“I’m hoping that my crowd is rejuvenated and are reminded to just be themselves. And I hope we made some rock stars. Female rockstars!” – Lauren shares from the driver’s seat in New Mexico.
Lauren Ruth Ward is the soul singing, rock reviving musician that’s trailblazing through the indie scene. Having been on tour with the likes of Shakey Graves, Donna Missal, LP, and now Melanie Martinez, LRW has fan pages popping up all over the US and Europe. As an independent artist, Lauren is about to embark on her first headlining tour across Europe. But first, we caught up with her on the road somewhere in New Mexico.
The LA based lizard queen is currently opening up for Melanie Martinez on tour in the US. As she drives through the desert to their next gig, Lauren takes us through a day in the life on tour with her band Eduardo Rivera and Madi Vogt. She told us what it was like when she came down with strep throat a few weeks in, and in a male dominated genre, how she came to discover rock and roll.
Good morning! Where are you?
Good morning! I’m in the car with Eduardo and Madi, we are driving through New Mexico into Arizona. We stayed in Alamogordo, NM last night and that’s because we had a day off in between playing Irving, Texas and Phoenix, which is a 16 hour gap.
These have been some really long drives! We drove nine and a half hours from Irving, Texas to New Mexico where we stayed last night. So we just spent our whole off-day driving so that I could give us no more than six hours driving today, which is a show day. We play Phoenix tonight.
And then we have another doozy; it’s like five and a half hours from Phoenix to LA but we have no day off between that. So I’m going to have to, unfortunately, not meet fans and do merch which is painful to skip out on but it will be the lesser evil than driving tomorrow for 5 and a half hours. So after playing Phoenix tonight, immediately after we’re finished, we’re going to start driving, spend the night in Yucca Valley, wake up in the desert, and then only have two and a half hours to LA which is SO nice!
I imagine that traveling on show day is exhausting, especially when you’re coming off of a long tour. Do you guys play car games? How do you get through it?
Madi is predominantly in the back, so she has her headsets on and listens to a lot of music. I have DVDs so there’s been some movie watching. There’s been some moments where we all listen to a podcast and sort of share our thoughts about it, but when Ed’s driving and I need a break I’m either sleeping or getting work done, just in my own world. And then when I’m driving they’re in their own world. It’s kind of like our alone time in a way.
This morning was the first morning that we got to explore. I’ve always wanted to go see the white sands so we went there. It was en route! We woke up at like 6:45am and we went! I took some pictures on my film camera and then got some on our cell phones.
Visually, it seems like being in the white sands on your one day off is like having a blank canvas for you to process everything.
We just got goofy! It was nice. I’m actually not in the best of spirits because I got strep on the second of November, and today is the eighth. I took care of it pretty quickly, but long story short I was not able to get prescribed the steroid that would take down the swelling around your vocal chords and in your throat. I’m not 100% back… it’s been a hassle. I got lucky LP had some extra ones, she visited me on my birthday. Life saver! I don’t have my full voice but I know how to sing around a sore throat so I’m getting through and people don’t seem to notice. I’ll be 95% for LA – yay
After LA we have one day off, then I’m in the studio, then we finish this tour, then we have two days off, then we leave for two and a half weeks for very, very long hour to hour and fifteen minute long sets all in the winter of Europe…so yeah, I do get a little worried but that’s why I sleep every moment I can on this tour.
That’s just the name of the game. I’ve had it way worse. But my falsetto is really strong these days, I’ve taught myself how to go up there. Vocal obstacles aside, I feel lucky to have these experience and get to know myself in the ways I’m getting to.
I commend you for getting through all of this, knowing how hard it is to prioritize vocal health on tour! Without using too much of your speaking voice, take me through a typical day in the life on tour. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? How do you spend your time before the show?
Sure! Okay, first thing in the morning…coffee. We have one of three routes: we either have 15 minutes to swing by a cafe nearby, which one of us will look up the night before; or if we don’t have time then we get shitty hotel coffee; then if we really don’t have time, I have cold brew on the rider so we’ll grab those from the show before.
Sometimes in the morning I will steam. I usually steam before I go to bed too, even if it’s just for ten minutes but I haven’t been needing to do that because we’ve been in moisture climates.
The other routine in the morning is: find something healthy to eat. Whether it’s like food from the show before that we put in the fridge, or snacks in the car, which is 90% of the time; the other 10% of the time we’ll wake up early and I’ll be like, ok. I need protein. And we’ll go somewhere and get salmon and an egg.
Before a show, I try to keep calm and not really use my voice too much. I’ll meditate. There are seven things that I usually need, but seldom do I need all of them. Sometimes I need some peace of mind, so I’ll meditate, but not every show. Sometimes I’ll steam if I need that extra moisture, but not every show.
Do you warm up right before your show? What’s your pre-show look like?
Yeah! I don’t spend too much time on make up, I don’t spend too much time on my wardrobe, I just grab something groovy from my bag in the car, then go set up merch. Most times if there’s buyouts I have to go chit chat with the person we’ll be settling with and get our drink and food vouchers. Because we’re still playing smaller clubs, sometimes things aren’t really taken care of, but this Melanie tour has been amazing, rider has been provided upon arrival. Which is so nice because we skip lunch driving.. Our rider is already provided upon entry. We load, we do soundcheck. We go to catering and have a snack, then I either meditate or start warming up. If there’s extra time, I’ll get computer work done.
When it’s 30 minute sets, I’ll start warming up an hour before. When it’s an hour set, and more strenuous, I’ll do twenty minutes of warm ups three hours before. Then twenty minutes of warm ups the next hour, and so forth because if I don’t I’ll be hoarse by like 45minutes. But I’ll be fine the next day, my muscles will grow and actually stretch. I do warm ups before tour starts, every other day and before rehearsals. My goal is to have the last three rehearsals before tour to be warmed up and full out but sometimes, you know me, I’m doing haircuts or a photoshoot.
Haha, sounds about right. So you get out on stage and you’re about to share your songs: what is your first thought when you see a new audience in a new city?
My first thought is to try to stay calm. You know you’re just excited and sometimes I can get too giddy and that takes me out of my focus. This set we’re playing eight songs and three of them I’m playing guitar on – I set out an intention to play guitar more – which has been really fun. The first song I’m doing in a different tuning. It’s fun, it’s challenging. But sometimes when I get a little bit too excited I mess up guitar, so I’m like just stay relaxed and calm.
When you finish, what is something that you hope people take away? What do you hope that they feel after your show?
These shows in particular are a lot of young girls. Melanie’s demographic is pretty young. I’d say the average age is like 15,16. I always hope it opens up their eyes to a genre that I’m assuming they don’t listen to too much of. And the only reason I feel comfortable with that assumption is because they come give us a hug at the merch table and talk about it. Last show, I hugged two hundred people. It was amazing. Some of them will be like “Oh my god, I love your guitar, I just downloaded all your stuff and followed you on Spotify and Instagram!”
But so many of these teen girls and guys that I’m meeting will be like, “I didn’t really listen to rock and roll!” They compare me to Stevie Nicks, bless their hearts, because it’s the only rock and roll they know, and I don’t blame them! Ed and I were just clicking through the radio cause we didn’t get service for our podcasts, and I was like, I really miss rock and roll. When I was their age, Paramore was like the only emo band that was led by a female. There was so little female rock and all it took was for me to see it for me to be like, I want a guitar. But I was looking at all the boys so I played it thinking I could never do it seriously and that is so silly. There were at least three rock stations in Maryland – one of them played classic rock and the other two played rock of today and that’s how I first heard about Paramore. There used to be rock music and there isn’t anymore, so right now I’m looking at these sweet angels…and I want to tell them pop is not the only thing happening right now. I don’t know, I do get bummed just knowing there isn’t rock and roll on the radio for the children who just listen to the radio and that’s a lot of people. And that’s how genres die. I mean, don’t get me started.
Pop is awesome. And I love playing around with electronics. Our bass player is a laptop for this tour! Learning a different approach is inspiring and fun. Reminding myself that rock and roll doesn’t always have to be a four piece. I used to beat myself up for toying with the idea of tracks. Bass machine or bandmate, rock is my spirit.
So I guess what I’m hoping is that my crowd is rejuvenated and are reminded to just be themselves. All things positive. And I hope we made some rock stars. Female rockstars!
CONNECT WITH LAUREN RUTH WARD:
tour photos / Lauren Ruth Ward, Eduardo Rivera, Madi Vogt
featured image / Nicole Conflenti
story / Ariana Tibi