Andrew is a talented writer who’s books have documented the myriad trials and tribulations of life on the road, and these make for a thoroughly entertaining read.
Along with these tour journals Andrew has also written an A to Z guide of surviving life on the road and some fiction as well.
I thought it would be great to talk to Andrew for Soundscape, enjoy.
Please introduce yourself to our readers? Hello! I’m Andrew Hurst, and I live at Andrewkhurst.co.uk My CV includes stints as an unenthusiastic altar boy, dishwasher on both sides of the Atlantic, long distance runner, supermarket manager, token Englishman at a US summer camp for spoilt brats, merch guy, band manager, tour manager and author. I’ve written six books (one guide to surviving life on tour, four tour journals and one collection of fiction) and two screenplays, and am simultaneously working on a further seven projects right now.
How did you get started in the music industry? Whilst working at a supermarket in North London (where I managed a bakery), a friend made me buy a CD of his son’s band for £2. I had a listen, and eventually went along to watch them play. I managed to insult both their outfits and my friend’s wife at that first show, but somehow ended up spending my days off in a Transit van going to shows with the band. One night whilst I was doing a night shift, one of the band members called me up at 3am and asked if I could be their manager “for the time being”. I said yes and took a three-month career break to teach myself how to manage a band, and ended up doing that job for seven lonnnng years. They went from being a gang of kids from the suburbs to being on the cover of Kerrang! Magazine and from playing the local youth centre to being flown to Japan to play Summer Sonic Festival alongside Slash in front of tens of thousands of people! Once some of the band started to believe the hype, the initial magic vanished, and I decided that it was time to chuck in the towel and do something that I really loved once more.
What on earth made you want to be a tour manager? I became a tour manager completely by accident. I was friends with a band, and as things progressed, they needed someone to get the information about the shows from the venues, be brave enough to collect fees from the promoter (on the rare occasions that there WERE fees), make sure that we left and arrived on time, and all the other fun stuff. Once they asked me to be their business manager, I continued the role, as it saved the band a lot of money by not having to pay me! I look back on it as an apprenticeship now, as it has led to some amazing opportunities with many great people.
Where did you get the idea to start writing about and publishing your experiences? I’ve always written, and I started to keep an online blog of my journey managing the band back in the MySpace years, and also writing about the places I had visited, and new things that I had experienced. On the tour with ‘American Band’ in 2008, I decided to keep a real tour journal, and was up to 18000 words when the bus exploded in the Swiss Alps, and I lost my laptop to the flames. I hadn’t backed the work up for a while, as Internet access was sporadic at best on tour in mainland Europe. The thing that I did once we got a hotel was buy a pen and pad and scribble down as many notes as possible from memory. I kept adding bits over the years, but had set a target of having a book published by my 40th birthday. This gave me a push to get the thing completed, and I self published it just before my birthday. When people were actually interested and bought it, I was amazed! My initial hope was to pay a month’s rent through my writing, but it has thankfully gone way beyond that now! I am now giving a PDF version of my first book away for FREE over at Andrewkhurst.co.uk, where I sell all of my books as both physical copies and eBooks.
You don’t name any of the bands/artists in your books, why is that? People who know me will inevitably know who the bands are by doing the sums, as I don’t change the dates or venues, but I think it’s nice to have some air of mystery about things. I’m sure that some of the people mentioned in the books wouldn’t want their names published!
What are the best and worst things about touring? The best thing about touring is seeing the World, being on an adventure, and meeting new people! The worst parts usually involve drunken musicians. Or Accounting. Or an exploding tour bus. Or parking a non-exploding bus in a city centre.
What other writers/artists inspire you? I’ve got a long list of inspiration, and in fact have a series of photos of the people framed on the wall in my writing room. Writers such as Jack Kerouac, Bret Easton Ellis, Bill Bryson, Douglas Coupland and Cory Doctorow. The way Henry Rollins has developed into who he is today as a modern day Renaissance man from being an Ice Cream store manager who auditioned for a punk band is a brilliant. He is a massive influence just in terms of sheer productivity and pushing myself to always do more. I have a room filled with music biographies and autobiographies too. There is always at least one thing that you can take from reading somebody else’s journey, either something to use or something to avoid!
What are you listening to at the moment? When I write, I don’t like to listen to music with vocals, as I don’t want other words competing with those in my poor overwhelmed brain during the act of creation. Miles Davis is always a good ‘go to’ if I need to listen to something whilst I write, as is Frank Zappa’s instrumental stuff. I often like to just hear the tick of a clock and the faint hum of traffic when I’m writing, as it is less distracting. When I’m doing my daily run to get my blood flowing and my brain awake, the soundtrack is normally ‘Appetite For Destruction’ by Guns N Roses. What a debut album! You can tell an album is good if you can imagine Beavis and Butthead sitting on their sofa singing the main riff! I had the pleasure of getting to know Japanese Future Metallers Crossfaith whilst on Warped Tour, and they are the best musicians I have ever seen.
I can’t wait to read your book about Warped tour, how is it coming along? I was asked to work Warped Tour and write about it over a meal in a 1950s Diner in Camden by Itch, who had read my A to Z Guide of touring and enjoyed it. The plan is to both write about our own vastly different experiences on Warped Tour and then merge them together in one mega book! Progress is going well – I’m almost 60,000 words into it, so it looks as though this may be the first of my books to be edited down after completion! We are currently looking at different ways of getting this one out there, so watch this space…
What’s your writing process like? I aim to write 1000 words per day, Monday to Friday. I treat writing as an ‘office job’. Working from home requires a lot of focus and self –discipline for sure! The word count can be spread over several projects, or just one, but I must hit the target. My tour journals were all written from memory until the current Warped Tour journal, so that was a case of writing down skeleton memories and then putting flesh on the bones. For the Warped journal, I purchased several pocket notebooks and carried one with me at all times, making notes of things that happened throughout the day. I then spent the evening after finishing my merch shift typing the notes up into my MacBook air (such a light laptop that weighs nothing in a backpack!), and now I’m home, I’m fleshing it out. I have learned the hard way to auto save my work, and everything is synced to Dropbox now, so that I can access it wherever I am.
Are you planning on writing any more fiction books? I’m working on two more right now! One is about a series of pretty brutal events that happen to several different people along a desert highway in New Mexico in the late 1960s, and another is a collection of snapshots of the lives of people who happen to be in Logan Airport, Boston on September 10th 2001, the day before everything changed with 9/11. Surprisingly, parts of that one aren’t as bleak as you’d imagine.
What do you think the hardest thing about the current industry is? I tend to not focus on the difficult things. Technology has made things a million times easier, and if you are self driven and focused, then you don’t need the publisher or middleman anymore. When I first wrote a collection of stories over twenty years ago, the only real option was to get an agent and then a publisher. That isn’t a realistic aim for the average 18 year old! This time around, it is as simple as doing some research online, and working out the best way to get your work out there. You get to be the author, agent, publicist, web designer, distributor and publisher all rolled in to one – it is hard work, but fun!
What does the immediate future hold for you? Settling in to my new home back up North after spending twenty years in London, a whole bunch of tours taking me through to the end of the year and writing my 1000 words a day (does this interview count towards that? If so, I’ve just given myself the rest of the day off!)
You can find Andrew, buy his books as e-books, buy signed copies, and you could also get a pdf of his debut book for free right here Andrewkhurst.co.uk