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Age of Van: Revivalists' Rob Ingraham Talks Going 'Number Two' on Tour

Revivalists' saxophonist Rob Ingraham introduces 'The Poop Columns'. The touring musician explains one of the most necessary, and most difficult, aspects of life on the road.


It's pretty obvious, but just as a reminder:  Humans fear the unknown.


It's hard-wired into our psyches. For all we like to complain about getting stuck in a rut or losing years of our lives to the “daily grind,” there can be comforting aspects to a routine. But the boldest, brightest, and best among us are always those who willingly brave the unknown.  Indeed, we must all venture outside of our comfort zones from time to time if we ever wish to evolve into more open-minded, accepting individuals and further the collective enlightenment of our species.


And that is more or less what runs through my head every time I place my hand on the doorknob of the men's room at some Skeeter's Gas-N-Go off I-277 S in Hog's Knuckle, AR.


There are few things less comforting than the restrooms availed to a touring musician.  This, combined with the gastrointestinal repercussions endemic to on-the-road diets, can have a tendency to turn what is already a sensitive process for many into a delicate, emotionally hazardous situation.


Yes, this article is about defecation.  Going “number two.”  Pooping.  Taking the Browns to the Super Bowl.  Where, when, and how to handle one's business while touring at an intermediate level.  And believe me, there's more to it than one might think.  We will try to refrain from getting overly graphic, but nevertheless we would recommend that you finish your lunch before reading any further.


People often ask me what changes when you spend as much time as I do on the road.  While there are many genuine and substantial answers to that question, I usually start with the one they'll least expect:


“You really relax your standards on where you're willing to poop.”


Pooping on tour, like pooping in general, is one of those things that no one wants to think about until they actually have to do it.  It's already an unpleasant act, and on the road it only gets worse.  You're in a hurry, people keep coming in and out, and you just can't stop wondering how much pride the building's custodian takes in his work.


Getting used to something like that may seem like a big adjustment to the outsider, and to be honest, after years of touring I do still pick up on the subtle differences between the two (the amount of graffiti on the wall is usually a dead giveaway).  But the change happens faster than one might think.  In fact, the first time you decide you're ready to use a soggy men's room stall after hours at the Bar-B-Q 'n Blues joint you just finished playing tends to coincide with the first time you decide that you need to use the soggy men's room stall after hours at the Bar-B-Q 'n Blues joint you just finished playing, or else something even worse is going to happen.


And once you've crossed to the other side of that line, you might as well mortgage a condo, because you live there now.  Thinking about where, when, and how to poop becomes part of your life.  Should I wait until we get to the hotel, or risk it at this truck stop?  Will there be a back bathroom at this house party we're going to?  Can I hold out until after sound check?


Additionally, a few unwritten rules come into play when the whole band is required to share a single bathroom.  Barring a genuine emergency, “number one” is usually given precedence as a matter of olfactory courtesy.  But when there's a line of guys waiting for the stall, it becomes somewhat like a reverse game of chicken:  How long do you wait before taking your turn?  If you go in too soon, the bathroom won't have had time to “air out” properly.  If you hesitate, one of your bandmates might snatch the opportunity out from under your nose, so to speak.  Timing one's strike is like solving a multivariate equation, with X being the desperation of one's traveling companions and Y being the strength of a particular bathroom's ventilation system (ranging from “industrial strength” to “sorry, that window doesn't open”).  If you need a crash course in advanced game theory, look no further than the dressing room of a band that just got back from eating tex-mex.


There's quite a bit of theory to it, but that's a good enough stopping point for today.  That wasn't too bad, was it?  I hope not, because editor willing, we'll be back soon with an in-depth guide to where, when, and how to attend to this most repulsive of bodily necessities while traveling the country in a van.  Please come back!





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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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Michael Weber, B.A.


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Linzi Falk

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Alexis Manrodt

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Stephen Babcock

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