Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her — confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
The new band I joined just got back from a quick tour to SXSW and since we got back home the van reeks like hangover sweat and stinky feet. This is my first tour with these guys but it’s my van that’s our tour vehicle and I can’t deal. What do I do? Can I make a rule that everyone has to keep their shoes on?
It’s unfortunate you have to deal with this, but at least, from now on, you know the funk you have to deal with and can prepare. This is a not uncommon problem and made worse by touring in the wintertime–you can’t drive with the windows open–and are probably doing a few decent length night drives after shows, when everyone is sweaty. In essence, you’re just hotboxing your vehicle with manstink. And then you get down to Texas and it just got baked into the seats. I’m gagging thinking about it.
While I have some loose, non-scientific knowledge of how to deal with this, I figured I would dial up some f’real expertise: Jolie Kerr, author of the excellent (I just read it!) book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag, and cleaning columnist. “There’s a super easy solution to a funky-smelling van; the trick is to use an odor absorbing product like The Bad Air Sponge or an Innofresh Auto Odor Eliminator. Just stick ’em somewhere in the car (under the seat will work) and let them do their thing. Also, as simple as it sounds, driving with the windows open–weather permitting, of course!–will go a long way in helping to eliminate lingering odors.”
Also, if a sniff test of the bench seats (gagging again) proves that is where the funk lingers, try some enzyme-spray carpet cleaner–particularly something made for “Pet Stains.” I go with the hippie stuff from the pet aisle at Whole Foods. Use some regular household cleaner, or a spray bottle of vinegar mixed 1:1 with water and just wipe down all the surfaces. Take up a collection at practice and go get the thing detailed, or at least get $12 worth of quarters to power the industrial shop-vac at the DIY carwash zone and go to town on the seats and floor. That should go a ways to clearing it up.
As far as taking preventative measures going forward? Round up a half dozen old towels and make it the rule that if you are nasty, you gotta sit on the towel. Buy some of those shopping bag-sized Zip-Locs and throw offending items, or the condemned-man towels in there. Whatever you can do to not have some wet-with-sweat t-shirt being draped over the passenger seat is going to be a worthwhile measure.