What it's like to live in a van. With boys!

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What it’s like to live in a van. With boys.

I wonder if you think it’s like this: I float from city to city, just doing my thing, and show up to a club and walk on stage to a room full of kids that absolutely give a rip about our music and sing my little heart out, then head backstage to paint my nails after the set. Everybody just loves my band! The only girl with a bunch of guys, how fun!

I probably used to think that too.

Sometimes touring sucks so much that I have to lie to myself and pretend I like doing it. The van we live in smells like....boys and gym socks and stale fabreeze. I get a whole van bench to myself (for which I am so grateful), and keep my belongings in a plastic tub under the seat. The van looks clean and gorgeous at the beginning of each tour, and about two days later it is filled with mcchicken wrappers, half empty water bottles, handmade demos fans asked us to listen to the night before, oil change receipts, Adam’s sweat towels, old Starbucks cups, Josh’s socks, my arm warmers, pieces of Shawn’s portable recording studio, and more of my clothes.

It gets very difficult in the winter, because then you track in mud and salt and snow all over the van and trailer floor. And your clothes, oh this is my least favorite part. When you walk out the back ally where the van is parked after the show, and try to change out of your sweaty show clothes into your PJ’s (because you are sleeping in the van tonight), and your PJ’s are FREEZING. And then you reach to get your makeup remover wipes cuz you don’t want to fall asleep with make up on (that might make you age too fast), but the wipes are so cold they are frozen stiff. Lovely.

The weird sleep and ringing eardrums and soar throat and tired heart, and surprising impatience with yourself, your band mates, and sometimes ever your fans, it makes you feel like you’re on drugs.

When you arrive at the venue each afternoon, it is dark and cold and full of beer bottles from last night’s show which apparently featured an artist much bigger/cooler than the tour you’re on. You load your gear in. You haggle with the promoter to try to get room for merch. You set up. Maybe you get a soundcheck. Maybe the sound guy swears at you for running your guitar cabs too loud.

By then it’s 5 and doors are at 6 so you start getting ready. Luckily the bathrooms have big mirrors but there’s no electricity so you run a power chord from stage to the bathroom and do your mohawk in there. I like to do my hair and makeup in the van when doing vocal warm ups. My vocal warm ups are very annoying to listen to so it’d be kinda rude of me to do them in the venue where the other bands might have to listen.

Then you stand by your merch table to greet the crowd as they trickle in, only you realize you forgot to get merch change so you apologize and quickly find the bandmate who know where the merch envelope is and beg for change.

Then you get on stage and play your little heart out and tell yourself everyone is falling in love:)

And then...you start to talk to the kids after your set. And sometimes they tell you incredible things. Like how your music is actually affecting them. Like how the songs you wrote that you thought no one would hear are making a difference in their life. And then, all the little sacrifices start making sense. I find myself thinking, “Wow, what an honor that people are listening to what we have to say. How amazing it is that anyone at all showed up tonight and shook my hand and shared their story.”

And then I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

I am living my dream, because of you. You make it...so...incredibly...worth it.

Thank you.

Much love, 

Ariel