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QRD #76
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Artistic Dad Interviews:
Jason Handelsman
JB Sapienza
Jon Madof
Josh Doughty
Loïc Josinski
Tanner Garza
Guitarist Interviews:
Casey Harvey
Gabriel Douglas
Cartoonist Interviews:
Jeff McClelland
Peter Kuper
Josh Howard
Touring Musician Interviews:
Aaron Snow
Nathan Amundson
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Touring Musician Interview with Aaron Snow of Landing
June 2016

Name: Aaron Snow
Bands: Landing, Kindling, Tinniens, Surface of Eceyon, Paper
Websites: http://www.landingsite.net,

QRD – What’s a myth about touring you wish people knew wasn’t true?

Aaron – The myth that touring is a money making venture or that more people will come to your show the next time you come through town. If you’re touring for a reason other than just wanting to play music & meet cool people in other towns, you’ll probably be bummed.

QRD – How many shows do you do a year & how many would you like to?

Aaron – Not many, maybe 10-20ish. It’s hard to tour now that we have a kid.

QRD – How many shows does it take before you are in a real groove?

Aaron – Probably one or two. We’re pretty experienced - been around since ‘98, so the chemistry is sort of always there. What’s way more important is getting the gear packing method down. That takes 3 or 4 shows to get sorted.

QRD – What’s your preferred length of tour?

Aaron – Man, I’d tour forever if it was possible.

QRD – Do you use a booking agent or book things yourself & what are the advantages of each?

Aaron – We book ourselves because it’s never been an option not to. I don’t have a clue what having a booking agent would be like... probably great?

QRD – With so many venues no longer having an in house promoter & promotions relying so much more on the band themselves how do you get the word out to cities you’ve never been to before or rarely go to?

Aaron – Our fanbase is very small, but loyal. Promotion is not our forte, but we try to make sure there are Facebook event pages & stuff. We tend not to worry about it very much.

QRD – How do you think the festival circuit has effected touring & do you enjoy playing festivals?

Aaron – We’ve only ever done a few & they’re fun, but I don’t know how it would affect touring since we’re not in that world really.

QRD – How do your songs change for your live show?

Aaron – Our recordings are usually pretty layered & studio-driven, so the live versions tend to be more minimal. Playing stuff live breathes new life into the old songs, but it’s a little frustrating that we can only play probably 40% of what we record because we don’t have an 8 piece band &/or rock clubs aren’t usually the best places for synth explorations.

QRD – Do you keep notes on how to play your songs?

Aaron – I should, but rarely do.

QRD – How often do you have line-up changes & how do they effect the band?

Aaron – Almost never. We’ve only had 6 official members in 18 years.

QRD – How do band practices differ from live shows?

Aaron – We’re better at practice because I’m not so nervous.

QRD – When you hear your live recordings are you generally critical or satisfied?

Aaron – Always critical, but recently much more satisfied since John Miller joined. He’s made us SO much better.

QRD – Do you think of recorded versions or live versions of your songs as definitive?

Aaron – The records are way, way more important that the shows. That being said, I feel like playing live is a crucial part of being in a band. I’m not a big fan of bands that don’t play out.

QRD – Is there a song in your catalog you wish you never had to play again &/or one you wouldn’t mind playing every night?

Aaron – We don’t have “hits”, so we don’t feel pressure to play any one song at every show, which is nice. I love playing “Finally” because it’s super fun & wouldn’t mind playing it at every show.

QRD – What do you do to stay interested in your set each night?

Aaron – That’s a problem I’ve never faced.

QRD – Do you do the same set every night on a tour?

Aaron – We have an outline with interchangeable parts.

QRD – How does the audience effect what or how you play on a given night?

Aaron – They don’t effect what/how we play, but they have a huge effect on my enjoyment/bummedness.

QRD – Do you take new songs on the road or stick with released material?

Aaron – We try to stick with released material, but it’s not a hard & fast rule.

QRD – Do you throw in cover songs & how do you select them?

Aaron – Nope.

QRD – How do you deal with bad stage sound & bad sound guys?

Aaron – Bad stage sound is par for the course. We just fight through it. Bad sound guys can be dealt with by being super easygoing & letting them do their job. We used to be more staunch in how we wanted our sound presented, but sometimes it’s just not worth fighting with someone & wrecking the whole night. Since we exclusively play very small venues, our main trick is to bypass the soundman & just use stage sound. Our amps are loud enough to handle just about every place we play, so it makes things super easy.

QRD – What do you do when equipment malfunctions on stage?

Aaron – Show must go on.

QRD – What have you learned to do to get better sound regardless of the venue?

Aaron – Make sure our stage sound is honed at practice. Bypass the PA & just use it for vocals.

QRD – What’s something you hate seeing other bands do?

Aaron – Play too long!!! 30 minutes is perfect. 40 minutes is almost always too long.

QRD – What’s the best compliment/worst insult you’ve gotten after a show?

Aaron – Best compliment - “If I had a band I’d hope they sound as good as you guys”.
Worst insult - “You don’t even know how to play guitar”- that one stung because it had the ring of truth.

QRD – Do you ever tour with bands other than your own as a hired hand & if so how is that experience different?

Aaron – I’ve never done that.

QRD – Do you prefer playing with another touring band or just locals?

Aaron – Either way is fine. How they sound, if they’re nice, & length of set is more important, in my opinion.

QRD – Do you try to listen to the local opening bands on tour?

Aaron – Absolutely!

QRD – What makes you like a particular city?

Aaron – A good record store, good hamburgers, nice people at the show.

QRD – What makes you like a particular venue?

Aaron – Nice soundperson (or no soundperson), equitable revenue sharing.

QRD – What do you have for merch?

Aaron – Tons of records, tapes, CDs, pins, & usually t shirts for tour.

QRD – Do you try to have any specialized merch for live shows?

Aaron – Pins & shirts.

QRD – What’s a merch item you think about selling but haven’t yet?

Aaron – A delay pedal (but we’re fixing that oversight).

QRD – Besides band members, how many people do you bring on tour & what are their duties?

Aaron – Aside from band members, we’ve had some friends come along to hang out & we took our daughter on the most recent Landing tour.

QRD – When you’re on tour, does someone take a father figure role of responsibility?

Aaron – Adrienne’s the most responsible, so she usually sets up our lodging, but we all pretty much have our acts together.

QRD – What do you do to keep your instruments & personal belongings from being stolen?

Aaron – Our touring vehicle is unassuming, but it’s scary to think about!

QRD – Do you rent a vehicle or take out your own?

Aaron – Renting would be cost prohibitive, so we take our own.

QRD – What’s the worst car breakdown you’ve had on tour?

Aaron – The worst thing we’ve dealt with was having to replace tires. We’ve been super lucky.

QRD – What’s your ideal touring vehicle?

Aaron – It’d be great to rent a nice big van.

QRD – What plays on the radio as you drive?

Aaron – Podcasts, audiobooks, music.

QRD – How do you occupy time in the van?

Aaron – I drive (I’m a control freak in that respect), so that keeps me busy. We joke around, listen to music, watch movies, etc.

QRD – What’s your main activity to occupy your downtime when not in the van?

Aaron – Going to movies, record stores, cool restaurants that Adrienne finds, & we love stopping at historically significant spots.

QRD – How do you try to find places to eat on the road?

Aaron – I’m good with Arby’s, but Adrienne has her methods of finding cool stuff.

QRD – What’s your in a pinch fast food meal?

Aaron – Arby’s.

QRD – Do you try to make any meals for yourself on the road?

Aaron – Rarely. It’s too messy.

QRD – How many days does it take before your body is in sync with the touring lifestyle?

Aaron – Immediately.

QRD – Do you prefer to stay at people’s houses or hotels & what are the advantages & disadvantages to each?

Aaron – Cheap motels for sure! We’re pretty shy, so it’s nice to hang out with people at the show but retreat to our own spot afterward.

QRD – Do you have separate clothes for onstage than daywear?

Aaron – Not really. I might change out of shorts for the show if I’m feeling fancy.

QRD – How many changes of clothes do you take on tour?

Aaron – Around 3 or 4.

QRD – How often do you do laundry on tour?

Aaron – Every 4 days or so.

QRD – How often do you try to bathe & how do you schedule in everyone getting bathed?

Aaron – It’s easy since we tend to stay in motels.

QRD – What do you do when a band member has totally different ideas about hygiene?

Aaron – I’m the dirtiest & they haven’t booted me out yet.

QRD – How often do you try to schedule a day off?

Aaron – Days off cost money, so we try not to schedule any.

QRD – Any tips for not getting sick on the road?

Aaron – Arby’s.

QRD – Do you have a set drinking policy (none before performing or a nightly total)?

Aaron – No policy since we’re all pretty responsible. It’s never been an issue.

QRD – What’s a lesson from touring you keep forgetting & re-learning?

Aaron – Eating at 2 am isn’t so great.

QRD – What do you do the week before tour to get ready?

Aaron – Practice like crazy & get some audiobooks & playlists together.

QRD – How long does it take to convert back to day-to-day life?

Aaron – I think it probably takes 3 days or so. Adjusting back is brutal.

QRD – How do you test for personality conflicts between band members before touring?

Aaron – Luckily, we haven’t dealt with any problems of this sort yet. We’re all really good friends & get along famously.

QRD – How has touring effected how you feel about playing in your hometown?

Aaron – It makes me appreciate our hometown crowd. Playing somewhere for 3 people, like we do pretty often, is fun & doesn’t bum me out, but it’s nice to play a nice big show to our friends.

QRD – How do you feel about fans putting live cell phone videos up on YouTube?

Aaron – I think it’s great!!! We’ll never be able to afford to tour extensively, so I’m glad people in far off places have a chance to see us play.

QRD – Do you see touring as mainly a promotional tool for your new albums?

Aaron – No, it’s purely for fun.

QRD – Do you try to practice as a band while on the road or just stick to the performances?

Aaron – We just stick to the shows.

QRD – Do you have time to practice your instrument while on the road?

Aaron – No.

QRD – Does your time with your instrument go up or down on the road compared to normal?

Aaron – Probably down a little bit. I play for at least an hour every day & since our shows are 30 minutes, it’s less time playing - but playing live is completely unlike practicing at home. Apples & oranges. Playing on stage is more valuable than noodling around at home, so I always improve on tour.

QRD – Do you try to hit museums or any touristy things while you travel?

Aaron – Always!

QRD – Do you try to get any rudimentary grasp of a language before touring in a foreign country?

Aaron – We’ve never had the chance to tour overseas.

QRD – Do you have any pre-stage rituals before each set?

Aaron – I sweat profusely & get super nervous every single time.

QRD – Does “what happens on tour, stays on tour” apply for you?

Aaron – No.

QRD – Have you ever or would you like to do a bus/train/mass transit tour?

Aaron – That’d be impossible. Our equipment is a vital aspect to our sound, so mass transit is out.

QRD – What are your favorite & least favorite seasons to tour?

Aaron – Touring has always been limited to the summer because Adrienne gets summers off, so I’m not sure.

QRD – If money were no object, how many months a year would you spend on the road?

Aaron – I’d love to do it as much as possible. Realistically, I think I could tour for 9 or 10 months & be happy.

QRD – What would make you start touring more or start touring less?

Aaron – If touring brought in enough money for us all to quit our jobs, we’d tour more. We don’t tour much, but I suppose if someone was ill or unable to tour because of a job situation, we’d tour less.

QRD – What’s something that would cause you to cut a tour short?

Aaron – Injury/illness or running out of money.

QRD – What could happen to make you stop touring?

Aaron – I’d never stop of my own accord. If the rest of the band wasn’t into it, I guess I’d have to go along with them.

QRD – What’s something about life in general that you’ve learned from touring?

Aaron – In my 20s I had hope that making music could be a profession, but touring showed me that just wasn’t going to happen. It was a good lesson to learn early on & freed us up to do whatever the hell we wanted to without regard for marketability.

QRD – Anything else?

Aaron – Thanks!