5 Questions with USS: Weird Tour Encounters and Road Rules
Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker – commonly known as USS – are no strangers to awards. From CASBY wins to JUNO and Canadian Radio Music Award nominations, the band has racked up some impressive attention over the course of their career. And now, as of summer 2015, USS can proudly add Road Gold to their list of achievements.
Since beginning their career in 2005, USS – which is Ashley Boo-Schultz on vocals/guitars and Jay “Human Kebab” Parsons on turntables – have toured across Canada, and visited places as far flung and diverse as Austria, France, Germany, the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Their most recent release (and third EP), Advanced Basics, hit the shelves in 2014, spawning hit singles “Yin Yang”, “Nepal” and “Shipwreck”.
We’re excited to have had a chance to chat with Jay “Human Kebab” Parsons to catch a glimpse of life on the road as a touring band.
What’s the weirdest tour story you can share with us?
Six years ago we played a show at the Royal Canadian Legion in Tofino, British Columbia Canada. During our performance, a gentleman kept approaching me from the left side of my turntables. A few minutes into our set, he yelled into my ear, “This is amazing!!!” After a couple of songs I completed my headstand scratch (the act of scratching records on turntables whilst upside down) and the same gentlemen ran to my left side once more, this time emphatically screaming at me, “What next???”
During our next batch of tracks, my band mate (to my right) jogged over to me during our cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya and climbed on my shoulders. I proceeded to scratch with his right foot as he continued to play guitar. It was only a matter of seconds before the now manically agitated man again rushed to my side and shouted in disbelief, “Then what???”
After we finished our set, he followed me to our merchandise table and told me he was going to kill me.
Strangest place(s) you’ve found yourselves staying the night on the road?
Nuremberg, Germany. We toured Europe with fellow Canadian band Walk Off The Earth in the summer of 2012. We had no idea that the venue hosting the show in Nuremberg was the starting point of Hitler’s Nazi rallies early on his political career. The courtyard where we performed and the accompanying dressing rooms behind the stage were all once the facilities of the Nazi’s. Kongresshalle – Hitler’s rally grounds through the 1930’s – is now a parking lot for concertgoers there. Strange.
What advice would you give to other bands, who might one day want to find themselves in your shoes?
Pack lightly. Bring only the best and most consistent clothing that you could see yourself wearing for days or perhaps weeks on end. Always bring multiple pairs of shoes and an outfit for stage every night. Always separate your day attire from your night wear – YOU DO NOT WANT TO STINK UP EVERYONE’S LIVING QUARTERS. Pack more socks and underwear than anything else.
Any golden rules of advice for young bands who are just getting started in the biz and on the road?
Play every show like it’s your last. Always be grateful for the opportunities given to you no matter what. Treat a crowd of 4 people like it’s 4000. Do not, under any circumstances, have any expectations. There are no guarantees of success in the music business. You have to be your best everyday and every night to as many people as you possibly can. Always be yourself. Always be real.
What does a typical day on tour look like?
Press. Press. Press. Radio, television, local print and internet media. Usually we’ll do this in the morning and then into the afternoon. Some room is almost always needed after sound check and before the doors open at the venue for additional press or socializing with our local team members on the ground there.
Meet and greets with fans are a daily occurrence on show days. Eating occurs sporadically throughout these obligations.
An hour or two of dressing or hotel room relaxation may or may not happen depending on the order of business throughout our daily itinerary coupled with watching and/or listening to the sights and sounds of the support acts on that evening’s billing.
We hit the stage and perform into the early hours of the following morning and thus begin the cycle of show business all over again with a few hours of sleep under our belts.
Launched in the summer of 2015, Road Gold is a new certification program that establishes an important industry standard for success that includes a band’s or artist’s accomplishments in Canadian touring.
The Road Gold certification is awarded by CIMA through an online application process. To learn more about Road Gold please click here.
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