when i leave the group maroon 5 In 2006, due to chronic injuries that made me unable to perform, I could barely understand what was happening to me, let alone understand what caused it. I knew I had chronic pain in my right shoulder and my nerves were refusing to coordinate drumming, but I didn’t fully understand the extent to which my mental health (or mental deficiency) was contributing to the deterioration. Deep down, I felt that something more important had happened to me: the lifestyle of a touring musician had shaken me to my bones. But at that time there was hardly any public discourse about such things, so I felt very lonely while suffering.
Now, finally, a comprehensive resource for understanding the unique challenges facing touring professionals, offering lifestyle-specific solutions for both artists and production staff. new book “Tour and Mental Health: The Music Industry Handbook” (Omnibus Press) is a godsend for the artists and team that find themselves in the position I was in 20 years ago.
As an artist succumbing to the pains of touring, I wish I had access to this kind of supporting material back then. The 600-page encyclopedia of all things self-care for the touring person comprehensively covers every imaginable challenge you’ll face while touring, including relationship tension (both on the road and back home); anxiety, depression and crisis management; chronic stress, addiction and eating disorders; physical, sexual and nutritional health; and preparation and recovery on peak performance, media preparation, and post-tour disappointment.
“Touring and Mental Health” is the brainchild of psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton, MA, MBACP, former tour booker/manager who organized a team of ex-industry professionals and now called mental health counselors in 2018. Music Industry Therapist Collective (I recently signed up). As an extension of providing this unique consulting resource for artists and industry professionals, Embleton brings together research that led to the publication of the clinical handbook, in easily digestible, layman’s terms, designed to help traveling people prepare for all the glories and trials of the world. Life on the roads.
Embleton defines a touring lifestyle as an “experience of accumulated stress” that can be a “triple threat” to one’s health due to its profound effects on the physical, psychological and relational aspects of self-care. Embleton’s book aims to dismantle some of the more romantic notions of life as a touring artist and educate artists about the hard realities this lifestyle has to offer. Many people entering the performance field are attracted to the peaks associated with creativity, performance or stardom, but they may be unprepared for the challenges that come with it. Beyond informing the public, Embleton’s book offers specific solutions to these very common possibilities.
One of the many successful artists interviewed for the book, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway said, “I wish this book was around when I went on tour. Touring and Mental Health can really help us navigate the darkest moments and bumps along the way we tour. The insights, wisdom, and strategies of the mental health and medical professionals, tour crew, and musicians in this book are invaluable. This should be the first thing we take with us when we set off.”
The guide includes chapters written by psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, medical professionals and academics, many of whom have worked in the music industry for many years. Embleton has combined these experts’ knowledge in their field with the first-hand experience of the many artists and traveling professionals interviewed for the book to create a unique dataset, explanations and solutions to the problems presented by the itinerant lifestyle. . .
One of the most challenging aspects of touring life is trying to find balance within an inherently unstable lifestyle. Now, as a mental health professional, I tell my clients that the answer to their problems lies in the balance between extremes in both mentality and behavior. But nonstop traveling, performing every day, and often sacrificing the basics of self-care is a pattern of life that constantly threatens one’s ability to find that important point of balance. This reality obliges artists and the team to understand the nature of these demands and place an even higher priority on their personal care.
Embleton emphasizes that touring can be a physical and psychological roller coaster that alternates between periods of chronic stress and moments of boredom or disconnection. Add to this the expectations of community perception that can distort (both amplify and diminish) one’s sense of self, the changing dynamics within the tour group, and the stresses and strains over relationships with loved ones in their hometowns, and what tourers often find. coping with themselves in unhealthy ways that can exacerbate problems and further reduce physical and mental health. Finding healthier stress relief and communicating emotions can go a long way in creating more adaptive coping mechanisms.
Embleton’s book goes beyond the individual to challenge the systemic issues that greatly affect the experience of traveling people. The writer/editor admits that before he went on tour as a tour manager, he sent people on the road as a bookstore, thinking he knew what his lifestyle was. But the facts feel a little different when you’re experiencing them, as opposed to putting them on an itinerary. Embleton believes that the people who design these tours – bookers, organizers, managers, etc. – know exactly what the tour is about: what it adds and what it takes away. Understanding this from the inside can help inform choices in planning program density, referral, and health risk assessment. Embleton hopes that the information presented in this book will lead to a culture shift in the industry that could facilitate better prevention and response to mental health problems.
Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Handbook was supported by: LiveNation Since its inception, the live music giant has recently purchased 3,000 copies of the book to place in the dressing rooms of venues around the world. Embleton hopes the book will become an industry standard and essential reading for anyone directly or indirectly involved with the touring industry.
Ryan Dusick, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, founding drummer of Maroon 5, is a mental health advocate and author. “Harder to Breathe: Memories of Making Maroon 5, Losing Everything, and Finding Healing” (BenBella Books), available in stores now.