Touring Well with Anthonie Tonnon
What do you always do before you go onstage?
I try to map out how my set is going to go in my head. What do I need to remember to say? What mistake did I make last night that I'm not going to make tonight? At the same time, I'm probably remembering a whole list of things I need to do before I go onstage, and these will all come to me in momentary flashes in the hour before I play. Did I set up my merchandise? Did I put my friend on the door? Because of this, I keep a piece of paper and a pen on me and I write down anything I still need to do, so if I'm feeling like something hasn't been done, I can check the list and go and do it.
How many days in a row can you perform? - before your voice/body needs a break.
Everyone's different, and it depends if you're in the swing of it or not, and how much other work you're doing (being your own tour manager and driver, or working a distance job during the day, for example). On a New Zealand tour, I'd go for three days in a row, and four if a good opportunity came up, because I'll likely need the extra days for rehearsing, or managing the tour. Overseas I've found that four is a magic number. If you do three in a row, that extra night's accommodation without the income from a show could feel really costly, and if you have too many days between shows, you may lose some of your playing fitness. Lately I've been doing shows where I play twice in a day - in that system I can do 3 days on, 2 days off.
What hacks do you have to make sure you get enough rest?
If you ask for a late check out at a motel when you book it - you'll almost always get it. You shouldn't feel bad about this - performing is a kind of shift work, and you should have the extra sleep. I also limit my coffee intake to one or two before midday, and I have days where I don't drink any alcohol. Even one beer will really damage your sleep, so some nights, why bother? If I have FOMO and feel like breaking my rules, I embrace decaf coffee, and non-alcoholic beer. It may seem uncool, but I can tell you, there is nothing cooler than a great sleep because you chose a 0.0% beer instead of a 5.8% one.
If eating a balanced diet is important to you, how are you able to find healthy options while you are touring?
There are some places that will feed you dinner on tour - but the only real way to know what you're eating is to keep a chiller bag in the car, and do a weekly shop at the supermarket or small grocery store. I always buy lots of fruit, a low-sugar breakfast cereal, and some healthy options for a few lunch sandwiches. Breakfasts and snacks while you're out can eliminate your tour profit, so this also makes great financial sense too.
What do you enjoy most about touring?
It's hard to feel like you're doing your job when you're in your bedroom. Touring gives you a tangible purpose and place to be every day you're on the road, and it even pays for your time as well. I always feel most satisfied with my career when I'm on the road.