I don’t party on tour. I’ve had sex maybe a handful of times. Once I did coke in an Omaha parking garage, and once in a green room at SXSW but that’s about it. I’m usually the designated driver and after the show I almost always want to go to bed.
Am I just tired? It’s not that I don’t like drugs, I just don’t like doing them in public spaces. I’m a survivor of incest. I’m in recovery, I have PTSD and I wig out easily. It’s hard for me to feel safe enough to drink or do drugs at a show, especially in a strange place around a bunch of strange people. Even if they’re other musicians or music fans.
This makes it weird for me to be a working musician in a few ways:
- People still insist on buying you drinks. Even when you decline, they will bring you a drink.
- If you tell people you don’t drink, they think you’re a drunk or that something horrible has happened (it has, but it’s not alcohol-related).
- If you don’t tell people you’re sober, they’ll just think you’re a creep who hangs out and watches everyone else get drunk.
- Even people who you think are your allies don’t get it, and won’t show up for you when you need it. Here’s an actual conversation I had on a tour with my former drummer, who I consider to be my brother:
Me: Can you come stand with me at the merch, this guy is really creeping me out and I feel unsafe.
Drummer: Nah, you gotta deal with that shit yourself. That’s FEMINISM.
- No one will really “get it” unless they’re also a survivor. If you talk about your experience and the real reason you’re not partying at the show in Indianapolis, or wherever the fuck you are, people will become uncomfortable. It’s easier to tell someone that you have diarrhea than to try and explain your vibe and your reality.
There is a point in the night where even the people you really, really like become super annoying because they’re high, and you’re not. That is the point when I recommend going home. Except you can’t really do that on tour. All you can do is hide in the van, or the hotel room and go the fuck to sleep.
In addition to going to sleep, here is some advice if you are a survivor, don’t feel safe a lot of the time and want to be a musician when literally every other musician you know is getting fucked up at the show:
- Load out and settle up as soon as you’re done playing. Then you can leave whenever you need to.
- Always Be French Exiting: if you’re done playing, tell people you’re going to go pee and then just walk out the door and go home. By the time they realize you’re gone, you’ll be asleep or doing drugs at home (see below).
- Get a dog. You’ll always have an excuse to leave when you’re not on tour.
- When people offer you drugs, accept them and stash them somewhere. Then take them at home or in a place where you feel safe. I’ve done this a lot.
- Have your roommate test the drugs for you, while narrating their drug experience to make sure that random stranger didn’t just hand you a joint laced with PCP or something. I’ve done this too, shout out to my courageous roommate.
- Treat yourself well. Go to therapy, meditate, find other survivors. They might not be musicians but they’ll be like you in the most important ways. I’ve found it so validating and healing to hear other survivors’ stories. I go to SIA meetings twice a week, but there are other programs out there. Find one and give it a try.
Above all, listen to and take care of yourself, remember that literally everyone else is high, and you don’t need to put yourself and your mental health in danger in order to follow your dreams. Let them think you’re a creep. Just respect yourself, make your art and fuck the rest.