Diplo/Major Lazer Tour Manager John Ayres
Meet the man responsible for keeping the likes of Diplo and Switch in check as they travel the world. We spoke to him to find out what the job entails and learn why promoters might be asked to source a gorilla, a bonfire and a violinist in traditional Slovakian dress.
Tour & Production Manager/DJ/producer
Place OF Work?
How LONG HAVE YOU HAD THE JOB?
About ten years as a tour manager. The last five of those years have been with my current artists, Major Lazer and Diplo. I’ve also been a producer for 14 years.
How DID YOU GET THE JOB?
I was in a band signed to Warner Music and I was picked out as ‘the sensible one’ and asked to look after the management of other bands. Snowball effect ensued. I once got a band into England without their passports, using only a bit of bullshit and a hi-viz jacket.
What does a typical day involve?
There’s no such thing as a typical day! Running a tour involves months of pre-production from home, getting everything into place beforehand – hotels, transport, technical, lights, sound, props, budget, tour books, and so on.
Then the day-to-day running of the tour involves getting the production loaded in and set up, taking artists to last-minute, hastily-arranged interviews, aka ‘promo’, hunting for lost shoes/t-shirts/toothbrushes, and generally babysitting. Expecting the unexpected!
“I once got a band into England without their passports, using only a bit of bullshit and a hi-viz jacket.”
Highs OF THE JOB?
Going to some amazing places I never would have expected to go…
Lows OF THE JOB?
…and then only seeing them from a taxi window on the way to the airport, or as I go past in the tour bus.
Lack of rest and exercise. The hardest day I’ve ever worked was probably a 50 hour shift of craziness and mishaps, with only a 30 minute sleep in Diplo’s hotel wardrobe.
Lots of time in a small group creates dynamics which means some people may behave differently than they would ‘normally’, so it’s about managing their (and your own) stress, positively framing situations, and meeting challenges head on.
Also being away from loved ones can be a grind.
What’s the Most RIDICULOUS RIDER you’ve ever seen?
“Malawian orphan; gorilla; world peace; bonfire; arranged marriage; a violinist – recently a festival organiser came and played violin for us in traditional Slovakian costume and served cheeses. It was brilliant!”
Who ARE THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER AND WHY?
Major record labels for all the wrong reasons. Other tour managers who showed calm and perseverance: Andy James for Prodigy; Bob Breeks for Koot; Michael Suldinger for Summerjam; Bill Martin at PRG; Alia Dann. And George at my old record pressing plant for encouragement in every area.
“The most ridiculous rider ever? 'Malawian orphan; gorilla; world peace...'”
How CAN WE GET YOUR JOB?
Come and have a go. Please!
If YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS YOU WOULD BE…
Looking a lot younger.