Backstage with Gary Crossan
Behind every talented artist is a team of superheroes that help make things happen. From ensuring your favourite performer gets to a venue safely and on time, to working with sound engineers and lighting techs to make sure that the event is a true showstopper – Tour Managers are one of the many vital cogs that keep the wheel turning in the world of live music and entertainment.
This week, we go backstage with Gary Crossan, Tour Manager for Bristol-born, international DJ and record producer, Eats Everything. If you’re curious about what exactly goes on during life on tour, how to get involved with this exciting career, plus much more, keep reading!
What does tour managing typically involve? How would you describe your typical daily routine as a Tour Manager?
I feel very lucky having my job as a tour manager, even when we’ve been touring for a while and running on not a lot of sleep, not particularly eating healthy and grabbing what you can in service stations and airports. I always remember there are loads of people who would love my job. Plus, what makes it easier is that Dan (Eats) is an old friend of mine, so we have a good relationship.
My job is generally preparing for upcoming tours, so doing tour budgets for more longer haul trips, looking at flights, accommodation, sometimes visas and obviously sorting any needed Covid testing when flying out and returning to the UK. Then when gigs are a little closer, I will be checking on the tech side of things like lighting and sending over the visuals to the stage manager.
Once the prep side of things is sorted, I basically need to make sure Eats gets to the gig on time. So, if we’re in the UK, it’s normally picking him up and driving to the gig and driving back after which is fairly simple. Otherwise, I’m booking airport parking and checking in etc. When we finally arrive to the gig an hour prior, I then need to set up the equipment on stage which Eats uses. I record every set as he has a international radio show which is published on FM radio and broadcast to around 97 countries around the world. I send the recordings to our radio producer which, with the chosen recordings, uses Dans vocals and creates a radio show. I’m also doing some socials like Instagram stories and making videos of certain tracks to send to the management team to use later on. After the gig, we get a few hours sleep and do it all over again...
There are many people who would dream of becoming a Tour Manager. What advice would you give to those wanting to pursue the career? How did you get your foot in the door?
I know I’m very lucky to have this job and I get asked this question a lot, especially when we are at festivals, from new tour managers looking for advice or people wanting to get a leg in. I was very lucky to have known Dan for a long time. Actually, we met at Lakota on millennium NYE as we were DJing together and have been friends since. In short, either become a friend of a famous DJ, or get in contact with music management companies and ask about doing an internship to get your foot through the door, make connections and build trust with the right people.
What skills are particularly useful to have in your arsenal as a Tour Manager?
The best skills to have as a tour manager are definitely instant problem solving, preparation and resilience. It’s not often things go perfectly. If a gig is in the UK and your simply driving to and from a gig, more often than not there will be hold ups or road works which can prolong your journey significantly. If abroad, then flights get delayed or even cancelled so you need a plan B or even C at times which obviously is where preparation comes in. More often than not, like I said earlier, you don’t get a lot of sleep and you’re travelling more than you’re not, so you need to be resilient, keeping positive and being professional - but still being able to have a laugh is key. Let’s face it, if you’re not fun to be around, your artist won’t want to tour with you for very long.
As a Tour Manager, what are the key attributes of a venue that makes it more of an attractive place for a band/ artist/ performer?
Key attributes would definitely be good, professional and friendly staff, especially the artist liaison which in all fairness is normally the case. There’s nothing worse than if one of these criteria aren’t met. If everything is stress-free and easy, everyone is happy. So, making sure the green room is sorted and then having the stage/ tech guys ready so I can make sure everything is ready to go and there no stress before the show. Most artists I know are doing last minute preparations with their show, so doing re-edits of their records etc, so making it a stress-free environment is paramount. Basically, once we are all at the venue, we all work as a team as we all have the same job to do which is making sure the paying guests have an amazing time and leave happy.
Following from that, what’s the most impressive venue you have been to while on tour?
The most impressive venue would have to be Arcadia Crane at Glastonbury Festival when Dan played B2B with Fat Boy Slim. I think there was 80,000 people there and it really was amazing - the vibes were unreal. Everyone was so happy to be there and it was a special moment for everybody involved.
I love touring, meeting new people and seeing some pretty amazing places at times which I probably would never have seen otherwise. It is very tiring, and people think it’s all fun but occasionally a friend will come with us and they normally bail halfway through the tour. You definitely need to learn when to get your naps and food in, which is whenever possible basically.
Are there any standout moments for you in your career as a Tour Manager so far?
My standout moments would be the same weekend as Glastonbury Festival, we also had done Zurich Street Parade which had over 1million people. Performing for 80,000 at Glastonbury and 25,000 at Medusa Festival in Valencia, we’ve an amazing amount of people to be setting equipment up in front of, hoping I don’t pull the wrong cable out...
Other than that, it has to be when we did three counties in 24 hours. Peru, Argentina and Ecuador where we played at a festival in their capital city Quito which stands at an altitude of 3000m, and all the DJ’s had to wear oxygen masks.
Are you excited for Bristol to finally have an arena of its own? What impact do you think this will have?
I actually find it crazy we don’t have an arena or a venue with more capacity. Obviously, we have the Bristol Beacon, Motion and the O2 Academy, but if or when you want to watch a slightly bigger act you have to travel to Cardiff, Birmingham or even London as Bristol just gets missed out, which is not fair for the people and city of its size. The amount of revenue it will bring will be instantly noticeable for North Bristol especially, but the city as a whole. I’m mega buzzing about the YTL Arena opening as I’m sure all Bristolians are.
First gig, last gig, favourite gig?
So, my first gig was actually a rave I went to called Dance Planet 2 at Cornwall Coliseum in St. Austell! With Grooverider, Fabio, Easygroove, LTJ Bukem and DJ SS. I was 15 years old and told my mum I was staying with a friend. I got a coach there with a mate, came back the following morning and was in school on the Monday. I hope my mums not reading this.
Last gig was actually New Year’s Day at Printworks in London which is an amazing venue and Dan was playing after Jocelyn Brown who I’ve never seen live before so was a little star struck to be honest. If you haven’t been to this venue you have to check it out, it’s insane.
My favourite gig would have to be Al Green at the Royal Albert Hall on my 30th birthday. I love most music genres but especially old soul and R&B. I was brought up on this so having the chance to watch one of my heroes was a pretty emotional moment for me.
Can you name a song that can instantly boost your mood?
I always find these kinds of questions hard to answer but if I was going to pick one it would be one which brings back memories of a moment being somewhere with friends and remembering some good times so I’m thinking LCD sound system “All My Friends”.