How To Choose Roommates On The Road

Few bands enjoy the luxury of separate rooms at the start of their touring careers. In fact, early on, it’s not uncommon to surreptitiously squeeze the entire band into one room. It generally works like this: The least frightening-looking member goes in and rents a single room while everyone else stays hidden in the vehicle. Everyone then sneaks into the room, coins are tossed for who gets the bed, shower (and towel) rotation, and so on. Occasionally, circumstances force us to spend the night “sardining” in the van, or seeking out a willing host/hostess. Although the latter might offer a profusion of possibilities, the former guarantees us the security of waking up safe, albeit sore, with our band. Happily, youthful resilience and the excitement of early touring outweigh these privations — for a while.

Eventually, those of us who survive the early hardships will move up to more comfortable means of accommodations. From the above, we move to two beds, on up to two beds and a cot, and finally, the penultimate achievement, one small rung away from the vaunted grail of individual rooms: two to a room! This is a huge step forward, but one that carries many behavioral compromises, both obvious and subtle.

Not unlike choosing sides for a sandlot game, successful roommate selection is all about “calling” your guy. After enough full-group lodging, you’ll undoubtedly have a pretty accurate idea as to who the “untouchables” are. By this, of course, I mean those who exhibit chain saw snoring, nocturnal flatulence, dubious hygiene regimens, and the like.

If you enjoy a mutual closeness with a particular member, he/she is probably your best bet. If not, give thought to who parties after gigs, watches TV late into the night (or early in the morning), is a late/early riser, or any traits that either conform to or conflict with yours.

In time, the relative misery of “sardining” fades, and the single roommate system becomes somewhat claustrophobic. Some methods of staving this off are to give each other as much space as possible, both literally and figuratively. Don’t sprawl your possessions around the bedroom area or the bathroom; try to concentrate your belongings in as small an area as possible. When necessary, a non-confrontational airing of whatever roommate-related annoyances have been accumulating can save a working pairing. Just be prepared to learn that perhaps you aren’t the perfect roommate after all.