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Band Buses - Who Has 'Em (Or Did at One Time)?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jaywa, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Reason I ask is, one of our guitarists has bought an old MCI charter bus and is stripping it down to the studs to rehab as a tour bus for our band. He's going all in (big screen TV, couches, kitchenette, bathroom, bunks and a big bed in the back, multiple A/C, etc.

    He's doing this totally out of his own pocket (yeah, he has a pretty good day job)... but once it's ready for use, if we start using it for gigs then the diesel is gonna come off the top of what we get paid for gigs. He says the bus gets 6 mpg and around these parts diesel is selling for quite a bit more than gas (about $3.70 a gallon). On top of which, we have a trailer we would have to pull behind the bus to carry the full P.A., lights, etc. that we bring to most of our shows.

    So our BL (and frankly, myself too) are kind of skeptical whether having this bus is gonna put us any better off than the rig we're rolling now (GMC Denali that rides the 5 of us in the band and pulls the trailer). Obviously there's the "cool factor" of having a bus but we're only a weekend warrior variety/party band so if the overhead of this thing starts cutting into our pay I'm not sure I'd be real happy about that.

    OTOH I've never ridden on a tour bus before and one of the other guys in the band (who used to have one) says they're the best thing since sliced bread.

  2. etoncrow

    etoncrow (aka Greg Harman, the curmudgeon with a conundrum)

    Parking can be a complete hassle...
  3. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah I was wondering about that too. Especially some of these small-town bars we play I'm wondering if we could even get that rig through the alley.

    OTOH, this summer (especially) when we're waiting to go on for a mid-afternoon festival slot it would sure be nice to have a private, air-conditioned spot to chill.

    The other thing is, I really hope this doesn't turn into a "band photo" deal... you know, the bus gets finished and then the band breaks up.
  4. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    running that ac uses fuel and eats profits. :bag:
    sounds pretty sweet though.
  5. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    So just use it for "special" occasions/longer trips. Problem solved.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I think he's rigging it up so we can just plug into the event power.

  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Your "tours" consist of going to a small town for a weekend... where they should be comping you a room to sleep... and you are getting a bus?

    Well I hope you guys get paid extremely well because your over head costs are about to shoot through the roof...

    It will be fun though, no question about that.
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Pretty sure that's how it's gonna turn out happening. Probably will use it on overnight trips and hopefully the savings on hotel rooms will cover the extra fuel costs.

    Our BL is one of the best I've ever known in terms of crunching numbers for maximum profit... so if he doesn't think the bus is gonna pay back on a particular gig or trip I'm sure he'll put the kibosh on it.

    And yeah, it will be fun... but would have been a lot more fun if I was 20 years younger and single. ;)
  9. Swampman Cory

    Swampman Cory

    Nov 9, 2009
    Los Angeles / ex-Michigan
    Endorsing Artist: Reunion Blues, 64 Audio, Mesa Engineering
    A+ for the use of "kibosh."
  10. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I worked as Operations Manager for a large fleet of charter/tour buses (many were MCIs). The maintenance, insurance, registration (etc, etc) costs for these are outrageous! I think your band needs to agree that this is the way they want to go ... I hate when others try to solve problems I don't have ... :rolleyes:

    And I can almost guarantee you that paying for a couple of a/c'd motel rooms in the summer time would be A LOT cheaper than owning a rolling money pit.
  11. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    In fairness, I should disclaim...

    The band member in question isn't doing this strictly for the band. He's an empty nester, with kids living all over the country and about 5 years away from retiring from his day job. As he explained it to me, "if the band thing doesn't pan out then the wife and I still have a pretty spiffy motorhome."

    So it's not like he's really pressuring the band to use this thing when it's done with the rehab... he's just making it available.

    I do have to say though... he's been telling us how much money some of these parts he's been replacing are costing and it's pretty ridiculous. He also said there have been some "animated discussions" with his wife regarding same.

    Personally, I'm a hotel room kind of guy. I'm not fond of small tight spaces and I tend not to sleep well (or at all) when someone else is driving. The Cliff Burton thing and all...
  12. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    You're looking at almost a dollar a mile for fuel...
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I know, and that's the rub.

    Short-haul gigs aren't generally going to justify taking out a tour bus, but the longer trips (of which we really only have two on the books for later this year) would just kill us in fuel costs. And I'm pretty sure our BL didn't factor that overhead into the equation when he quoted those jobs 9 or 10 months ago.
  14. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    If you're not a touring band, whats the need for a tour bus? That's what I don't understand.
  15. If it is as large as you say, I do not see why you would still pull a trailer.
    We used to have a former church van, 15 seater. It ran on regular gas though. But the best part was the huge handicap door in the back. We could load all of our gear into the back and still had plenty of sleeping/partying space in front.
    Getting a flat on dually tires is a pain when its one of the inside tires though!

    Also, diesel is awful. Once upon a time it was much cheaper than gas.
    These days I would be looking at LPG or propane. There are also biodiesel stations in some parts of the country.
  16. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The lead guitarist (whose bus it is) is pushing 60 and has been playing in bands since he was in high school. He did the traveling band thing back in his younger days, then kind of put it on the shelf while he and his wife raised their family, and now he's in a position where he can do the band thing again a little more seriously, with guys he really likes being around.

    In other words, I think this bus is his version of a red convertible. He has the time and the means to pursue it, so really who can begrudge him?

    OTOH he's enough of a realist that if the BL says we can't make it work with the band financially, he'll be cool with that too.
  17. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    i have been in a limo, just not in the back... :meh:
  18. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    If it's just a hobby for the guy, may as well let him find his bliss and deal with his own battles with the wife. It's a different story if he's going to charge the band for it's use or try to use that to subsidize his blissful venture.

    On a profit side, I think it would probably be cheaper in the long run to rent a tour bus for those occasions where you actually need one.

    In my neck of the woods, there would literally be nowhere to park the thing. We'd have to park so far away that we'd need to tow a small car to move our stuff from the parking space to the venue after we parked the bus.
  19. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Pretty sweet! It could be a financial nightmare though, as most here have said. Parking, gas, maintenance, etc...do you need some sort of license to drive a bus, btw?

    I know a band that was WAY up financially on a record deal they landed. Then they rented a bus for a big national tour instead of using their van/trailer combo. They went flat broke in one summer because of it. Of course, it was a rental, so there were probably ridiculous up-charges...I couldn't imagine owning one would be any more expensive.

    I think it's cool, man.
  20. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    I know a guy who restored a bus to look like a log cabin inside. It rarely moves, just sits on his property like a cabin. However, it's there when he wants to go on trips, so it's more like an RV.

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