EP 3 | Impact of Coronavirus on Touring with Lead Guitarist, Dylan Hester from The Set Up Podcast | Behind the Scenes in Music
00:00:00 Sydney: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode! every episode, I invite you to tune in as a different guest shares their experience working in the music industry today. We will be discussing touring and the impact of the coronavirus on musicians. My name is Sydney and this is The Set Up podcast.
00:00:25 Sydney: Let me start by introducing you to Dylan Hester. Dylan is a guitarist who has been touring with Mitchell Tenpenny. Thank you for joining us. How's it feel being back this week? You've been touring with Mitchell since 2017 as an opener for artists like Dustin Lynch Luke Bryan and Old Dominion. And this last tour with your first headliner tour.
Dylan: This tour started October 10th of 2019 and it wrapped up very very beginning of this month due to this huge pandemic that is surprising across the world. Second week of March we ended the tour because we had plans to travel internationally. We're going to the UK to do a big Festival.
00:01:22 Dylan: We were mid-flight on the way to the UK to go to start our overseas gigs. We get a text from the management saying that y'all are going to have to turn around when you get to the airport because they're about to do a travel ban. And then it's going to be hard for you guys to get back in the country. So we were in the airport went through customs went straight to baggage claim to the ticket station back through security. And then we're back in that airport for like 4 hours.
Sydney: What have you been doing it since you been home?
00:02:22 Dylan: Coronavirus is making me realize that I need to jump on something that's going to give me an extra little boost of income when things like this happen. I've been trying to figure out ways to use my production skills. Hopefully in the future generate some income. So when something like this happens, then I'm not a total standstill.
Sydney: Any projects that you're working on it that you want to share?
Dylan: I am working on jingles for commercials.
Sydney: What is life like on the road?
Dylan: A grind. We have a schedule. There's the same schedule every day. So you are working or not just like sitting around sleeping.
00:03:22 Dylan: I have been on the Road now for two years. I've learned the value of shows done at 10. I'm not usually staying up past midnight. But when you're on the road, you've got to create a structure for yourself so You don't go crazy because it is so easy to just get lost in the madness. You don't realize that are much more complicated because your options are limited.
Sydney: So typically what does your routine look like? And how do you prepare for a show?
Dylan: i don't want to be in the way of people moving thousands of pounds of gear so I set my self up at 10:30 with my equipment and that's takes about an hour.
00:04:22 Dylan: I put my tape down or mark my territory after that we'll break for lunch. We come back and then we do sound-check depending on the day or if we need to go over anything. Sound check can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Sometimes there's stuff that goes wrong and it takes a minute to figure out. We have wireless now and then that's a whole new set of issues that go along with not having your guitar physically plugged in. Then that's the time I like to use to either try to go to the gym or if you need to take a nap that's the time to do it and then get dinner together. And then that's just like ramping up to the show. the shows usually starts at 9:15.
00:05:22 Dylan: We are not at the point of having people setting our stuff up for us and take it down. We are the guys onstage unplugging everything at the end of the night but everything in the right spot and it gets back in the trailer and then it's on to the next time and you do it all over again.
Sydney: Where have you been on this tour?
Dylan: Everywhere. We did House of Blues in Anaheim with another notable and Webster Hall in New York City. That was our last show of 2019. We were all across the country. I love being in New York City. I love the electricity of it. My girlfriend came to the show. We had like a bunch of friends there and it was just the last night of the year, you know. We were on tour for over 200 days last year.
00:07:22 Sydney:How many people do you travel within the tour bus and who's all part of the crew?
Dylan: We have a manager, stage manager, production manager, monitor engineers.
Sydney: So how does it feel when you first step on stage?
Dylan: I have 15 seconds to get my guitar in perfect Tune and the first note sets the bar. I have to make sure that move my guitar still making noise.
00:08:22 Dylan: I go through a mental checklist when I first walked onstage, my body just does it. I'm super intently focused on making sure that first note right and so many nights I've missed it. I don't want to have to recover from the very first note of a song.
Sydney: What was the first time you stepped on stage?
Dylan: when I was 10 years. My entire 5th grade of my small little catholic-school that are in our backyard, my parents had a party. Braxton our drummer for Mitchell now and me have been best buds since as long as I can remember and he played in there with me that night and we're still on stages playing gigs together. I think we knew really knew how to do one song where we can actually play and we just played that 15 times.
00:09:22 Dylan: That was a huge rush,loved playing for people instantly. I have learned how to play some chords from a VHS tape at Braxton's house and he had his drum set up in the room. I knew I could play loud and then we could play together.
Sydney: How often did you play guitar growing up?
Dylan: I never really took any lessons. Me and some friends who also played guitar would go to the group after school session with a lady. She's a songwriter here in town still. And I do remember her always offering advice like you should go listen to this or like you should learn how to do this or you should learn how to do it because it'll help you get better and she was a really good guide. Also I used YouTube And that's a bottomless pit.
Sydney: So, when did you decide to pursue music professionally?
Dylan: at the University of Tennessee. One of my roommates started a band called honey Dutch up in Knoxville, and we just started jamming together for fun and improvised.
00:11:22 Dylan: We played for 45 minutes without even stopping and alcohol is definitely involved. We had this little following in Knoxville and we would never have a gig booked but we would post on Facebook and then next thing, you know, there's five hundred people at a house party. We were doing that every single weekend and that's when I realized we need to take it seriously and then I ended up moving back to Nashville to do music. one of my teachers said when you're at the turning point, take the path with least resistance. by doing that I ended up playing with Mitchell. Literally not not trying to force myself into something that isn't what I pictured it to be. I let the cards play themselves and it worked in my favor.
00:12:22 Sydney: Did you know Mitchell before joining the band?
Dylan: Our drummer started playing drums for him. They were roommates at the Middle Tennessee State University and once Mitchell started music, Braxton start playing drums. Braxton called me one day and he asked if I wanted to fill in for a gig and we should drive to El Paso, Texas from Nashville, which is a 20 hour drive and we were in a van. I was terrified of the thought of the distance because it was so fast, like I was working at a law firm and may be playing gigs on a weekend and all the sudden I get a call asking to go to this crazy gig out on an army base in Texas. That's when I First met all of the guys.
00:13:22 Dylan: It only took that one time. These guys are going to be my best friends. we've all stayed in contact about what we need to do and the next steps we need to take going forward until we start going back on the road again. The great part about Mitchell's team is it's all been built with the same team. Even our newest member, our manager. He feels like family now and it's only been a few months that he's been. It's not uncomfortable. If someone's pissed off, you tell him you're pissed off. So it's a really well oiled machine.
00:14:22 Dylan: I don't really know anything officially, but we are touring with Jason Aldean over the summer and Brett young.
00:15:22 Sydney: Are you going to get together at all for rehearsal?
Dylan: If anything it'll be virtual. Whiskey Jam in Nashville has an Instagram live called risky Jam this weekend. We are all trying to set up because it's hard to look for work right now because everything is not open. in our shoes, you want to go get work and you want something that's decent. I don't want to have to be like, thanks for the job for two months or 3 months or however long this is going to last but I have to leave now.. There are options out there and we're all trying to figure out where. They have a lot of relief funds set up for musicians and touring staff to get a little help.
00:16:22 Dylan: Everything was happening So quickly because of the tornado that happened in Nashville. It was a week after the tornado is when I had to leave to go overseas, but we were blindsided by that tornado. So we didn't pay attention to that. You didn't have Wi-Fi we didn't have a TV. We weren't watching the news and next thing, You know, it's coronavirus is here.
00:17:22 Dylan: But Tennessee has some solid back bones when it comes to supporting musicians after it's all said and done. I think, we're going to be able to say we survived and everything's back to normal and it was a weird couple months.
Sydney: is there any advice that you can offer anyone who is just picking up a guitar or have aspirations of going on tour?
Dylan: Be a good hang. Make your routine and your purpose in the group smooth as possible and be a good person.
00:18:22 Dylan:They say, when you're working out, 80% of it is the food you eat and 20% is the actual physical aspect of working out. Its 90% being a good hang when you're touring and 10% playing the instrument. There's always someone just as good as you so when you're trying I get a job, you want to make known that you're a good hang and you're easy to be around. You can play the part and you're not getting in anyone's way.
00:19:22 Dylan: That is so so important when everyone's so close on a bus, if one person is being off center, it can turn everything into turmoil in close quarters like that.
Sydney: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to have you here and thank you all for listening to another episode. Once again, if you want to hear more stories from individuals in the music industry, please give me a follow or subscribe. Once again, my name is Sydney, and this was The Set Up Podcast. See you later.
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