Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor talked about the intricate world of touring, telling Tyler Larson during a recent interview:
“I do clinics and I always get people asking, ‘What’s the best way to get on the road? What’s the best way to get your band out there?’ I’m gonna give you a bit of a roundabout way, but this actually works – it’s just not what people want to hear.
“To get on the road, the big problem is that if you start with your band you’re gonna be losing money. You’re gonna be straight up operating at a loss. Because it’s very expensive. And to do the fun job – which is to play on stage with people – you get whatever’s left over, which is usually money in the red. So you get debt.
“However, even bands that start out need people that sell merch, right? And the thing about touring is that it’s a very tight circle. So my advice… And I’ll give you an example after this of someone that’s actually worked for.
“Just start out, go and do a merch for a band for free. For free. And have a tip jar there. And be amazing at it. Like really work hard, be the best merch guy. Be attentive, try to get the best merch numbers that you can. And be personable, make friends with everybody. You want netwwork? That’s your chance for network. You’re gonna be with bands on tour. And if you do a good job, other bands are gonna notice that.
“The tour industry is all about vetting people. There’s no diploma. If someone came to us and like ‘I’ve got a degree from Berklee,’ I would be like, ‘I don’t care.’ But we’ve literally hired most of the guys that we’ve hired because like, ‘Oh, we need this person. Oh, I know this guy. Are they cool?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can they hang on tour?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Alright, we’ll try them out.’ That’s like literally the conversation that gets people hired.
“So now, if you’ve been cool and done a good job, people will be like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s really sick. I remember touring with him. He was a great merch guy, great dude.’ And then, you can start charging for that. Then you do enough of that and then you can be like… I’m gonna tell you, the best merch guys always are just overqualified so they usually move to other things. Whether it’s front of house or a lightning director or a tour manager. Or a guitar tech or whatever.
“Let’s say you’re a guitarist – go be a guitar tech. Go be the best guitar tech. You’re gonna meet so many guitarists you may work your way up the industry to where you’re working with some really big bands. And then people just want to get along. So you’re gonna be hanging out.
“And if you’re making a good impression on people you will be surprised. And if people know that you’re actually a good guitarist they’re gonna check it out. Because they’re gonna be friends with you at this point. And then if they need a fill in for a gig they’re like ‘Oh, you’ve got a sick band! Well, maybe you’re the band that we should take out on tour.’ So I know those instances what that has happened.
“That’s literally the story of how our tour manager became our tour manager. And he also played guitar with Senses Fail and he’s gotten to fill in with other bands. And he’s one of the hardest working dudes I’ve ever met. He’s one of the nicest guys. He’ll be your best friend in three minutes. And he never complains. And I love him to death. Matt Rosenblum. He’s the example of how you do these things right, in my opinion.