The other night we stopped for dinner in the middle of nowhere at Buffalo Wild Wings. The eight of us (band, my brother J, our tour manager Alex, and Diddy, our driver) polished off a disgusting number of wings and got needlessly competitive over their TV trivia game. But while we were eating, a girl from a nearby table came over and introduced herself. She opened with “I know this is going to sound weird but…” and proceeded to explain that her and her table of friends were professional base jumpers. She had the ridiculous pictures on hand to prove it. They wanted to know if they could base jump off of our tour bus as it drove across this massive bridge. We said yes. Diddy said no. Something about insurance and that he didn’t want no ‘sombitches’ jumping off his goddamn bus.
But that encounter got me thinking about how so much of what I love about touring has nothing to do with music. It’s the side effects of music: people, places and experiences that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Everyday on tour has its ‘how did I get here?’ moments that you could never plan, but somehow come to expect.
Sometimes it’s getting to grab a drink with a friend you haven’t seen since high school who now lives in another state. Other times it’s playing indoor paintless paintball in Omaha, Nebraska.
At Austin City Limits this weekend I met this dude in line for the shuttle who goes to the same tiny college in San Antonio where my dad went. I told him my dad and his frat brothers once kidnapped a crocodile from the zoo and put it in the school fountain. To my surprise, he knew all about this story. At that moment The Eagles were taking the stage. My plan had been to leave my dad a voicemail of “Hotel California” but now I could also let him know his dumb hijinks had become legend at his alma mater.
But my favorite moment unrelated to music this week happened during a day off in New Orleans. Some kids from Tulane had offered to show us around the city for the day. After jambalaya and beignets, they said they were taking us to a “treehouse.” I had no idea what to expect. We pulled up to this dilapidated old house and walked right in. No one seemed to be home. Our tour guides told us it was some kind of a “hippie commune.” But when we emerged into the backyard, it became clear why they’d brought us there.
Before us stood the most legit treehouse any of us had ever seen. It was a massive sculpture of junkyard objects and McDonald’s playplace tubing. And stretching between two trees, about 40 feet in the air, was a giant web of rope and netting that you could walk out on. For about 45 minutes, we were all eight-years-old again.—Ryan