Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), is a musician-songwriter, film/theater score composer, screenwriter, mustachioed multi-hyphenate living in Los Angeles. Texas-born, he grew up in the Philippines, South Carolina, Germany, Illinois, Alabama and Missouri before finally settling in Philadelphia and pouring his scattered upbringing into his bands Man Man and Mister Heavenly. He’s releasing his first solo album in 2016. Michael J. Fox as Teen Wolf is his spirit animal. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (photo credit: Mike Gerry)
He’s back! Don’t worry, I’ll go away someday. We all do. Uncle Honus here to share some observations you never knew you never wanted observed and, even after muscling through, you will still disagree with entirely. Today’s delightful topic: green room goblins and how not to be one — for bands and fans alike.
Ah, yes. Backstage. The allure of the unknown. The mystical cavern where the magical music makers concoct their incantations and stare vacantly at their phones as they wait to cast their song spells onstage. Or a dirty room with a curbside-quality couch. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of show etiquette “no no’s” that I’ve encountered during my more than seventy-one years in the indie rock “biz.” If I’ve left anything out, (fellow music players) let me know:
DON’T…sneak into a green room while the band is onstage and wait for them like a hunter in a blind.
Sneaking backstage is rebellious and exciting. I’m sure ancient man snuck backstage to spy on the druids while they built the pyramids or watch aliens help the Mayans invent the ShamWOW. It’s wrong, but it’s only rock & roll so it’s all good, right? But going into the band’s green room when they’re on stage? No bueno. Why is it annoying? The last thing a band wants to deal with after rolling off stage is strangers (in their only private space in the venue) drinking all their booze and triple-dipping in the Sabra. It really, really sucks. Obviously, when I make sweeping statements like this, I don’t speak for all bands. Some bands may love this. Maniacs, I say.
Also, if a band has just finished playing a show and is all sweaty and changing their clothes or simply just cooling down, give ’em a break. Don’t barge into the green room and try and make yourself at home. You’re fooling no one by pretending that you’re supposed to be there — even if you prepped yourself with all the minutia about the band’s personal lives that you gleaned from the Web and rehearsed in the mirror the night before.
Most bands will interact with fans afterwards — at least bands that wanna put in that extra time with their fans. For some bands, mystique or privacy is more important. I can respect that. For me, I’m lucky that anyone wants to hear what I make, so I don’t mind. We’re all humans. With all that being said, give band members a little space. Don’t take it personally if they aren’t psyched to see you hiding behind a filthy couch waiting for them with Sabra smeared around your mouth.
DON’T…steal all of the band’s booze.
This one is pretty straightforward. It really sucks when you roll into your glorified storage room (most green rooms) after a show and find that someone (not the band or friends of the band) drank all the beer and booze. Conversely, if you’re a band member who brought all your friends in there and they all drank the booze, then you’re a shitty band member and there should be hell to pay.
Here’s the scoop: unless you sold out the venue or the promoter or bar/club owner is really, really cool, you only get so much libation. Hell, I’ve played shows overseas where they didn’t even give us bottles of water. Riders come out of the band’s money at some point down the line.
Here’s the exception, and this may come with controversy that will make me regret typing this: if the band and all their people have clearly left the building, festival, city, crossed state lines and won’t ever be coming back. Maybe then I could see pillaging as semi-acceptable. I definitely made sure 2 Chainz and his entourage had left this one radio festival we played together before I dared to drunkenly eat any of his leftover chicken fingers. And this was only after it was clear that everything else in the tent had been ransacked. I owe you a cold takeout chicken finger dinner, Mr. Chainz, and would be honored to provide.
DON’T…be a penis Picasso.
If you’re an in-the-trenches band, you tend to play some pretty dingy spots around the country/world, and most of these lower-echelon green rooms are usually pretty bogus affairs: glorified broom closets replete with petri-dish DNA sofas, sticky carpeting and, of course, Sharpie drawings of penises engaging in all sorts of activities. The creativity is impressive, sometimes, but more often it’s just crude.
I’ve seen drawings of penises atop surfboards carving waves, penises chilling in hot dog buns, penises with their own penises touching other penises that also have penises giving high-fives and are currently servicing penises with their penis mouths while a drawing of a dude with a penis growing out of his forehead is watching and vomiting on his own penis. As long as a rock dude (or dudette, in some rare instances) has a Sharpie, boredom, and time to kill, a penis will be drawn on a green room wall.
I still occasionally document these “Green Room Picassos” for a coffee-table book I’m working on that nobody will put out, but when you really break it down, it’s terribly offensive and ABSOLUTELY SUCKS for any female musicians who don’t want to have to spend their rare private moments on tour in a green room surrounded by caveman drawings. Especially when these drawing are accompanied by derogatory or chauvinistic text — and they usually are.
Counter-challenge to the ladies: draw vaginas. Everywhere. Overwhelm the penis-drawing cliché. Make dudes never want to step into green rooms. OR…how about we all just put the Sharpies away and read a book. A coffee table book about Green Room Penis Picassos!