Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
“I used to perform with 50 guys onstage and you didn’t know who the artist was,” Herbo told REVOLT. “I didn’t start doing shows by myself until four years into my career.”
Up until now, I was always paranoid. So, with touring, I’d be a star and most of the people in these states would be my fans and love me, but I was always in fear of my life in other places. When I went to other cities, I always felt I needed a gun near me. I would be paranoid with certain crowds and guys in the crowd. That goes back to the things I’ve been through in my city with me not being able to trust people and having to move that way and take that kind of precaution in Chicago. I didn’t necessarily need to be that way in other cities, but it took me some time to realize that. So, for touring, it affected my mental health in that way. I couldn’t really embrace the tour life because I didn’t look at that as something fun. It was business and a chess game. I was trying not to make the wrong decision. I used to be nervous on the road.
Do you think Swervin’ Through Stress could help artists while on tour?
Yeah, I think so. I think it’d help people learn about themselves. It’s about having somebody to talk to about anything that plays a role in your mental stability and health. So, whether it’s being an artist touring or being a kid trying to be a standup student, there’s no agenda. It’s just about giving these kids an outlet where people show them there is hope.
What was the first show you did as G Herbo?
It was crazy. I was in Chicago on 79th St. and King Drive. We got into a big ass fight with security. That goes back to the mental health and post-traumatic stress. I was there with a crowd of guys. That’s how we moved because we didn’t feel safe in Chicago. Security got into an altercation with one of my friends onstage, one thing turned to another, and we just got into a big brawl with security guards. I was 16 years old. Looking back now, I know if I was going to do a show today and have a disagreement with security guard, nine times out of ten, it’s going to come to a head before any fists are thrown or violence. We’ll talk about the situation before anything. That comes with experience and me being able to manage my post-traumatic stress.
What was your stage show like back then?
I used to perform with 50 guys onstage and you didn’t know who the artist was (laughs). I didn’t start doing shows by myself until four years into my career.
Was performing by yourself weird after all of the years of being with a huge crowd?
Kind of. It was definitely something I had to get used to. That’s when I started to be really professional and taking my craft seriously. I wanted my fans to enjoy coming to see me. People don’t want to pay $50-$75 a ticket and you have 100 people with you onstage.
What is on your rider? How has it changed over the years?
Over the years, it’s changed tremendously. My rider used to be four bottles of Remy [Martin] and Rose, and I wasn’t even 21 yet, bro. I was 17 or 18. My rider was alcohol, pepperoni pizza, bunch of Bic lighters and iPhone chargers. Now, my rider consists of a salad, cheese pizza, all-flat chicken wings, alcohol if my entourage wants it — I don’t drink anymore. Also, backwoods.
How do you balance being a father and being on the road?
Exactly how I’m doing right now (laughs). I don’t know if you hear it, but my son is in one arm while I’m doing this interview. I try to balance as easy as possible. My son is my world, so everything has to revolve around him. So, I shift everything. When my son is there, everything has to shift to his comfort level and it’s that simple.
You said a recent show before the pandemic was one of your best shows. Why did you think that?
It was fun for me because I brought my son out. I brought him out on the road. It was one of my best shows. I was excited to have my son and bring him out. My son is literally my shadow. He wants to do everything I do. If I tie my shoes, he bends over to tie his shoes. He wanted to be with me onstage. He was crying because I had to get onstage and I gave him to someone else. So, I was like, I played a song and after it he walked out onstage and the crowd went crazy. He didn’t come to me. He ran onstage, I tried to pick him up, and the first thing he grabbed was the microphone out my hand. That’s how you know he watches my every move. He didn’t just want me to pick him up. He wanted to perform.
What’s the most memorable show you ever did?
Lollapalooza 2018 was crazy. It was one of my biggest shows. It was in Chicago, so of course the energy was crazy. It was like looking into a crowd of people who know you and everything you’ve been through, and my journey. It felt like they were on this journey with me. Those are the shows you don’t forget.
How did the pandemic affect the shows you had coming up?
The pandemic affected the shows I had coming up because [it] canceled the whole second leg of my “PTSD Tour.” I had 12-15 dates left and they had to cancel everything. I was just trying to make sure I was safe, so I understood it. But, of course, I want to get back out on the road and with my fans. It affected me, but it was a minor setback because I’m doing things I need to do to grow as an artist.
What advice do you have for artists to deal with lack of shows and their mental health?
For artists, you just have to take it one day at a time. I felt like I was in the middle of a pandemic in 2019. I couldn’t do shows while all of my peers were doing shows, so I felt like I was the only artist who couldn’t enjoy being an artist. I missed Rolling Loud. I missed all of these big shows. I couldn’t travel because I was facing a lot of adversity. I was on The Shaderoom every other week. It was tough ties. It was hard times. It played a big part in my mental stability because I was stressed out. But, I didn’t give up. That’s what I would tell artists. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s even more reason to keep going. We didn’t know we were going to be in a pandemic. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. They should go to SwervinThroughStress.com for all of the information. Any of my peers and friends can hit me directly if they want to be part of it.