Backstage with Harry Parslow at TourLife
Many of us have often wondered what it would be like to tour the world, playing live gigs from city to city. We started this #BackstageWith series to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the live events and entertainment industry; the endless hours put in by all kinds of personnel to ensure visitors leave the show with huge smiles on their faces and adrenaline running through their veins. Someone who knows all too well about the intriguing world of backstage is Harry Parslow, CEO of tour management company, TourLife
At just 18, Harry set up TourLife after using his student loan to fly to LA to make connections with rappers with whom he wanted to work with.
The gamble certainly paid off for Harry, and for five years now, the South West business has been offering touring packages to an impressive portfolio of artists including The Game, Xzibit, Annie Mac, Charlie Sloth, Danny Howard, Defected Records, Ministry of Sound and more.
Read on for our #BackstageWith Q&A with Harry, where we find out his favourite touring stories, what not to do on a touring bus, why he’s excited for Bristol to have an arena, and so much more.
It sounds as though you’ve had a pretty exciting career working in the live events industry. How did you get into the industry and what was it that initially inspired you to want to pursue the career?
My first rap concert for sure. I saw the US rapper Xzibit come to Bristol in October 2011 and witnessing my favourite rapper, up close and personal completely changed my life. From that moment I was hooked on live music and quickly went from wanting to be a lawyer to wanting to tour with artists.
What would you say has been a career/ business highlight so far?
There have been so many “pinch me” moments. I made a huge gamble when I was at college to use my student loan on a flight to LA in hope of making connections with rappers like Xzibit. That gamble paid off massively, just turning up to the recording studio to meet Xzibit and him inviting me to go fishing with him has to be the highlight.
Can you share with us one of your favourite touring stories to date?
From missing flights with Jax Jones, £900 trains from Newcastle, having to escape backstage with Charlie Sloth - touring is never dull! I think one memory that sticks out to me was on my first tour when I was 17 years old, I reached out to Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup and offered to film his tour for free to gain experience. When I turned up, he couldn't believe how young I was and made me call my parents to get a note to say I had permission. Funny now but at the time so embarrassing!
Can you give us a little preview into the typical day in the life of a touring company?
No day is the same, I find myself more office-based, however, when the call comes in for me, there are just certain tours where I can't miss. You can find me working with our team to make sure we get a merchandise order out the door in time, I could be meeting potential clients to talk about how we can save them time and money, negotiating contracts with brands sponsoring a tour or even at the moment pivoting to ensure the company can survive the harsh climate we are currently in.
What’s something interesting you’ve learned about touring that only those in the industry would know?
No number twos on the bus!
How have you been coping during the pandemic with live concerts and gigs unable to happen? In which ways has TourLife had to adapt?
We've tried to pivot where possible, we have live-streamed football matches, Church Services, DJ sets etc. I launched two new companies, ChurchStream.co.uk and BrandLife.co.uk ChurchStream helps places of worship broadcast to the people who would usually be at Church and BrandLife takes care of businesses who need help marketing in a pandemic with services like video production, photography, social media and more.
Do you feel positive about the future of live music and entertainment?
Yes, when concerts are deemed safe, I think we will see a big boom like never before. Two years of Netflix should hopefully see the most casual music listener want to spend every waking moment out and about, seeing their favourite artists and just spending time enjoying live music with friends. Live streams are fantastic but I'm still adamant that nothing comes close to the experience of enjoying a live gig in the flesh.
What does it mean to you for Bristol to have an arena?
As a fan it just brings the music world closer, just think of the artists we will get to see on our doorstep once the doors of YTL open. Secondly, as a business, I truly hope we can form the best possible relationship early on to see our team become part of the wide array of suppliers at YTL as we spend hours on the road, it would be an incredible feeling to work closer with our local arena.
First gig, last gig, favourite gig?
Motorhead, The Game and Xzibit!
Which artist/band/performer would you like to see perform at YTL Arena Bristol (...and why?)
A tour I only experienced via DVD is The Up in Smoke Tour which consisted of Dr Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. If the rap gods see this, please make this happen!
Can you name a song that can instantly boost your mood? (and why?)
1942 flows by Meek Mill as it reminds me of being in Las Vegas with my best friend Jamie, looking out over the Vegas skyline and drinking 1942. Take me back!
And finally, can you share an all-time favourite song/ a song that means a lot to you so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?
Victory Lap by Nipsey Hussle.