Top Ten Tight-Arse Tricks: Saving Money on Tour by The Grates

The Grates

For frequent flyers, especially musicians, the expense of travel can often be a real strain. To help their fellows, the Grates offer these ten favorite tips for saving cash on the road without risking jail time.

Touring on a Shoe String (or: Running on the Smell of an Oily Rag)

When, as part of your job, you are required to travel consistently from place to place, you encounter a series of pesky charges that, with the help of a little ingenuity, can be quite easily avoided. These methods can be executed without labeling one as necessarily 'cheap', a 'tight hippy', or even stealing! All you need are a few simple routines, financial awareness, and the elementary knowledge that "RENT MONEY IS DEAD MONEY".

1. Airport Trolleys: A necessary evil when transporting 14 pieces of cumbersome musical instruments. In some airports these incur no charge, but often carry a price tag as high as $4 each! However, discarded trolleys, pre-used and awaiting recall, can be secured with a keen eye and quick foot. The sides of check-in counters are a gold-mine of these treasures, second only to the head of taxi lines.

2. Excess Baggage: Everyone has their limit!. Company policy can be a matter of discretion, and a little friendliness costs nothing but can go a long way. But even without bending any rules, methods can be applied to reorganise your hulking load of guitars and drum cases into a more pallet-able formation. Cases of similar size can be strapped together with packing tape and classed as One Item, provided the overall weight is within reason. Sweet! The threat of using guitar strings to choke fellow passengers forbids your axe to be allowed as a carry-on, but roll and shove as many personal items as you can into a backpack -- as long as you don't appear to be physically groaning under its weight, the likelihood of it making the overhead lockers is high.

3. Free Food: Without a constant base or kitchen, paying for every meal is a practice that soon carries a large price tag. When frequently using air travel, breakfasts can be delayed until after check in, when lounge facilities become available. Flights departing 12:00-3:00 PM are classed as 'lunch flights', and therefore carry a more satisfying cargo than that of their pissy snack-offering alternatives.

4. Parking: 3-star hotels do not necessarily provide parking in inner-city locations, and separate spaces must be secured. This problem is also rampant amongst venues. Look for side-streets and other lanes within walking distance, or avoid tickets by parking at hours in which attendants are least likely to be on the prowl. One time we cut a long-term parking by 2/3 by backing the van to the entry position, scamming a fresh ticket, then promptly exiting out the other side. Another time our sound guy spent 40 minutes pretending to pay for a parking ticket.

5. A-Tissue!: Got a runny nose, a cold, or are you just allergic to the Whole World? Hotels frequently include a crisp new box of tissues, freshly replaced per guest period, as part of their 'Included Necessities', easily swept up into your luggage on exit.

6. Recycling: Everybody's doing it! The thrifty tour manager knows that paper for booking confirmations and Day Sheets is easily printed on both sides, saving money, luggage space, and the environment! It can also be stolen out of the complimentary photocopy machines in airline club lounges.

7. Internerd: Keeping on top of artwork, scheduling, and business communications means never going for too long without Internet access. Unsecured wireless networks are oases in a sea of overpriced public wi-fi zones, especially in American cities. See how many emails you can download at the traffic lights on an open signal before you're driven away! Cafes with a wireless service are an excellent excuse for more espresso, and once again, airport lounges with ethernet cables can be temporarily redirected.

8. Washing: The sweet smell of a successful show quickly bleeds through your suitcase, until you're like a BO bakery. But washing charges, especially in the UK, can swell to as much as $20 for two small loads! Bathtubs can be effective as laundry tubs with a bit of powder and patience, and furniture can work in lieu of a line. Swimming in your underwear is a cheeky yet practical thrill. The last few days are often the hardest, when your own gleaming machine is just around the corner, but don't despair -- executing a shirt-swap with the band you're traveling with presents all in the tour party with a souvenir and fresh threads to see you over the finish line.

9. Don't Forget Your Friends!: With so little time to spare once back home, putting on a party for your friends is a great way of bringing everybody together. Share the wealth -- save up excess rider drinks and freight them with your gear, to break out on an appropriate occasion. Riders are also a great source of honey, an attractive yet pricey alternative to sugar when whipping up a home brew.

10. Honor Thy Parents: Once again, folks, rent money is dead money, especially when your bed is only required for a week every quarter or so! And admit it, you miss your family when you're away. Don't feel embarrassed about returning to your old room in the suburbs. Its bed may not have crispy sheets and present a mint on the pillow, but its free and its warm -- at the hearth and the heart!.

* * *

According to the Grates' official website, "The Grates are three little children from Australia that are called Patience (she sings), Alana (she drums), and Jhon (he guitars). These guys can best be personally described by their corresponding Spirit Animals; Pae is a seal, Alana is a tadpole, and Jhon is a grizzly bear." Then again, the same bio claims to riddled with factual errors. What we do know is that the Grates play a fuzzy, lo-fi, hyperkinetic punk rock fueled by an off-kilter sense of humor and a bottomless capacity for fun. The Grates' Gravity Won't Get You High hits stores on August 29, 2006. [multiple songs on MySpace]

* * *

PopMatters is proud to invite artists, authors, actors, auteurs, and other creatives to contribute to the My Favorite Things series by sharing your thoughts about some of your own favorites. For details on how to participate, please contact Patrick Schabe or Sarah Zupko for further information. hors, actors, auteurs, and other creatives to contribute to the My Favorite Things series by sharing your thoughts about some of your own favorites. For details on how to participate, please contact Patrick Schabe or Sarah Zupko for further information.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.