Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interview with Lynn

How old are you?
I am 26 years old.

How long have you been touring with bands? 

June will be a year.

Who was the first band you toured with and how did you get hooked up with them?
Corrosion of Conformity. My friend Emily, who does merch for Valient Thorr, got offered it but couldn't do it so she put a thing on Facebook and I messaged her. She was like, "She'd be perfect! She'll talk your ear off whether you want her to or not!"
Lynn (fourth person from the right) on tour with Corrosion of Conformity, Torche, Black Cobra and Gaza
How long did you tour with them? 
I did a month with them then another week long tour a couple weeks after we got home.

Was that a good experience?
Yea it was an awesome place to start and it's how I met Black Tusk and got set up with touring with them. I met a lot of fun people and got to see a lot of cool places. CoC has been around so long that they have fans who have been listening to them for 30 years and since the merch girl is the most accessible I got to hear all sorts of stories and see all sorts of tattoos. Plus the guys have been around for so long that they have some great stories from when they were coming up.

I would love to see some CoC tattoos! When I met you in NYC you were on tour with Black Tusk and are currently touring with them now. What are some of the ups and downs touring with three Southern metal dudes?
Well it's nice because I was born and raised in the South too, so it's nice to be around some Southern boys. I never realized till I started touring how real of a thing Southern Hospitality is. We all have a really similar mentality and the guys are really accommodating to the fact that I'm the only vegan. I definitely feel like one of the boys and not the token female on tour. 
Lynn with James and Athon of Black Tusk/TCBT!
Besides working the merch table, what are some of your other responsibilities on tour?
That is the bulk of my responsibilities. If you ask Athon he will tell you I'm tour Mom but honestly they've been doing this so long they've got it down to a science. I try to keep up with the band's Instagram but mostly it's just merch, being the one who looks on the bright side when everyone is complaining and looking pretty. 

And you DO look pretty!
Ha thank you.

For those who are not privy to the job of a merch person could you take us through a typical day on tour?
Well we wake up wherever we've passed out, the night before we've figured out when load in is and how long the drive will be. We will stop at a Loves/Pilot /Flying J and get some hot garbage food, once we get to the venue we will unload the trailer and I will find somewhere to set up the merch, find out if there's a merch rate (where the club takes a percentage of what we sell) and make sure all my stuff is organized so I'm not digging around like crazy when everyone asks for something. Every week or so I will count shirts and music to see what we need to restock. Then I walk around the area till doors praying to summertime that there will be something vegan and reasonably priced to eat within walking distance. Once doors open it's time to drink beers and get chatty. Till we load out and find somewhere else to crash out. I basically spend the show telling people that they can't have a deal because it's rude to ask and and trying to get people to buy the right sizes in their shirts because everyone wants to think they wear a smaller size than they do.
Lynn working the merch table.
Hahahaha! I only just learned (in my interview with Santos) about merch rates and I was shocked. Were you aware of this before working merch?
I wasn't. It blows my mind too. The band makes the shirts, carries them around, brings people to your club and then we have to pay you for something you have nothing to do with. Festivals are the worst. They make you count in and count out and when you're carrying around a couple hundred shirts it's annoying. I'm usually the asshole that's like, "If you're not gonna take my word on it you can count it yourselves." I had one venue that had me fill out a sheet when I was done and I just showed the dude my tally system where I keep up with the sales for the band and he was like, "I'm going to put 'honest' on the records for this band because you're honest with me, if a band tried to cheat or skimp we write dishonest on the sheet and make them count in and out." It makes no sense to me because no matter if I was trying to get away with not paying 15 percent of our sales to you, what did you contribute to this process?
"That's what I have to say about merch rates."
EXACTLY!!!! It's insane to me. Do you think that the people who come to shows realize how important merch sales are?
I think some do and some don't. There are the people who gladly pay full price and give tons of money in the tip jar and are more than happy to do it. Then there are people who walk up to the table and immediately ask,"So what kind of deal can I get?" Or will buy a record and be like, "Can I get a shirt for 10 instead of 15 since I bought a record?" At that point it depends on my mood because if you catch me on a good day I will explain to you how we are still paying the merch companies for those shirts and koozies, they aren't free and giving them away doesn't pay them off, and how the profit we make goes straight in the gas tank. On a bad day I will probably just say it's rude and I would be way more likely to hook you up if you don't ask. I always say, "Do you go to the grocery store and the mall and try to haggle their prices? Then why try me?" We need this money way more than they do. Merch is a big portion of gas money for tour. I have a sign I put up in some cities that says "no gods, no masters, NO DEALS"

Besides some people who hassle for deals, is your experience working merch predominately pleasant? 
It's so much fun. I wouldn't do it if I didn't ultimately have a good time. I love talking to people and I love music. I somehow stumbled into my dream job completely on accident. I've worked in the service industry for a decade now so being behind the merch table is the same thing only people are generally a lot nicer to you and don't act like a jerk because you didn't have a chance to refill their 3/4 full glass of sweet tea. I always wanted to be
involved in music somehow but I have zero musical talent so this is the next best thing.
Sometimes dance parties happen on tour. Lynn with James, the drummer of Black Tusk.
Mmmmmm sweet tea! What would you say the hardest part about being on tour is? Missing your pup?
That is probably the hardest thing. I'm a very over protective dog Mom but he's in good hands so I don't get too worried. It is kind of stressful never having alone time or the ability to do whatever you want or pick up and go where you want. Your day is mapped out. I've lived alone for years and going from that to sharing a room night after night can wear on your nerves sometimes, but then occasionally you stay at a house that has rooms where you can sleep alone. I also am really physically active when I'm home. I go to the gym and run regularly and my job involves me walking around in circles for 6-8 hours at a time so I always feel like I get really out of shape on tour. Sometimes I swear I am sitting in the van and can feel my muscles atrophy.

Buddha, Lynn's adorable pup!
You ever do Chinese fire drills just to get your blood going?
Haha I wish. When we stay at a hotel I always try to see if they have a fitness center so I can use the stationary bike or treadmill but they usually don't have one more often than not. I'm almost always the first one awake so I feel weird trying to do sit ups and stuff in the room while everyone is still passed out
Lynn at the Grand Canyon during tour.
That's not weird. What's your dream band to tour with, dead or alive?
Fuck that one is tough. Haha. I would say probably the Highway Men, when Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson formed a group. My dad used to play it all the time growing up and I always loved it. I imagine they had some amazing stories and they always seemed like outlaws to me and always reminds me of riding in my Dad's old Ford pick up. In my head I just imagine them after playing sitting around a poker table smoking cigarettes playing cards and telling stories
Lynn with Black Tusk, Red Fang and Lord Dying
Awww that's awesome! Those MFers were outlaws. They'd be fun to tour with for sure. You think you could out drink 'em?
Haha absolutely not. I love drinking but it doesn't always love me. I've chilled out a lot in the last couple years.

Haha I don't know, you're pretty badass Lynn. Thank you so much for letting me interview you!
Dude no problem I'm glad to do it
Athon, the bassist of Black Tusk and Lynn. Some fans replaced items that were in Athon and Lynn's book bags when they were stolen from the tour van. 
Check out Lynn's tour blog fromthebackofthevan.tumblr.com
You can also following her at http://instagram.com/garm0nbozia for more tour pics.

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