Richard Llewellyn from Paper Aeroplanes gives us the lowdown on tour food in the latest edition of Guest Article series.

A few days into a tour - when the novelty is starting to wear off, sleep deprivation is mounting up, hangovers breaking to the surface, iPod choices starting to grate - a pleasant snack, refreshing beverage or well cooked tour meal can be the best way of bringing some normality and peace to a travelling psyche.

When I began touring, with my first pop/rock combo, in the 90s, the healthiest dinner option available on the Great British highways and byways was a Ginsters Pasty with a side of Frazzles, washed down with instant coffee that tasted like weak Bisto. The fact that M&S, Waitrose and Costa are now omnipresent has made our journeys a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. We can now (almost) look forward to a lunch stop on the M4, instead of seeing it purely as a refuelling exercise, to stave off the blowing of head gaskets as we head towards the next pit stop and the dizzy delights of the dressing room rider.

These days most of us can claim to have a basic knowledge of suitable calorie intake, the need for a few fruits and vegetables, hidden salt and sugar, the balance of protein and carbohydrate etc. At the beginning of a tour, these things are at the forefront of our minds – healthy body, healthy mind, healthy performance. Towards the tail end of a tour, it has been known for these considerations to take a back seat in the tour bus, replaced in the front by an insatiable desire for the fast energy only sugar, fat and caffeine can provide (I speak not from personal experience, you realise… just something I"ve seen in other bands). So, a 'fuller longer', superfood, whole grain salad and berry smoothie has been known to morph into a double cheeseburger with fries and duck fat milkshake as the miles begin to pile up.

The venues themselves present a whole different set of pleasures and pitfalls. The carefully concocted band rider (mixed seeds, champagne, green skittles, caviar, local organic ale etc) has more often than not (the blighters) been ignored and replaced by bruised apples, green bananas, orange Doritos and humous. Ah yes, humous. A touring band will see so much humous on a tour of the UK that it's become advisable to invent alternative uses, so as not to seem wasteful in these austere times. Two tips: Sainsbury's reduced fat is good for putting up merchandise posters; and, whatever you do, don't try and fix a broken exhaust pipe with Tesco finest red pepper. Makes for an interesting chat with the RAC man on the A69 between Carlisle and Newcastle.

Of course, some venues on the circuit pride themselves in band liaison and catering. We had a splendid home cooked meal and unlimited access to the local ale at Norwich Arts Centre, for instance. And the tremendous cuisine at The Old Bridge in Aviemore really did make the thousand mile round trip seem worthwhile. As you may expect, many venues prefer the 'here’s a tenner' school of catering; leaving us to venture onto the mean local streets, to fend for ourselves. With varying rates of success of course, but with one common factor… No humous.

Top 3 Tour Meals of 2012:

The Angel, Woodbridge: A lovely country pub in the wilds of Suffolk. Hearty, home cooked, locally sourced food, vocal supporters of live music and a drinks menu that boasts over 140 different gins… I kid you not.

Leaf, Liverpool: Independent tea shop and café on Bold Street with a spacious music venue upstairs. Wholesome breakfasts, salads and main meals. Refreshingly inventive veggie options.

Lilo Grill House, City Road, Cardiff: Just round the corner from the Gate Arts Centre, where we played as part of the SWN Festival last year. Superb meze, grilled meats and thousands of fruit juice concoctions. Very reasonably priced.

Their latest single, 'Little Letters', is released on May 13 on Navigator Records and you can catch them on tour this May at the following dates:

  • May 11th- Queen’s Hall- Narbeth
  • May 12th- Voodoo Lounge- Edinburgh
  • May 13th- Arts School- Glasgow
  • May 15th- Komedia 2 – Brighton
  • May 16th- Junction 2 – Cambridge
  • May 17th- Deaf Institute- Manchester
  • May 19th- Glee Club- Birmingham
  • May 21st- Colston 2- Bristol
  • May 22nd- Bush Hall- London
  • May 23rd- Glee Club- Nottingham
  • May 24th- Brudenell Club- Leeds
  • May 25th Jericho- Oxford
  • May 26th- Glee Club- Cardiff
  • May 28th- Milton Keynes- The Stables