My very good friend, Adrienne Thomas, is a true creative, a great writer and a music enthusiast. She is the author and creator of the music blog, Nosferatune, which is chock-full of original and inspiring content. Recently, she joined the band Marrow on tour through the American South, mixing her loves of music and travel. I was lucky enough to be able to get the inside scoop on her experiences on the road.
This great adventure all started with another adventure in our home city of Chicago, where Adrienne performed in a burlesque variety show, The Fly Honey Show. A band called Homme was also performing in the show.
RebeccaWanderlusting (RW): How did you come by Homme in the first place?
Adrienne Thomas (AT): “I met them in underwear, singing on stage at the Fly Honey show. I talked with them briefly back stage, I really loved their song, and they were obviously well connected with the creators of the Fly Honey show. I heard about a show of theirs at the Hideout (we all went) and wrote a little piece on it and took some photos. After that I didn’t seem them until I emailed Sima to see if she wanted to wanted to make something in New Orleans. And then this all happened.”
Adrienne and her boyfriend, John, had been planning a trip to New Orleans, where, coincidentally, the band Marrow was playing a show. Let me explain the degrees of separation here: Sima and Macie make up the band Homme, Sima also performs solo and was the opening act for the band Marrow, which Macie is a member of. Adrienne did a photo shoot with Homme in New Orleans and went to the Marrow show there as well. Afterwards, they invited her to join them on tour. They had wanted her to join the tour the next day, but, because there were still three days left in her New Orleans trip, there was a decision to be made.
RW: Initially, was there any hesitation to say yes, let’s go?
AT: “Before I realized that I could actually tell them when I can, I was thinking ‘Oh my gosh am I going to leave John early, do I have to make this decision?’ I thought about it, and thought no, they want me, so I’m going to tell them when I can, and if that works out for them, cool. So that was a little bit of a challenge, organizing that, and finding out where I would meet them in the country, but it worked out! That was probably the only thing, I didn’t want to end my vacation early but I also know that this was a super great opportunity, so I might have, if they said it’s this or nothing. I think it was definitely a lesson in understanding the value of my work, instead of thinking ‘Oh, I really want to go on tour with these people, I’m going to bend over backwards to make it happen and get payed by them’ instead of that, I had to flip it around and be like ‘Adrienne you’re really talented and you have a lot of work under your belt and you should be able to set the grounds for this’. It took me a day to realize that I didn’t need to be at the whim of them, they could be at the whim of me a little.”
With that, a plan was set in motion to meet them in Nashville and join them for the rest of the tour. Adrienne and John finished their New Orleans trip and drove up to Tennessee, taking a day to themselves in Memphis before heading to Nashville. The tour moved from Nashville to Jackson, MS to Houston, Austin, and Dallas, then Wichita, Kansas City and Columbus, MO, before ending in Champaign/Urbana.
RW: How long did you spend in each location and where did you sleep?
AT: “The longest was two days, we spent two days in Austin and Wichita. The shortest was, one time we just stopped for the show, we spent 6 hours at the venue and then continued driving. Most nights we spent one night. We drove all day, got to the venue, did sound check, walked around the city, did the show, went to someone’s house to sleep, woke up and left. We didn’t stay at any hotels, it was all through connections. They arranged it every night staying with someone that someone knew that opened their house for us. Therefore, we met a lot of really nice people.”
One moment of the trip stuck out as memorable to Adrienne, it occurred at one of the many homes that they were welcomed into. This particular home was in Wichita, KS, and they had driven most of the night to get there. They slept most of the day, and awoke for dinner with the family. One room of the house was musically inclined, containing a piano and an organ. Adrienne describes one of her favorite nights of the trip like this: “Macie started playing piano, she’s the best at piano, she’s fantastic, and Liam came in and started playing the organ that was in there, Dorian came in and started playing the guitar and then Sima came in and started singing with Macie. And they all broke out into a David Bowie medley. It was the most special experience. When you think about music… most musicians know how to jam together, they can pick up on what someone is playing and add in their own. That’s just one of the coolest things about music that people can just come together in a second and create a song, a full song, and all add their own aspect to it. They’re not afraid musically, when they sing with each other or when they improvise, they’re not wondering if they sound good. They’re all confident in their sound, which is what made that moment so cool.”
RW: Which venue was your favorite?
AT: “Dallas was really cool because it was so warm out and all of the bars were open, and the music was so loud and it went down all the streets. I went for a walk four blocks away and I could hear them warming up. What a great natural marketing, talk about music leading you to where you want to be. That ended up being a really great show. Dallas was a lot of people that didn’t know them who became fans of them at the end of the show. People were dancing. For a tour that was relatively small scale, as in they didn’t have many fans come out, they mostly got new fans, that was the most rewarding to watch people have a good time and get into it.”
This tied into why she enjoyed the tour as a whole: “It wasn’t an all-star tour, they didn’t have a lot of people coming out, but there was still purpose to the tour. They were gathering a crowd and proving that they could tour together. And my role, as documenting the process, was to help them improve their image as a touring, successful band so they could get better booking agents, better management. That was cool, to learn why they wanted me to document a tour that wasn’t super popular. If I can have that direct of an effect on band’s being well known and respected, then that makes me feel really good.”
RW: What did your job on tour entail?
AT: “There were basically four parts that I filmed for every show. 1. Time lapse videos of load-in and set-up, 2. Film our walk around the city, because there was always a gap between the sound check and the performance, a couple hours. I would film us walking whether we went to get barbeque or ice cream, so I filmed them and we tried to make some fun situations, visually. One time we went past a car dealership with an old school Chevy in it, so they stopped and played house in this car for a minute, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to shoot. 3. Filming during the shows, I wouldn’t film every song, but I would film and make sure I would get enough footage to have a good recap of the show, get enough footage of each person. 4. I would film and record people’s reactions. After the show, I would ask people what they thought and for that I had a tiny task hand recorder. I didn’t have a whole mic set-up, so I tried to get enough audio clips of people saying “Marrow was awesome! This was great!” That definitely got easier as we went along. In the beginning, I didn’t really know what to capture and towards the end, I knew what kind of footage I needed so I didn’t have to film all the time, I wouldn’t film the same thing over and over and over again.”
RW: What were the challenging parts of the tour?
AT: “There’s awkwardness to sift through before I find that comfort zone. That was the same with the tour because I really wanted it to be comfortable for everyone, and I didn’t want to be that person ruining all their moments. They were having a good time, I didn’t want to bombard them with a camera in their face and make them feel like they couldn’t be comfortable. But at the same time, I had to do that enough. I had to not be afraid to do that, and that was a really big challenge. Because I also really wanted them to like me, I really wanted us to be friends. We were travelling together for nine days, so tackling all of those things. 1. I’m afraid to bother them, 2. I’m not getting enough footage, so those two alone kind of clashed. It’s kind of hard to enter a situation like that where everyone is friends and family. They’re all related and all went to high school together so they all know each other very well and have worked on various projects together. So that was intimidating, they were in their element together.”
RW: Do you feel like that situation changed by the end of the trip?
AT: “Yes. I’m definitely more comfortable now around them, and I feel like if I entered that situation with them again, or with another group, now I know what I have to do professionally. I don’t have to get that confused with what I want personally. I’m not going to be afraid to shove a camera in their face. Once I started to get more comfortable in that role, they started being more comfortable around me too. There was a significant warming up that happened about halfway through. It wasn’t the warmest situation, part of that might have been in my head but I’m sure they were like, “who is this girl?” Sima, the tour manager, brought me on, she was leading the whole shebang of filming. But it was really cool to experience the warming up process on their end and on my end because it made the filming better too. My footage got better as the tour went on.”
This tour wasn’t the first time Adrienne mixed music and travel. In fact, music is what most often influences her to travel: “The past two trips that I’ve gone on, I’ve tied music into both of them. In Asheville I recorded an Asheville artist, in New Orleans I recorded Homme. It’s been really cool to make sure that everywhere I travel, I make something, record something. Make it be not just a for-fun vacation. I do have a dream to go to South America and record the music that I find there. I guess to some degree, I kind of just decided that I want to do it in America first, just to make sure that I could do it, and that’s kind of what these travels have been, to make sure that I’m comfortable recording.” When asked what comes first, the music or the destination, she said, “Probably the trip gets planned, because there’s music everywhere. It’s worked out surprisingly easy so far.”
RW: Where is your favorite place you’ve travelled to thus far?
AT: “Amsterdam. Amsterdam taught me that I can move somewhere, conquer a city, as in feel comfortable living there, and learn a whole new genre of music. Amsterdam taught me techno, house, and electronic music that I had no idea about before I moved there. That was really awesome. That kind of faded since I moved away from Amsterdam, but that was a really beautiful example of immersing yourself in a city and having music be a huge part of that. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with Amsterdam, aside from its blissful everything. Biking, freedoms, beauty, bricks, old, old everything… It’s really humbling to be in an old place to realize how new you are as a person.”
Currently, Adrienne works at Revolution Brewery in Logan Square, while still working with musicians, writing and working on her website. When asked if Nosferatune is something she’d like to pursue full time, she said, “Yes. I work at a bar that financially and motivationally supports everything that I do. Every month that I work there is another month that I am working my way up this chain and starting to get paid more for certain things and getting more experience. The fact that I have a job that financially supports my growth as an artist or as a writer or as anything I try to be is a blessing. You can’t just make money right off the bat with this job, you have to learn. I don’t have a business thought process. I’m okay with not having it, I’m going about this in my own way.”
The struggle of knowing when to take a creative passion the next step into a full time career is something we have in common. On this topic, Adrienne has some sage advice: “As soon as I can make honestly, 60-70% of what I’m making right now in freelance work, that’s when I’ll know that it’s ok to jump off and make a little less money for a bit, but let that drive you. If you have a paddle slapping your ass, you’re going to move faster, you’re going to work harder and you’re going to pursue more. It’s definitely a hard call. I think you shouldn’t necessarily look at what other people do in order to decide when you’re ready. You have to really be in touch with what you need and what you’re ready for.”
So what’s next for Adrienne and Nosferatune?
“Video, a video portal that consistently has new videos on it, small or large. New design, something that highlights immediate music sharing, immediate and consistent media sharing versus extended blog posts. I want to make it more like a taste-maker site, than a blogging site. I think less writing, that’s been the problem, because I take a while to write and I think the consistency of my posts is slow. Instead of a feature piece on something, I’d like to have a design or a platform that supports quick sharing so that people can go there and know that they can find a lot of new music at once versus sifting through two new blog posts from the last three weeks. I have the whole design of exactly what I want it to look like and all the functionality tagged in there.”
Personally, I’m just really excited to see what she does and where she goes next! To stay updated on Adrienne’s latest projects, check out her website.