There’s a natural curiosity about what it’s like to live on the road: traveling from town to town, playing one stage to another, and living the life of a musician. However, when you know musicians well enough you realize that there are some real challenges with living on a tour bus (or in the “band van”). For me, I’m curious about their ability to eat well, play well, and stay well while touring and at home.
Drummers definitely have the most movement on the stage and put out the most amount of energy. Research states that drummers put out 4.0 METS during an hour of play, which is equivalent to someone going out for a leisure bike ride (<10mph) or a person who is walking while pushing a wheel chair (1). Hmmmmm, somehow I just can’t wrap my head around this MET Research. I’m thinking it is pretty outdated or their research subjects did not include non-classical musicians. If you are curious about yours, let me know–it can be arranged! New research is on the way!
Do you get it? Do you see the connection? Of all the musicians I work with it seems that drummers are the ones that often “get it.” So, I asked one of my favorite drummers, Brad Rice from The Stragglers about his views of health and staying fit while on the road.
RN: How long do you perform on average per week?
BR: We average 3 shows per week. Each show is approximately 2 hours, not including a 30 minute soundcheck. So I’d guess we average about 7 1/2 hours of play time each week.
Side note–how many of you get in at least 7+ hours a week of exercise?
RN: How do you feel after performance?
BR: After performing, it is safe to say I feel energized or even a little wired up. Sometimes this is challenging, as most shows are carrying over into the wee hours of the morning. It’s difficult to wind down after a performance, especially if the crowd is crazy.
Side note–This high is natural. Ask most runners how they feel after a race or a BMX rider how they feel after they just finished a run on the track. Highs come, but how you fuel your body after matters. This is where musicians should be looking at themselves more like an athlete and learn how to refuel after their performances.
RN: How do you eat or drink prior to performing? After?
BR: I never like to eat too close to show time, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to sit down and play drums with a full stomach. Similarly, I usually abstain from drinking any liquids about 2-3 hours before. I have a tiny bladder.
Side note–SMILE! Glad I’m not the only one! As for food, the key is to fuel up on a small amount of carbohydrates with a bit of protein to insure you have ample nourishment to get you through the set. Otherwise, your body starts to tap into your muscles as a choice of fuel. My suggestions:
- 1/2 bagel with peanut butter, almond butter, or slices of turkey
- handful of nuts and an apple
RN: Is there anything you have found that you really like and that is important to have when you’re on the road?
BR: For close to a year, I’ve been pretty dedicated to running and lifting weights. It’s definitely an asset to have a hotel with a fitness center, but not vital. As long as i have my running shoes I lack an excuse to exercise. However, lately I’ve preferred treadmills to pavement. We’ve been carrying a portable propane grill on the road for several months now, so it’s become much easier to get at least one healthy meal per day. It’s amazing how tiny little things can provide such a huge morale boost.
Side note–I love this! A grill on the road. I’ll have to do a grilling post for y’all in the future. And yes, running shoes are pretty portable and easy to hit the pavement anywhere you go! Check out the Roadie Trainer’s suggestions for workouts and equipment.
RN: What are some food and beverage choices that you like and that you feel help your performance?
BR: Staying hydrated really is a full time job, especially since I like my beer. We constantly have bottled water on hand, this is a must. I’d say the best meal would include a grilled chicken breast, a side salad, and some steamed/grilled vegetables.
Side note–Brad, you are on track! That is a great meal to turn to while on the road. I definitely notice how much musicians like their beer, check out my past posts on beer & hydration for some added tips:
RN: Have you ever associated yourself to being an athlete and considered the importance of fueling for those performances just like an athlete might?
BR: I’ve never really considered myself an athlete until I injured my shoulder. I tore my labrum about 2 years ago, and had surgery to repair it about 18 months ago. I went through pretty extensive physical therapy post surgery to get back to peak drumming condition, which made me aware of the physical rigors of playing the drums. It’s a very high impact activity.
Side note–Brad, you are spot on! That is an athlete’s injury and what you do day in and day out is a very high impact activity! Now let’s fuel up and refuel just like we our athletes.
RN: Where are your favorite places to eat while traveling from town to town?
BR: I like Subway. They’re freaking everywhere these days, and it forces me to be accountable for shoveling garbage into my body. Why go to Burger King when there is most definitely a much healthier alternative?
Side note–true indeed! Subway has a great breakfast menu now where you can get an egg white sandwich loaded with vegetables and it tastes GOOD! My fave–egg white sandwich with ham, spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
RN: So, how does your family provide you support while you are on the road?
BR: My wife is a Jazzercise instructor, and is the main reason I’ve taken up regular exercise. She is very supportive and complimentary of my running habits, and has been a great motivator for me.
Side note: You are blessed to have someone who leads a healthy lifestyle in your life, because who we surround ourselves with does influence our day-to-day activities. Families are great motivators!!!
Jason Boland and the Stragglers definitely are one of my favorite bands and sound in all of Red Dirt Music (aka Texas Country Music). Take a listen to their music and catch them next time their in town.
Their latest album was released on 4/20/10 and is entitled High in the Rockies–buy it! I was there when they recorded it live!!! And if you can–check them out LIVE: http://www.thestragglers.com/?pg=show
(1)Compendium of Physical Activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities
BARBARA E. AINSWORTH, WILLIAM L. HASKELL, MELICIA C. WHITT, MELINDA L. IRWIN, ANN M. SWARTZ, SCOTT J. STRATH, WILLIAM L. O’BRIEN, DAVID R. BASSETT, JR., KATHRYN H. SCHMITZ, PATRICIA 0. EMPLAINCOURT, DAVID R. JACOBS, JR.. and ARTHUR S. LEON
MEDICINE &SCIENCE IN SPORTS &EXERCISE, Copyright 2000 by the International Life Sciences Institute
Website link of article: http://www.liveoakcaf.com/kin%20163/compendium%20of%20physical%20activities.pdfJust Wendy Jo