The Wanderer Tour: Part I

Since my first post in August 2015, I’ve been living and acting under the preconceived notion that I’m a Wanderer. I even got a tattoo to legitimize the idea. I realized that each portion of our lives is made up of events, and each event can be sub-divided into moments. Every moment we lived contributes to our growth as positive human beings (and in this case, musicians). On September 2016 my band RED HANDED DENIAL set off on our first US tour, complete with a new set of friends, admiration for each other, and moments we’ll never forget.

“The Wanderer Tour” took roughly a year of planning to set into motion. There were many delays in our efforts and at several points a full cancellation or reschedule. These “moments” kept us on our feet and we had to act quickly in order to salvage what was left. Thanks to the undying dedication of our singer Lauren we were able to get back on our feet and make the tour happen. The night before our first show we packed everything into the RV that Dom, our bassist, rented for us. It was a worn-out RV with just enough space to fit 6 people and their equipment, 2 spots to sleep and a fridge that didn’t work the initial few days. Our first show was an acoustic one at a Toronto-based music award show. The RV was parked at the back of the venue and we hung in there practising our set before hitting the stage. The event was a full house with plenty of big-named people in the industry. Our band was dressed for the long drive after our set, and not for the set itself. As a whole, we looked pretty sloppy and incoherent on stage. After playing our acoustic set on a barely audible stage we were given an award for best EPK and were escorted upstairs for a photo-op. Winning an award was a great way to start the tour and definitely set the tone for the rest of our adventure.

After the photos were taken, we began our trek into new land. Our photographer Jessie who was with us at the acoustic show left with her friends to cross the border. She took a bus over into Buffalo and we were to pick her up on the other side. The RV started and we hit the road after some emotional goodbyes. The journey began and it was beyond exciting. The RV was shaky and internally loud, but that didn’t slow us own one bit. The pacing of the RV was slow and turning in it was a pain (wait till er talk about parking it). These were the first moments we learned not to place anything important on the table or countertops. Aleksei’s laptop fell off from a great distance many times during the tour, and I think Lauren spilt a bottled drink over her lap. We started implimenting rules on the RV. Rules like we weren’t allowed to use the washroom in the RV, instead we had to make pit stops. We all agreed to this rule as it was crowded enough in the RV with all our bags in every available room, including the washroom. Other rules were we’d all have to take turns driving it and filling gas, toss garbage in a designated bag, and overall just be clean. I’m thankful our band is composed of very civilized people. We’re the type of band that wants to look good on stage and we take care of ourselves. We all have products and definitely overpacked, but maybe that’s the habit of first-time tourers!

We found out early on route we were actually driving to the incorrect border. It was a good thing we found this out before taking the incorrect highway exits, we would have had to deal with a lot of complications before entering the US. Lauren and Aleksei took a nap while Dom and Chris sat at the front. They were the main drivers of the tour. When we reached the border we were a little worried of the people we might have had to deal with. We’ve heard many horror stories about crossing the border and their troubles. The guys that dealt with us were very laid back and funny! We arrived at a time when the university students crossed the border to get back home to their on-campus residence. So many drunk kids crossing that night, and some of them weren’t weren’t wearing coats either. The Border officer was trolling each student asking inane questions in a daunting manner, trying to scare the kids. We were on the side laughing the entire time. He tried to guess which instrument each of us played and under which genre. He was surprised when we told him we were a metal band, for obvious reasons (we definitely don’t look the part). After a smooth transition onto American soil we drove straight to the nearest bus terminal to pick up Jessie, who had crossed the border roughly the same time as we did! Once we were all reunited we filled the tank and drove to the nearest Walmart. Shortly before entering the States we learned most Walmarts (if not all) are open 24 hours and that it’s a common thing for RV and trailers to park there overnight. It was a rainy and depressing night as we parked in the massive empty lot. Dom and Chris shared the same sleeping space that hanged above the driver and passenger seats, and Lauren and Jessie slept on an actual bed located at the back of the RV. Aleksei and I were stuck with the worst spot to sleep on. At the centre of the RV was a dining table with two seats that can be folded down to make a bed… big enough for a child. Aleksei and I were two of the taller members of the band, and for both of us to curl onto limited space made sleeping very difficult. However it was the first night and we had just played a show, immediately followed by long amounts of driving. We were ready to pass out and we did despite the unfavourable sleeping situation.

I was the last to wake up (I think) and was caught off-guard when the parking lot was full of customers. Some of the members were inside the store shopping for breakfast and the others were freshening up in the washroom. Chris brought walkie talkies on tour for us to better keep track of where everybody was. It came in handy when Aleksei and I separated from the group to brush our teeth in the Walmart washrooms. We bought our necessary items and got back to the RV, where Dom suggested for Lauren and I to test-drive the RV to understand the feel of it. I took it for a ride first and was surprised by the weight of the machine. I had to hit the brakes much earlier in order to give myself adequate stopping space. I learned how to park the RV and it was Lauren’s turn to give it a go. She was frightened by RV and didn’t drive it for too long. I don’t think she even ended up parking the RV back in its spot. Once the testing was complete for the both of us we got ourselves ready and got on the highway. We made a pit stop to grab lunch at a Burger King where we experienced the different food selections America had to offer. After stuffing our faces we drove to our first US show in Berea, Ohio.

All photos by Jessie Lau