MASTER TOUR USERS TALK CAREERS, TIPS, AND TECH
Master Tour users Stuart Berk with Young The Giant and Blake O’Brien with Walk The Moon stopped by Eventric’s offices in Chicago for some ping-pong and Big Star tacos. We then then sat down and had a nice chat about how they got their careers started, tour management tips, and of course – Master Tour.
OK – tell us who you are and how you got started in this business.
Blake O’Brien: Hi. My name is Blake O’Brien. I am the tour manager for Walk The Moon. And I like short walks.
Stuart Berk: My name is Stuart Berk. I tour manage Young The Giant. And I’ve also worked with the J. Geils Band and Peter Wolf.
Blake O’Brien: I used to tour with a band for four years. Their name was Rally For One. We never blew up or anything. But we made a living touring around the US. We booked the shows. And I’ll even say this on camera, I don’t mind. We used a fake e-mail with a different name other than the four of us in the band as the manager. And so when I would write to book gigs, I would write as the manager, the tour manager of Rally For One. And then actually it worked really well, and we were able to book shows all over the states. And before we were doing that, it wasn’t necessarily like that.
“I use the backend applications all the time…I always will update stuff. The guys always ask me to like change things last minute, and then I sync in and it’s right in their phone. And they’re like, “Oh, cool.” Because our guys like to scatter.”
Stuart Berk – Young The Giant
And I met the lead singer of Walk The Moon, Nicolas Petricca. Met him through a mutual friend, and I said, “Hey, I can help to book you in Indianapolis and Chicago. And you guys can open for us if you can get me a gig in Cincinnati.” They ended up calling me in July and saying, Walk The Moon says, called me in July and said, “Hey, would you be interested in tour managing our band?” And so I was, you know, a little taken aback by that but excited. And, yeah, I jumped right on it and said, “I’d love to.” So just kept in touch with them. Always been a huge fan of going to concerts and basically having my life revolve around music.
Stuart Berk: And I kind of came from it the same as Blake. I was a musician. I went to Berkeley and studied and traveled in bands. And I was the guy that was always booking stuff. And I was also a runner and stagehand as well so I kind of got to see the whole production side of things. And some friends of mine were playing with Peter Wolf. It’s kind of how I started getting into it. And I became friends with Pete. And then he knew that I could do some stuff production-wise so I became a runner for him and helping him out.
As things progressed, I started kind of doing more production and tour managing for him. I went on the road for three weeks with him, doing the tour managing stuff, and then the J. Geils Band kicked in. So I went out and did that. And then I got a call from a friend of mine, Drew Simmons, who manages Young The Giant. And he and I worked together and we were friends. And he said, “Would you mind coming out and meeting them, seeing if you want to work with them?” And I said, “Sure. I’ll come out and meet them.” That was a Friday, and I hit the road on Saturday for three months.
How to you keep things organized on the road?
Blake O’Brien: For me personally, I think if you’re just like instead of three steps ahead like ten steps ahead. You just need to know what you’re going to do two days in advance because, whether the band asks you or Stu calls me and says, “What’s your — do you guys have interviews here? How many people are you going to need?”, guest list spots. I think the thing I’ve learned the most from Stu and Fitz and The Tantrums, who Stu [inaudible] and toured with in the fall, Peter Hill is their tour manager, from the two of them like if you just keep everything real organized and have it all written down, I think that it sincerely helps the smoothness of the tour for all members.
Stuart Berk: Well, I also think having information is really important. You know, advancing the shows and getting as much information from the production managers at the venues as possible. And for me, using Master Tour, inputting all that information. And so I have a running database of everything. I can see it. And then on top of that, talking to other people and talking to all the band members and finding out what they want and what works for them. That all helps to make things as smooth as possible.
Speaking of Master Tour, are there other features that you like?
Stuart Berk: Yeah. I think mobile app is great. Actually, the whole band is on the mobile app.
Blake O’Brien: Ours too. So I think that’s the best part about it, yeah, is that you can — when we’re in the middle of nowhere because we’re still traveling in a van right now. And so when we’re — you know, it’s 6:00 a.m. and we’re already on the road and, if I’m in the backseat and I feel like I got to prepare for the day or something, I’m not going to get any WiFi in there. You know, so I can’t pull the computer out. But 3G with the iPhone, pull it up, log-in real quick, and I can, you know, screw around with the guest list and give the boys the schedule for the day.
Stuart Berk: And I use the backend applications all the time…I always will update stuff. The guys always ask me to like change things last minute, and then I sync in and it’s right in their phone. And they’re like, “Oh, cool.” Because our guys like to scatter. [Laughter]
Do you still use printed tour books?
Blake O’Brien: Yeah. It’s actually great. I like having this for the hardcopy on the tour. You know, this is your hardcopy. And even though half of it could change. I guess that’s what’s neat about your program Master is that you have this for a hardcopy that you can use. And you can make a .PDF for it as well. But you don’t want to go back and change that every two seconds. Whereas the Master Tour, it’s really neat how you can do whatever you want with it, you know, on the spot. And, oh, well, I just change all this, sync now, boom.
Stuart Berk: And also the Master Tour .PDF version of the tour book is great because you can e-mail that to anybody. …technology, everything is easier. I remember on the Geils stuff, our production manager, he did a lot of the Michael Jackson stadium tours and he did Bruce Springsteen’s stuff. And they were doing stuff by fax and phone. And now —
Eventric: Right. But they didn’t have cell phones.
Stuart Berk: Yeah, exactly. So now everything, information is so much easier. So I mean, for us, as the younger guys, I think it’s, we come into it with a much easier road, you know.
Eventric: Thanks for sharing your experiences, fellas.