sløtface's guide to not freaking out on tour

The Norwegian punksters on eating healthy, sleeping soundly and dealing with on the road anxiety.

by Alexandra Pollard
19 October 2017, 8:24am

Sløtface make the perfect music to freak the fuck out to. Infusing noughties pop punk with 90s grunge and a riot grrrl sensibility, frontwoman Haley Shea is one moment railing against modern beauty standards -- "Patti Smith would never put up with this shit" -- the next recalling drunken games of Fuck Marry Kill with every actor who's ever played James Bond.

It's raucous and infectious, the kind of music that makes you want to throw yourself around a sweaty room. Their debut album title, Try Not to Freak Out, is a challenge as much as it is advice, one chucked out with a grin and an eyebrow raise. But a month after the release of their LP, and as their ascent inevitably continues, trying not to freak out has become something of an imperative. Particularly as they're currently undertaking their biggest UK headline tour to date (during which we caught up with Haley and Tor over the phone). From eating healthily to learning how to live from hotel room to hotel room, here's Sløtface's guide to not freaking out on tour.

Keeping healthy
Haley: We've gotten into week three now [of touring], which means everyone's starting to get sick. I felt so bad for our support bands on Tuesday, because we all showed up to the venue, and nobody had eaten all day and we were getting sick and were just the grumpiest bunch of people! But every night, there's always a group of young people on the front row that know all of the lyrics to every song, and so every lowlight takes a turn as soon as we go on stage.

Haley: I always feel like we revert to cave person status whenever we're on tour, because in your normal life you don't have to try so hard to fill primal needs, but once you're on tour, the only things you think about are sleep, food and being warm, and all of your energy goes into those things. We're trying to eat healthier. Tor has a 'only French fries on Monday' rule.

Staying in hotels
Haley: I think we're good about trying to be really fair, and trying to make sure if someone gets a single room one night, to switch it up so that someone else gets it the next. My only rule for touring is that I can pack all of the toiletries I want. I used to try to be really strict with myself, but that's what's gonna make me feel at home in my hotel room in the morning, so now I pack them all.

Tor: I sleep with my headphones on because people are snoring and coughing. I always fall asleep to people chatting on podcasts. I listen to Freakonomics a lot, This American Life, Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast is pretty good -- it's just a comedian rambling for an hour. One of the biggest challenges is you need to have sleep and you need to have food, but usually the hotel breakfast ends quite early and we are quite late to bed, so you kind of have to pick one or the other. I had to choose sleep today, so I didn't have breakfast, and now I'm feeling the consequences of that. Breakfast's all I can think about, and then next is probably sleep again.

Haley: It's kind of getting to the point where touring is the closest thing we get to a real routine, which makes it a little bit easier I think. We're trying to exercise more, which really helps, and I've gotten super into doing yoga to YouTube videos, because you might not always be near a gym, but you can always find a way to set up your laptop and do some yoga.

Missing people
Haley: I think it's really hard when you're on tour all the time, because you're not actually there. I struggle with missing people a lot, and I struggle with a lot of guilt about being a bad daughter and a bad friend, because I'm not as engaged as I could be. I just try to keep my friends updated on the less heavy stuff and try to keep things light, like sending my worst Tinder discovery of the day to my friends in Norway, and then they send theirs back. It's a good way of keeping in touch.

Haley: I get it. The first year we were in this band, we were in university, and everyone else was doing fresher's week. Specific dates, it feels like people are rubbing it in that you're not there. We were gone for 17 May this year, which is the Norwegian national day where you have parades and everyone gets dressed up and you have champagne breakfasts. It's a big day for celebration, and we were headed to the Great Escape [in Brighton] but we weren't playing that night and it felt like everyone on Instagram was trying to rub it in that we weren't there… Now I've got more used to it, because I know that we'll do something fun, even if it's not that specific thing, and I know that my friends probably wish that they were on tour. So I'm trying to be more excited on their behalf, instead of jealous that they're doing something fun.

Refreshing social media
Tor: I'm super bad at that, I do it way too much. That's a kind of way of dealing with things as well, because you feel updated. When you sit in a van for six hours it's just like, refresh, refresh, refresh. You don't really do anything. You don't even really comment on the photos or anything, you're just a spectator, surveilling what's going on.

Haley: It's nice to feel like you're connected sometimes, even though you sort of aren't. Sometimes that helps and sometimes that makes it worse.

Haley: I don't want to be the spokesperson for anxiety, because it's still really new for me, but honestly talking to the people around me has helped a lot. It was very much this thing that I would try to deal with and then pretend that everything was OK all the time, but the fact we've opened up more about it as a group, to try and figure out how to deal with it, has really, really helped. I think trying to take care of yourself, trying to get enough sleep, trying to eat healthy, trying to exercise, those things really make a difference. For me, touring was the thing that triggered my anxiety, and accepting that made it easier to move forward knowing this might happen, but it won't kill me, I can make it through it. I think it's something that the music business needs to talk more about, because after I started talking about it I heard so many other stories. It's just not a thing we talk enough about as musicians, with other musicians. It is a real thing that affects a huge part of the business.

I really felt whenever I would tell anyone about it that I was complaining. 'Everyone's in the same position, why are you making this about yourself?' But it's been really the opposite. Now I'm more like, 'This is something that I deal with and this is something that might affect the way that I act', and then they're like, 'OK cool, good to know'. They're usually pretty accepting, and get that it's not something I'm always in control of.

Sløtface are, as you can imagine, on tour now.

try not to freak out