We are so excited to introduce you to Guitar Tech, Claire Murphy! Read more below about she got her start in the industry & the evolution of Trash Tours!
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
I am a guitar tech, currently with Vance Joy. I live in Los Angeles but was born in Wales in the UK, and lived in London for a long time.
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I have been full-time in the industry since 2012. I was trying to break into touring from around 2006. I made my way into working at a rehearsal studio where I met a guitar tech who worked there in-between tours. I asked him to teach me about teching and touring and he got me my first tour.
When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
I knew from a young age I wanted to be on tour. I originally wanted to be in a band and once I realised I could actually have a career working on a tour instead of being in the band, I directed my efforts towards that. I’ve always been a huge fan of live music. My parents took me to see Kylie and Bon Jovi when I was a kid and I couldn’t get enough of seeing bands live. It’s so thrilling!
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
Being away from home for weeks or months at a time is really difficult. The older I get, the more I want to be at home. All I wanted to do when I started in the industry was to be away and touring but things change as you get older. Getting to see the world and being paid to do so does make up for it!
You have a company, Trash Tours, can you tell us more about it? How is it owning your own business?
Trash Tours started as a one woman van rental company. I grew it to having 3 rental vans (splitter vans) and storage for bands’ equipment. I could have kept expanding but I decided to move to the US instead. I still have the company but it is more so storage now. I loved working for myself and I don’t think I could ever go back to a “regular” job working for someone else. Running your own company takes dedication as you reap what you put in, and I loved that.
What is the best part of your job? Why?
Making the show happen. Seeing all the fans so excited and enjoying the show makes it all worthwhile. And of course getting to see the world. Within 3 months you can go from South America to Europe to Australia. That’s crazy.. and they don’t tell you about it in any career fairs!
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
I would definitely consider my friend Mark (who got me my first tour) as my mentor. I asked him so many questions in the beginning and he would calm me when I was freaking out that I had no work. He actually took me on a tour to show me the ropes, before recommending me for my first tour. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. That’s why I think mentors are so important and I try to give as many women the same opportunities I had.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
Have patience. You can’t see the bigger picture, but if you just persevere you will be fine. Get yourself set up financially so you can take the opportunities when they arise. Make sure you are available to say yes, instead of having to turn down work/tours because you’re tied to a job for example. In my book, I explain how everyone needs to have six months of expenses saved so they can be available for opportunities. You have to immerse yourself in it.
Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position?
I definitely feel a pressure to have to “prove” myself. I’m sure a lot of this comes from my own insecurities because I don’t see any other women doing my job (not on a regular basis).
However, there are opportunities on the flip side where people actually prefer hiring females!
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time, did you pick up new hobbies this year?
I’ve started learning to surf. I’ve never really had the time before as I would only be back home for a couple of weeks here and there, but I’ve now had the time to consistently go and I love it! There is something so magical about the ocean.
COVID has put a halt on live entertainment, did you get to explore an industry or new job you never would have thought you’d work in? If so, will skills from it transfer over to the music industry?
I have taken a few courses in real estate and finance during this down time. These aren’t exactly going to transfer over to my touring career, but learning is great throughout life regardless. I am not able to pivot to another job as I am tied to my visa whilst in the US. It solidifies my point further about making sure you are set up financially because you never know what’s going to happen.
Who is your all-time favorite artist?
What is something you can't live without?
Go-to Karaoke song?
I don’t “do” Karaoke!!
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee! Although the Brit in my says tea. With milk.
First concert you went to?
What’s something that you always have on you?
My British sense of humour and sarcasm!
Who are some of your previous clients?
Vance Joy, Elle King, Tegan and Sara, Lord Huron, The Raveonettes, The Brand New Heavies, Dispatch, Babes in Toyland, The Dum Dum Girls, Therapy?.
Who is your dream artist or band to work with?
I currently work with one of the most awesome bands to work for. James (Vance Joy) and his band, along with his management are the nicest bunch to work for. However, if I could do just one tour with Garbage, I think I could die happy.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
We will usually load in around 11am, maybe earlier if it’s a bigger tour. As we probably won’t finish from the previous night much before midnight, I usually sleep until 9am on show days. After we load in, I will set up all the equipment in guitar world and on stage and check the guitars, tune them etc. We will check all the instruments before the band arrives for soundcheck. Post soundcheck I will have dinner then get ready for show time whilst the support band is on stage. During the show I am tuning the instruments, making sure there aren’t any issues on stage and doing all the guitar changes. When the show is finished we pack it all down, load the trailer/truck and prepare to do it all again the next day.
If it’s a day off I will usually run and find a good coffee shop!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Retired and surfing in Mexico hopefully!
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
Just an increase in diversity. There needs to be more women and women of colour.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of persevering with my ambition of essentially becoming a roadie. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, I came from a small town and now I’ve toured the world and live in California. It’s definitely not easy but its 100% worth it.
Lastly, what saying do you live by?
Life is too short, just go for it.
Big thank you again to Claire for taking the time to share her journey with us! We are so honored for her time, be sure to follow her journey here!