Skip to main content

Inevitable Truths of Touring: Hello, Cleveland ...

Probably everyone knows the movie This Is Spinal Tap. However, what appears to be funny coincidences on the screen are actually pretty accurate descriptions of touring musicians’ lives. Even though it's difficult to be amused by these accidents when you are playing the main role, there is no way to avoid them.

Spinal Tap moments are an unavoidable part of the game, so better learn to cherish them. Here are a few recurring themes from the Insomnium camp.

1. Broken gear - Nothing lasts forever and music equipment is no exception to this rule. It's quite normal to break your strings, and this always seems to happen at shows when you don't have your spare guitar with you or an additional string set near you. Secondly, your cables get busted sooner or later from the constant packing/unpacking routine (wireless systems are also often far from a safe bet). Whatever the problem, the end result is always pretty much the same: a clueless idiot wandering around trying to figure out what the hell's wrong with his stack.

2. Missing gear - Something is always left behind. There's nothing more satisfying than when you realize that your guitar is still in Italy and you need to start your gig in Germany in fifteen minutes. Or that the guitar you left behind the stage three minutes ago has disappeared along with the previous band's equipment. Or that your equipment was actually packed on another airplane in the first place. Just stay calm and adapt. Who said the balalaika does not belong in death metal?

3. Being sick - I always get ill on tour. Luckily, we have a doctor in band (Ville Vänni). However, while antibiotics work well against pneumonia, they do funny things to your plumbing—particularly, to the control of it. You can never go overboard with extra boxer shorts and Imodium, I tell you.

4. Choking on a hairball - Having long hair is definitely good for headbanging, but what you don't realize is that you swallow quite a lot of detached hair in the process. I mean, they don’t teach you in school of rock how to look cool while gagging and vomiting your hair at the same time.

5. Getting your hair stuck to various places The classic one is getting stuck to the other guitarist's head stock and ending-up playing as Siamese twins for the rest of the song. However, you can also get stuck to many other places, like doors and refrigerators. The list is endless.

6. Force Majeure - Sometimes you lose power or lightning. In our case, the most severe occasion was the Sonisphere festival in Pori, Finland in 2011 where a heavy thunderstorm demolished two stages. Luckily, this happened right after our show, and we got away unharmed without losing any equipment. Whatever the case, just carry on. If you lose the power, no one can hear your mistakes. If you lose the lights, no one can see your stunned face. If you lose them both, you end up having the ultimate crowd pleaser.

“Derek Smalls: We're lucky.
David St. Hubbins: Yeah.
Derek Smalls: I mean, people should be envying us, you know.
David St. Hubbins: I envy us.
Derek Smalls: Yeah.
David St. Hubbins: I do.
Derek Smalls: Me too.”

Ville Friman is the guitarist for Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium. The band will release their latest album, One for Sorrow, on October 18 via Century Media Records. For more on the band, check out their official website and "like" them on Facebook.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49