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On the Road with RJ Reynolds (Stolas)- Chapter 2

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a band on tour? RJ Reynolds of Stolas gives us his experience and perspective; an honest and personal look at life on the road.
In case you missed it, here’s Chapter 1.
Here’s the next installment of his tour diary:

 

Chapter 2: Release Navidad

Picking up where we left off, our crew piled into the van in preparation for an overnight drive to Houston, TX. Sergio and Rex have SO’s living in Houston and San Antonio, respectively, so we decided to do the whole thing in a stretch. Additionally, Henry from Mylets (and by “from,” I mean I just refer to him as Henry Mylets cause he’s a one-man loop monster) has a lady in El Paso, so we added that stop to the list and set off.

Booking agents like to parse out long drives with a day off, but sometimes, the trips are so long that there is invariably a whole day spent in the van. On those days, the claustrophobia really sets in for everyone. You want to spread out and relax in solitary but it feels like you’ve crammed your entire extended family onto a van seat for Thanksgiving, replete with all of the off color jokes and bad breath that carries them. You begrudge everyone any bit of personal space you must inevitably concede. You’d just as soon bite someone’s hand than pass them the aux cable, and then one of you tells a great joke and the mood soars like Grandpa Joe on Fizzy Lifting Dri

nk. On top of managing all the other resources on tour like money and gas, morale must be watched closely lest it waver.

After the prerequisite stops, we pulled into my grandparents’ house at 3AM, quietly filing in and getting some much needed rest. My grandparents have supported my touring endeavors for nearly four years now, and I am so grateful this part of my life brings me much closer to my family on a regular(ish) basis. I don’t think it’s any secret that most touring musicians I know wouldn’t be doing any of this if not for the support of our families and loved ones.

And as fate would have it, the next morning my family got a lot bigger when I proposed to my girlfriend over FaceTime. I know you’re really excited about the gooey details of that last sentence, and I won’t deny you: FaceTime is a wonderful service available on Apple products that allows video calling via WiFi or mobile data. It’s so versatile and useful to both brick-and-mortar businesses and workers on the go. Like this one time, I used it to ask my girlfriend to marry me.

I was riding that high when we rolled into the Houston show that evening. Texas proper is one of our favorite places to play. The fans are endlessly supportive and exponentially multiply the energy we give them, so my romantic elation only amplified what was already a killer show. All of our unwavering love to Walter’s, Manny, Vox Vocis, and everybody who got down with us that night.

We made into San Antonio the following afternoon after the expected traffic (where Icarus ran afoul of those meddlesome highway shoulders), loading in and meeting with our first ever touring live engineer, Andrew Demer…Demecur…DeMysterio. Andrew Rey Mysterio? Andy reached out to us about doing FOH for us, and I’m so glad we went with him. He brings a great attitude to every show, and he genuinely loves what he does. At the time of this writing, every in-house engineer he’s met on this tour has really appreciated and benefited from his experience.

Just the same as Houston, San Antonio throws down hard. Something I’ve always enjoyed about playing in Stolas is how we make little changes in a piece to make it more impactful onstage, like adding a slow build in “Year of the Light” or punching up the dynamic shifts at the end of “Allokinetic.” It makes it all the more worthwhile when we play a crowd as intimate with our music as San Antonio and they can dig on every variation. It was the perfect place to release our album.

After a day off spent with mimosas, Irish Creme cinnamon rolls, and a margarita lunch, we started yet another long drive day toward Florida for a couple of shows. This particular drive is one with which we were well acquainted, the route sparsely populated with any big cities along that way to break up the drive. We’ve spent these drives stopping for any oddity fare along the way, shooting off fireworks on a beach, and crashing a cover band set (much to their enjoyment and surprise). I think that’s when being a low-budget touring band really shines for me: taking any otherwise daunting experience and making it unforgettably positive, where all of the dross and grit fall from memory.

Fortunately, we hit Orlando during a freak bout of decent weather that didn’t drown residents in boiling sweat. We got an oil change (always keep up with van maintenance, ya dingus), parked downtown, and spent the early part of the day in various parts of the city. There were swan rides in the lake. There were free coffees. There were bike rides round the city. And, of course, there was yet another killer Orlando show. Shout out to Callie for following my dog on Instagram.

Alex Budnick of Hindrance Supply Co. kindly opened his home to us for the next two nights while we played a show just outside Ft. Lauderdale at surprisingly well-attended sports bar. The following morning, most of us went to the beach while Rex, Nathan, and I hung back to get some work done (for example, this very tour diary). As fun as tour is, it’s oddly cathartic to have that odd day here and there where you brew some coffee, have vita bowl of oatmeal, and get cracking on something with a fast-approaching deadline. Then, you pack up your laptop, pile in the van, and haul ass to the next city amid inside jokes and quick gulps of Vitamin C.

Which, in this case, was Atlanta.

Findings:

  • Eloping is the perfect example of how the simplest option is rarely simple.
  • Tim plans to teach the entire tour package to juggle before Anaheim.
  • If a restaurant patron turns down a blood mary, you cannot offer to purchase it.
  • Restaurants are fucking wasteful, no-good spoil sports.
  • Nathan does a killer Coach McGurk impersonation. And Andre the Giant. And Zoidberg. And a didgeridoo.

– Written by RJ Reynolds
All photos by @brownmetal

Stay tuned for more from RJ about life on the road.

Listen to Stolas’ new self-titled album below:

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Catch Stolas on tour right now. Get your tickets here!

3/23 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
3/24 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
3/26 Grand Prairie, TX @ So What?! Music Festival
3/27 Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th St. Collective
3/28 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar Lounge
3/29 Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theatre
3/30 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Smiling Moose
3/31 Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
4/1 New York City, NY @ Studio at Webster Hall
4/2 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East
4/4 Philadelphia, PA @ The Voltage Lounge
4/5 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
4/6 Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern
4/7 Detroit, MI @ The Ritz
4/8 Chicago, IL @ Subt Downstairs
4/10 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
4/11 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
4/12 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Loading Dock
4/14 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
4/15 Portland, OR @ Analog
4/17 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
4/18 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction