THE ROADTRIP EXPERIENCE is an unavoidable product of dozens of choices, only some of which are ever under your control. The car, the company, and the space you move through. Whether your journey ends in happiness or homicide can rest on questions as small as your choice of music.
How do the people who do it all the time do it so well? Matador spoke to South African musician Shannon Hope about surviving time on the road.
MN: What are your top 5 items that should always come on a long distance roadtrip?
- Flask of coffee
- Rocking soundtrack
- Pillow (so it feels a little like home)
- Mapbook (I’m old school that way)
- Hands-free kit so I can safely stay in touch
Do you have a road trip playlist? What would it include? What should never be played?
I tried doing a road trip once with a soundtrack of new music I hadn’t had a chance to listen to before. I thought I’d finally have the time to work through some new artists, but I ended up spending a lot of time skipping tracks, which is not ideal when driving. I have my entire music collection with me when I’m road tripping (modern technology rocks!), and I switch between some of my favourite bands and new obsessions which change from time to time. It would definitely include some Muse, The Black Keys, and Skunk Anansie.
Do you prefer traveling solo, or with others? And if with others, what are your rules about company?
I’ve been touring solo for the past three years and I quite like the independence, but I would love to start touring with a band sometime soon, and alternate between the two. As far as rules go, I’m a bit of a nervous passenger so I’d probably insist on still doing all the driving, but other than that, I’m pretty easy-going. Rules have no place on road trips!
Is there any particular scenery / place you prefer traveling through?
I love driving the Garden Route and through the Overberg. It’s such a beautiful part of the country, and I’m always discovering a new little town hidden along the way. I’ve had some of the best road trips and shows in that part of the country.
Do any past trips stand out as highlights / lowlights?
The first national tour I did in 2009 stands out as a highlight because it was my first solo adventure around the country and everything was new and exciting. South Africa is such a beautiful and extensive country to tour through, and I’ve been lucky enough to take a new route on each tour as I discover new platforms for my music around the country. Each tour is so different to the next, and they’re filled with both highs and lows. It’s a pity to experience all this adventure on my own so I would definitely like to do a tour with more people sometime soon.
Which is better — leaving home or returning, and why?
I prefer leaving because of the feeling of anticipation and excitement of what’s to come, and it always takes me a while to settle back into routine when I get home after long road tours.
Do you plan your stops ahead of time, or just bring a phone and wing it?
I plan ahead because I usually book shows along the route of a road trip, and now that I’ve done a few trips around the country, I have usual spots that I stay at that I know are safe and comfortable. My road trips are usually working tours, but I’m hoping to do a holiday road trip soon that isn’t planned because that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
What would your ideal road trip look like? Any car, passengers, and destination you could choose.
A fully kitted-out tour bus, complete with chauffeur, band, and a built-in studio, lounge and bunks in the back, so we can jam in the back while touring from one side of America to the other. I’ve always wanted to do a road trip across the States, and a touring road trip in a tour bus would be a dream come true for any musician!
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Richard lives and works in South Africa, exploring as often as possible the strange and unknown places that his continent is so rich in. What stories of far flung places and mischief he is able to trap and bring home are mounted on his blog. Where the Road Goes.