You all know one of our CEO’s, Kait, right? She’s great. She’s one of, if not thee hardest working person I know. She’s a cheerleader. She’s a best friend. She’s a person that can give sound advice, or just sit with you when you need a shoulder to cry on. Point blank, I’m a better person for knowing her, we all are! Now, what if I told you that her hubby, Phil, was just as amazing? Would you believe it?! Well, prepare to have your socks knocked off because HE IS. Phil is one of the best gents I’ve ever met. The guy would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He’s always willing to help out and guys, he’s just so freaking cool! He looks like he just walked off a runway in LA—like he’s got swag. He listens to Post Malone and can hang with anyone. Often times, he gets me to laugh really hard because he’s witty, but it’s kinda when you least expect it. Phil is an extremely talented professional drummer. He’s worked his butt off to get to where he is and he now plays for Kelsea Ballerini! While drumming for Kelsea Ballerini, Phil has gotten to help Kelsea open on tour for some of the greats, Keith Urban and Kelly Clarkson, just to name a couple. Although Kait and Phil spend many nights apart, they had a weekend where Kait was able to travel alongside Phil and check out tour life and here’s what she’s said about it:
What were you most looking forward to, when being ‘on tour’ with Phil?
My favorite part of being on tour is watching the show every night. If I could live on the road and see Phil play every night—doing what he was always meant to do, I would! But, circumstances don’t lend themselves that privilege.
Was it anything like you had thought it would be?
I was definitely surprised by the length of time that you sit around and do nothing. Everyone that works in the live show industry or in music has a ‘hurry up and wait mentality’ or a ‘wait and hurry up’. At 6:15p it’s a rush to eat dinner and get ready for the show. I’m also surprised by the sense of focus that they have. During the day, they’re not quite themselves, but once the show is over, it’s like the tension is released. I’m reminded that it’s work even though it’s an unconventional workplace.
What was the most surprising thing that no one would think of?
It’s not glamorous like people think it would be. When you see people on stage or traveling on a tour bus, you assume it’s all glitz and glamour but actually it’s a grind. You’re in a shared space. There is little to no privacy, showering conditions are rough and something of a locker room. Bigger artists are the only ones that are afforded privacy—but they still travel with other employees, makeup artists, writers, personal assistants, or day to day managers.
Being one of the only girls in with a bunch of guys, did you feel out of place?
No. Shockingly, all the band and crew members are incredibly respectful and laid back. They made me feel comfortable from the beginning.
Can you describe your travel days and tour days? What does that look like?
A travel day begins with bus call around midnight. Usually they meet at a grocery store. My strategy was to stay up late because the more tired I was, the more easily I can sleep on a moving bus. While we travel, it’s Netflix with lots of snacks and ‘bus stock’ usually has all the junk food and snacks that you can imagine. The bus drives through the night to the city that you’re arriving in. They either park in garages or outside the venues on the street. We wake up between 10 and 11.
A tour day begins with us waking up and deciding if we want to eat on the bus or head into the venue for catering. You have to wear credentials at all times because you get stopped so many times to show your pass. Once you scope out the venue, depending on the time of day, you’ll decide if you want breakfast or lunch. From that point until 6:15p, you have to find something to do which consists of watching Netflix, playing video games, going to the YMCA to work out, sitting on the bus, talking with each other, and/or multiple refills of catering coffee. If it’s a nice day and you have enough time, you can find things around the city to do, until sound check at 4:30p. You can also eat lunch out using your per diem, but catering is already paid for. Or, you can get a runner coordinated from the tour manager to run you different places. A runner is someone who works for the venue, but is there to run errands.
During the concert, are you allowed backstage, or what is the security like around there?
I had the credentials of an all access pass and the only difference is that Phil’s pass says ‘Tour Staff’ and he has stage access. There is back stage, side stage, front of house, and pit. Walking around backstage to get in the greenroom or to catering means that every doorway entrance has a guard to check your passes. From the moment you enter the venue, you go through a metal detector, get your bags check, bags tagged, and there are just guards everywhere, so security is crazy.
Describe what concerts are like for you.
Personally, I loved being at the lives shows. I genuinely believe in Kelsea as an artist. She’s a great performer and I love to see her interact with her fans. She cares about her band, crew, and fans. She’s so genuine, so she’s incredibly fun to watch. She’s doing this because she loves it. Also, the show is the best part because I love watching Phil do what he’s meant to do. It’s an answer to prayer. It’s an answer to the prayer that we prayed over and over for. We prayed for him to play with bigger artists, so it feels like a mountaintop experience! It’s also the only time I’ll see Kelly Clarkson for free. The entire experience is a huge rush and I’m usually crying watching Phil. Kelsea also toured with Keith Urban last year and I was already a huge fan of him and Kelly Clarkson. I usually dance and sing and Phil watches the show every night. It’s good to just live in the moment.
Where do you sleep? Did you and Phil sleep in the same bed?
*Giggles* Actually I asked Phil if I could sleep on his bed and he got annoyed and said no. Their bus has five people sleeping on it, not including the bus driver (who sleeps in hotels, but will often catnap in a bunk during the day, if need be). The bunks on the bus are ‘condo’ bunks with means there is more space to sit up, but as far as width, it’s smaller than a twin bed. I slept on the passenger side, back right. There’s also a curtain you snap that gives you privacy and is soundproof, so you don’t hear much if anything. But, when the bus is moving, I have dreams about crashing a vehicle or airplane or feel like someone is hijacking the bus. There are smaller bunk sizes and I feel like I’d get claustrophobic in a smaller bunk or feel trapped, but in a ‘condo’ bunk, you can sit up. There are lights on the inside, chargers, outlets, and pockets to charge and hold all your things. I usually wear headphones and watch a show to fall asleep. Sleeping is the hardest part in addition to bathrooms for me.
What are some common misconceptions that people have about life on the road?
Again, the glitz and glamor or that there’s a nice bathroom. You can use the restroom on the bus, but you have to throw your toilet paper in the garbage can instead of down the toilet. People think that the inside of a tour bus looks different or maybe think it’s bigger than it is. Some of them are, if they have a slide out, but their bus doesn’t. There is also no shower on their bus. The living space is tight quarters. Another misconception is if you’re not the artist, your life is really normal and really chill. Artists’ time are consumed by writing, meet and greats. Their main free time is after the show. We hung with Kelsea one of the nights, and she’s just a normal person, and I think people forget that. Another thing is that you can’t keep a full suitcase on the bus because there’s not space. You have to keep it under the bus with the rest of the luggage, so most band/crew members keep a duffle on the bus with pjs, a toothbrush, and a switch of outfits, or a small roller bag and keep in in the ‘junk bunk’ if it’s open.
If this was your gig, would you make it with life on the road?
I would definitely have a lot to get used to. I feel like I could make it work if I were able to get some sleep. Aside from that, the most difficult thing is where to go to use the restroom. I think I’m easy going enough where if I wash my hair before the ‘run’, I wouldn’t have to worry about showers, but I’d get tired of being gone. I’d really have to make spaces feel like my own because it’s like your second home. I’ve gone with Phil a couple of times, and this time, I really surprised myself with how well I was able to acclimate to the road. Also, I’d bring my own food if I had to live on the road. I’d want to workout everyday to fill the space and do pre-made meals, because eating catering isn’t always great or quite as healthy. My favorite part were the big refrigerators because there were so many drinks in there!
Love the honesty and insight ❤️