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20 Things Every New Band Needs To Know About… Buying Your First Van

Tish Hart
Tish Hart 13 March 2015 at 12.08

The latest issue of Rock Sound is stuffed with 59 bands we reckon you need in your life right now. This month, we're getting a bunch of them to give us their tips for getting your band off the ground. They've already spoke about how to handle social media and yesterday they offered up pearls of wisdom about hitting the studio for the first time. Now it's time for some tips on buying your first van!

1. In this case, it's best not to get a bargain. 
"You get what you pay for as we fully well know. Spend more than £500 on your van or end up stuck outside the venue in Glasgow sleeping in a courtesy car."
Josh Bannister, Milk Teeth

2. Breaking down is part of the experience, but get you still need to get your van checked. 
"When buying your first van it is important to make sure a mechanic checks it out before you buy it. Breaking down on the road is all part of touring, but you don't want to buy a van and have it break down on your first tour. Also, always remember to never pay anyone until they give you the title. A van without it's title is just a giant paper weight."
Matt Marshall, Palisades 

3. Do your research... or waste all your money. 
"If it seems too good to be true, it's probably too good to be true. Coming from a band who have broken down on more tours than they haven't broken down on, I feel qualified to tell you that you should really do your research before buying a van. Having a van can be liberating, but if you get the wrong one it can also be a giant money pit."
Henry Cox, Boston Manor 

Boston Manor

4. Self-drive vans can sometimes be a better option. 
"We never bought a van as we saw it as an unnecessary expense. We discussed it for a while and of course there would have been a LOT of conveniences when owning a van, but in the end we decided that hiring a self-drive van as and when we needed it was the best option. Also, finding a really cool driver for the longer tours is highly recommended as you can find them for a good price and you can make some really cool friends!"
Tobi Duncan, Trash Boat

5. Double-check your van before you take it on tour. 
"We fucked up our last van purchase. Our last tour was done in the back of a Toyota Yaris for 10 days. If you’re buying a van, make sure you do all the right checks first of all. If you make the same mistake as us, then maybe limit the amount of beers you think you can cram into the back of a car."
Tom Marsh, Cardinals 

6. Make sure you know a Kevin, then disregard everything he says. 
"Before you buy it, have Kevin the local wrench
head look at it for you. Then, after he tells you it's a piece of crap that won't last you 10,000 miles, buy it and hope for 12,000... because that's all you can afford regardless."
Dave Debiak, Electric Century

Electric Century

7. No glass roofs. 
"Make sure the thing doesn’t have a glass roof that will fucking collapse at a moment's notice and make sure that the guy you bought it off didn’t have 'the best night of his life' in it a couple days before he sold it to you. Grrr."
Austin Dickinson, As Lions

8. If you don't need one, don't buy one. 
"When we started touring we weren't touring most of the year because we were still in high school so it didn't make sense for us to own a van. Because we were underage, it was also really difficult for us to rent vans or sprinters, so we always had to have someone who was 25 to rent and drive the van. All the vans we rented were Ford e350 15 passengers, and we never had a bad experience."
Dan Gow, Against The Current 

9. Cheap cost upfront = more cost in the long run. 
"Don't be tempted to buy something cheap because you can afford it. Save up as much as you can possibly afford because at the end of the day you need your van to be safe. Buying cheap is tempting, but the chances are you'll spend more money fixing breakdowns and broken parts than it would've cost to just buy a solid van in the first place. Nobody likes a 'sorry we can't play today, we've broken down' post."
Alex Adam, ROAM 

10. Don't put a price on yours and your bandmates' lives.
"Safety. We went into buying our first van thinking of whether it would have a TV or an XBOX, when we only had a shoestring budget. These things are great, but never at the expense of safety and warmth. We know from experience that when you're on a 12-hour drive across Europe in the middle of the night, you're going to much rather be trying to sleep while warm and safe, instead of thrashing your mate at FIFA while shivering and wondering when the van is going to explode..."
Tom Napier, Light You Up

11. Your parents were your first taxi drivers... who says they can't be your first tour drivers?
"We’ve never had to buy one luckily. When starting out, use the parent taxi for as long as humanly possible."
Will Bottomley, Marmozets 

12. Face it, you'll break down. So keep a little money aside for when you do. 
"Kick the tyres. Once you’ve done that, make sure you know what you want to do with it. Are you going to need four or five seats? Will you need a splitter for the equipment? Are you planning on fitting bunks? This stuff is easier than it sounds, but make sure you plan ahead, and that the van you shell out for can facilitate it all. If possible, budget a bit more than necessary and pool it, because unless your pockets come pre-lined by Richard Branson’s hopes and dreams, or you’ve bought a luxury yacht with wheels, one day, one day soon, it’s going to break down on you."
Rob Vicars, Wars


13. Don't be a bellend. 
"Get someone who knows their shit when it comes to vehicles to give it a good look over. You don't want to be stung with unnecessary repairs a month after buying it. If something starts to go wrong with the van, FIX IT! If your chariot breaks down because you couldn't be arsed, you'll feel like a total bellend."
Dan Old, Palm Reader

14. Low milage is essential as you'll rack up so much. 
"Buy your first van from a church or elderly person. They usually have low miles and are well taken care of. Don’t buy a van from another band."  
Sydney Sierota, Echosmith

15. On the road, the van is your home. Don't trash it. 
"When you get your first van, remember to treat it with respect. This will soon become your home and it will help keep morale up on a long tour if you're not waking up with bits of cigarette stuck to your face and clothes damp with spilled beer. It's amazing how much filth you can accumulate on a daily basis!"
Josh Gurner, Hacktivist 


16. The best advice for bands on tour vans, believe it or not, comes from other bands. 
"You need a reliable vehicle that's not going to break down all the time. Try and find out what any local bands might be using (some might even be selling so get yourself a deal). If you have any mechanic relatives or friends, ask them to check it over to see if it's safe!"
James 'Jibs' Taylor, Oceans Ate Alaska 

17. Share the cost fairly; vans are expensive. 
"Make sure all costs are split equally, if the band fund can't cover the costs of buying it and all it's additional costs, then split it from your own pockets. Insurance, tax, MOT and general maintenance isn't cheap, but in the long run the investment of a van will save you massive amounts of money. Just don't let it all fall on one person's shoulders." 
Shaun Milton, Landscapes 

18. Don't do this. 
"Well we never bought a van, we just rent them while we're on the road. The first tour we did last January was with Max Raptor, Fort Hope and Making Monsters. We got a lovely Mercedes Sprinter - a nine-seater she was. It couldn't have been more than three years old and it was in mint condition. It had a leather interior, Xbox, surround sound - the works! I think it was maybe the third last gig of the tour in Bristol and the next morning after the gig, I was pulling out of the carpark talking to Steve next to me when he screamed my name in horror. That’s when I collided with a bright orange pole at a full 6mph! The crash cost the band a solid four figures. It wasn’t the best way to start our touring career."
Jason McTernan, Only Rivals

19. Or this. 
"Don't buy a fucking ambulance." 
Jamie Jazz, Bleach Blood 

20. However expensive it seems upfront, a van will benefit you in the long run.
"Be smart about it and save up for a van that will last. It's an investment, but it will pay out in the long run. You don't want to do tours and constantly be losing money because your shot van can't hang with the drives."
Caleb Shomo, Beartooth

So there you go, 20 tips on what to do if your band is buying its first van from a few of the bands we <3 right now. These 20 are just a small selection from the 59 bands that appear in our New Noise feature in the new issue of Rock Sound. That looks like this: 

 ...and you can download it, order a copy straight to your door, or pick it up from UK stores RIGHT NOW. 

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