For our latest behind the scenes feature, we spoke to Andrew Weiss (most notably known for being Paramore's "Tour Mangler").
Weiss spoke to ATP! about: how he got into tour management, the highs and lows of the job, having to deal with superfans on a daily basis and more.
Alter The Press: How did you get into tour management?
Andrew Weiss: I worked doing any and every production job I could get for years while trying to land a tour, any tour, doing any job. When I got hired with a production company I was a lighting tech/driver/monitor mixer, basically whatever I could to that was paying. After a few years I decided to go back to college and complete my bachelors in technical theatre. While I was doing that I worked in clubs repairing sound and lighting equipment, but I really missed touring. One of the club owners where I worked was a band manager who had signed Creed with an indie label. He needed a TM (tour manager) in a hurry since the band blew up pretty fast and I was the only one that had any touring experience. I agreed to be their TM until they could find the right person and I was hoping to stick around maybe as the LD (lighting director). Instead I never stopped being a TM.
ATP: How long have you been tour managing for?
Andrew: 19 years on the road. 14 years touring.
ATP: Describe a typical day for Andrew Weiss.
Andrew: Get up in the morning and double check plans for the day. Work with the PM (promoter) and staff to resolve any day of show problems, make sure things are in order before the band starts to get up. Also in the morning I'll advance a show, transportation, press details along with any other issues that may have come up. As the day progresses: get the band, do soundcheck, interviews and meet and greets. At doors, I make sure seating and ticketing manifests match the contracts, and audit the box office to monitor sales. Throughout the show I try to keep an eye on whats happening in the venue, but when my band goes onstage I'm fully involved with the promoter organizing the show receipts and completing settlement. At some point in the evening I'll review plans for the next day and print/email the band schedule for the next day. After the show, I'll make sure the band are looked after and sorted for the evening. Once the band are tucked in for the night in a hotel or on their bus, I'm basically off the clock unless there's some emergency.
ATP: Worst part of the job?
Andrew: Most tours are like big families, and all families have their arguments. There's always lots of little fights and sometimes very big ones. You can't ever keep everyone happy all the time, no matter how hard you try. When you tour you are always under pressure to work quickly, and the clock is always ticking. You are also in a compressed environment living around each other 24 hours a day. When you are sick and tired of being around your co-workers all day you still have to climb into the bus and spend all of your off time no more than 20 feet from each other. Sometimes issues come to a head and otherwise wonderful people do really strange things to each other. I'm always struggling to try and manage personnel issues better, some days I really regret cheating my way through my college psychiatry classes.
ATP: Best part of the job?
Andrew: The work can be redundant, show days can be like groundhog day, but there are new challenges that keep it interesting. I've woken up thinking it's gonna be a normal day, and wound up dealing with bomb threats, drug dogs, mystery packages delivered by armored car, arena power outages, riots, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, labor strikes, politicians... Honestly, that's what makes the touring so much fun, dealing with all the drama, getting through it, then retelling the stories to all your friends while tossing back a few beers!
ATP: What is your best tour story?
Andrew: You do realize that best tour stories are the one's you can't print right?
Here's something funny you can actually watch on YouTube. At the end of the Honda Civic Tour last year, the Paramore's really wanted to get involved pranking the other bands at the last show. They got New Found Glory pretty good by running pictures of Justin Bieber on the LED screens while the band was playing and they were pretty proud of themselves. Our crew thought maybe our band needed to be pranked as well so as soon as the band went into the dressing room we chased them in with one of the big confetti cannons we use in the arenas. The dressing room was really small and these cannons made a huge mess. We literally buried the band in confetti, they never saw it coming and they couldn't escape. A year later we still open road case drawers and confetti falls out. Check out the video it's pretty funny.
ATP: Have you had to deal with any crazy "superfan" or groupie situations? If so, the best story please...
Andrew: Once I had a fan sneak on the bus for 2 days, and hide in a spare bunk. I don't know how she pulled it off. When we caught her, she hadn't stolen anything or messed with anyone; she was just there for the ride. We had to get her a ticket and send her home where she still lived with her parents. That was really creepy.
On another note, I've been looking after Paramore now for about 3.5 years, and on a daily basis I get yelled at by some teenage superfan who's super pissed at me throwing a tantrum yelling: "You don't understand, I'm their biggest fan!" Most bands (especially Paramore) love to get face time with fans but it's just impossible to meet everyone at every show. When the band doesn't have time to meet the band or they are too exhausted or they have another commitment I get the brunt of fan abuse, as if I'm out there just trying ruin their day. I would help them if I could but I can't accommodate every person that sneaks backstage or stakes out the airport or local hotels. Their enthusiasm is appreciated but it doesn't change the fact that we are on a schedule and have commitments. By the way, as soon as they yell at me or even tell me "you don't understand" it's totally over for that person. Whatever chance they may have had, they blew it.
ATP: If you weren't tour managing, what would you be doing?
Andrew: Is pirate still a viable career? In the Bahamas though, not Somalia.
ATP: What has been the best tour you've done?
Andrew: Any smart roadie will tell you the best tour is the one that just paid them! In my case that's still Paramore. Last year the band put together a bigger production adding pyro and video and creating their first genuine arena/shed show. I was super proud to be a part of that band growth.
ATP: When not touring, how do you spend your downtime?
Andrew: When I have enough down time I'm home in Florida on Merritt Island either riding motorcycles or boating or just enjoying being at home with my girlfriend. I'm a water nut and I have 2 boats I keep at the dock behind my house (one is always broke down). Merritt Island is between to rivers and only a couple miles by boat from the Atlantic and it's warm enough to enjoy being on the water year round.