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So You Want To Be A… Tour Manager

As letlive.’s tour manager/band dad/damage control/security fighter/stage manager, Richard Humphrey keeps the chaos machine rolling every night, even if that means picking glass out of Jason Aalon Butler’s arse…

Richard Humphrey

What’s a typical show day involve on the road with letlive.
Getting them to the venue on time, making sure they are at their press when they are supposed to be, which some days is easier than others, some days nearly impossible – it depends on if they have friends in town or if they decide they have better things to do. Literally it’s like herding a pack of wild kittens, it’s like, “Whoa, you’re going the wrong way, it’s this way, come on!” Then usually it’s setting up gear – we use all our own mics and lines because if we didn’t we’d be paying for microphones and cables every night – doing the show and tearing it down. I do a bus call and if they aren’t there on time… you’re an adult, figure it out.

Have you ever taken off without one of them?
Yes, there’s been a couple of times I’ve left people, but usually I leave them knowing they are going to have a ride to wherever they need to go. As much as I’d like to pretend I’d leave them stranded, I wouldn’t, but I like to push it as far as I can and make them think I would.

What are some of the lowlights of tour life?
A lot of shit gets broken with letlive. shows. Over time we’ve evolved to the case where we have 15 microphones and 15 mic cables, our own mic stands, we run all the cabs so that’s less things to fall and break. If we break something and I see that it’s 100 percent our fault, I’m the first one to go up to the promoter and say, “Hey, what do I owe you?” A lot of times promoters or people see the chaos on stage so when anything breaks they automatically blame us for it, so a lot of times it turns into me being like, “Fuck you, we’re not paying you $80 for a monitor grill that I can unscrew myself and push back out. Kiss my arse, it’s not happening.”
I also have a big problem with security mistreating kids. We had an incident two nights ago at our Sidewave show where security was literally watching kids coming over the barrier and smashing onto the floor, then picking them up by their shirts and throwing them out. After the first time it happened, I actually ran off the stage and grabbed the kid and asked if he was all right because he got slammed really fucking hard. Second time it happened I was like, “One more time and you’re out of here security.” It happened a third time and I literally jumped off stage, got the security guard away from the kid and said, “Learn how to do your fucking job or you’re out of here.” It ended up with me kicking both security guards out of the venue and me catching the kids. Sure enough I had no problem doing the job the security guards couldn’t do themselves.

What’s the most mental thing Jason has ever done on stage that you’ve had to bail him out of?
Usually when he decides to dangle himself from balconies I get real nervous. In the States we always have two guys on stage and if Jason ever leaves the stage I’m no more than four feet behind him at all times. It’s not so much that I don’t trust him, it’s that accidents happen and I hope to be there in case something did happen so I can help possibly stop it – whether it’s him coming back to stage and security guards stopping him because they don’t know he is the singer because he doesn’t have the mic anymore or he is dangling himself from the balcony but he is covered in water and sweat. In his mind he is fine, in my mind parental mode kicks in and I’m like, “He’s dangling from a balcony and I’m two inches from his hand waiting just in case he lets go, I’m gonna grab his arse.”
Luckily there hasn’t been anything that bad. He has put his hand through a window, which is why he wears the wrap right now – that was pretty bad and he has cut his wrist up a couple of times by accident by climbing poles and hitting lights and slicing his wrist open. Usually it ends up with me ripping my shirt off and duct-taping it around his wrist so he doesn’t bleed out on stage and then patching him up properly after the show. Probably the last one with his wrist when he put it through a window during “Muther”, it happened so quick that I didn’t realise what was going on until he ran off stage. If he runs off stage during a set there’s something wrong. He ran off stage and refused to let go of his wrist because it was bleeding out and it ended up with me going, “Shit there’s no towels! Duct tape, wrist, go.”

Tell us about the letlive. tour dog.
Bizzy-Bone! He’s been on tour with us for a year and a couple of months now. We picked him up in Salt Lake City. We actually got him the day after our van got broken into. He is the cutest, cuddliest little thing, but also the meanest piece of shit you’ve ever met. He is a legitimate tour dog, he does not let you near the van if you’re not supposed to be in there.

Has he bitten anyone in the band?
Everyone, at least once [laughs]. He was a stray, got turned in to the shelter, got adopted out and returned to the shelter three times before we got him. When we got him he was literally on the verge of being put to sleep, and he was really sick, he had kennel cough and basically didn’t move for two months and then as soon as he got better he got super aggressive.

What’s one thing about your job that we’d never guess you have to do?
Pick glass out of Jason’s butt [laughs]. He decided to smash light bulbs and roll around in them. Once he smashed a bottle on his man parts so in the middle of the set I ended up dumping water down his pants, trying to get chunks of glass out of his crotch.

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