• UO Music: Staying Healthy on the Road with Waters

    Sara DaMert has an old photo from the first tour she went on with her brother, Brian, and friend, Greg Sellin. In it, the guys are touching their toes with their backs facing the camera outside of a roadside rest stop. “Looking at it made me realize, ‘damn, we’ve really been on that exercise tip for a while,'” she says, laughing. 

    In this past year, Sara has played keyboard for Waters, a scratchy San Francisco synth-pop band led by ex-Port O’Brien front man Van Pierszalowski. Alongside her is her brother, who plays guitar, and Greg on bass. In just one year, Waters has gone on the road with everyone from Magic Man, Matt and Kim, Tegan and Sara and most recently passed through a good portion of the U.S. with MisterWives—all in support of their sophomore release, What’s Real

    It’s safe to say a lot has changed since that 2012 photograph—but a lot has stayed the same, too. They still exercise together, now on hotel gym treadmills and almost nightly during their high-energy live shows. “And we’ll still to go rest stops to stretch,” she says, “you get so antsy in the van all day that when you get out you have all this pent up energy you need to release out into the world.” 

    We went for a grocery run with Sara—which involved a series of different poses with vegetables (see below)—and discussed how she stays healthy, goal-oriented, and sane while spending 10 consecutive hours a day in a van with a bunch of guys. 
    Photos by Harrison Glazier 

    You just recently came home from a two-month cross-country tour. How have you been adjusting?  

    Well, you get into one routine and you know that it’s going to change in [a certain] amount of weeks. So now I’m back and having to get into the routine of living back in the city—but I have these goals I set, and whether I’m on the road or at home, I’m working towards them. On the road, I want to have really good shows, play well, and have fun. The goal is really to get the whole process of being in a band super streamlined. At home, I’m pretty unstructured in my creative process, but I have to set goals so I feel like I can check them off the list, because that feels nice.

    You mentioned that you came from a sports-oriented background—playing soccer and basketball in high school and college. At what point did you make the shift to music?

    First, I was the person who made the mixtape that we’d run out to on the basketball court. For soccer, too, we’d have the hour-long warm up and I’d make these super chill mixes. I mean, I always wanted to get into music, [although] I couldn’t even understand how a guitar really worked until maybe eighth grade or something. When I was messing around with the piano at our house, I didn’t realize what I was doing was actually making music. 

    From there, how did it become more of a career goal?
I was into the electronic music scene at my college, and I somehow acquired Ableton and started making music on my computer. I didn’t even get what I was doing—it sounded like machines dying, the shit that I was making! But I quickly realized making music and performing was something I truly loved to do, and I never really got that feeling with anything else in my life, so that really inspires me. When my brother started a new band called The Tambo Rays and needed members I was like, "Well, I can learn to play actual instruments and sing." Last fall I started touring with Waters and I've learned so much about making music, performing, and the industry as a whole—and I'm using what I've learned to set goals for myself. 

    What do you do when you’re on tour and want to relax and wind down?
    Well, we’re in a van, and we’re all driving it—which can be relaxing, actually. I got really into meditating on the road; just sitting and being super aware of my surroundings, reading a lot of books and listening to podcasts about it. When we get to where we’d play that night or our hotel, we’d get all exercised out. We’d be running on the hotel treadmills, lifting weights, sometimes I’ll just be doing yoga in the corner while the guys are off doing something else. 

    Waters is a high-energy band, but you jump up and down and move around more than anyone up there. How do you maintain that energy for such a long period of time? 
    I like to dance and have fun, so it's second nature when I get on stage. For me, it's really important to give everything I have to the audience. They give me the fuel I need to keep the energy going through the entire set. I'm really fortunate to get to do what I love—and part of that is putting on a really fun show. It was really impressive watching Mandy [of MisterWives] perform during this last tour, because she’s crazy on stage, bouncing off walls and singing the whole time. That’s a skill and endurance thing, and I’ve just been trying to build my endurance during the shows. Usually before I go on stage I do a backbend and stretch a bit—it helps relax me and gets me ready!

    Let’s talk about your diet, which is mostly vegetarian. How do you that when your options are so limited? 
    I've been vegetarian and pescatarian since 2012, so I'm pretty used to finding something i can eat on tour—although I'm giving up fishy friends for the new year. I've gotten a lot better at not stressing out about food on the road, thanks to the past few tours. I just have to do a little research, but there's almost always a health food store or Whole Foods in just about every major city, and vegetarian options at most restaurants near the venues. It's when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere that it gets a bit tricky, but I'm getting better at planning ahead so I have food to hold me over in between big cities. 

    Waters is going on a weeklong tour in February up the West Coast. If you could have one home cooked meal brought to you at one of your shows, what would it be?
    If it’s going to be cold, my mom makes a really cool escarole bean soup that’s super delicious. Cold day is good for chili, you know? I can imagine myself being on the road and wanting something warm like that.

    What’s the strangest meal you’ve concocted while in the van during one of those 10-hour driving stints?

    Oh god. One time I made the terrible decision of buying fermented cabbage. I opened it up in the van and it smelled so bad. It was one of those things where I realized after I’d opened it that it probably should have been refrigerated!

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