3 tour managers tell us the real side of a life on the road - Industry Features - Mixmag
Industry Features

3 tour managers tell us the real side of a life on the road

The tour manager keeps the show on the road. We meet three to discover exactly what the job involves

  • Ben Raven
  • 13 April 2015

Paolo Francesco: 27, St Albans-born, London-based. Tour manager for Jamie Jones since 2011

How did you get the job? "I first saw Jamie playing in Ibiza when I was a worker, and at an afterparty I asked if he would send me two tunes I'd heard him play. He sent me a zip file there and then. We met a few more times and he gave me a part-time job sorting through his promos and sending him the best ones. Around the start of 2011, after doing a few seasons in Ibiza, I started a job back in London working for an IT recruitment firm. I went through a really rough time, including losing someone really close to me – and I also lost my job. I was in bits: I'd lost my girlfriend and my job in the space of a few days. The news got back to Jamie and he called me to offer his condolences – and offer me a job.

What does a typical week consist of? There's no such thing. It's different all the time. In summer we can do six or seven gigs a week, but in the winter you might have four or five days off between gigs.

How much do you travel? "I've got an app that lets me tick off countries and cities I've visited. Turns out I've been to 25 per cent of the world so far!"

What's the biggest part of the job? "Making sure your artist is comfortable while they are doing their job, and you need to ensure everything is working correctly. Make sure they always have a drink when they need one, make sure photographers aren't being too full-on, keep crazy fans back, make sure the soundsystem is at a decent volume and quality (in the club and the booth) and always be aware of what's going on around you. The last thing you need is someone pouring a vodka and cranberry over the CDJs."

What has doing your job taught you about people? "To be as nice to everyone as you can, because it always comes back to you if you aren't."

Any weird moments? "On our way to Warung in Brazil we missed a flight due to delays, so Jamie's agent found us a private charter – but it was an old propeller plane. The engine made the loudest, scariest sound you can imagine; we just stared at each other in total fear! We felt every bit of turbulence all the way there, and when we came into land we basically fell out the sky."

What about high points? "When Hot Natured played live at Brixton Academy. On the night we played there were 45 mins to fill and there was no-one to do it. So one of the crew suggested that I should go on to DJ. Getting on those decks in front of a capacity crowd felt very strange, not to mention scary, due to the fact that half the music industry was on the balcony!"

Have you met any famous people? "Last summer at Paradise at DC10 lots of celebrities popped in. One week it was Edgar Davids, another it was Kate Moss and Noel Gallagher; Ronaldo even came into the booth and asked for a selfie!"

Alex Perez: 32, from Miami. Tour manager for Seth Troxler for just over two years

How did you get the job? "I met Seth at BPM Festival years ago. We kept in touch, and at one point when I was looking for a new gig he was looking for a TM. I used to tour manage Danny Tenaglia. Working with him taught me everything. I owe a lot to him as he took a chance on me when I had no experience."

What does a typical week consist of? "I work with Seth and a travel agent to select the most efficient flights and appropriate hotels. I make sure to sort our transport to the airport and get us there on time. At the gig I help get the booth in shape when we arrive. I set up Seth's records, make sure the turntables are in working order, and generally make sure he has what he needs: USB keys, vinyl brush, headphones etc. Aside from that, the rest of the job is problem- solving and keeping everyone in good spirits."

How much do you travel? "Seth played over 150 shows last year. I would like to work out exactly how many flights that means, but it would take too long."

What's the best part of the job? "Travelling the world, meeting amazing people in different countries – and hearing great music played by Seth and other artists."

What has doing your job taught you about people? "That it's best to not make assumptions about people when you first meet them. Often I end up striking up friendships with the people I would least expect to."

Any high points? "When I was working with Tenaglia and I went to Ibiza for the first time. Stepping into the booth on the Space terrace was amazing – I couldn't believe it! There I was, at a club I have dreamed of going to since I was about 14 years old, and I was walking in with my favourite DJ.

What's the most interesting place you've been? "A lot of places spring to mind. One of the most recent was a festival called Strawberry Fields in Australia. They managed to set up an amazing soundsystem deep in the bush. The vibe was real."

What are the key skills every good tour manager needs? "Patience – and the ability to solve problems without freaking yourself or others out. When an issue arises you need to just handle it without making a fuss."

Ben Price 25: Devon-born, Bristol-based tour manger for Eats Everything for one year

How did you get the job? "I started working at Grade Management from 2012 would go to gigs with Dan just to get experience and meet promoters."

What does a typical week consist of? "Monday involves either being in the office or travelling back from touring. Tuesday to Thursday I am office-based. I'll be working with our travel agent on getting the coming month's travel sorted, running his diary, creating tour budget spreadsheets and more often than not working on a campaign, like Dan's first CD compilation that came out on January 26. Then the weekend comes around and Dan and I are off on tour."

How much do you travel? "It varies. In summer we do about sixteen to twenty flights a month, visiting up to eight countries. But if we're on tour in the States or Asia, for example, this figure will often triple."

What's the biggest part of the job? For a DJ – even a teetotal one – travelling inevitably means having little time to sleep. So when booking travel you have to plan to allow them the most amount of rest possible. In particular, Dan needs to get enough sleep so that when he gets home he can look after his newborn son!"

And what's the best part of the job? "Often we're not in places long enough to be tourists. But we get to experience life the way the locals do. After one gig in Mexico City we went to a local taco restaurant with the promoter. We were the only non-Mexican people in there, eating tacos and chatting to the locals. Experiences like that will stay with me forever."

What's the worst part? "Arriving to find the promoter hasn't provided the correct equipment. You can email as many times on email as you like, and still turn up to find the wrong piece of kit in the booth."

What has doing your job taught you about people? "You meet new people every day, and you need to be able to adapt to their culture quickly."

Most random moment? "When Dan met David Guetta last summer he told him how great some of his super-early music was and David didn't even remember that he made it!"

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