A Day on Tour with Lifehouse and Switchfoot
The Switchfoot and Lifehouse tour, Look for Summer, is set to kick off this July. Between the travel, the unusual sleeping conditions, and the physical toll of playing in front of packed audiences night after night, music tours have a notoriously chaotic reputation. To get a better idea of the moments that actually make up a rock band's day on tour, we talked with Switchfoot's Jon (lead vocals and guitar) and Tim Foreman (bass) and Lifehouse's Jason Wade (lead vocals and guitar).
Both bands like to get a feel for each new city.
Tim Foreman: "The first thing I do is look for the closest body of water. Most cities have water of some sort: a pond, a lake, a river, or best case scenario... the ocean! Growing up around the ocean, I find water is very grounding for me."
Wade: "If it's a day off, I will try and find a nice place to go for a walk, preferably by the water."
Once they're settled, the mission is food.
Tim Foreman: "By [sound check], I'm usually pretty eager to start making some music, but not before seeing if there's any good snacks in the dressing room."
Wade: "I will check in with Ricky (our 'foodie tour manager') ... and find out where we are going to eat dinner. Finding good food on the road is a huge priority."
Jon Foreman: "I'm always eating. Allegedly coffee and ice cream are bad for your voice, but they're my go-to foods nonetheless!"
Wade: "I try to eat pretty light before a show, however I have been guilty of eating a delicious cheesesteak before a show sometimes when we are in Philly. Always sounds like a good idea until about song six!"
After eating, it's time to get to the venue and do sound check.
Tim Foreman: "I usually don't really go into the venue until soundcheck, usually around 4 p.m."
Wade: "I usually get to the venue around 3 p.m., drop my stuff off in the dressing room, and then go check out the stage. We usually sound check about five or six hours before the show."
Down time before the show is for practice, seeing the city, or catching up on sleep.
Jon Foreman: "It might be ironic, but my occupation is also my hobby. After writing and recording hundreds of songs, I still write them for the sheer joy that the process brings me. I have a recording rig on the road that occupies most of my free time."
Tim Foreman: "There's usually some friendly people hanging out outside in line for the show, so there's usually some good conversations to be had."
Wade: "If our schedule permits, I try and go back to the hotel after sound check for a nap. If the weather permits, I enjoy being outside. I love seeing whatever the city has to offer. Landmarks, museums, etc."
Moments before taking the stage, it's time to focus.
Jon Foreman: "We usually try to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world for a moment or two before the set. Connect with each other, talk through the set, and pray for the music to communicate hope and truth and light and love."
Wade: "I try to have 10 to 15 minutes of silence before the show to calm my mind. I always have an acoustic guitar backstage to warm up and go over the songs as well."
The show itself never follows the same exact pattern.
Jon Foreman: "We change the set list every night. And often during the set, we will call an audible and play a song or two that wasn't planned. We have learned to embrace the chaos of live music: humans responding to each other and their environment."
Wade: "Our set times range from 75 to 90 minutes. We change the set list if we feel like it isn't flowing or if we get tired of a certain song. If we decide to play a song that we haven't played in a long time, we generally work it up in soundcheck and run it backstage."
Right after the show, they hit the road and do it all over again.
Jon Foreman: "We usually play 7-9 shows in a row, so every night is a new city. We go to sleep in one town [and] wake up in the next. It might sound like madness, but to us it feels much more normal than, say, clocking in a desk job."
Wade: "Years back, we did a December radio run that was all fly dates. After every show, we would have to pack up, leave the venue, and get ready to go to the next city. Almost every day, we were at the airport around 4 a.m."