Dream Riders: The Tour Desires of Your Favorite Artists (UTG Exclusive)

Wikipedia defines a rider as: a set of requests or demands that a performer sets as criteria for performance.

Whether an act’s tour rider is ridiculously egocentric and/or overly materialistic, just plain outlandish in a fun way, a rock ‘n’ roll legend, or far more modest and unshowy than you might expect, nearly every touring artist has at least something that they request from the venues in which they’ll be performing at. It could be something as simple and understandable as a stack of towels, or in the case of some more haughty, self-indulgent artists, a rider might outline all the ways in which the artist’s driver must act as an emotionless robot that ought to think twice before even looking in the direction of said artist — on top of several other pages of ridiculously specific demands, of course.

We recently got in touch with a bunch of our favorite acts to see what their current riders typically consist of and what their rider might include if they were Madonna-level famous. Click through the jump to read responses from RX Bandits, Andrew WK, Every Time I Die, and many more.

Sage Francis: Many years ago I overheard a guy mocking my rider items in good humor. He was like, “Man…usually you go back stage and you see a display of liquor. But at Sage shows there’s only socks and hummus back stage.” That shit made me laugh because it was true. Socks…SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR were such an important rider item. However, I stopped requesting that shit after promoters who are uncomfortable with their manhood explained to me that they could never buy another man underwear. The most important rider item is a case of bottled water. Everything after that is way secondary.

As I’m not Madonna-famous, I can’t shake the idea that anything I ask for in the rider will eventually come out of the backend payment, so this is a tough one. I suppose if there were no financial repercussions I’d ask for a bunch of puppies or kittens to play with as long as they were well taken care of after I left. Imagine going to a new place and getting to play with animals every day without having to take care of them. That would be pretty baller.

sage francis

John Abernathy, Conducting From the Grave: At best we get a case of beer and a case of water, and either catering or 5-10 dollars per member as a buyout of the catering–and by catering I mean Little Caesars pizza 9 times out of 10. 

Eventually when we get super famous (when, not if, [laughs]) we want a bathtub full of only green M&Ms, a Scarface sized mountain of cocaine, a case of assorted liquors, elephant rides, a petting zoo, a projector screen with at least 500 movies to choose from, a popcorn machine, personal masseuses–okay, just kidding about pretty much all of that. That really escalated quickly… Don’t do drugs, kids!


A Lot Like Birds: We actually joke about this a lot. We’re used to touring on a pretty strict budget so we never really request much from the promoter or venue. Most of the time we are just happy with a case of whatever beer is the cheapest in that part of the country. On a good day if we know the venue has a shower we might ask for some towels. On our European tour I just remember every single promoter providing us with ham and cheese sandwiches. We were also all very poor at the time so we would just stock up on leftovers. I’ve never eaten so many goddamn ham and cheese sandwiches in my life. Also I’m not really sure why all bottled water in Europe is carbonated. What the hell is up with that?

As far as a dream rider, I don’t even know what I would want. Maybe instead of cheap beer we could get some good beer? Or even dare I say some decent whiskey? Other than that I’m sure I can speak for the whole band when I say we would request a decent meal. Good salad with a medium rare steak. Yeah, I could live with that every night of tour. None of us have ever had tons of luxuries in our life so we’ve become pretty easy to please on the road. I really can’t think of anything too crazy that any one of us would ask for if we were at some Madonna level of fame. Joe might request his own personal Starbucks barista for his mocha frappuccino though.


Rivers Of Nihil: Right now, it’s nothing fancy. We ask for a case of water and a case of beer.

If we were famous, we’d probably ask for a few more cases of water, a case of local craft beer, and some kind of burrito when we get to the show and after we play (Pantera style, baby!).

rivers of nihil

Steve Choi, RX Bandits: Our rider is relatively wholesome. We do most of our rider every day, so we can just make grocery lists for the runners at our shows. Getting a set list of things day-in day-out can lead to 99 jars of peanut butter and a variety of other excess, so we like to take inventory and make our rider for that day so we don’t waste tons of food. Also, things change when we are in different countries. There are so many great things to eat around the world, so when we are in a place with something we love, we make sure to get it. Like when we’re in Holland, we always make sure to get some stroopwafel on the rider to munch on. 

The always-everyday items are: Water, beer, towels, coconut water, and socks. 

We’ve definitely talked about what we’d have on our rider if we ever reached that point of total luxury; It’s a fun conversation to have. We’d certainly have next-level catering with a staff of personal chefs and I think a semi-truck with a mobile recording setup would definitely happen. Other than that we would probably just keep it modest and bring along a little redwood tree, sauna, shark tank (with sharks), basketball court, soccer pitch, swimming pool (with poolhouse for family), helicopter (in the other semi-truck), library, art studio, and a dog park for our pooches.


Desmond Zantua, Bellwether: [Laughs] We don’t really have a rider. If the promoter can give us food, then we’re usually overjoyed.

I’d like a hammock setup. That would be my fantasy. Both as a rider and general life goal. Hammocks are great. If we got Hennessey on our rider, then that’d be a start toward having an ice breaker with Kanye, since I imagine he has Henny on his rider too.


Cartel: Towels, water, beer, chips and salsa, sometimes hummus. We used to do a bottle of Jameson, but then we were collecting full bottles and cut down!

Our dream rider? 1 Football helmet full of cottage cheese. 3 family size boxes of Cap’n Crunch, arranged by expiration date. 6 pre-filled bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch next to a milk pouring machine that has a minimum for 4 gallons of milk. 1 80-inch TV connected to a Sega Genesis with a minimum of 10 games. 1 golf simulator with 2 sets of Taylor clubs. An Exotic car rented for the day. A TV to every college football game that is broadcasted with a minimum of 7. Various military guns to be cleaned and rebuilt (guns to be kept). 1 life-size cardboard cutout of Tiger Woods motioning a high-five. Tiger Woods must be in a red shirt. A green jacket is an okay substitute.


Jake Marquis, Sleep On it: We usually just ask for normal things like beer and water…but if the sky is the limit, a 5th of Jameson per member. AJ would have a professional sports jersey from every local team. We’d also like a box of Nickelback’s Greatest Hits…to be used as beer coasters. A dartboard with a picture of Nickelback in the middle. And Bill Murray.

sleep on it

Kevin Magone, The Shipwrecks: Free beer. If we were a monster band I’d put 3 cases of Sierra Nevada, pasta salad, a ride to and from a nearby massage parlor (paid by venue), flavored tobacco, Irish Soda Bread (proportioned raisins), and a case of sugar-free Redbull. Alaskan king crab legs. But only the long skinny ones, they must be between 11.375 inches and 12.125 inches in length. And 153 12oz cans of Budweiser.


Ben Worcester, Said The Whale: We’re pretty average I’d say. We tend to prefer a healthy and substantial snack over junk food–so veggies and dip, a fruit platter, some hummus and pita are staples. Jayce likes a taste of chocolate and some healthy juice type thing. Some good “local” beer is best and maybe a bottle of red wine, with a great label. Truth be told we don’t often receive a rider of any sorts while touring in the US. Any band that loads their rider with expensive things is paying for it out of pocket in the end.

If let’s say we were…rich? I might ask for a few extra things. Maybe some hand-tied flies unique or specific to the local fishery of the place, kinda like local beer. Maybe some local jerky or candy, again unique to the place.

said the whale

Yoni Wolf, WHY?: Well, I’m not totally sure what the WHY? rider consists of these days. I pretty much do my own thing and get my own food and cook for myself. I’m on a solo tour at the moment and my rider consists of a case of water and a bottle of wine for my opening act (I don’t drink). I pretty much just take care of myself. In a Madonna-level world, I’d have a personal chef / nutritionist / yoga teacher / masseuse.

yoni wolf

Todd Jansen, Assassins: Well since we aren’t headlining anything right now cause we’re still growing, we don’t have a rider, but sometimes some promoters are super cool and make sure every band on the package gets a case of water so that’s always nice. That case of water can go a long way [laughs].

And if we ever got to Madonna status? [Laughs] I have no idea. Me personally, I’d ask for one of those like water cooler tanks with the huge things of water on top, but filled with Fireball whiskey for me and everyone else to share and have fun, and maybe like a mini ramp and a little rail in the green room for me and the guys to skate. Some of us like to skate before and after shows to pass time–at least this way we wouldn’t have to worry about bad weather [laughs].


Daniel Lancaster, Stages and Stereos: A case of beer. Chips and salsa. $10 buy-out or a hot meal. 

My dream rider would have a hot tub full of hot sauce, three aloe vera plants, a trash bag full of Hot Pockets, and a box full of sharp objects.

stages and stereos

James Dewees, Reggie and the Full Effect: My rider is very basic: water, towels, maybe beer depending on the day. Dream rider…I gotta think about it. Iced coffee would be awesome. I guess I could just play a coffee shop [laughs].

james dewees

Zack Mykula, PUP: Boring stuff. Case of piss-beer. Celery. Pita. Hummus. Most important is water. We make sure to keep hydrated because our miserable life inevitably leads to a lot of boozing. 

[If we were crazy famous?] All you can eat Indian buffet. 50 rolls of Oreos. 10 gallons of rosé. Mandarin oranges served in agave syrup, garnished with saffron. A signed picture of Matt Damon. And half an hour at a petting zoo.


Joe Occhiuti, The Venetia Fair: Our dream rider would include whatever Tom Hanks movie was most recently released on Blu-ray, I want that on VHS just to be difficult. 500 chicken fingers, a Blu-ray player, a doctor to fix whatever ailment I’m having, a broken toaster. I want all the M&Ms that other artists requested taken out of their M&M bowls. One member from my band that I can choose to kick out or keep. Fireworks. Tom Hanks, a chair made of bacon, the deed to the venue, two 300lb dumbbells so I could work out (I’m very strong). But also a couple 10lb ones, too, just in case I bring a friend. The soup of the day, and someone that I can fire and then re-hire a few times throughout the night. That’ll do it.

venetia fair

Front Porch Step: I don’t have a fuckin’ rider, but if I did have a rider, I would want all peanut butter. Everything in my goddamn room: peanut butter. And everything needs to be drenched in peanut butter. I don’t care if it’s Jif or the store brand, everything needs to be covered in peanut butter. I also need a lot of cake and cream soda. So yeah, promoters, get your shit straight and bring me that motherfuckin’ peanut butter.


Knuckle Puck: We don’t really have a rider, I guess. If we could have anything? Fruity Pebbles, hummus, a copy of every Chris Farley DVD. Rest in peace.

knuckle puck

Closure in Moscow: Raw broccoli, Crimean War literature, and Disney Trivial Pursuit. [Don’t forget the pink lemonade!]

closure in moscow

Andy Glass, We Came As Romans: Right now we have a case of water, case of beer, 2 bottles of whiskey, Gatorades, chips, salsa, everything to make a killer sandwich, coffee, and if we could get it more, booze [laughs]. 

If I was Madonna famous I’d be getting a ticket/pass to “rent the whole bar out for the night for free,” 3 reserved green rooms–one for a bubble bath party, one for beer Olympics, and one for relaxing–the finest of stage towels to pat the royal sweat that drips from the forehead, at least $400 worth of fireworks, definitely a jetpack or some kind of catapult system to exit the stage in a superhero fashion. [Laughs] I honestly don’t know–even if I was Madonna status I’d still probably ask for the same old case of beer and a bottle of whiskey [laughs].


Alex & Drew, The Chainsmokers: Okay, so currently: Fireball, Patron, Grey Goose, 2 bottles of your cheapest champagne, fruit leathers, Sour Patch Watermelons, granola bars (peanut butter), black ankle socks, Elmer’s Glue, beef jerky, towels, and an iPhone charger. Also, the DJ setup must NOT be on a picnic table.

Our dream rider would consist of $800 cash, All Saints white and black shirt, a Guy Ritchie film playing, steak salad, 2 bottles of Fireball, a hot British girl, Dillon Francis’ YouTube channel pulled up on a laptop, Sharper Image massage chairs, and a litter of golden puppies.


Keith Buckley, Every Time I Die: Currently: water, beer, Maker’s Mark whiskey, hummus and chips.

Madonna level? Hot tub, sponge candy, soft serve ice cream machine, sushi chef, crab leg buffet. Actually, a general seafood buffet. Actually, an on-site Red Lobster, and a massage therapist.


Andrew WK: It all depends, but always lots of candy, especially gummy bears, gummy worms, soft gummy peaches, Starburst, Skittles, Mamba – just all the fruit flavored party candy we can get! Oh, and lots of water. That’s the one thing on Earth you’ll die without.

[If there were no limitations], 1,000 pounds of Starburst candies, melted and formed into one gigantic party Starburst!

andrew wk

Nick and Jake, Citizen: Oh, man, what’s on the rider now? Vegetable and fruit trays, chips–we generally ask for Brisk Iced Tea. Me and Ryland will chug Brisk at any time. Occasionally pizza, too. I’d rather them give us a couple large pizzas than anything else. It’s just easier. Now, if we were Madonna level famous? Red, green, and yellow Sour Patch Kids only, separated from all of the reject Sour Patch Kids. Hot tub, some beds. Home Alone. Queso dip. I’d also hope that they’d have a big bed, just lined with plush Muppets.


Dikembe: What’s a rider?


Andy Stack, Wye Oak: Currently, Pink Lady apples and coconut water. With no limitations? A private massage therapist, Pink Lady apples and coconut water.

wye oak

Nick Zoppo, Heart To Heart: Well, seeing how we don’t have a rider at the moment, getting a case of water would be amazing. My dream rider would have Gatorade [Fierce Grape], chow mein, birthday cake, a bottle of Jameson, and probably something WWE related. That all sounds amazing. Shit, I guess it’s time to make these things happen.

heart to heart

Landscapes: Our current rider consists of a hot meal (2 vegan, 3 meat), bottled still water, stage towels, ginger root and Jameson for Shaun’s voice, and a crate of beer for the boys.

The towels, beer, ginger root and Jameson is really only subject to availability though. We understand the promoters are on a budget so we are pretty relaxed on our rider. We just really appreciate the hospitality regardless. I think even if we were at Madonna-level status, our rider would more than likely continue to be the same. If we’re throwing out some additional wish list for comfort and ease per se, I guess we would have more alcohol so that we could give it away to our followers who drink and a shit-load of sweets for those who don’t.


Hail The Sun: Current rider consists of 1 case of water, bread, peanut butter, jelly, a knife, and a 6-pack of beer (on special occasions).

Our dream rider: N64, 4 controllers, and essential games (minimum: Mario Kart 64, Gauntlet Legends, GoldenEye 007). Fresh, handmade pupusas (or street tacos if unavailable). Fresh assorted sushi platter (made within an hour of our arrival). Freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Two 6-packs of non-alcoholic beer. Two 6-packs of alcoholic beer (1 Belgian style ale, 1 British style ale). 1 Bottle of Irish whiskey (cold!). A two-liter of Cherry Coke and a two-liter of Diet Coke. Scented candles (nothing too strong; fuck that Cinnabon bullshit). A sexy masseuse.

Hail The Sun

Jeremy Messersmith: Are you ready for the most boring rider in the history of rock and roll? I have absolutely zero items on my tour rider. Nothing. Nada. I ask for and expect nothing, that way I’m pleasantly surprised by some bottled water and crappy beer. The great secret of touring is to keep your expectations low.

My dream rider would include the following items: Vegan buffet with fresh juice bar (prepped on site by my personal chef). A massage therapist. A meditation chamber constructed to look exactly like Darth Vader’s chamber on the Super Star Destroyer Executor in The Empire Strikes Back. Wifi. A bottle of Yamazaki (12 year). A single blue rose in a crystal vase (vase MUST be pronounced VOZ).


Brian Leak
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