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Toured there, ate that

Production manager Nick Gosling and production coordinator Julie Cotton discuss the inspiration behind their new book The Roadie Cookbook

23 Sep 2021

Everybody has health and no one is immune to ill health – physical or mental. This is such a key point in the story of how our cookbook came together.

Touring is hard. It takes its toll on you physically – long days, sleep deprivation, jet lag, and gruelling schedules. Sure, it brings extreme highs when the lights go on and it all comes together, as there really is no comparison to the buzz of working in live music.

However, we also recognise that touring, and the live music industry in general, can have a detrimental impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of its workers.

There are long periods away from home. When we do return, there’s then the period of decompression and re-engaging in ‘civilian’ life. There are no highs when you hit the light switch at home. There’s constant readjustment and refamiliarisation.

Yet for those who do tour, it’s not simply a job; our choice of work becomes a lifestyle. And to get there, it takes persistence and determination. For most road crew, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We are freelancers and we’re a unique travelling breed.

What we soon noticed was that our crewmates were missing mealtimes together

The global shutdown meant we were suddenly all at home, often alone, and mostly experiencing shock, isolation and bouts of unexpected ill mental health. What we soon noticed was that our crewmates were missing mealtimes together.

The catering chat, the jokes, the catchups. We wanted to come together and to cook together. After all, we’ve learnt so much from different cultures and cuisines from world tours, why not relive the good times while – what felt like – the apocalypse was coming?

Changes have to be made in the way we approach mental wellbeing on tour. We are striving to destigmatise ill mental health and encourage people to talk openly about it. Along with our cookbook colleagues, Rich House and Athena Caramitsos, we want people to feel supported and feel able to ask for help if they need to.

Food and nutrition play a key role. We can make positive change by looking at how we approach catering going forward, looking after ourselves and looking after the planet.

We encourage more plant-based options, less carbon footprint and food waste, and working with the local communities we visit. They say we should leave no mark, but we’d like to leave a good one. We’re hoping seeing a copy of The Roadie Cookbook on tour buses will be a reminder of that.

It’s our aim that in the not-too-distant future, every tour bus in the UK will have at least one trained mental health first aider

Ultimately, we’re raising funds for two charities; Music Support and Stagehand. All profits will go towards buying Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses for touring professionals, and it’s our aim that in the not-too-distant future, every tour bus in the UK will have at least one trained mental health first aider on board.

We want to prevent crisis, normalise the conversations around difficult topics, and for casual talks to happen regularly. We care so much about delivering the best times for punters; as an industry we need to care as much about our internal experiences.

We cannot emphasise enough the importance of looking after live music crews both physically and mentally as we transition back into full-time work this autumn and next year.

And in addition to MHFA, we have been educating ourselves further through the Music Support Addiction & Recovery Awareness course, which Nick also helped bring to fruition.

Essentially, while a cookbook may not be the obvious choice for a touring industry fundraiser, it is the vehicle we needed to discover what it means to feel nourished and to best support others.

Together, we can all make small changes that will hopefully, eventually, make a cultural shift to a kinder type of touring. So, do take time to enjoy a good meal and open conversation. After all, it’s more rock & roll to rebel against the norm. And upon reflection, the norm simply wasn’t working.

Help us to future-proof our industry and pre-order your copy of The Roadie Cookbook today at www.theroadiecookbook.com


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