Frankie Ballard's Six Rules for the Road
Frankie Ballard has opened for some of the best in the music business – Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and, coming in 2015, Florida Georgia Line. Needless to say, he's learned a thing or two about how to survive life on a tour bus (tough gig!).
So the singer, whose new single "Sunshine and Whiskey" recently hit the top 10 on Billboard's country chart, recently shared with us a few of his tips. Thinking about pursuing a career on the road with country's finest? Then read on …
1. Stay Active
"You can get lethargic on the road. You do sound check, you wait around, and exercise isn't necessarily part of the whole scene, so you have to force it," Ballard tells PEOPLE. "I take weights and bands, but a lot of times you have to make it up as you go. I'll do push-ups on the bleachers or find a place to do pull-ups at the county fair."
2. Make Home More Like the Road
"I actually feel more at home on the road than I do in Nashville," he admits. "I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and I have a purpose and a schedule and in Nashville it's the opposite. At home, I surround myself with guitars and my whole bedroom is set up like a hotel – the bed, the TV and the bathroom, it all looks like a hotel."
3. Keep Fruit in the Fridge
"It's too easy not to eat well on the road. I switch it up and try to find fruit I've never had before," he explains. "I recently discovered Asian pears. They may not be that exciting for some, but it's like half apple and half pear and they're great!"
4. Develop a Pre-show Ritual
"I'm not sure how people just walk on stage and perform. I almost always listen to live music performances on the bus before the show. It can be Waylon Jennings, it could be Led Zeppelin, it could be the Everly Brothers, it can be Skynyrd. Whatever it is, I grab a guitar and I get in the mood," he says. "And right before we get on stage, I get the band together and we have a little pow-wow. We do a chant, but it's super-secret. We put our hands in the pile and it's like a call-and-response thing. It's a chance to get on the same page and then we go to battle."
5. Stay in the Game
"The main thing I've learned from Chesney and Taylor and Bob Seger, who I also toured with, is how involved they are," Ballard shares. "You assume someone that famous would fly in and out – and they've earned the right to do that – but that's completely not the case. They're so hands-on, sunup to sundown. If things aren't right, they jump in and make it right. They all work so hard and it's really inspiring to see people at the top of their game still doing that."
6. Know Your Audience
"I don't know if I'll ever again be screamed at like I was when I was on the Taylor tour. It's like I was the Beatles in 1966. I don't know why they were screaming at me – I didn't have any hits at the time. Maybe they just thought I knew Taylor and that I touched her, so they let me into the scream fest. I think Florida Georgia Line will have a similar crowd to Taylor's. It won't be a quiet, sit-down, listening crowd. People will be amped up and it will be amazing."
Check out this behind-the-scenes video for Ballard's hit "Sunshine and Whiskey":