There's always something incredible about a tour homecoming show: The band rides into town high on the momentum of playing every day for a month straight, executing their set with the precision of a road-tested act. It's a phenomenon that Doomtree's Sims knows well, having toured the U.S. with both his crew and as a solo artist several times over.
But this Saturday's hometown tour finale at the Fine Line will be a first for Sims: he will skid into town with tourmates Lazerbeak and Cecil Otter to celebrate the completion of his first-ever headlining tour. To find out how things have been going out there on the road, we caught up with Sims last week as he made his way from Austin, Texas, to Dallas, one of the shortest treks on his lengthy coast-to-coast tour.
How's it going so far?
It's great. It's as good or better than I could have hoped for. It's my first time trying to headline a tour.
It can be hard to tell what kind of a following Twin Cities artists have outside of the state. Are you finding that people are familiar with Doomtree throughout the U.S.? Are you getting good turnouts?
Definitely. But we're still in a building mode nationally. I mean, we definitely do the best in the Twin Cities, and maybe we will forever. But yeah, Doomtree is pretty well established nationally, and as far as getting everyone else within Doomtree established on their own, it's sort of a building process, you know. So the turnouts are good, they're nothing to laugh at, but we obviously do better in Minneapolis.
What kind of clubs are you playing?
Like 300-500 cap. We're not selling them out.
So like Triple Rock sized?
Yeah, exactly. We're doing Triple Rock rooms.
What's your favorite show you've played so far?
I'd say, I guess [to the vanmates: what are the best shows so far?] Austin was really great. I think San Francisco or L.A., those are probably my two favorites. Portland was ridiculously fun, and Seattle was great too.
What are some of your favorite ways to pass the time out there on the road? Do you have any tour rituals?
I'm reading Game of Thrones right now, the first book, which is incredibly long, so that's definitely good at killing time. But you know, generally we're driving a lot, so we listen to music and we talk about music and all types of other stuff. We're in the van constantly, and we get to the club and load in and then try to find some interesting food around the venue, sit around, play the show, load out, and then do it again the next day.
I guess I spend a lot of time listening to music and reading and trying to stay calm, which -- there's a lot of nerves that happen, for me, on this tour, because it's like my first headlining tour, meaning that I'm responsible for the people that are coming or not coming. So rather than trying to get caught up in that or think about that, I guess I try to spend time, after we load in and soundcheck, I spend time sitting in the van reading for like an hour and a half, to just be calm and relax, and not worry about, oh, doors just opened, and there's only like two people here! It's like, well yeah, people come after the doors, we all know that. But you still can't help it. You have to fight those feelings of anxiety and nerves when it's like, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? What am I doing out here? So I give it an hour after doors, and then I come into the club and there's a bunch of people there and it's like, ok. It makes me feel much more relaxed.
I can imagine there's plenty of time to sit and dwell on that kind of thing.
Absolutely. There's pressure. There's pressure to draw out and whatever, and that's not the pressure I want to worry about. I want to worry about the pressure of giving the best show possible so the people who come will tell their friends and come next time and bring extra people with them. Or make sure everyone leaves feeling totally positive and great -- that's kind of my priority. The rest is the rest. The rest is stuff that I can't help. I just have to focus on what I can control.
Are you able to write or create on the road?
I try every single time, but I cannot do it. And I think part of it is a proximity issue. I mean, we're so tightly packed in the van constantly, and it's loud and whatever. I mean, you can put on your headphones -- like I think I -- if someone would look at me while I was writing, I think they would think I'm a crazy person. Because I'm like talking to myself, rapping to myself, I like to get up and walk around a little bit, you know, I kind of look like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. [laughs] So yeah, I'm like walking around and muttering to myself, I look like a crazy. And when there's somebody there, it's hard to get into your zone and cut free of your immediate surroundings.
We say that every time when we're about to leave, like yeah! We're going to crack out a new EP, it'll be no problem. One song a week, come on we can do that, it's easy. And we never do. Ever. We try, but it just doesn't happen. That's ok. There's too much to distract you, so there's no point in even trying and putting that pressure on yourself. Whatever. I'm just going to use this time for me.
How do you decide which end of the tour to peg your hometown show onto? This time around you're playing a homecoming show.
You know, I don't know exactly. I don't know if there's necessarily a rhyme or reason to it. It seems like for Doomtree, the way we do it generally is a homecoming show. And I don't know, it just seems like, for me it makes sense, because I always look forward to it, like, then we'll be home. That's why I like it. It's like this great reward at the end of a long struggle or journey. It's like, yeah, then I get my hometown, and I get to -- plus then, you come home so sharp. After the first week or so on the road, I think you're playing the best shows you've ever played. And so you come home and, I don't know, you're set is totally worked out.
Do you have trouble transitioning back to real life after you've been out playing a show every day?
Yeah, totally. It's like, I guess, it lasts for about a week when I get home. It's sort of like, I wake up in the morning like, ok, where am I supposed to go? Where am I supposed to be right now? Because there's a tight schedule to maintain. We don't have short drives, ever. Like this drive, this four-hour drive is of the shortest that we get on this tour. We're generally doing between 8-10 hours a day of driving. So there's a schedule of we've gotta get up, load-in's at 6 so we've gotta leave by 8. Stuff like that. When I wake up at home, it's just kind of like, ok, ok, what's going on? I wake up in a general panic, you know? And almost always the first night when I wake up in my own bed, I wake up real disoriented and wonder where I am for half a second. I have to check my surroundings and think, oh, I'm at home. Awesome. But it's a tough transition, your first week on the road as well, and I don't prefer like a two-week tour at all. I think four weeks, six weeks is much better for me because you kind of settle into the tour mode. And I think people are just like that. You give anyone seven days of the same thing and they just adapt to it. But like a 12-day tour, for me, seems to last just as long as a month-long tour.
Anything else you want to tell me about the tour?
Cecil Otter is killing it. Lazerbeak is a total gangster genius. Ander is out here grinding away, as always. What else? We're having a total blast, and I feel so blessed that I'm able to do this. It's like years of paying dues, opening up for whoever I could get on a tour with, and now it's like I get to headline a tour, and that makes me feel so fortunate. It's interesting, though, it's like paying dues on a new scale now. You know what I mean? Paying brand new dues this time. It's cool to me, I'm totally down with it. We've never shied away from the work from it, or the good times or the bad times of it. There are shows that have struggled on this tour. Reno was not a good show, at all. But that's ok. You gotta build these things. It's cool. And I'm really looking forward to the Minneapolis show a lot.
SIMS AND LAZERBEAK bring their Good Time Zoo tour back home to Minneapolis with Cecil Otter on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, at the FINE LINE MUSIC CAFE. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. doors.
Photo by Erik Hess
TICKET GIVEAWAY: For a chance at a free pair of tickets to Saturday's show plus a Sims t-shirt of your choice, leave a comment on this post telling Sims why you're psyched to have him back home.