Punk Rock Tour Tales is a new Shout Louder feature, where we interview bands about their tour stories. Read them all here.
Lucinda Livingstone is the vocalist and guitarist of Cultdreams (previously Kamikaze Girls), and a wonderfully minimalist illustrator under the name Bloodflower Design. She also looks after one of our favourite reads: Ladyfuzz Zine.
As Cultdreams prepare to embark on their biggest ever UK tour in support of their new album Things That Hurt (out now on Big Scary Monsters), Sarah asked Lucinda about their best, worst and weirdest tour experiences.
Of the touring you’ve done, what’s been your favourite so far?
That’s such a hard question, I couldn’t pick one. But out of the last 10 years here’s a couple that stand out…
The 8 weeks that we did in the US and Canada completely self-booked off the back of our 5-track EP SAD coming out. We toured with four different bands over those weeks in Canada, the East Coast, and the West Coast. I remember getting to Fest in Florida at the five and a half week point. The day after Fest we went to the airport and flew to LA and did another two and a half weeks on the West Coast. I don’t think either of us had a clue where we were each day on that final stretch. It was long and tiring but we travelled with so many amazing people and had some really amazing shows.
The first-ever tour we did with Nervus is also a stand out one. We didn’t know Nervus personally in any way. I’d already booked all the shows, I just asked Em if they wanted to play with us and she said yes and the rest is history. They arrived at my house in Leeds and Em had exploded a bottle of hot sauce all over her bag; we woke up in the morning and set off to Scotland and I think it took about ten minutes for the vibe in the van to descend into extremely loud screaming. We’ve toured together quite a lot since.
Lastly, the month we did with TWIABP in the UK and Europe was incredible. Just all-round amazing shows, wonderful people and it was actually quite a chilled tour as most of the shows were two band bills every night. We had so much time to wander around each country we were in and hang out during the day. It just went really smoothly which never really happens. I’m leaving out the part where we sat in a Mercedes garage for a day waiting for a repair in Berlin because that fucking sucked.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever driven to play a 30 minute set?
I think the furthest we’ve ever travelled to play a 30-minute set will have been Fest in America. Every year we’ve toured around it, but there was one year we literally just flew out to play 30 minutes at Fest, and honestly, it was one of the best shows we’ve ever played. We got bumped up that year to a 600 cap room and we couldn’t believe anyone showed up. That was also the last time we played in America, so I hope we can go back soon.
In the UK I think we’ve probably done like a south-north drive to play 30 minutes at an all-dayer or a festival but that’s pretty normal for every band.
Have you ever looked around on tour and thought ‘what the fuck is happening’?
Yes, every tour I ever do I definitely have a moment, or multiple moments where I’m like ‘What exactly are we doing? Why am I here? What is my life?’
On the most recent Cultdreams headline tour, our photographer Martin kept laughing at me as my catchphrase always seemed to be ‘Why Am I So Disgusting?’, which was normally me coming off stage a sweaty mess after playing every night.
I think the ‘what the fuck is happening’ literally applies to everything on tour. Be it something weird is happening, you’re playing a show and people actually care, or you’re sat in the van reassessing your life choices and wishing you hadn’t chosen a job that gives you such savage quality of life sometimes!
When was the first / last time that you had a ‘fuck, this isn’t worth it’ moment?
If I’m being completely honest I had that in October this year. From mid-August to mid-November I did six tours. After the fourth one finished, I had a week or so off before the next started. I had really bad flu, and I was having a lot of dread about going back out.
Again, being completely honest, I think the week before that tour started I probably cried every day or broke down about not wanting to do it in some sort of form. I was trying to look for ways out but soon realised I had committed and there wasn’t a way out. I think that’s what’s scary. Being in multiple bands and saying yes to as much as possible, only to realise that although you’re physically capable and available to tour, it doesn’t mean you mentally are.
I don’t think I could even remember the first time I had that thought. I’ve been doing this since I was 13. I remember some of the early tours I did with my first band, when I was about 17, and my band were all a couple years older.
I’d be the only non-male person on a tour of 10-12 people and it was just constantly like that. I actually found it quite hard and I also think touring at that age with 19-22-year-old guys desperate to act like the ‘cool band dude’ the whole time is going to be detrimental to anyone.
I do remember a particular moment on the way to High Wycombe getting a phone call saying the show was cancelled and we just had nowhere to go for like two days because the day after was a day off. If that happened now we’d literally just find friends to crash at and chill out but when you’re 17, your tour managing skills aren’t great and five kids from Hull on their first tour definitely didn’t have a lot of friends outside of Hull at that point. I can laugh at it now, but I remember hating a lot of that particular tour.
How did you overcome it?
Just touring more and having more experience with dealing with shit situations happening constantly. But really you never overcome the ‘fuck, this isn’t worth it’ because at our level a lot of the time it seems like it isn’t.
What are your tips for surviving a tour?
- Surround yourself with people you’re comfortable with that will look out for you, care about your well being and allow you to do the same for them. Being away for weeks on end and having no one ask you if you’re alright once it’s very isolating.
- If there’s something you need support with from your band/crew that isn’t obvious, take the time to tell them at the beginning or when it happens, it honestly will pay off in the long run.
- If you need to take time for yourself away from your touring party, just tell someone and go and do it, don’t worry about being antisocial, we all need space.
- Work out the stuff you need to feel comfortable and bring it with you, don’t worry about what other people think.
Do you have a long-serving tour vehicle? What are its quirks?
No we don’t! Neither of us is financially stable enough to own a van or run one, so we just rent. In the early days I had a Volkswagen Polo that we toured in a lot, and after that bit the dust Conor had a Fiesta Red Mitsubishi that we called Jarvis. It was a Japanese edition of the car so everything around the steering wheel was the opposite way around. We once broke down on the way to a festival in London and someone on the internet told us we were ‘fairweather punks’ for not hitchhiking our way to London.
What’s your soundtrack in the van?
All sorts! We go between podcasts and music depending on how long the drive is. Sometimes podcasts are good at night because it keeps your mind occupied and keeps you awake. Conor and me are both fans of Craig Reynolds podcast ‘The Downbeat’ so it’s always great when a new one of those comes out mid-tour. A lot of the time we’ll listen to our friends’ bands or just anyone who has a new record out. There was a drive from Belgium to Southampton recently where we just listened to the Rammstein discography.
If I’m driving late at night I tend to put very mellow stuff on like Lucy Dacus, Tomberlin, Death Cab for Cutie, but if Conor’s driving he’ll tend to listen to a football podcast or something. We’ve definitely driven through some very creepy places at 4am listening to podcasts about true crime or paranormal stuff which I would not recommend to anyone that gets spooked easily like me!
Do you have a luxury item you take with you?
Kind of. If it’s a long tour and I can fit it in I take my Nutribullet with me. I use this vegan meal replacement supplement on tour a lot called Huel and it’s so much nicer if you can blend it. I’ve been trying to get them to endorse us for a couple of years now, I wish they’d hurry up and do it already.
Are there any van in-jokes that are safe to share with us?
There are too many, and if I explained them I feel like none of them would make sense because they’re all really dumb and stupid.
If you could choose any band alive, which band would you most like to tour with?
Am I allowed two? If so The Cure and Manchester Orchestra. Actually, can that just be a tour? The Cure, MO, and Cultdreams?
Catch Cultdreams on their biggest ever UK tour:
21.02.20 – Manchester – YES
22.02.20 – Leeds – Hyde Park Book Club
23.02.20 – Glasgow – Poetry Club
24.02.20 – Birmingham – The Sunflower Lounge
25.02.20 – Bristol – Exchange Basement *
26.02.20 – London – Boston Music Room
27.02.20 – Brighton – The Prince Albert
* co-headline with Chris Farren
Tickets on sale 10am Friday 29th November 2019: http://www.cultdreams.co.uk
Punk Rock Tour Tales is a new Shout Louder feature, where we quiz bands about their best and worst tour stories. Read them all here.