Welcome to Creator Chats - a conversation among two groups, bands or people in the music industry. Today we welcome Jake of Counter Intuitive Records for an interview with three members of his roster: Eric Butler (Mom Jeans.), Avery Springer (Retirement Party), and Sam Kless (Just Friends).
CIR to all: When you get home from a tour, which aspects of the trip make you think back and say “This is what i want to be doing with my life?”
MJ: I think the feeling of accomplishment that I get whenever a tour ends is addicting. No matter how many times I've been out there's always a sense of fear and worry that surrounds going out on a tour. Tour can seem like an impossible task and the experience of living though a seemingly impossible task just makes me feel alive in a way that few other things in my life have ever been able to do. I imagine it's similar to the feeling one gets after running a marathon or skydiving or something gnarly like that. I feel like surviving a full US tour gives me a sense of resilience that's honestly boosted my general confidence a lot. After touring in a band I almost feel like I could go anywhere or do anything in pretty bummy conditions and have the strength/resilience to get myself through it.
RP: I definitely come home feeling tired but fulfilled. Playing to even just one person every night who really wants to hear you feels rewarding. I love that I get to travel and connect with people everywhere I go. Music brings people together and going on tour and experiencing that daily makes me feel like this is all I want to do.
JF: I look at a lot of people I grew up and graduated with and get bummed when they are getting married, buying houses, having grown up jobs and lives. But then I remember I’ve living my life on my own terms, the way I want. I have the privilege of travel the world with my best friends and growing in different capacities. Being able to be creative and experience the world in this wild way is definitely all worth it. It’s not a race and the grass is always greener as Momma Kless says.
CIR to all: What part of tour do you struggle with the most?
MJ: Sleep. On tour it's really hard for me (and I'm sure anyone really) to feel like I'm getting enough sleep and that I'm generally rested enough to take on the daily trials of being on tour and playing shows every day. It might sound silly but not being well rested just makes everything you have to do like ten times harder and half as enjoyable. For me there's a constant dichotomy of wanting to hang out and be present in the moment and spend time with my friends and people I don't get to see very often, and having to go to bed/nap because I literally can't function if I don't get at least 6 hours of sleep. I'm always choosing between fun and sleep on tour and I usually choose fun, which makes for some really shitty mornings and shows that are way more punishing than they ever should have been
RP: I for sure struggle with the social aspect. It can get very tiring and when you’re on tour with bandmates, you don’t often get time alone. Some days I don’t feel like socializing and just want to be alone to myself, but it’s also my job to be present at the shows I’m playing.
JF: Making sure everyone is taken care of and having a good time. Since I’m the leader of the band I tend to put a lot of emphasis on taking care of everyone but myself, which I’m working on. Also ordering merch on the road and fighting with UPS employees over the phone. But thanks to Tom Werring and Aesthetic Print & Design I’ve been able to figure that part out!
CIR to all: What types of things do you do on the road to work on your mental health? Do you try to get some time away from the rest of the band? And if so what kind of things do you try to do?
MJ: I have found for myself that first and foremost mental health and physical health go hand in hand, especially on tour. Making sure that I'm eating properly (or at least making an attempt to find fruits and vegetables), staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep makes it easier for me to not only keep my mental health in check, but to have a plan for when I start to feel crappy. Usually if I'm getting frustrated or anxious or depressive on tour I can look back and realize that I'm probably not taking care of myself properly whether it be food or water or sleep.
The other big thing is making sure I'm communicating with my bandmates and tourmates and at the very least being honest about where I'm at mentally, because my biggest fear is taking out my own insecurities and negative feelings out on other people. I try to be honest with my bandmates about what I'm feeling and why I think I'm feeling that way, and even though it can be embarrassing I'm in a band with my best friends in the world and I know that they can respect how I'm feeling and understand that if my behavior is off or I seem irritable that I'm not angry with them or trying to make them feel bad. Being on the same page as everyone else on the tour not only makes it easier to manage when my brain is in a bad spot, but it makes me feel less alone and more included in the first place.
RP: I try to make sure I get alone time if I need it. A lot of times I’ll put in headphones in the van and really get into an album or listen to/critique demos of mine. It lets me exist with just myself for a bit and also be productive in the creative process which is hard to do on the road. I’ve also found that making sure I’m eating healthy/going out and getting exercise or exploring where we are helps my mental health. Staying active mind/body wise is important for me!
JF: My therapist and I have a pretty good program for me. I have a few work books and things that work personally for me such as watching my diet and having the time to decompress when needed. She definitely wants me to sleep more but I’m still working on that. It’s a huge plus that I’m on tour with my best friends and I can always talk and be open with any of them at any moment. I’m very thankful for that privilege.
CIR to MJ: Going from diy tours to venue tours, what’s been the biggest change for you on a day to day basis? What do you like/dislike about either type of tour?
MJ: I think the biggest change is getting used to not doing absolutely everything ourselves, and operating in a climate that is socially very different from DIY shows. With diy tours we were dealing face-to-face with the people booking and running our shows, often sleeping where we play, and in general anyone who is involved with the show or the tour is doing it because they LOVE doing it. With venues and promoters all of a sudden we dealing with people who's job is to try and make money off of your show and maximize attendance over anything else. It definitely takes some getting used to and I think it takes a while to learn how to fight for yourself in that kind of environment. My favorite part of diy will always be how inclusive it is, and I think that it's nearly impossible for any venue to capture the sense of community that people feel at a basement show or diy venue show. However, I'll be honest it's pretty sick to have your own bathroom for the duration of the show. No sketchy diy house bathrooms with no tp and a lock that doesn't work haha!
CIR to RP: What’s the experience been like going from doing a few shorter tours to this massive full usa tour?
RP: You get into a groove pretty quickly on tour. For me it sometimes takes a week and a half or two to feel like I’m really in the swing of things, so longer tours opposed to short ones feel nice in that sense. I rarely know the day of the week anymore so I guess there’s that. It’s been really cool seeing the whole country on this tour. I had never been out west and so I have gotten to experience so many new places. It’s pretty cool to cover so much ground in one shot.
CIR to JF: Describe the challenges of touring with so many members? If you take multiple vehicles do you have one designated for people who want to chill and one for the more psychopathic all night chop city types? Please provide detail.
JF: We are lucky that our friend group is very open and supportive of each other in so many ways. But like I said before for me personally the feeling of being responsible for 9 plus people can be a lot. But it definitely can be extremely hard agreeing on dinner! But once we get somewhere everyone is considerate enough to pay attention to when load in is. So everyone can go off and explore and do what they want. surprisingly places to stay isn’t as bad as you think because we have amazing friends!
This last JF/Grad Life tour we did have 2 vans and one was definitely the loud and wild van which was if you can guess was occupied by Bart and me. But usually we take one van with a trailer and everyone is subject to the punishment of freestyle rap, A-cappella Pompei by Bastille and over night drives at 3 am.