Jas Morris is a previous UK Guitarist of the Year award winner and in 2013 his band Firekind won the Global Battle of the Bands competition final in Thailand. Jas plays around 200 gigs a year all over Europe, has supported Feeder, Tinie Tempah and many others. Firekind’s debut album “What I Have Found is Already Lost” was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Alain Johannes who has worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Chris Cornell to name a few. On a visit to Bristol, Jas came into dbs Music FE to give his advice on touring to some of our performance students.
1. Pack spares of Everything
“What may break on a tour, can break a tour! You wouldn’t want to play through an amp that is terrible sounding and worse case scenario to have to cancel a show as that will damage your reputation and relationship with promoters and agents. You need to make sure all your gear is in decent working order so having a knowledge of some basic repairs is a good idea. Not everyone has a tech crew on tour.”
2. Prepare your set-list and show well in advance
“Before a long tour, we rehearse solidly for a couple of weeks. Rehearse the order of your songs and show so that you kick off the tour strong. You’ll want to set a good impression during the early shows of a tours first impressions really count. During the tour the show will only get better which is something to look forward to.”
3. Eat well and try and get as much rest as you can
“You’ve got to look after yourself. This means keeping any major party sessions to maybe once or twice a week. In 2015 we toured the French Alps for 3 months and again this year for a month. We were gigging an average of twice a day, 5 days a week. Leaving the chalet at 11am, first show from 5pm to 7pm then driving straight to the next one playing 10:30pm to past midnight, then loading out and heading back for a 4am bedtime. Repeat that 5 times in a row and you’re pretty exhausted. If you add in too many heavy drinking sessions, you won’t make it and your shows will suffer as a result. You have a duty to those that come out to see you play to give them the best show possible.”
4. Warm up before shows and don’t over play
“You’ll need to pace yourself. You don’t want to kick off the tour playing so hard your fingertips are bleeding. You may have an amazing show but the gigs that follow over the coming days won’t be as great as your fingers/voice are in pain every time you play. Depending upon how busy your schedule is a little niggle can grow as you don’t have the time to rest and be able to repair. Then you’ll have a real problem.”
5. Protect your ears
“It may sound way better nice and loud, but over time you will start to lose your hearing. It doesn’t seem cool to protect your ears, however, if you see yourself playing music as a career, your ears are one of the most important things. You can pick up decent ear protection for around £15. Invest in them. I have some moulded 15db flat response earplugs that cost around £120. If you’re planning on going even further, invest in custom in-ear monitors. The se cost me over £1000 but they are worth every penny. On long journeys in the tour van, I have a set of ear defenders as the decibel level is high enough to do damage over a prolonged period of time. Yes, I get strange looks, but we tour a lot and I need my ears!”
6. Be nice to everyone (including your bandmates)
"When you tour together for so long, little things can become big things if you’re not careful. My brother, Dan, plays Bass in the band, we’re real close and tight but occasionally we fall out as all brothers do. The number one key is to clean up after yourself and to be extra considerate. It’s best to avoid bad situations on tour as the smallest things can blow up and wreck a band, we’ve all heard those stories. Just think before you speak or act and take some time to yourself as it can get intense living in each other's pockets for so long - that way you won’t want to kill each other too soon!
"As for the venues you play, Sound Engineers have the ability to make you sound great or terrible. Work with the engineers and let them do their job, even if they are a bit grumpy or short with you. Don’t be a prima donna or act like a ‘rock star’ around them or anyone at the venue. If you get them on your side, you are more likely to have a great show. Be sure to introduce yourself to all of the venue staff and don’t boss them around. Getting along with the venue security is also a cool thing as they will deal with any drunken folk trying to get on stage which happens a lot. It’s a good rule to follow all round to be honest, be nice to everyone and they will be nice to you in return. Also, if you need help or a favour at any point down the line, you are more likely to obtain it from them.”
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