Tour Diary: Goodnight Nurse - Doin' It For The Kids
Author: Joel Little (photography by Alex Little)
Goodnight Nurse (from left) Paul Taite (bass), Joel Little (vox and guitar) and Jaden Parkes (drums).
We're a little tired. In the fourth week of a 19 week tour, we have just driven eight hours from Timaru to Nelson and are about to play our ninth show in six days. But tonight our audience is 1900 screaming kids - so we'll get over it.
How did this happen? Our little band that we started three years ago in the garage at Jaden's place, without knowing how to write a song, get a gig, or play in time, has somehow managed to bluff its way onto the biggest tour one band has ever done in New Zealand. Approximately 120 shows over 19 weeks in 23 centres nationwide - otherwise known as the Boost Mobile NZ Schools Tour '04.
Besides the sheer scale, this tour is a lot different to your typical rock'n'roll tour. We spend a week in each town and play up to nine shows while there - five or six schools, an R18 gig, an all-ages gig and the local Rockquest regional finals. And we're loving nearly every minute of it. I say 'nearly' because it ain't all limousines and caviar. But there is a lot of good stuff. For example...
Catholic girls' schools. Without fail the craziest fanatical crowds you've ever seen. I'd like to say it's because they love our music but I'm pretty sure they're just happy boys are at their school. Don Brash could probably show up and play the spoons and the girls would swoon. But like I said before, I'm not complaining.
The girl-to-guy ratio at the weekend shows is always funny too.
Case in point - the end-of-week all ages show in Dunedin. We'd played three girls' schools that week, as well as one co-ed and one boys' school. So the night went a bit like this:
Me: "How many boys are there in the audience tonight?"
Me: "And how many girls are there in the audience?"
This was followed by a blood curdling "TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IT OFF!"
But we're working on gaining fans, not scaring them away, so the clothing stays on. For now...
A typical day for Goodnight Nurse and crew at high school goes like this:
- Turn up to the school at interval. Hand out flyers to the kids for the lunchtime show. Besides a few of the students, nobody knows who we are. Get snobbed by the cool kids.
- Unload gear and sound check between interval and lunch. Often the school will provide lunch for our gang. This usually consists of egg and mayo sandwiches - with the crusts cut off.
- Energised and revitalised from the sandwiches, we play a show at lunchtime.
- Sign autographs at the end of lunch. It's always funny seeing the same cool kids from interval clambering to get to the front of the pack.
- Afternoon music workshops with students. Talk with them about the industry, being in a band, performing etc. Get asked questions like "Do you get hot and sweaty when you're on stage?"
- Leave school at the end of the day, a god in the eyes of the students. Or something like that.
There are a couple of things we've found bizarre about the school shows. One is signing autographs. We find it funny having hundreds of kids jumping on top of each other to get you to sign your name. We love it but it is weird. Occasionally girls get really odd about it - the first one in a group to get an autograph will often be bombarded with "bitch" comments and dirty looks from the other girls.
It's not just the band that gets asked for autographs. Our road crew signs as much stuff as we do. If we have a friend visiting who has nothing to do with the tour at all, they get asked for their signature as well. Even students who are showing us around the school get asked for autographs. They'll tell the kid "I go to this school too," and the kid will say "I don't care, just sign it".