food stinks.”
FORM AN UNSTABLE RELATIONSHIP WITH TACO BELL
Kyle Fasel of Real Friends says: “Taco Bell is a mystery. Sometimes we eat it and it's pretty okay. And other times we eat it and it makes us feel bad about life. I can compare it to a very unstable relationship. You never know what you're going to get. We will never stop eating it though. And we will forever go through the drive thru at 1AM, ask for six separate orders, replace all of the meat on stuff with beans, and the workers will forever hate us.”
SERIOUSLY, KEEP EATING BURRITOS
Jonathon Diener of The Swellers says: “Our band is fuelled by burritos. Mexican food is probably our collective favorite fast food on tour, especially because my brother and I are vegetarian and vegan. We decided to do a whole tour called The Burrito Quest Tour, which we later were told could have just been called: The Burritour. Every day we went to a new place to get burritos and still ate Taco Bell in between. I think in a month we each had about 60 burritos. My brother and I could have kept going, but our other guys were miserable. The van smelled pretty terrible on that tour if I remember correctly.”
SMOTHER EVERYTHING IN CONDIMENTS
Like these two band members of Hawk Eyes (left) and Therapy (right) with this unsightly industrial tub of tartar Sauce.
JUST EAT SHIT AND END UP LOOKING LIKE MEAT LOAF
Archie from Santa Cruz muses: "Here's the thing: it's really easy to get carried away with a daily routine of Burger King or KFC when on tour. Especially when feeling the hangover vibes and even more so ‘cause it's cheap. But believe me, soon after a daily diet of burgers and beer or fried chicken and whiskey, you'll be looking more like Meat Loaf than the mighty Jon Bon Jovi-esque rock star you've been aspiring to be. Also, moving around on stage becomes a real chore. And being in a band doesn't really make up for the fact that you're a fat, tired, angry fuck, if you know what I mean. Who wants to come to a gig to see that?
But the thing is, it's really freakin' hard to find even slightly nutritious, healthy food that gets you through your daily routine of playing a show/signing the tits like a champ when on the road. The venues usually offer something between a burger and a pizza, and the buy-out money is usually good enough for a Big Mac meal. Many people just skip the food and focus on the booze and/or recreational drugs. That'll make you act like a paranoid chimpanzee with anger management problems soon enough. Me and the boys have tried to find places like Whole Foods and Marks & Spencer where you can find some quite healthy shit for a decent price. I know, I know. It doesn't sound as exciting as strippers and cocaine, but it'll make the whole trip so much more convenient for the whole bunch, trust me. Eat good, feel good."
UTILISE EATING COMPETITIONS - NO MATTER WHAT
Here are Leeds band Brawlers eating a disgustingly hot pizza in under 5 minutes, despite them knowing it will make their butts feel like Mount Etna. One of them completed it. The other 3 failed miserably.
PRAY FOR A GOOD RIDER
Conor Fathers of Decade reckons: “If there’s room for a little more with the tour budget you’ll be given a rider, which can break hearts and make whole years. Standard rider procedure is beers, waters, loaf of bread, some sort of sandwich filler, a bag of apples and a multipack of crisps. If you’re a support act in the UK however, keep your fingers tightly crossed and you might just get one beer and one water per member, but don’t get your hopes up. I remember being presented our rider one evening in Manchester and I kid you not it was a loaf of white bread and a block of mature cheddar cheese. Nothing else; no salad, no butter or sauce with which to lubricate a sandwich (that’s rare anyway, to be fair) and not even a knife to slice the cheese with.”
OR JUST EAT WITH THE GERMANS
“In Italy we were given raw broccoli, much to our bemusement. But they more than made up for it with the fifteen pizzas they ordered in after the show. But no one does it quite like ze Germans, a daily spread of breads and cheeses, salads and soups, and when we were done with that they’d bring us a hot meal and dessert, all the while a fridge stays stocked with soft drinks and beer. Never have I been anywhere as a musician and treated that well.”
So there you have it. Get used to the burrito, eat like shit, (but not too shit unless you want to look like a leathery middle-aged classic rocker) and make sure you have tour dates in Germany, ja? And my own piece of advice collated from exactly one year of chatting literal shit to the filthiest of bands: make sure everyone else in the band goes for colonics (or the poor man’s pipe-cleaning: a gluten free diet) beforehand. It’ll clear the passage of detritus to avoid a monstrous volcanic blow out. The green ogre was right when he said it’s better out than in, you know.
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