The Way of The To’: Caddywhompus Achieves Road Nirvana
If you get a ticket, don’t pay it. You probably won’t be back there for a year or two and your band will probably be broken up anyways.
Originally from Houston, Chris Rehm (guitar/vocals) and Sean Hart (drums) have made New Orleans their home since 2008 and have continued to make a lasting impression. They have won hearts locally and nationally as the one-of-a-kind noise pop duo, Caddywhompus. As they stated in a past interview withANTIGRAVITY (May 2011) “If you’re not touring, you’re not doing anything, really.” So before they made the journey out on their fourth national tour, I asked them how they do it. I made my way over to Chris’ new pad and chatted with them over a game of pool about leaving New Orleans to face the open road.
What is the plan for your tour this summer?
Chris Rehm: This upcoming tour we start August 2nd.
Sean Hart: A kickoff show with Limb in Houston.
CR: Then we tour until late September, so about a month and a half. Midwest, east coast; and we’re going to play Goldrush Festival in Colorado.
Most people are not privy to the to’ (pronounced “toe”), so please explain: what is the to’?
Chris Rehm: The to’ is a state of mind.
Sean Hart: We don’t talk about the to’. Chris obviously doesn’t know what the to’ is because we don’t talk about the to’.
How do you prepare for tour? What do you need?
SH: Before you tour, you should probably have a record.
CR: Usually we like to have something new to show people.
SH: You should probably know some people in other places. Build a regional following before you try to go waste a bunch of money in a huge city somewhere far away.
CR: A lot of bands will only book a couple of shows wherever they are from and then have a 20 hour drive to play New York—
SH: —or L.A. and think that it will be worthwhile. That’s fun, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about meeting a bunch of people along the way.
CR: Small cities are great; places that don’t have a very active music scene of its own or where a lot of bands neglect coming through. People get really excited to see a band that is going to bigger cities come through and put on an interesting show.
SH: You also shouldn’t expect to play an amazing show everywhere you go.
CR: This time we tried to work out some anchored dates: shows with bands that we really want to play with, university shows. Shows where we will have some money coming in are the ones we book first. Then we try to fill in the gaps.
How do you build contacts around the country?
CR: If you feel like you don’t have enough contacts or friends out across the country, start playing locally and wait for a touring band to come though. Book a show for them and try to make friends with them; or you can invite bands that you like that are just starting out to come through. Then swap some dates and meet up with them in their home town. That’s how a lot of our friendships were made.
Any other advice for pre-tour?
CR: Before you tour, make sure you have a reliable vehicle—know its history.
[On a recent tour with best buds, Sun hotel, Bobandi, the Sun Hotel van, broke down while in Texas. The boys were stranded at a Super 8 motel for three days in a small town called Fate, outside of Dallas. Bobandi has yet to make a full recovery.]
Also, avoid going west first. It’s a lot of driving and a lot of long drives.
What does one need to bring on the to’?
CR: Always bring a bathing suit.
SH: And always wear the bathing suit. You never know when you’re going swimming and you’re always wet.
CR: Bring a towel (like they say in Hitchhiker’s Guide).
SH: I bring all of my clothes with me on tour. Texas alone is ruthless—a lot of different climates. [laughs]
CR: I bring more underwear than t-shirts.
SH: Be prepared to ask for things. I break a lot of drum stuff so I’m always borrowing something; a stool or high hat stand. So I offer my stuff out too; but always be cool about it.
CR: Remember to have extra cables.
What do you bring with you to help you save money?
CR: We bring a rice cooker and make to’ritos with rice, beans, salsa, mixed veggies and corn.
SH: It’s not about what you bring on the to’. It’s about what you get at the gas station.
CR: Flamin’ Hot Fries. Monster. Maybe a Butterfinger if I’m feeling wild.
SH: Gummy bears.
CR: Limit the number of knick-knacks you get at the gas station and try and get as much free beer from the venues as possible.
On tour, you’re meeting a lot of new people and may end up relying on them for something. Any tips on dealing with strangers?
CR: You get really good at figuring out the type of people that you’d like to spend the night with… as in whose floor is going to not be covered in cat shit. But you make mistakes—you slip up. [laughs]
SH: You are going to have to ask a lot of favors, so try to offer them help if they are interested in coming where you’re from.
How do you deal with each other?
CR: We listen to loud music. Try not to lose your temper—I lose my temper.
SH: Chris has a hot temper sometimes.
CR: Remember that you’re stuck in a car with a person.
SH: Shit happens. You’re going to get in fights.
CR: The last three tours we’ve brought along a “Designated To’ Enhancer,” meaning we bring along a friend. It’s good to have someone else in the car to be a witness to anything that you’re going to regret saying or that you don’t want anyone to see.
SH: We don’t really have a good understanding of a normal band of 4 people or so, because it’s just the two of us and we’ve known each other forever. The fights are hilarious, though. They are just kind of weird and not action related.
CR: I punched Sean in the head once.
Why did you punch Sean in the head?
CR: I was standing on the back tire to get something out of our roof rack at a gas station. Sean giggled and drove forward.
SH: I giggled?
CR: I was certain he was going to drive over my foot so I flipped out, ran inside the passenger side and hit him on the side of the head. I felt really bad afterwards though.
You’re on the road and so are cops. How do you avoid sticky situations?
CR: Don’t speed. Never speed.
SH: You don’t want to get pulled over, have something happen and have to cancel shows. Find out how to talk to cops. Look it up.
CR: Don’t have any pieces or anything in the car. No glass.
SH: If you get a ticket, don’t pay it. You probably won’t be back there for a year or two and your band will probably be broken up anyways.
Thoughts on to’mance?
SH: What? What is a to’mance? Is that even a word?
CR: Well, I think it’s too stressful. I avoid them at all cost.
SH: Jesus said thou shalt not mance on the to’.
CR: You never know when someone is someone’s other. I don’t really understand the to’mance but… carpe the diem!
SH: Girls have couches, too… and usually cleaner apartments.
How do you entertain yourself on the road?
CR: I have Netflix on my iPhone. So watching a lot of “Trailer Park Boys” helps. It’s great to have access to the internet while you’re driving if that’s a possibility, but eventually after 20 days if you’re not driving, you’re sleeping.
How do you entertain yourself off the road?
CR: Having my skateboard is a must. Or if you’re a fruitbooter, that’s cool too. Bring your shred sleds. We had a racketball on the Sun Hotel-Caddy tour. Pinky: the wall ball. That was a great time.
SH: Bring a good book.
CR: Sean read the entire Dune trilogy on one tour. It’s highly recommended. We both read What is the What on one tour. That was a bummer. Always bring Tour Smart…
SH: …by Martkin Atkins. That will teach you what the to’ is.
To keep up with the boys this summer and beyond, head over to caddywhompusband.com and follow them on twitter @caddywhompus.