The last 3 months I’ve been traveling every weekend – I’m thoroughly adjusted to my routine and recently it includes commute by airplane twice a week. I’m on tour with Chivas but I only do shows on Friday and Saturday, so I return home in Chengdu for the rest of the week.
Every Friday morning I wake up early and catch a flight to another city, almost always in central China (Xian, Changsha, Wuhan, Yinchuan, Guiyang, etc) and work for two nights. As you might imagine it’s not as simple as showing up, doing the show, and going home. Every weekend I play in at least two different clubs (more on extended weekends) and I haven’t returned to the same venue in six months. Each location is different – some are large bars, some look like Chinese opera venues, and some are mega clubs. Playing in such a wide variety of places has been good for me, I’ve learned to adapt to a previously unimaginable number of situations. Sometimes it’s great fun and everyone is drinking and dancing, other times I feel like a corporate pawn who collects the deer-eyed stares of hillbillys who’ve never seen a caucasian. More often than not it’s enjoyable and rewarding, from meeting friendly people at every stop who eagerly give me big smiles, cigarettes, and business cards, to drinking Scottish whiskey with locals who gush to me about the beautiful culture/women/food/lifestyle of their hometown. The worst part is the transit, but I’m getting used to that. I’m used to sleeping until noon on my time and waking up at 6am to catch a flight to here or there. Sometimes I spend 12+ hours in a car over the course of weekend, sleeping in the front seat, listening to MP3s, or watching movies on my laptop. I could draw you a map of the layout of half a dozen Chinese airports from memory.
What separates this routine from most is the stiff dose of unpredictability. I never know how the gig will turn out, but I often learn something new. Despite first impressions at sound check, I can rarely guess how the night will turn out with any accuracy. And when I think I can, I’m quickly proven wrong. The chance that I’ll stumble upon something outstanding that I didn’t know I was looking for is always in the back of my mind. With my American 9-5 routine in mind, all the chaos of what I do here is a blessing and exactly what I came here looking for. Of course, I wasn’t aware of that at the time.
When I get home on Monday afternoon I’m always exhausted. Three days on the road doesn’t seem like much, but I’m always happy to come home afterwards. I wouldn’t be happy to be constantly on the road for months at a time like I’ve been in the past. I really loathe the touring and living in a hotel life, as exotic and cool as it sounds.¬† So when I return home, my life goes somewhat back to normal. Yesterday I played on Xbox Live for the entire afternoon. The day before that I watched Hackers while installing OSX on my laptop (a Lenovo). At least twice a week I go to an American Tex-Mex restaurant down the street. And in between, I hang out with friends, play chess, practice guitar and piano, and geek out on the couch.
I arrived in Hunan a few hours ago and there’s some freak weather here – it’s 75 degrees outside and the sun is shining. I’m going to go walk around, find a restaurant, and order a local dish.