For Those Still Standing: Episode 15
Contributed by ben_conoley, Posted by Suburban Home Dispatches

We're happy to bring you the 15th column from Mike Hale. Earlier in the year Mike packed up all his belongings and headed out on the road with no plans to return. We're pleased to bring you his dispatches.

For Those Still Standing…

I can’t believe that the trailer broke in half! How the fuck did that happen? Well the undercarriage on the trailer was rusted through so badly that 60 miles north of Jackson, MS it just gave way and broke in half while doing 70 mph on the highway. I’m on tour with Two Cow Garage and Austin Lucas, and all we can do is laugh about it. "Oh the shit we go through" we all say with a smile, this is a perfect example of the daily obstacles we go through to get from point A to point B because it’s never really just that easy. No one ever believes me when I say that touring is twice as much work as having a normal day job. It’s true though. That guy going to his job at the bank ain’t got shit on the friends I know opting to tour full time. It’s easy as fuck to get up and go to that job for 8 hours, or 4 hours for the part timers. I been there and I got to say, there is definitely a different kind of strain all together if you do the same ol thing everyday. But touring full time is proving to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done… and the single greatest experience I’ve ever had. And I hope it never ends.

I think a lot of the stories told from the bands that write in and share experiences tend to glorify the fuck out of it. Not that it shouldn't be shared fondly … it's just that I’m noticing that some of the people I meet think we're soft and spoiled… and I want them to know how hard we all work to be able to do this. Someone recently said to me that we have it made???? "All you have to do is sit on your ass all day in a van and play the guitar, while I sit at home with my wife and kids wishing I had I different life." So I said FUCK you! And meant it quite sincerely.

I asked this "friend" to imagine driving for 4 to 8 hours a day on average. (Keeping in mind that very often the drives are much much longer) getting to a venue whether it be a bar, a house, basement, whatever. Waiting around for hours loading equipment, unloading equipment, sound checking, hoping that when it’s your turn to play you might get a chance to play for more than just the other bands, pouring your heart out to people who quite often are more concerned with their current drunk conversation than listening to your songs, hoping you get to eat tonight and knowing that if you do it will probably be from a gas station. Never making it to bed before 3am and getting up early the next morning to start all over again so you'll make it to the next city on time. Everyday, hardly ever a day off. Sleeping on the floor or in the van every night. It’s practically impossible to have a relationship with a significant other when you are never there. Breakdowns, flats, fights, asshole door guy, impatient sound guy if there is a sound guy, my weekly mental breakdown, homesick with no home, oh and my favorite… maybe you get paid a little, and I do mean a little… maybe enough for gas. Doesn't sound so easy does it?

We're not all funded by big labels, we don't have buses, guitar techs, sound guys, big endorsements, more often than not no air conditioning, food is scarce, sleep is even more scarce, sanity comes and goes.

I say it with a smile…. and the only reason I’m saying it at all isn't so much for me. But I think that a lot of my friends out there touring there asses of and loving every minute of should have there truths told. These aren’t guys sitting on the sidelines wearing the jersey. These are the guys actually playing the game, not for money or fame, but for the love of the game.