I’m ready. Are you ready? Thumbs up? Yeah Ready to go? You like this? Going from from 75 degree Florida to fucking, 20 degree… Where are we? What do I think of what? What do you think already? I like the place. We’ve played venues like this How do we get in there? Back here Where, here? Yeah, the door’s right there to the left. Right here Cotton sturdy probably? Heavy, normal You think shower gel that’s probably good right? Just a little bit? The only thing I’m worried about is uh, The actual washing machine is not that clean. That’s why you don’t bring whites on tour. What do you recommend for those that need like fabric softener and dryer sheets? You gonna bring that shit? Don’t go touring dude. Back here if you want the dressing room. Where? You want the dressing room? Back here. Can we get a reality check? What’s the chances of getting any festivals next year? We’re not going to get Bonaroo. Bonaroo passed… Bonaroo passed a while ago though. Um.. Well.. We book South America, no question about that. February, March in the studio. Yeah, January is done. Jesse has the baby, but we prepare studio to be worked. But we need to find it. We need to find a way to make it make it… You know, we probably could scrape by with the occasional Garlic Fest offer next year.. ..or corporate or Bud Light thing Um.. And you know having an international presence with Sean It looks like not like it’s not completely falling apart Ladies and gents, KONGOS When you picture a rock band on tour, what does it look like? Is it arenas, private jets and after parties? Or sleeping on a friend’s couch and spending eight hours a day in a van? Or is it something in between? What does success look like? The first time you go on tour and leave behind your home, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, your bed, or your office You lose your anchors of day-to-day existence Because tour life is not yet the new normal You haven’t been doing it for years on end where not having a home feels like home. After more than ten years of writing, recording, and playing shows KONGOS, a band of four brothers, finally had a breakthrough in 2014 with one of the biggest alternative songs of the decade, Come With Me Now, from their album, Lunatic. They spent the next two years on tour all over the world including seven months straight on the exact same bus. With for the most part, the same core road crew. After regrouping and recording their follow-up album, Egomaniac, they’re about to head out on the road and begin the cycle once again. There’s a good chance you’ve heard Come With Me Now, but likely don’t know anything about the band behind it. 1987 and the idea is.. The idea is that you do.. just do your left hand only. Just left hand. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Okay now do your right hand So those two things go against each other, and then you say your chant. Say your chant to me. “Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō” Okay, Jesse, no. Jesse, no pedal Okay so now.. So the fourth element is what? Head and now show me how the head goes. It goes up Just the head. Up to the top. Okay, just there. Center, down center, center. Left, center, right, center, and then top. It always comes back to the center. Now, a few minutes ago you were doing that perfectly, and we’re gonna see if you can do it again. Now, Jesse, sit very quietly. Okay, here we go Okay, that was almost perfect, and I am amazed! I am amazed. What does that mean? That means I’m bloody surprised. September 2016 Is this my best side? Well, my name is Michael Quinn, and I’m the tour manager with KONGOS. I’ve been with them for some time now actually. I started doing monitors I started front of house with them. Continue to do that again to this day. I’m terrible on camera sorry. I can try that again. Oh, that’s the best lighting pack I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s beautiful. I’m so happy right now. My name is Geron Rains. I’m the monitor engineer. and uhhh Yep, that’s who I am. Alright dude, we’re gonna be fine on truck space. That’s for damn sure. Oh So yeah, my name is Mo Gordon and I’m KONGOS stage manager and as well as Do some backline teching for them. That means I work on their instruments and repairs. I do some carpentry and building for them. Build some stuff No big deal. We’re going over our bus assignments for this tour, looks like the support act may be bringing a dog along. My name is Jason. I am the assistant tour manager for KONGOS. I pretty much handle all the day-to-day fun stuff for the band and crew and make sure everybody’s happy and healthy You’re fine with that? Oh, okay. Yeah, well they want to bring along a little uh.. It’s a wiener dog. This is day one of production rehearsals. The seven-person crew arrives in Los Angeles to begin preparing for the upcoming six-week headline tour of North America in support of their new album, Egomaniac. My name’s Tyler and I’m doing LD position on this tour. Standing in for AJ Pen. AJ’s the production designer Yeah, this is my first time with with this camp with this family and so far everyone’s perfect, nice, fun. No assholes? No, no assholes. No, I don’t. I don’t detect any yet. Most of this crew has been with KONGOS for years. So when adding new members, attitude is as important as skill. They will be spending the next six weeks together living in close quarters, Working alongside each other every day, and facing the inevitable challenges on the road. Mic, he pretty much tells us all what to do. He’s like my boss. I mean, he’s the crew boss essentially. He is an unbelievable person. Not just a jack-of-all-trades. He’s like the knowledge of all trades. He knows so many things about everything. Just learning so much from that guy. He knows fucking everything apparently. Who is Mo? There’s a great question. Film stars are always much smaller in real life, and Mo is already tiny And he’s a total rock star I’m Chris… Gerber Im a backline tech. I just take care of drums, guitar amps, guitars. I’m gonna check and see if it works. Please don’t film this It worked! Holy shit! I think we’re done. Okay, I’m Colton Bouterie, I’ll be in charge of merch as well as the VIP check-in. And is this your first time doing this kind of thing? Yeah, this is my first time ever doing anything like this. Did you know about KONGOS before you came to work for them? You know, I’d heard the name before and as soon as I looked them up, I was like, oh Come With Me Now, I know these guys. Come With Me Now did not see success until four years after it was released But when it finally did strike in 2014, it rocketed to the top of the alternative charts in record time, sold millions of copies, and garnered more TV and film placements than any song that year I’m Johnny Kongos. I play keyboards and accordion. My name is Jesse Kongos, and I play drums and sing in the band in the band KONGOS I’m Dylan Kongos and I play bass and sing. My name is Daniel Kongos, and I play guitar and sing. Just the tail of it, you catch the melody. John and Shelley Kongos had four sons. The older three: Johnny, Jesse, and Dylan were born in London, while the youngest, Danny, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. shortly after the family moved there in 1988 Our dad was a musician and he was a recording artist and songwriter. He started as a kind of teen star in South Africa. He had a bunch of hit records and then moved to London, pursued his career there, eventually had some hits there as an artist and a songwriter. He built a recording studio, so we grew up in that environment. Session musicians coming in and out of the studio. From a very young age that was kind of a natural thing to us. Say I am King Kong I am King Kong The early days he had us learning music: piano, guitar, and everything. He wanted us to learn music for the fulfillment and the joy, what it does to your brain, and your attention, and your emotional center. 1996 was when we moved to Arizona, which is our mom’s hometown, and that’s where we started rehearsing and writing songs and trying to get some gigs out you know in the real world. The very first gig even before KONGOS was Jesse and I with a bass player friend of ours and A trumpet player. We played at some total dive where there were like three people who were upset who we were interrupting the baseball game. And we just do experimental stuff and Improvisational stuff. It was very kind of freeing musically. I think we did our first gig in When I was in ninth grade. The first flyer you’ll be able to find for a gig with KONGOS was at Undici Undici in Mesa. Which was like a weird Boy Meets World University cafeteria where they’d have a band. That show sucked even though it was our first gig and all that. Our opinions outstripped our abilities. We put the first album out completely by ourselves. We did shop it around as best we could we got a lot of like I liked it, but I don’t know what to do with it. We didn’t have any major decision maker jump on board for a good 10, 11 years. I definitely had multiple moments of are we those people on American Idol who are fucking delusional. Probably a lot of good that came out of it. We kept going back to the drawing board. So we started recording I’m Only Joking, It’s A Good Life, Come With Me Now, and one or two others. We put a new song out every month, give it away for free. Let’s hit every single person. It doesn’t matter if they’re in radio, if they’re a manager, if they’re a publisher.. Like let’s just email the shit out of these people and see if we can get a bite. Now I got a approached from a band yesterday. Mm-hmm Melted my face off. Really? Literally melted my face off. It’s from KONGOS. The song’s called I’m Only Joking. Check it out We sold out our show at the Crescent ballroom, which we’d never even come close to before we had some radio support. In 2011, we thought let’s send some songs to South African radio. So we sent a bunch of songs off to 5FM. The program director wrote back and said I love this. I’m gonna play I’m Only Joking. If your song got played on 5FM.. South Africa heard it. Just to come and completely take over with a style of music which is so very unique was I think a very very cool thing to see We went back and forth to South Africa five times in that year Trying to try to capitalize on the radio success. We played every show we could possibly play We literally went from playing to 60,000 people at a soccer stadium, and then flying back to the states getting in the van and playing to four people in, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Um two of which were from the other band. How many albums? Two that night? I think just one. I’m not sure. Okay, so one plus four albums for 25 bucks, which is two albums. There was a good year or two. We just couldn’t get we couldn’t get anything going. So we recorded Lunatic. We first finished Lunatic at the end of 2011 So in 2013 we said let’s go to radio in America. Let’s run a radio campaign. A small one. We’ll fund it or do whatever we have to do to do it. So they went with I’m Only Joking to radio in Chicago, and within two plays it did the same thing it did in South Africa. I love it. You play a new song and suddenly it becomes the most requested song on Q87.7 Then our music came across the ears of this guy called Nerf, who’s a DJ and at the Denver station. “Con-gus” is how you pronounce the name. It’s spelled more like “Kong-goes” with a K Come With Me Now. It’s channel 93.3. It proved itself at Denver, and then from there it went “whoosh” across the entire country. Labels started to show interest. So that led to signing with Epic, and they jumped on an already moving train. “Kroq, Kroq..” We released Come With Me Now to crickets, and then a few years later we saw what was possible Before that song happened nobody thought that was gonna be a pop radio song. Sure. I think luck is is a major factor. I mean we hung around. We didn’t quit for 10, 11, years. Fast forward to Egomaniac. Release the single in April. Album comes out in June. Egomaniac is the band’s third studio album, but it’s the first since signing with a major label. When the labels plans for a music video shoot fell through at the last minute, the band scrambled to make a music video themselves. With the help of their road crew and a director friend. The campaign is off to a rocky start. Most details were not handled correctly from putting out the right master Are you fucking kidding me you put the wrong CD out? Not having any marketing, not having any PR. Heads will fucking roll if they fuck this up again. Everywhere, and not literally Everything was basically done incorrectly on Egomaniac. They have killed music for us. It will deplete our cash. We’ve been obsessed with the business part of it lately which is kind of destructive. There’s no good option. What do you want me to do, be happy? Despite the growing issues They did what they could over the next three months to travel and promote the new album in various countries, following its release. Now, starting on the west coast, the 12th person touring party will make their way across the US and Canada before taking the show to Europe for another three weeks My first impressions were they are too involved in this whole thing, and they got a step back and just let me do my job. If they’re in front of us, it’s gonna get really old over the course of the show. Just having to look past them all the time. For us and for the audience. Fast forward to one week in…It was such a cool thing having a band know what they want and have ideas There was something cool about when they were all coming on at different times and alternating that the depth, the depth of the stage I think that we’re so bored with our own show that we’ve forgotten the essence of it, which is the band, and You know one cool lighting look is not worth compromising that in my opinion They would say a concept. I would do my best to translate that into something visually stimulating. These guys are complete nerds and I love it What are you working on right now? Content for the live show. So just what we’ll project on the screens A lot of it I shot or made in After Effects. The whole stage. Love it. Yeah The visual, lighting, and audio aspects of the show must all be in sync with each other, and with only six hours remaining until the busses roll there are still several bugs to be worked out They send MIDI information out to the media server to trigger camera cuts and that sort of thing. We thought we had it. It’s like a gremlin. Can we change the output to the out on the front of the Motu? Most the other people I’ve worked for it’s been a fairly big “you’re on the crew and those are the artists” There’s that separation, but this has definitely been a unique band to work for because that divide doesn’t exist. It’s the final day of production rehearsals. The band and crew have been doing 18-hour days in preparation for the six-week, headline tour. How are things coming together? That’s a good question. Yesterday we were about 40% there and today we’re about 75% there I’ve not been getting much sleep worrying about this. Is it normal for you to not sleep much before tour starts? Yeah, usually cuz there’s a million and one things going on, and this time there’s a million and two things going on. We’re always biting off more than they can chew Although this tour will gross a significant amount of money, after expenses, bus and truck costs, production rental, crew wages, Manager, agent and business management commissions, the band may not make a profit. Most of these costs are unavoidable, but they have chosen to invest extra in a light show and production. in the hopes that it will ultimately advance their career as a touring band. We want to take this stage show and bump it up a notch and play arena shows and get the production into that level. Touring with Kings of Leon, One Republic you see like the potential of where a band can go, and that’s where we really want it to go We’re doing it in our way. It’s a little bit different. We’re doing it in venues where no one will have seen this before You’ve only seen this at an arena show. We’re not doing those shows. We’re doing you know.. What’s the smallest room we’re doing? Like 500 or something like that. You’ve seen flashy like shows, and this and that. Maybe they’ll bring some lasers with them, but not quite the whole multimedia experience. All of this stuff that you can kind of see right here, plus everything out there, and then everything in the next room over, then everything in the container outside all get thrown onto the truck and off to Vegas we go for our first date. We’re tearing down. T minus as fast as I can get this done so I can go to the bus and drink a beer. Can you explain to me what bus call is? Am I allowed to talk about it? What does bus call mean? Uh. I believe that’s curfew. That’s when everybody’s gotta be on the bus. The time you where you need to get your arse on the bus before I leave you behind. The last thing you see on your day schedule. Bus call is usually around 1:00, 2:00 a.m. at night. After the show we drive to the next city. You know, but I think it can mean different things to different people. If you ask each person on this crew, they’ll probably give you a different answer. Yeah so bus call is just hey, what can we do before we got to leave? Most of the time it’s trying to find some food in the middle of nowhere. It has many subjective meanings depending on you know, your memories and your associations with it. Bus Call can be slightly heartbreaking sometimes. If it’s a 4am bus call then the single people try to get laid.. ..unsuccessful 99% of the time. It’s pretty pretty sad actually. I don’t want to reveal too much. Yeah, yeah Or just on the verge of that love affair, you know then time to go. Have you ever gotten left behind? No, I have been on a tour where people have been left behind And those people got fired. I have. A couple times. Have I seen anyone miss bus call? Ah, well, I didn’t physically see them miss it because they weren’t there. Another term for that is getting oil-spotted. They show up and there’s a big oil spot where the bus used to be. They had left their phones and their wallets and most of their clothes in the bus. You know, you learn that a couple times early on in your career So they had to wake up and do the walk of shame to reception. Bus call means bus call. For anyone who’s ever been on tour, “bus call” is a significant term. This is a nomadic life where everything changes on a daily basis. The only constants are the people traveling with you and your home, the bus. Bus call is your anchor. Fuck ya’ll. I always make it. I’m always early for lobby call, bus call All calls. Hit me up We’re not gonna get Bonaroo. Bonaroo passed.. Bonaroo passed a while ago though.. Um.. Well.. Guys, this all sounds relatively.. We should do the farewell tour next year. Everything is on the…clearly on the down turn for us right now, and we need to turn that around. When you close your eyes and picture a rock band on tour, what does it look like? But what is it really? What does it mean to have success? How do you get there? And where do you go from there? KONGOS have been a band for 14 years. For the first eleven, they were rejected or ignored by every major record label, publisher, and agency. And now having finally had a breakthrough, we follow them as they try to turn a hit song into something much more. When you live on the move and everything around you is constantly changing You start to look for something real, something permanent, a way to stand still in a moving world. This is a story of family This is a strange existence It’s definitely not for everyone. But for those who live it, there’s nothing else in the world quite like it This is exciting, fun, difficult, rewarding, at times heartbreaking, and sometimes even boring But this is never ordinary. This is Bus Call Next time on bus call The kickoff of Egomaniac tour, we ran the set once in production rehearsals Yeah, I’m nervous as fuck. I don’t know if my mic is coming through. Can you guys hear me? What a fuckin wasted opportunity. If the song is a flop, who the fuck even knows? If we don’t do something in the next week or two the album is completely dead. Judging by everyone’s opinion, you don’t wanna be at the label anymore.