If you didn’t already know, we (SWMRS) have been playing music with each other for a long time…I’m talking iPod mini-era. This means a lot of hotels, a lot of airplanes, and lots of drives. But perhaps the most challenging adjustment is coping with a lot of questionable food circumstances. *Insert here an image of a tumble weed rolling through a deserted landscape in an old western film* (Queue Ennio Morricone’s theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.) How does one survive when frequently stuck in barren places? Let’s just say we all have our own strategies and tastes so to speak. Here, my fellow road dogs weigh in on what wets their pallets while on tour.
From Seb (Bassman): When you’re in the middle of nowhere and your dinner options are between Chevron, Shell, or a 76 Station, you know things are about to get interesting. My secret Seb Mueller menu item is Frito bean dip and guacamole Takis, however; be prepared for the impending bathroom doom to come 2 hours after consuming this meal. (To this, Cole says, “I can attest”).
From Wills (a.k.a. Buddha): I guess I like Subway. Max is anti-Subway so hopefully he doesn’t edit this out. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers on a toasted wheat footlong with melted Swiss cheese is all I need in my life. Eat fresh babes.
From Charlie (UK tour homie): Greggs. The cornerstone of any nutritious service stop. I studied in the North East of England where Greggs was founded. There are literally over 15 different Greggs’ throughout the city centre of Newcastle (including one that’s open 24/7) so it was cool to see it introduced to the boys, who were uninitiated in the art of British pastries. I think tour intensified my love for Greggs; the boys gave it so much hype. Cole coined a potential new slogan for them as he mused over a lukewarm pasty, ‘It’s like fast food… but, like, not fast food’. What can I say, the boy’s a poet.
From Joey (Yung Phil Collins): My go-to is Asian. It usually comes down to Vietnamese or Japanese, and it always starts with cross-referencing Google and Yelp reviews. There was a point on our last US tour where I would write reviews for my favorite sushi spots all over the country, but those days are behind me. On tour, half the battle is figuring out what time to go to the restaurant. We have to eat after sound check, but if sound check runs late, I usually make a sandwich and wait to eat dinner after we play. On show days I go for Vietnamese. Pho Ga (Chicken Pho) is what I order. Basic broth with vegetables and tender chicken fills me up without much risk. I try to not eat red meat and tell myself the chicken had a healthy life before it was turned into my dinner. On days off I go for sushi, a.k.a. the best food on the planet. Ideally we’ll be close to a body of water. If not, I’ll double check online that the fish is fresh and no one has had any bad experiences. I always go for the tekka roll (tuna), some sashimi (raw fish) and usually get hamachi nigiri (yellowtail sashimi on top of some rice). I choose this for my off days because playing with a belly full of fish is a mistake I’ve made MANY times. If we come to your town on tour you’ll find me at your local sushi or Vietnamese spot. Make sure to come say what’s up and have a Sapporo!
From Cole (a.k.a. “Pancakes”): I frequent Taco Bell because I am vegetarian. While it’s not official, their vegetarian menu is a life saver when you want something fast and cheap. Pick any item on the menu that usually is served with beef or chicken and ask them to substitute with crispy potatoes. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also fairly healthy and balanced. You will still have pretty intense flatulence though. My favorite? Crispy potato Gordita.
From Alice (Photo sista): It’s hard to eat healthy while you’re on the road. Often times we don’t have the luxury of choosing when to eat and where to eat and it is slim pickings when you’re in the middle of nowhere at 3am. I try my best to get the healthiest option at the gas station, but honestly my favorite chain while on tour is Waffle House. Not the healthiest but I figure there are no Waffle Houses back home so it’s not an every day thing, just a tour thing. 1 – If there’s a Waffle House, I know I’m heading into familiar territory. 2 – It’s open 24 hrs! 3 – I’m a huge breakfast eater. Eggs and their different choices of potatoes fills me up and it’s pretty good for how cheap it is. 4 – There’s always some funny crazy ladies serving me. So it’s a win/win for me. GIVE ME EGGS OVER EASY, POTATOES SMOTHERED AND DICED.
Ryan (UK tour brotha): In towns and cities all over the British Isles, neon lights guide the great and the good to the spinning stick, the elephant’s leg, the mystery meat or simply, the kebab. Greasy, dirty, cheap, completely terrible but somehow romantic and fulfilling. Garlic mayonnaise, chilli sauce, mixed salad, wrap or pitta, doner or shawarma, everyone has their own style. A perfect way to book end the night after a show. (Yes, he always talks like that).
Hans (merch guy we completely stole from Dog Party): The whole natural foods culture is wonderful. It’s not really rare anymore but whenever I’m in a town with a natural food spot I’m always down because they have awesome food usually and the best coffee, which is all that really matters because coffee is life.
From Stevey (All around good guy): Nothing sounds better to me than some rice n’ beans after an 8-hour drive. Being “vegan”, it’s tough to find something really good at many chains. I appreciate Chipotle and their reasonably priced bowl of rice and beans.
From Taifa (Friend and fellow musician): When real food sources can’t be found, gas station cuisine is your next best bet! Make sure all your nutritional bases are covered for the remaining 6 or 8-hour drive! Water with electrolytes to stay hydrated, Gatorade (for the wide mouth bottle that makes a great urinal), trail mix, Cliff bars (these things are like a brick in your stomach), beef jerky, and my personal favorite, Greek yogurt. But always make sure to check the expiration date…
From Chris (Manager): Whether you’re in a relationship, with a group of friends, or on tour in a foreign country – that question is equally exhausting and frustrating. Now that Max actually asked me that question and I sit here typing, a billion options come to mind. Sure, some places are better for the atmosphere rather than the quality of food, but when it comes to the overall group decision, I’ll leave that to the band. They can fight and argue over which place to go, I’ll just be ready with my credit card. But the 2 cents I will add: ALWAYS be sure to stock up at local stop stations on bags of chips or assortments of candy. These little treasures will help get you through the night when nothing else is open, act as a perfectly nutritional meal replacement when what you order looks nothing like the photo, and also make you feel like you hit the jackpot when you roam through your bag looking for your phone charger and forgot that you had a bag of _______! Always be sure to get the largest bottle of water, Cole will thank you when he needs a bottle to piss in it.
There you have it folks. Gas stations, sushi, Waffle House, and piss. Be sure to sign up for updates from Between Stations as we continue to travel the world!