DELUTH, Minn. – With the majority of bands relying heavily on the Internet to push their sound, a small, diehard sub-sect of bands are hitting the road harder and more aggressively than ever.
Minnesota-based punk group Next To Tomorrow is one of the few bands doing just that: playing completely empty clubs and basement shows night after night on expansive and completely unwarranted tours all over the country. It is here, standing directly next next to these diehard believers of DIY ethics, we find Kyle McCarey, just kind of – you know – tagging along.
“I don’t mind if the guys force me inside the bass drum case and put me in the trailer, because I know they love me – and if they need someone to do an overnight drive while they nap, they’ll let me out. It’s like they say, ‘behind every great band is a great merch guy, in the trailer, alone.’”
McCarey is constantly battling the hard truth that the life of a touring band may seem glamorous to “outsiders,” but, as he’s learned, it’s anything but. “Last night I used a bag full of burger wrappers as a pillow. Do you know how hard it is to sleep on a bag full of garbage on the floor of a van? Will I wake up tomorrow and want to do it all again? Probably not, but I will.”
In between school and family, before his days as a merch guy, McCarey felt something in his life was missing.
“I was watching all my friends following their dreams and their passions. And what was I doing? Sitting in a classroom like a dick, texting my girlfriend and planning my mother’s 55th birthday party. I was fucking miserable.” Kyle McCarey
Not long after that, guitarist of Next To Tomorrow, Trevor Simms, asked to meet up with McCarey at a local Subway. It was there, over a sweet onion chicken teriyaki footlong, that Simms asked McCarey the question that changed his entire life.
“I just straight up said to him, ‘Hey man, we need a merch guy. I totally understand if you don’t want to come along. It’s kind of a shitty job. We can’t really pay you and you’ll need to pitch in for gas, but it’s yours if you want it.’ Kyle’s face just lit up. I know how much he likes to watch others succeed while he just sorta hangs out. You could tell his dream was unfolding before his eyes.”
Next To Tomorrow is currently in the middle of a week-and-a-half-long tour of the Midwest. With most members still in college, they have a very strict touring window.
“We’re all working toward a degree or have full-time jobs. I genuinely have no idea why Kyle dropped out of college and dumped his girlfriend for this. He keeps talking about getting our logo tatted on his neck,” Simms said. “None of us even have tattoos.”