I had the pleasure of interviewing author of Merch Girl, Rebecca Lewis about music festivals and life on the road, and reviewed Merch Girl myself.
Let's get to know about the book first...
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Lacey Kind doesn’t have the guts to talk to cute boys, isn’t a size two, and would rather stay home and listen to music than go to a party. But in the summer before her first year of college, she ends up thousands of miles away from home, in the back of a tour bus, underneath the half-naked body of the hottest teen rock star in the country.When Lacey and her best friend Trina sneak into a Boston nightclub to see their favorite band, they not only get to watch their rock gods perform for the first time, but score a chance to meet the band too. Lacey’s heart races as she comes face-to-face with her idol, nineteen-year-old lead singer, Logan Shire.The girls charm their way into being hired to sell merchandise on Lansdowne’s first summer tour. As “merch girls” Lacey and Trina quickly find themselves transported from their ordinary, suburban life to an exhilarating few months on the road. But they soon realize that life on the road isn’t always a smooth ride...
Interview with Rebecca Lewis
Q): Hi Rebecca, thank you for stopping by to answer a few questions! I've been wondering, how did the idea of writing a story about a merch girl on tour come about?
Rebecca: I've always been into music and live concerts. In college I interned for a few record labels and worked as a merch girl for local bands. I always wondered what it would have been like if those bands got super famous and I was on tour with them, or if I was able to tour with one of my favorite bands, and that's how the story idea came to be.
Q): I was a merch girl for the past three summers for the Vans Warped Tour, which is why MG drew me in. So I have to ask: were you ever a merch girl for a concert, tour or festival?
Rebecca: I would have loved to work Warped Tour! I am probably dating myself here, but I first went to Warped Tour in High School in 2000 when Green Day headlined and it was one of the best/craziest days ever. I got heat stroke and fainted in the middle of the field, but it was still worth it. And yes, I was a merch girl for a local band in Boston when I was in college, but I also worked for a grassroots entertainment marketing company and did promotions for a lot of major-label and indie bands as well.
Q): Oh, no! Glad you were okay. Things can get out of hand at Warped Tour. What was being a merch girl like for you? Was it anything like Lacey's story?
Rebecca: I loved it. The band I knew mostly played little club or bar shows, and I would get to go into the venues early with them to set up and then we'd end up hanging out at their apartment afterward. My friends usually came too and it was fun just being with everybody. I also went to a lot of other concerts and knew some of the other local band guys so there was always something going on. I don't think my experiences were that similar to Lacey's because I never dated anyone in a band, but we all still hung out and had fun. I probably was boy crazy like her though.
Q): That is so awesome! I have some crazy stories from tour -- do you have any crazy stories from tour to share that was not included in the book?
Rebecca: I have a lot of weird/random stories, but not necessarily from being a merch girl. My friends and I used to go to a lot of shows and sometimes we'd hang out with the bands afterward or before in the backstage area or in the tour bus. However, I'd like to make it clear that you do not have to do drugs, get drunk or have sex to have a good time -- we always had a blast and kept it pretty clean.
Q): I agree! Other than personal experience, how did you do research for writing MG?
Rebecca: In addition to my merch girl experience, I also interned for Interscope Records in NYC and learned a lot of the business-side of the music business there. It was great to have experience in promotions, marketing, and PR from that side, and then also work with the bands/artists on the performance side. And if you're wondering what I do professionally now (besides writing), I am a publicist and have worked with a variety of clients, including events with celebrities around the country.
Thank you for taking the time to chat, Rebecca!
Best friends Lacey and Trina got a once in a lifetime opportunity every girl (who were music fanatics/frequent concert-goers) would give a limb for. They got to meet their favorite band and befriend them, and soon found themselves being invited to sell merchandise on their tour across America. They knew that this doesn't come by very often, so they take it. I mean, who in their right mind would decline an offer to go on the road with their favorite band for a couple of months? They should count their lucky stars because that's the kind of thing you grab and run with the intentions of never letting go. Okay, so maybe being stuck on a bus with a girl from school whom hates your guts is tagging along too, but some sacrifices are worth it, right? They are aware of the craziness that a tour can get, and they get a taste of what it's like behind the scenes and on the buses. What they didn't expect was to get their emotions in the mix with their favorite rock gods not only to rock their world but also shake up their life.
Thus begins the adventure on the road with the beloved band. Best friends working side by side, touring and hanging with their favorite band. They learn the ropes of selling merchandise, life on the road, band rehearsals, and the whole tour life. Of course it's not all fun and games, though -- there are technical problems, grumpy/hungover bandmates and crew, drama, equipment issues, rivals, and list can endlessly go on. You can see the toll months-long tours can take on the crew that may cause some irritable behaviors. And the besties run into a number of problems as well. Misunderstandings ensues, and their summer job hangs in balance. It's up to them to try and convince their case with the guys, and save their job and friendships/relationships.
Lacey and, Lansdowne frontman/Lacey's band crush, Logan's friendship slowly blossoms into something more during the time share on the road, and it was adorable to see their relationship grow. The guys and some crew members on the team may have been against their forming romance for reasons at the beginning, which is why there wasn't much involvement with the other guys and crew as much. I wish we got to see them more as a couple, but the moments that they shared were sweet even though they were far and few in between. In the end, all that matters was that Lacey and Logan truly care a helluva lot about each other.
There's this character, Devin, who Lacey had met at a couple of stops and automatically hit it off. They become fast friends and Devin helps Lacey out when Trina is sent packing. I liked their friendship more than Lacey's and Trina's. I know that's a bit mean, but Trina's character wasn't all that great. Devin was more of a genuinely sincere friend to Lacey than Trina was. I kind of wish for Devin to get her own book or a companion novella. I really liked her and see a lot of potential. I should have asked Rebecca now that I think of it.
This was a fun, short and quirky read and it'll take you back to the days where you had an obsession for your favorite band, attempts of sneaking into concerts with friends, or your first concert experience. It reminded me of my days as a merch girl on the Vans Warped Tour (that I still attend and work at every summer), which is what got me to pick up this book. I may not get to tour with all the bands like Lacey and Trina does, but I do get to hang backstage/sidestage, hang with the bands and roadies, witness the shenanigans that happens on their tour buses, and sell their merchandise. Live the tour life vicariously through Lacey, and get exclusive behind the scenes of a rock bands life on the road.