Michael and I met on Warped Tour years ago when he was doing merch for fantastic band and friends, Moving Mountains. Fast forward to present day and he is taking care of the cloth business out on the good road for many fabulous artists. Always good for a show day lunch, Michael is another Modern Hobo I am glad to keep in touch with. Read his tour tips and stories below!
NAME: Michael Ricci
NICKNAME(S): Ricci, Riccipad
BANDS YOU'VE WORKED FOR: Queens of the Stone Age, Beck, My Morning Jacket, Belle & Sebastian, Arctic Monkeys, Texas Is The Reason, et al.
OTHER INTERESTS/SKILLS: New York Rangers hockey, pro wrestling, The Simpsons, Futurama, coffee, vinyl records. I like collecting things from the road such as magnets, keychains and postcards. In my downtime at home I enjoy fixing/building/improving things around the house and catching up on TV shows with my girlfriend and our dog.
YOUR STORY: In a past life, I was an Apple certified computer technician. I was working at a repair shop in Manhattan for years out of college when my friends in a band called Moving Mountains asked me to go on tour with them. I cashed in all of my vacation and personal time to do it and caught the bug. Shortly thereafter, another band asked me to do a tour with them and I was pulling every favor I had left in the company to make it work. I returned to my desk a month later, this time to discover that I had been demoted from a tech to recycling old computer parts in the back. I yearned for the road, so I became so insubordinate that they finally laid me off, and a few weeks later I was on a two-month tour of Europe. That was seven years ago. Been at it ever since.
FAVOURITE PART OF TOUR/TRAVEL: Meeting people and making new friends. The relationships that I’ve made through this crazy lifestyle mean more to me than I can express here. There are so many quality human beings who do what we do. I love seeing friends around the globe and catching up over coffee/catering/boxes of t-shirts.
TOUR/TRAVEL HACK: Get a book of crossword puzzles, a good pencil and keep it in your backpack. I endorse this to all of my touring friends. Keeps your brain stimulated on travel days and during downtime at the gig. I recommend the New York Times collections, which can usually be found at any airport or chain bookstore. Bringing books to read on tour can take up so much valuable space in your pack and it’s refreshing to not stare at your phone or laptop screen for the duration of a flight.
BEST TOUR/TRAVEL STORY: I once worked a show at a bike rally in Sturgis during a massive thunderstorm where no one should have been outside. You could see lightning crash around us for miles and miles. From a work perspective, it was dreadful. I was stationed under two mismatched 10'x10’ tents held up with zip-ties, displays clipped to a chain link fence, credit card machines couldn’t get a signal, etcetera. All of the merch was wet and I had to box it all up to ship out since we were headed to Edmonton for the next gig. At the end of the night, I had to hand carry every soggy box across the dirt lot as it became thick mud underneath my feet to venue’s office building. When I was finally done, soaked to the bone and filthy as hell, I headed to the bus to swap my backpack for my shower bag. As I came back outside, the sky was clearing up and the rain had stopped. I nearly lost it. I stared down at my muddy sneakers, contemplating whether or not to throw them away, wishing I did something else for a living, when a band member (whom I had hardly known at this point) approached me and said “You look like you could use one of these,” as he held out a couple beers. It was a simple gesture of camaraderie after a terribly testing day on the entire collective, band and crew alike, that reminded me why I do this. As a merch person on tour, you often feel like the lone wolf. It can be a thankless job and there’s usually only one of you while most every other department of the tour works in teams. Simple reminders that you are part of something more than just a traveling business make this all worth while.
(Reading it back, that sounds more like a worst tour/travel story, but I got swine flu on a tour back in 2009. I don’t think anything will ever trump that.)
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SAY?: Music should always be a community for all to feel safe and welcomed. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, sexual harassment… none of those things should be tolerated at a concert or festival. Whether you’re a musician, crew member, venue employee or just a fan — if you see something, say something. There’s a lot of fucked up shit going on in the world today. Let’s all do our part to preserve one of the few good things we share together.