Music by VICE

I Lived My Dream of Feeling Safe and Loved on Tour

Touring as an up-and-coming band isn’t what it used to be, and maybe that’s a good thing.

by Megan-Magdalena; as told to Sarah Berman
Jul 16 2018, 3:30pm

All photos by Meg Magdalena

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

When I was 16, I went on tour with bands. They would pay for me to take photos behind the scenes. Back then, the minute you signed with a label you got a tour bus and roadies. You could afford to have a photographer, a bus, and a driver. You’d play a month of sold-out shows, and then the one day when there was a bit of a smaller crowd, you’d have guys being the biggest drama queens.

Now, you have to work really fucking hard, you can’t get mad like that. The band I play in, Jo Passed, recently signed with Sub Pop, and sometimes people assume we’ve “made it.” I tell them that we all have full-time jobs. We fit our entire drum kit and everything in a tiny Sienna minivan. It’s humbling. We split our profits four ways equally, so we could sleep on this person’s floor or stay in a hotel—but that’s going to come out of what we’re going to make. Do we want to all lose 100 bucks to have a shower and sleep in a bed? Those are the choices you’re making.

I’m lucky to be in the place where I wanted to be when I was 16. Back then, there was never any talk or general awareness about consent or what that looked like. So much of it was just about getting wasted. I felt like I was in Almost Famous, not Penny Lane but William Miller. I thought touring was the best thing ever, that these bands were my peers, but when I look back, all I see is creepy guy after creepy guy.

I feel super lucky because I personally know a lot of bands that still want to party every night and get wasted. I’m so thankful that my band will have a couple of beers, and nobody really does drugs except for weed. It feels really good to feel safe and loved on tour. Now I see articles on one of the bands I used to tour with—a journalist called them out for being fucked up to her.

All the best music comes out in a time where we needed revolution more than anything. The times we are in right now, the world feels like it’s falling apart, but music reminds us we’re all together. My bandmate Bella and I are inseparable on tour. She keeps me sane. I don’t know how women can tour with bands with all dudes. You need the solidarity, someone who has your back, who gets you on a different level. Now is our time to be a part of that in music and art.

There are men in this industry just realizing that if they don’t include any women on a bill—people might get mad at them. They’re scared not to include women, which is the way it should be. On one hand, touring is harder than it’s ever been, yet on the other hand, women have more power to call out misogynist bullshit more than ever before.

I really love this one photo of Bella: She doesn’t have a shirt on; she’s standing in a window putting on makeup. It’s taken in this house in Boston where we had this mansion to ourselves. We all got our own bedrooms. It looked straight out of the 70s, kind of haunted—creepy, but beautiful.

This is the best part of a tour—you’re on a road trip, you get to play music and feel humbled when only five people show up to your show. Then you sleep on a floor in 100-degree weather and not get to shower—like wow that could destroy someone’s ego. You say: "Hey, that sucked, but tomorrow’s a new day." Then you wake up, 3,000 miles from home, but you’re in it together.

Follow Megan Magdalena on Instagram.

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