Roadies with ninja-like reactions and movements are multi-skilled in a variety of backgrounds to help support and smooth out any problems with a performance. In the darkness, you’ll spot the crew members at the beginning of shows, hurrying around during sound-check to perform maintenance on the instruments from a bumpy journey, taping down wires, to fetching water for the thirsty band mid-show. They’re the hidden gems for every show, and no band can do without a trusted team. JROCK NEWS has the opportunity to learn more about the life of a roadie we met at a recent performance in UK. Please take a look:
Thank you for agreeing to speak to us! To start off, please tell us about how you got into being a roadie?
Honestly—can’t say that it was a dream of mine to become a roadie, per se [laugh]. At the beginning, I was casually asked by a friend of a friend of mine to help out with their band for a show after I attended one of their shows.
Have you been doing this for long, and what do you do?
Compared to the other guys who have been around for decades, not at all. I’m a real fledgling.
Anything thats manual labour. Loading in, loading out (moving equipment). Then you’ve got the small things like riders (food for the staff) and on occasions I’ve had to be on box office and merch. Everyone does whatever needs doing. Making sure s**t doesn’t hit the fan? Now that I think back, I must of had a trustworthy face if they allowed me to look after their gear and to not sell it all. [laugh]
What made you continue, then?
Touring with the band is a lot of fun. The feeling of accomplishment and the freedom of travelling gets seared into the skin and you somewhat become addicted. When I see the crowds getting pumped up, I do feel envious, which pushes me to try even harder for my own things. The hours are long, the food is crap, you don’t get much sleep and you’re never in the same place. Touring is glamorous. [laugh]
What’s the most difficult part of being a roadie?
There’s many things, but the hardest part of touring isn’t the tour itself but the feeling after it ends. We call this thing called “post tour depression”. A lot of crew and band members get it, especially after touring for long periods. I’m sure a lot of attendees get a high during and maybe for a while after the show, but for us, it’s a massive adrenaline rush that races to a peak. That goes on for days and weeks. The longest I’ve personally toured is 7 days in a row with no break in-between.
That sounds intense.
Yeah, so when you go from having the crew with you 24/7, sleeping, eating, driving to setting up, you’re constantly around people and sound. When you can go back home, the silence really hits you. It does get rough and you will feel like an empty husk for a while.
That does sound tough, how about during the tour then?
During the shows, you need a lot of stamina and know how to pace yourself. My first gig as a roadie meant I had to go from France to England the next day. I pushed the pedal to the metal and was worn out by the second day. It’s easy to get excited about everything with it all being new and alien, but in a way, it’s lucky that wears off eventually.
Other than that, you’ll spend a lot of time on the road. You’ll learn when to sleep, when to eat, you lose the sense of day and night. There isn’t a particular wake up time, but work for us tends to finish 3-5am in the morning, so we end up eating junk unless you plan ahead. Usually instant foods or fast food that’s open at that time of the night.
Can you share your best roadie memory?
The weirdest stuff probably happens on the road. You meet a lot of odd-balls when travelling which makes you question what you know. There’re occasions of when they become more memorable than the actual job itself.
There’s also a lot of drunks, because at shows there’s usually a bar in the same room. People say a lot of saucy things about the bands when they’re tipsy. They’ve come up to me thinking I was the one on stage, telling me how well I played.
Yeah, it’s fine though. [laugh] It’s all part of being a band.
One of our readers asked if you would also like to start a band of your own?
[laugh] It would be cool right! Sadly I’m not musically talented at all. I know my weaknesses.
What’s the one thing you can’t do without in your work?
Gaffa tape. It doesn’t matter what type or what colour. That stuff fixes everything.
Do you have any tips for anyone looking to become a roadie?
It’s all about trust and being hardworking. Start with the small shows and slowly build your way up to show people can rely on you. Say hello to everyone, even the bar staff. Be decent, because you never know when you might need their help.
We’d like to thank the anonymous roadie for this interview opportunity. What did you guys think of life as a roadie, and would you consider this occupation? Let us know in the comments below.