Steven Jarvis’ guide to what you WILL need on tour…listen closely as he counts down the top 10 items that we couldn’t have toured without (and the stories behind them!).
Space for Thrift store finds! During colonial times they took our resources so let’s start taking them back one thrift find at a time. In the UK, charity stores are full of some fairly new/hardly worn clothes meaning you can find some gems for cheap. I found a pair of barely worn size 12 Vans for 4 Pounds (Less than R100 at the time…pre Covid wrecking the exchange rate!) and a pair of maroon corduroy pants for the same. You can get ripped off at some thrift shops but we were lucky to be shows around by some knowledgeable locals in Dalston, East of London. We even did an amazing photoshoot with them!
9 Spare Strings/ small bits and cables. Anything that could go wrong will go wrong so plan for the worst and don’t be surprised when there is something! Lucky we didn’t snap any strings this tour but we did have to swop out jacks a few times. We are really glad Dubai International Airport made the decision to allow us to keep ours!
8 International Sim Card with data and wifi capabilities. Communication is key- whether it be letting your mom know you’re still alive or asking a mate last minute to fetch you from Newcastle airport (Big up to Quaid Lagan– owe you many beers mate). Also got to keep them socials up to date! Plus if you plan well you can save yourself taking a laptop that would just end up being another bag to lug around.
7 Soft big jacket, multi purpose and cuddly. Having a big jacket that I could use as a pillow or as a sleeping bag (depending on the nature of your DIY tour digs) saved my life on a particularly cold night spent in Manchester on our mate Tom from Oystercatcher’s spare room floor.
6 Watertight shoes/boots, you never know whether the weather is going to be on your side (especially in the UK)! Make sure your toes are nice and dry. My pair of Doc Martins have been my go to shoes for 2 years. I actually bought them off Stu, the bass player of Retro Dizzy – a really dope CT based band. I first wore my docs at Splashy Fen Festival and they saved my toes when the campsite ended up turning into a mud slide.
5 Moon bag/ Fanny pack, having a decent sized bag can save you an extra trip of carrying gear! It also keeps your goods nice and secure/close to your person so that pickpockets don’t steal any money- or worse your travel documents. Luckily we didn’t encounter any of them but it was better to err on the safe side of caution. Plus, it’s a rad accessory so you get to look like a cool hipster softboi. Don’t you think Fran looks like one?
4 Camera, we live in a day and age where content is king! Social media is a beast we all have to ride if we want to get our music out there to the world… but bad phone camera quality pictures just aren’t going to cut it. Fran brought her own Pretty nice Camera that meant we could take pictures and create content. We used Snapbridge to transfer the pics to our phones. We also recorded content that would last a few months on the socials. If you don’t have the pictures did you even go on tour ?
3 Power Supplies, running the setup Fran and I used this tour would not have been possible at all without power from looper to synth. Unfortunately on the second (or third) last night in London I left my power supply for my sample pad which meant having to work around not having that as part of the set up. On that note any one with a 5,9v Dc power please call me! We also almost left a whole lot more than a power supply in London- on our last night we left the bag with our synth, cables and power supplies at our venue. We noticed when we were already on the bus at 11.30pm! It took 30 minutes of running back through a forest in the dark but luckily the venue was still open.
2 Plug adapters, not all countries have the same plug points so you need to be prepared. Besides for performing we all need to make sure our phones are charged. Getting around a foreign land demands Google maps! We used a cool app called CityMapper which gave us all of the different travel options and consistently told us how much cheaper walking would be. It was especially helpful for learning the ins and outs of the London Underground. Oh and obviously you need to power your electronics, in my case the synth and my loop pedal, sample pad and sanity
1 Antibiotics and meds!!! medication is crazy expensive outside of SA so you don’t want to hand over more than you need. Plus with busy schedules you might not have time to go get meds. Getting a first aid kit, usual meds and antibiotics is recommended as sometimes you need a course or in Fran’s case 2! Also travel and airports are full of tour ending bugs and baddies (wow…feeling kinda ironic reading this back while locked down by the biggest “baddy” the world has seen in a while!) Keep healthy and try make sure you’re as prepared as possible for anything and everything. Then you can focus on what really matters- playing some epic shows!
Steven is the bassist for Frances Clare, follow him at @steven_jarvis_music