PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


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.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.