Hi, Doctor Nick! - Is Touring Hell? The Highs and Lows of Life on the Road

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At this point, we'd like to think that just about any regular reader of XLR8R is familiar with Nick Hook. Every week, the good doctor—who, of course, is not actually a doctor—stops by to answer questions about music, gear, DJing, travel, production methods, and more. Basically, if someone has a question about life in the music world, he's ready to answer it. Send queries to doctornick@xlr8r.com and bask in his knowledge. (Minor programming note: the column usually appears on Thursday mornings, but Dr. Nick encountered a few detours in the Deep South this week, so he's popping in one day behind schedule. We'll be back to normal next week.)

Yooo. I'm in Atlanta. I love it here. Shout out to Treasure Fingers, Distal, SL Jones, Scotty ATL, and the illest vegan restaurant in the world, Soul Vegetarian No. 2.

I made a new mix and Diddy tweeted about It. Haha. Give it a listen.

Thanks for all the demos and little presents. All the positive feedback about the column never gets old. Keep the questions coming. doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Also, happy birthday to my most loyal reader—my dad. Thanks for all the support :)

Hi Doctor Nick,
First of all, I'm a huge fan of what you do. I read the column every week, and hope to able to live like you do some day. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, man.

On to my question. I spend all of my time making beats in my bedroom or playing random local gigs as a drummer, but I've never performed my beats at all. It's always been my dream to go on tour, more than anything. However, a lot of stuff I've read about touring from other musicians makes it sound kind of like hell. I need to ask someone who's been doing it a long time—is it possible to go on tour, have a blast, see the sights, and not go crazy? Do the discomforts of living on a tight budget and traveling every night always have to take away from the experience? How do you go about having the fun of a tour without getting spoiled by the intense schedule?

Thanks! Glad you're enjoying what I do here. I'm not sure if I would wish for anyone to live like me, but it does have its perks at times.

Let's preface this whole thing by noting that we are all crazy—out of our minds even. I'm talking about anyone who reads this. So not going crazy shouldn't be a concern.

As for touring... it's complex. In my experience, it's been both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You give so much to get so much and at the same time get so much to lose so much.

In some ways, it's definitely hell. I've gone over 15 G's in debt. Once I got charged like two G's by Ryanair and lost all of the tour money because of that. I've sacrificed relationships. At the same time, I've been to places I never fathomed that I would go, and I've met incredible new people who have shown me art, taught me culture, and expanded my mind.

Touring is one of those things that changes over time. After you have lost the initial shock of being to all the new places, the grueling aspect of moving fast day to day and not really seeing that much sets in. At that point, the whole thing has to become about money, at least somewhat. In my case, as I've gotten older, I've been trying to live a more stable lifestyle versus the crazy volatile one I used to have. I've slept in the van, on the floor, and all those things—and it made me who I am—but now it feels good to be able to actually get a hotel and try to live nice while I am traveling. Going for months just eating garbage is tough. Going months without seeing your real friends and your significant others is tough. Keep that in mind.

These days, I like to set up my travel so that I can stick around each city for more than one night. You end up learning the city, building relationships, and maybe playing an extra show or making beats with someone in town. Sometimes, those things are the most important parts of the whole trip, and the benefits of traveling multiply.

On the whole though, traveling isn't really hell. It can be incredible; we are super fortunate to do this and I think the tough parts just make you tougher. Even when you're at your worst on the road, you just have to step back and be like, "Yo, I've had 26 of the worst jobs in the world and this trumps all of them."

You just have to get out there and do it. Take it one step at a time. The best part is that you can take everything in your hands and develop a base of people that fucks with you, and continues to fuck with you. I love traveling just to see what people are doing in the clubs from Tokyo to Seoul to Paris and how it all relates back to what we're doing in New York. It's super inspiring to be in their realm and see the way we all influence each other. Plus, when the touring is done, I can go back and be like, "Wow, I learned so much from all of these amazing kids in Seoul," and keep funneling that energy and knowledge back and forth. I love that the internet can do that for us.

Good luck my G.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.