Every band who tours frequently has an unspoken member who doesn’t play on any records, yet is instrumental in reaching fans’ ears in far away places. I’m talking about the vehicle responsible for getting the band to their next show, and hopefully, the show after that. If you want to go on tour you have a few transportation options: renting a vehicle, borrowing a friend’s vehicle, or buying your own vehicle. I personally believe buying your own tour van is the best investment for a band whose intent is to tour often. I have found two semi-reliable used vehicles within my budget (less than $6000) that we have put 60,000 miles of touring in the past 3 years. There’s Patrick, a 1995 Dodge Caravan, and Abby “The Abyss,” a 2007 Ford 11-passenger Econoline E-150.
First, the important stuff: how does a band van get its name?
Sometimes it’s obvious. I found my first minivan at a mechanic in New Jersey for $1500. It was given to the mechanic because the owner had passed away. The previous owner’s address and name, Patrick, were still on the van key chain. There was a bottle of wine in the trunk and a little handwritten notebook of the dates of every oil change the van had ever gotten in the glove box.
The bottle of wine exploded in the trunk before I had a chance to open it and the radio/cassette tape player worked very erratically, leading us to believe that Patrick’s spirit was still with us. The van had relatively low millage for a 20+ year old vehicle (under 100,000) and the mechanic told us Patrick didn’t leave NJ much, so it made sense that his spirit would want to go on adventures with a three piece girl rock band.
Sometimes it takes a tour. The next vehicle I purchased was an 11 passenger Econoline in January 2017 for $5,500. Chris Yaniack from Little Dickman Records spotted it at a used car dealership in Asbury Park, NJ. Ex-Girlfriends did tri-state area gigs in the minivan, but it was a tight squeeze for 5 fully grown women. The first tour we did in the Econoline was a double Sharkmuffin/Ex-Girlfriends tour in March 2017 to SXSW and back, and naturally everyone’s belongings kept disappearing. For this reason, it was lovingly dubbed “The Abyss” or “Abby” for short.