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Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011

Rich Lundstrom, Disillusioned Ex-Roadie

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Rich Lundstrom has spent most of his life working in the music industry, first as a manager and roadie for local bands in the '80s, then as a stagehand for venues like the Bradley Center and Alpine Valley, and now as a sound-system consultant and rigger. This spring he published a memoir, Tales of Rock and the Road.

How did you decide to write a book?


After I became a roadie for local bands and production companies, I would tell my friends about some of the crazy things that would happen while traveling and they kept telling me I should write about it. I went through that dance for about 22 years. But some time passed and I had some perspective on the experience, and I realized I could write about it. What's nice is that you can self-publish now without having to go through literary agents, publishers, editors, people who want you to rewrite everything to reach the largest market, so I went through a year and a half writing it and put it up on Amazon, self-publishing it as an e-book.

What is your book's perspective on working in the music industry?


It can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a major pain in the butt. It's pretty much like any other business. You go in with all the lofty illusions that you get fed from the media and rock videos, but you really are on your own planet when you start road-crewing for bands. Movies like Roadie aren't really a good depiction of what that is like. Long hours. Low pay. I worked for a variety of bands, helping one of them land some kind of recording contract. Most of them don't, though, due to personal infighting. Or they might get an offer to get a recording contract going, but the bands don't want to tour if they have wives and kids. If they don't want to tour, then the label doesn't want to put out their album.

What was your experience like working for Alpine Valley?


It was a lot of fun, actually. What I liked about it is I saw a different show each time. If you travel with a band, you're seeing the same show each night, and all you get to see of America is usually from a bus window between 2 and 6 a.m. They run brutal schedules on those tours. I used to think touring was something I wanted to do, until I worked at Alpine Valley and talked with the people who actually ran those tours and learned how much they were on the bus. It's certainly not a fascinating lifestyle.

Was there any glamour to being a roadie?


No. At least not from my perspective. After a couple years, I began to wonder, “Where are all these parties you always hear about?” But usually if there were parties, they were right after the show, when the guys and I were busy moving equipment out. By the time you're done with that, you just want to get some sleep.