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From Merch Girl To Metal Goddess: What It's Like To Go On Tour

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    Ever wonder what it feels like to perform with one of the greatest metal bands of modern times? (Full disclosure: The bass player in said metal band might be my boyfriend, but ignore my bias, please.) Mutoid Man is a NYC-based three-piece metal/psych band, and I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime to tag along on a tour for two-and-a-half weeks straight. From our start in Los Angeles, to San Francisco, to Arizona, and then finally Texas, the whole trip was simply magical, and culminated with me belting my brains out on stage with the guys. A dream come true? Possibly — but it wasn’t all sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Like all good stories, though, some of it was.

    So, if you’re wondering what tour is really like, you can throw away your visions of the Almost Famous glitz and glam because it ain’t ALL THAT if your tour bus is more like a tour van. Nope, it's not your typical magical-mystery Airstream filled with enchanted mushrooms and group sing-alongs (that actually does happen, but more on that later), but an airport rental van crammed to the brim with music gear and offering zero legroom. Picture truckin' for 18 hours and trying to sleep on the DIY loft bed you made out of filthy blankets and guitar cabinets. You will experience human-generated odors yet to be classified by science and learn how to purposely dehydrate yourself so that you don’t have to stop every hour to pee. You become highway-hypnotized by the ongoing monotony of the road. “Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn” becomes your mantra. You suddenly start believing that a hotel breakfast is an event you cannot miss— waking up super early just to chew on some cardboard toast and swallow some slimy Egg Beaters with Midwestern tourists and their kids. (Bonus points for scaring the crap out of the parents!)

    Culinarily speaking, I’d rather get electrified by a guitar amp than ever eat another bite of beef jerky. Surviving on road food procured from highway-side gas stations is definitely more harrowing than flying a private jet straight into a thunderstorm. At one point, I was convinced I was pregnant with a baby made entirely out of Skittles. But, not everything you eat comes from a convenience store. One of the best parts about traveling across these United States is the regional food. Vegan pancakes at a San Diego punk house, the best quesadilla that I've ever tasted in El Paso, and of course the wide variety of “Alice B Toklas” cakes 'n’ candies in the city of Angels. Honestly, though, you never know when you're going to eat, and as a result, you're basically four starving lunatics in a van at all times. The Skittle baby was conceived out of the desperation of not knowing when I was going to have another chance at actual food.

    The great philosopher Lester Bangs once said, “True music chooses you.” I feel that having the opportunity to take this tour was part of my own musical destiny. I have been a singer for many years and been in a few bands that I've loved, but this was an experience unlike any other. Each night, I was called up on stage from behind the merch booth to sing the Dio-era Black Sabbath song, "Falling Off The Edge of The World." Since I channel the spirit of Dio directly into my soul every single time I perform this song, people tend to be into it. It’s like that one part in Ghost, except I’m Whoopi Goldberg and Dio is Swayze. Seriously though, being on stage is like nothing else in this world. It was such a rush that I practically lost my balance each time — though I have to say that head-banging in four-inch platforms definitely didn't help!

    Coming back to reality was pretty much a bummer. For all its unpredictability, touring can really make you feel like you’re living the rock-'n'-roll fantasy. That being said, here are a few practical words of advice:

    — You can throw away all your suitcases because you only need a backpack filled with socks.
    — Don’t get stoned if it’s your turn to drive.
    — Whoever smelt it dealt it.
    — It’s okay to sing “Tiny Dancer” in unison and maybe cry a little looking out the window.

    It was a really liberating life experience. Touring allowed me to slow down and be in my own head, but then have rad shows every night and party with people from all over the country. It was great to connect as a band. No groupies, no roadies, just us — four bros just trying to have a good time. We all were on a mission to bring music to people and that felt really genuine and cool. Never once did I feel almost famous during the tour, but — like I learned — that's not real life anyway.

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