A Van is a Band's Best Friend...Treat It That Way
By: Jessica Hopper
Dear Fan, Some perplexing tour questions for you. Where can we play in between Spokane and Denver? Should we even bother playing small towns? What kind of vehicle do you recommend for four guys on a 1500-mile tour? Buy a cheap van? Rent a van? Thoughts on veggie oil?
A band Dear A Band,
A question for you first, and it is rhetorical, really--why are you playing Spokane? Do you have a hot ex there? Every touring band I was in just did a long-haul from Denver or Boulder to Seattle, so I called in an expert opinion from Sam Hunt, who is booking agent at The Windish Agency, where he represents Girl Talk and Animal Collective, amongst others, and he had some suggestions. "Missoula, Bozeman, Boise and Salt Lake City are all options, but those are difficult cities to play, even if you are popular."
Hunt too was perplexed by the inclusion of Spokane, "It's even worse than Missoula. I'm not sure what anyone is doing there in the first place." He also warned that school being in or out seems to make little difference, and what really seems to determine is more the genre. "What's cool in New York or L.A. isn't necessarily cool there. Hip hop and jam bands are really the bread and butter of the region." So, perhaps if you are on some Yoko-as-shaman-fronting-a-disco-Coco-Rosie trip, you should just pull on through to Seattle.
Given that your band is on the West Coast, anytime you head out for anything beyond California-regional swing, it's going to be a 1500- mile tour--so that's not even saying much.
The main thing to consider is how often and how far are you going to tour? Does you band have momentum and enough going on (and coming up) where making the commitment to buying a good van is going to be something that helps move your career forward? Secondly, you have to buy a good van. Getting a deal on a so-so van is going to end up costing you twice as much.