Touring is an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. See how a young musician faces the challenges of the road while fully embracing his craft.
Macky (Mckinley) Spider Bowman, 20, is the drummer for The Bobby Lees, an up-and-coming band born right here in the Hudson Valley that has reached international audiences with their energetic music. With the release of their third album, Bellevue, and endorsements from big names in the punk world like Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins, lead singer of the Black Flag, The Bobby Lees’ future looks bright. We sat down with Macky Bowman to get the inside scoop on being a full-time musician in the modern world.
Touring is like the worst. It’s the hardest, most gruelling slog that you can put yourself through. Imagine helping your friend move every single day. It’s awful. It’s one of the most stressful things you can do. But you know, it’s also rewarding and I’m thankful that I get to travel and meet new people and play music all the time. Because that’s all I want to do with my life. The first time I went on tour I wasn’t really prepared for how much of a nightmarish, ghoulish obscenity it would turn out to be. Don’t get me wrong. I love it.
Recently, we went on our second European tour. We played this thing called ‘Kliko Fest’ in Haarlem in the Netherlands. Not Harlem, New York. We’re not really big enough to the point where we consistently play huge shows, you know. It was a couple hundred people who were all super energetic. Half of them knew all the words to the songs, which is always a weird moment in a good way. Just a surreal experience. They were freaking out and it was amazing. We played another show in Dublin, Ireland in this super tight, sweaty bar. The best shows are always the ones where it feels like the audience is reciprocating everything. If you’re a performer, you need to be constantly giving energy. The audience doesn’t always give that back, and they did that night, which was amazing.
If I’m honest, the real worst experience is the intense depression that sometimes hits when you’re a couple of weeks into touring. Last August, we went on tour and three of us had just come out of long-term relationships. Nightmare. We were working with this agent who booked us these terrible shows in these terrible places. We were actually losing money. It felt like we were going nowhere. One place was Shank Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There were 11 people, including the three people in the opening band and the four people that were working the house that night. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. It was only 10 days; somehow those were the worst 10 days of our lives.
If you’re having a good week, then it’s a really good week. But the most challenging thing is staying mentally healthy and financially stable. Impossible. I don’t know what we’re planning on doing. We kind of burn that bridge when we get to it. Beyond that, my main goal is to find a sustainable way to do music and/or art as a profession. That’s my goal.