Music by VICE

We Asked Bands to Show Us What They Take on Tour

There's the stuff that's so valuable you'd jump of a building to save, and then the things you more or less expect to be destroyed.

by Kate Richardson
Jun 5 2016, 5:00pm

Lindsay Coulton's van jeans. All photos submitted

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada

When your band is going on tour, the stuff you manage to jam in the van can pretty much be divided into two categories: items so valuable that you would probably jump off a building to save them, and the things you more or less expect to be destroyed.

For Lindsay Coulton, who has spent most of a decade on and off the road with bands like Hagface and Bash Brothers, jeans have always fallen into that second column. "They usually start out like freshies," she told VICE. "Then by the end of the tour I'm like, 'These are my tour pants from that tour.'"

Living on the road is not all summer sunshine and partying—it's mostly driving and waiting around, which can make you pick at the threads of just about anything. It helps to bring things that make you sane, whether it's a towel, a glittery mumu, or a set of tarot cards. VICE caught up with some bands who let us have a look at their tour essentials.

Lauren Smith and Penny Clark, Tough Age

VICE: How would you guys describe your tour packing game?
Lauren Smith: I'm an overpacker. I'm the one in the band that has the bag dubbed "monstro bag" or something of that ilk. I would way rather have too much than too little, but something that always happens to me every tour is you end up wearing one cool outfit the whole time. So those other four outfits kinda just sit there getting wrinkly. In case you spill mustard all over yourself eating a weird midnight snack.

Penny Clark: I would say that my most valued objects are all sleep related.

Have you learned any crucial lessons over the years?
Penny: The first tour I did my cousin wrote me and was like "You need to bring a hoodie." A hoodie will be your best friend on tour because you can use it to block out the sun when you're sleeping in the car. And if you have to sleep on any really gross floors or gross hotel beds then you can just put it over your head. You don't have to feel like your head is resting directly on disgusting surfaces. And he was totally right. So a hoodie, I bring one with me every single time.

Lauren: I have gotten a little bit smarter about only bringing two pairs of jeans instead of four. And I know I'll pick up other weird stuff along the way. Weird things will getcha. You kind of get this new persona on tour where you're like "I guess I'm a vest person now." Then you get back home to Vancouver and you're like wait, no, I'm not.

Secrets to a chill van

Right on. What else goes in the monstro bag?
Lauren: Every single tour I bring this stuff called sage spray. What happens is we're in the back of the van, and people are like high-anxiety about this show and everyone's freakin' about where we're gonna sleep and if we're going to have to charm another sound guy. You give this spray like a couple little spritzes and everyone kind of notices the smell, and they go sniff sniff, and they all just kind of calm down.

Any other secrets to a chill van?
Lauren: I'm pretty down with rose quartz. It's like the mother of all stones. It's like the super pink heart chakra nurturer. When you're feeling high anxious and you're like "No one likes my band and everyone thinks I'm strange!" you just hold onto that for a while. It's like that feeling when you rub your face in your mom's bosom. It's warm and soft and my mom's like, "Love you Lauren." I put it under my pillow in my sleeping bag when I sleep.

Selina Crammond and Adrienne LaBelle, Supermoon

VICE: You're on the road right now, got any stuff you regret bringing?
Selina Crammond: I packed a lot of goofy things that we haven't actually used yet. I packed a travel cribbage board, a skipping rope, and I just bought a yoyo at the gas station. I felt like I needed a yoyo. I haven't used any of those items yet.

Adrienne LaBelle: I have two books with me and I have not read them at all.


What are the essentials for you?
Selina: Dry shampoo, Advil, and makeup. A couple lipsticks. I grabbed a bunch of salt packages 'cause everybody's throats were getting sore. Just in case we need to gargle with it. Earplugs, tampons. The usual suspects.

Adrienne: I brought a bottle opener. It was a good one. Earplugs are a big one. Diva cup. A change of shoes. Swimsuit and towel. A floor mat. Last year I was convinced I should have a floor mat to sleep on so I sucked it up and bought one. It's always good to have that and a sleeping bag. I also like to wear lots of patterns and wacky tour outfits. I like to have lots of bright, loud fashion choice so I can be a different, weirder version of me. It's like my costume.

Palo Santo: smell of self care

Crystal Dorval, White Poppy

VICE: What were your most valuable treasures on tour?
Crystal Dorval: I had this little cat figurine in my purse that my friend gave me before I left. Definitely nice to have a little self care kit. I had California Poppy tincture for calming nerves, oil of oregano for immune system, lavender oil, Palo Santo stick for comfort because it's one of my favorite incense smells, my prescription medication, and you know, all the toiletries I normally use at home but in small travel size.

Anything else that you can't tour without?
I like to have a nice water bottle and a hat to hide under. A scarf is a good multi-use item because it can be a sort of blanket or pillow or towel or thing to put over your face if need be. Oh yeah, I bring a towel now. Oh and a little notebook and my favorite pen.

Jessica Delisle and Jay Arner

VICE: So what do you bring when you're touring as a couple?
Jessica Delisle: I've been able to narrow it down to the essentials so I don't have to feel like a diva... I like to just wear all the clothes that I don't have the opportunity to wear in my regular life, so I find weird stuff like mumus and crazy floral things and glittery things and ten different patterns clashing together.

Jay Arner: I don't take very much stuff at all, just a bunch of books. I don't really sweat, so I can wear clothes over and over and they are fine. So I'm kind of blessed in that aspect.

Patterns on patterns and a hat for when rock bottom hits

How do you define 'essentials'?
Jessica: We have sleeping mats that we got which were a very good investment because we can sleep in any situation, and they pack up really small. Jay and I share a sleeping bag which we unzip and use as a blanket. And then like a very small cosmetics case. I've learned to pare my whole toiletry bag down. So like, I use solid shampoo and conditioner, so nothing's going to explode. I use dry shampoo—I can't say enough good things about dry shampoo. 'Cause sometimes you're going to get to a venue and you're going to be really sweaty and you don't have time for a shower before hand and you can do it in the bathroom and it's amazing. It's indispensable for someone with long hair on tour.

Jay: I usually take one hat for when I've hit rock bottom. There will usually be one show on tour where I'll realize that I hit rock bottom. And I'll wear the hat.

Lindsay Coulton, Bash Brothers, Hagface

VICE: Do you think you'd pack differently if you weren't in a band with girls?
Lindsay Coulton: Most of my touring has been with all girls... but like I don't know. Maybe I'm just stereotyping, but I would imagine that like guys aren't sharing their clothes and being like, "Oh yeah, can I borrow those boots?" "But I was going to wear them tonight," kind of thing.

Any treasures that you feel like you have to bring with you?
I do have this dinosaur bone necklace that I seem to carry with me when I go on trips. It gives me dino-power or something. Oh also my tarot cards and a crochet project because I always bring those things too. Gotta consult the oracle and have something to keep my hands busy when you have to wait forever everywhere.

"The more jokes and tricks up your sleeve, the better."

Have you always brought tarot cards on tour? Is there time for it when you're on the road?
There's always lots of time for tarot. There's always a lot of time to kill and the more jokes and tricks up your sleeve the better. I feel like it's sort of ancient tradition, for the traveling musician to also be a bit of a fortune teller and keeper of mystic secrets. I have done many tarot reading and it's a great ice breaker for a host, kinda like, "Hey, eight maniacs have just invaded your house for a night, sorry about the mess we're going to make, want me to read your fortune?" And usually the later it gets and how many drinks I've had I can put on a pretty good show.

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