MUSIC INTERVIEW: Life On The Road With…The By Gods
Due to embark on their debut UK headline tour next month in support of their new album Move On, alt-rock trio The By Gods share their top tips and stories from the road.
Favourite thing about touring:
Tye: Favorite thing about touring would have to be the shows. It would take me too long to say something positive about every opportunity we were given while we were out. Granted, some of those recollections would be short-winded, but the majority wouldn’t be. Not that you asked for it, but second to shows would have to be all the cool coffee shops. Collectively, we drink enough coffee to float the Monitor.
Natalie: I love visiting new cities. If there is any downtime before a show I love to explore. Whether it’s a local coffee shop, record store, landmark or bookstore, I try and do something specific to that particular place.
George: I feel like playing live is still the best way to reach a new audience. It’s also the most fun, most appealing, and most rewarding. Hit the road. Meet real people. See the world.
Least favourite thing about touring:
T: My least favorite thing about touring are the long drives. Luckily, our most recent East Coast run was truncated into short, manageable drives, but the West Coast run was the complete opposite. Every drive seemed like an eternity, and the desolate scenery between major cities was unrelenting.
N: Long drives. I hate when we get a day off and have to spend it in the van. Driving from Los Angeles to Monroe, LA was the worst. I almost went Jack Torrance on everybody during that trip.
G: For me it’s the booking – particularly trying to find other bands to play with. I try my hardest to find bands that I really like and want to play with but, in my experience, the better a band is the less likely I’ll get a reply. I’ll never be able to wrap my head around it. It comes down to a lack of common courtesy. It’s not rude to say no. If a band reaches out and asks if you want to share a bill, it takes two seconds to just say ‘no’ rather than just blowing someone off. I don’t know, that’s probably why people have booking agents.
Five essentials for the road:
T: The Swiss army knife for killing time: iPhone, personal space (good luck), a book if you’re able to read and not get carsick, comfortable pillow, bluetooth speaker(s).
N: Neck pillow, podcasts, shower shoes, Green Dragon sauce, beer.
G: Groceries – You can get some cheap and quality food at Trader Joe’s. Anything you don’t like, don’t eat, or if it goes bad Joe’s will take it back. Trader Joe’s green dragon sauce makes everything taste better.
Quality sleeping bags – We love crashing with friends. Sometimes it’s nice to stay with people you just met but that can also can be a nightmare. You want a shower and a bed but sometimes you get a shower that’s worse off than your toilet followed by a spot on the floor in a small room. It’s a risk and it all depends on how tired or how dirty you are. If we’re touring by ourselves, we usually just prefer to sleep in the van. It’s easy and the sun wakes us up so we don’t miss any free time in the cities we want to visit. And we don’t spend the money. So, when it’s cold out, a quality sleeping bag is a life saver.
Spare van key – One per person is always a good idea.
BC Powder – If you’re sleepy, pop a BC powder and it’ll wake you up.
A small fan – For me this is crucial. The noise helps me sleep and also most places we’ve slept don’t have AC.
Favourite way to pass the time:
T: Favourite way to pass the time would have to be listening to health/fitness related podcasts. I enjoy exercising in an overly obsessive sort of way, and when we’re out, I have to find ways to feed this inane addiction. One way I’ve found is to listen to podcasts [whose titles I’m too embarrassed to repeat here] that discuss innumerable ways to shock the delts and activate those hammies.
N: In the van I listen to podcasts pretty much non-stop. When we have downtime I like to hit up museums, and I’m a sucker for a dark classy cocktail lounge.
G: I usually drive. When I’m not driving I sleep. Natalie and I like to bar hop if we have some extra money in the cities we’re in.
T: As mentioned above, the most embarrassing thing would have to be how fanatical I get about working out. In addition to the podcasts, I’ll plan days around visiting certain popular gyms in some of the major cities we visit. I remember specifically taking a selfie in front of Phil Health’s parking space at his home gym in Denver, CO. If I knew someone happened to be watching me as I shamelessly took that picture of myself, I would have wanted to run into traffic.
N: We did a session with Sofa Burn in Dayton, KY where we recorded a live song and video. We were in the same studio (Candyland Recording Studio) where The Breeders were then recording their new album. The wall was covered with notes and tape settings from their sessions, and I was enamored…I am a huge fan of Kim Deal and The Breeders. The owner and engineer (Mike Montgomery) is such a lovely person. He gave me a Breeders set list and a handful of Kim’s picks that she had recently used. I will never forget that.
G: A few years ago, Tye and I used to play as a two piece. We’d just run the bass through a laptop. For a while there, every show we’d play the computer would crash. It was really funny and also pretty embarrassing.
T: We’re all fans of everything that was going on in Seattle during the early 90’s, so it was a big deal for us to play The Funhouse which is inside ish Seattle’s El Corazon. Most of our favorite bands from this era played El Corazon on their ascension to deity, so we talked the owner into letting us check out the stage. Being up there for those few minutes is something that I’ll never forget.
N: On our last tour we were driving through San Francisco in fairly heavy traffic. George’s brother Jeremy was riding in the front seat doing card tricks to keep all of us entertained. We pulled up next to a van with a couple of guys in it and Jeremy proceeded to do a card trick for them. Eventually we were driving down the interstate next to these guys trying to see if Jeremy could find their card. We were holding up traffic, but they were laughing and so were we. I don’t think he ever found their card.
G: I’m with Tye about El Corazon. I know we have some legendary venues here in Nashville, but being in Seattle for the first time and hearing the stories about the venue was really amazing. The venue was the heart of the grunge explosion in the ’90s that changed Seattle and music forever. Pearl Jam’s first five shows were there. Nirvana’s first Seattle show was there. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Mudhoney all cut their teeth there. Another memorable moment for me was going to Aberdeen and seeing where Kurt grew up.
T: On our last tour, anytime something funny happened, Alex, the drummer for Sad Baxter, was typically the culprit. At one truckstop/eatery, he started Sad Baxter’s inaugural Instagram Live video where his observational humor had me crying. Nothing he said repeated here would seem very funny, but Mojo’s delivery is what made it memorable.
N: We did an East and West Coast tour with our friends Sad Baxter, and I pulled double duty playing bass with them as well. I had a major mental hiccup during one of their sets in New York City and we had to restart this one song several times, because I couldn’t remember how it went. We eventually had to skip it. I was pretty humiliated because Deezy’s (singer/guitar player for Sad Baxter) mom and sister were there.
G: There are several, but I think the best was in 2014 when we booked a tour to Seattle by way of Los Angeles and all but two shows got cancelled. So we drove 7,000 miles round trip to play for a handful of people. It was a fun trip but a terrible tour.
T: Maybe the most outrageous thing is what hasn’t happened. We spend a lot of time together and all of our friendships haven’t splintered as I feel most would. I’m sure some of my idiosyncrasies grate on them, but they haven’t kicked me out yet.
N: On our last tour after our Seattle show we were really hungry. Tye found a 24 hour breakfast place called 13 Coins. Upon arrival we were surprised at how fancy it looked. The hostess seemed very hesitant to seat us, and after some time finally took us to a room in the back. There was nothing on the menu under $20, but it was late so we decided to splurge. Towards the end of the meal a waiter came to the back handed us our check and locked a large set of sliding doors over to the side of our table. We realized the staff thought we might try and skip out on the check. I guess maybe it was our clothes or our appearance? Either way, fuck you, 13 Coins.
N: Any time we play a show with our friends Mad Anthony, we drink too much… I drink too much. We played a show with them in Cincinnati, and I gave an entire backseat interview for their documentary on video that I have no recollection of. We stayed the night with Adam Flaig’s (guitarist of Mad Anthony) parents and his mom cooked us all breakfast the next morning. I was the last to wake up, still drunk from the night before, and I fell down the stairs. I was super embarrassed and still am. I haven’t seen the interview yet, but I hear it’s really something…
G: Yes, that interview with Natalie was gold. I want to see that footage as well.
T: Anytime we get a genuine compliment on a song or songs after a show has to be the most rewarding moment for me. Everybody, for the most part, doles out the requisite ‘Good set!’, but it’s easy tell the difference between a stock post-show response and sincerity.
N: I’d say returning to cities like New York and Los Angeles and seeing a growth in crowd attendance. New York has always been an intimidating place for me to play. The first time we were there we had a handful of people, and the last time we played Brooklyn, the room was full. I feel like we are continually growing as a band. The songs get better and so does our performance. With that we are gaining a bigger audience. It is super rewarding to have strangers come up to you after a show and say they dig your music.
G: Same here. Seeing the audience grow. It’s very very easy to get discouraged when touring. You’ll do a string of shows where your friends don’t show up, you’re broke, you’re tired, you’re getting older, the other bands are better than you, you’re not in the mood to be social at times, etc. But then you’ll play a venue you played a few months back to 20 people and now it’s those same 20 plus 20 more. And the more we play, the more people get turned onto the music.
The By Gods’ third album Move On is due for release on the 20th October, available to pre-order HERE.
See The By Gods live at one of the following dates:
Sun 8th – LONDON – Nambucca
Mon 9th – LIVERPOOL – Maguire’s Pizza
Tue 10th – SHEFFIELD – West Street
Wed 11th – BRIGHTON – The Quadrant
Thu 12th – COVENTRY – The Tin At The Coal Vaults
Fri 13th – MANCHESTER – The Peer Hat
Sun 15th – GLASGOW – Nice N Sleazy