Chapter 3: in which difficult conversations are had, and it becomes evident this party is not cut out for this

“…you guys know if you cancel this tour you’re still paying me, right?”

So, a bit of background. I picked these guys up halfway through their tour of the UK and mainland Europe. Another driver was covering the UK dates, but wasn’t able to do the mainland shows, so that’s where I come in. When I picked them up, they were already pretty miserable. Apparently the UK shows (save the Leeds show: Yorkshire, Yorkshire etc.) were pretty dire. No accommodation or food, poor promotion and non existent crowds.

I think one of the issues (besides the horrendous booking) was that this tour was based around a headliner without any real presence in Europe. They were a big deal on YouTube, supposedly, so I guess in their mind they could come over to this continent and expect immediate success. As I was told many times throughout this run, they would sell out headline runs in their native country, so this was a bit alien to them.

So I wake up in the van outside a travelodge in the middle of nowhere to some savagely defeated human beings. I’d seen this look before: these guys were ready to go home. We drive a short distance to a service station so we can fill up, grab coffee etc before a disgusting 7+ hour drive through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

As I return to the van I hear them discussing something. I quietly listen, and it’s apparent that they’re talking about calling it a day and cancelling the remaining dates. They’re totally down on mainland Europe after the Paris show, and don’t think it’s worth going through with the remaining dates. Whilst I disagree entirely regarding mainland shows not being worth it (touring mainland Europe is the best) I’m pretty keen to call this whole horror show off before it begins.

It’s around this time, however, that they start to speak in hushed tones regarding money. And specifically, that if they cancel the dates then they’ll be able to save money on paying the driver/van hire.

Couple of problems with that.

1) Whilst Mutiny Touring isn’t a corporate powerhouse by any means, we do issue invoices which detail terms and conditions. These are pretty standard and state something along the lines of ‘if you cancel for any reason, we’d still be owed payment in full unless we’re able to find alternative clients for the time period.’ It makes sense really, it’s not the sort of work that is generally arranged on the fly, it’s usually booked months in advance and so if I suddenly find myself with no work due to no fault of my own I’d expect to be compensated for that by the cancelling party.

2) I’ve already been paid in full.

You see, as well as ensuring a deposit is taken before any tour is 100% confirmed, I tend to make it a condition that if it’s a client I haven’t worked for/with before that payment in full is required up front. Some people aren’t happy with that, but it saves a ton of stress and hassle later down the line. And fuck, was I glad they’d paid in full already.

So being the awkward socially anxious mess that I am, to have to turn around and interrupt their conversation after knowing them for barely 24 hours to let them know they wouldn’t get their money back was a horrible, horrible thing to have to do. The second after I let them know this, there was a moment of awkwardness before they all promptly left the van stone faced to head into the service station.

The drive itself was grim. What was already a lengthy drive wasn’t helped at all by their incessant need to stop pretty much every hour, so a 7 hour drive became a 12 hour drive and we arrived in Hamburg fairly late. Luckily Hamburg isn’t exactly a place that likes to start early, so there are no major issues. We get an awesome spread backstage with a ton of food and drinks, the venue is great with very accommodating staff and we’re given the details to check into a hostel just around the corner. There’s even a parking space right outside the venue. Things are looking up!

Everyone has been perked up by this bit of European hospitality, and I make sure to let them know that this is the norm for these kinds of shows as opposed to last nights fiasco. I’m feeling a bit better about the run. I feel like the tides are turning, that yesterday was a one off day from hell.

I decide to watch everyone, as I’ll pretty much always watch the bands/artists I’m driving at least once during the run. The band is very middle of the road with a Don Broco vibe, and I decide I’ll probably give them a miss for the remainder of the tour.

Aussie 2 is alright. He’s a pretty typical heart on sleeve singer/songwriter, and he’s entertaining between songs. Again, at this point I’m definitely most fond of this guy. He’s my guy.

Aussie 1 is… well, he’s talented. And I can understand the appeal. But it’s definitely not for me. I think at one point he’s playing a Taylor Swift cover, but I guess he just ripped off the chord progression. Not losing any sleep over missing his sets for the rest of the tour.

The gig itself is pretty poorly attended, but everyone is on a real high about it, I guess just relieved to not have a repeat of last night. And that’s kind of where it ends today really. The hostel is great, and I get a bed to sleep in and a bit of wifi. I kind of wish I had something more brutal to end with.

Oh, I’m led to believe that both Aussies spent around €200 on hookers that night.

Stay classy, guys.

worst tour ever Hamburg driving diary blog

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