Over the last weekend, Fueled by Ramen LA- based rock band Flor had the last show of their 2018 Winter Headlining Tour and it was an incredible time. Most exciting was their 23-year-old Portland-raised lighting and guitar tech, Tori Grace, who sat down and had a chat with us about touring with Flor. Her brother, Zach, just so happens to be the lead singer and we discussed everything from brotherly love on tour, to her surprising degree, a need for a tour dog (seriously please), and about uplifting women wanting to get on the road.
Girls Behind The Rock Show: My big first question is how did you get started doing what you do?
Tori Grace: Actually this is the first tour that I’ve been on…
TG: Flor came to me like with the opportunity and I was like well. I’m in a place in my life right now where it doesn’t really matter if I drop what I’m doing at my other job and come here.
GBTRS: Amazing! So how did you get into tech – you tech, right?
TG: Yeah. I set up the lighting. I set up all their light show for the evening and then I’m also in charge of taking care of the guitars – so tuning them and stuff before the show. And then just striking the stage and doing all that little work and stuff.
GBTRS: That’s awesome! So how did you get into that, do you play guitar, did you grow up playing guitar?
TG: Yeah, so I play the drums. And I do that at my church actually. I play the drums with my church. And then I’ve played the guitar since I was little and yeah. My brother is actually the lead singer in the band Flor so that’s kinda how the opportunity presented itself. We had always kind of joked about me going on tour with him someday and then it was like “oh wait let’s actually make this happen,”…we get along really well and I just, I know the other guys because of that and so it just kind of made sense and they know what a hard worker I am so that helped a lot too. They wanted someone who would be able to get the job done and that was me.
GBTRS: Are you the only girl on the tour?
TG: I am, yeah.
GBTRS: And what is that like?
TG: It’s been interesting. I mean they’re all incredibly respectful and sweet guys so at no point have I felt weird or uncomfortable or anything like that. It kinda just worked.
GBTRS: Do you enjoy what you do though? Is it a very different life experience than anything you’ve ever done?
TG: Yes. It’s an incredibly different experience and I’ve actually really enjoyed it. So in high school I was the stage manager for a few of the musicals that we would do so I’ve kinda had an idea of what some aspects would be like but obviously nothing like touring, but just like how to handle the stage and how to make sure everything’s running smoothly. So that’s been fun taking that experience and applying it to something new and fun and exciting.
GBTRS: And do you feel like as you’ve been touring and as you’ve been learning this is something you wanna pursue full time – is this something you would do again?
TG: I would definitely consider doing it again. I don’t know about full time though ‘cause it’s a little tricky being constantly moving around. And maybe that’s just ‘cause this was my first time doing it so I haven’t created friend groups in different places. If I had that, then maybe it would be a little different but it’s definitely been a lot of fun and I would maybe consider doing it again. Once I take a little break and get back home.
GBTRS: Did you know a lot about the industry before you came into this or was this just kind of like a whirlwind?
TG: It was kind of a whirlwind, yeah…I had no idea what to expect coming into it. They just said “okay you’re coming along. You’re gonna do whatever we need you to do.” So I got here and was learning on the fly.
GBTRS: Did you feel uplifted and confident throughout?
TG: I did. They’ve been really encouraging and constantly telling me what a great job I’m doing so that’s been really nice to hear.
GBTRS: Is there anything you learned about teching in this process that you didn’t know before that you’re really gonna take with you?
TG: Well yeah. Since I set up the light rig and everything – I’ve never done that before so that was kind of a new experience for me.
GBTRS: Oh wow! So what goes in to setting up a light rig?
TG: I mean I should probably show it to you so you can see but they’ve got a bunch of these light boxes that are a homemade thing. A friend of theirs programmed all the lights for them and everything and it looks really cool. I run the DMX chains through everything. Basically right when we get here, I help them unload everything and then I set up the stage lights while they’re getting all their gear set up. We just kind of work around each other and yeah! I set everything up, chain it all up, good to go!
GBTRS: So tonight’s the last night and overall for the tour itself, would you say that this was something that helped you figure out what you actually wanna do career-wise and where you wanna go?
TG: I actually have a degree in biology so this is completely different for me. I just kind of go here and there and do random stuff whenever it’s presented to me. I’ve worked at the forestry department in my town, I’ve worked at a coffee shop, I’ve been a lifeguard, I’ve done this, I’ve worked at a lavender farm.
GBTRS: I wanna get in a little bit more on the topic of feminism and equality a little bit and also being from a science background, I’m sure you’ve had some experiences with that too…do you think it’s really important to see women like yourself on tour and doing these jobs? Do you think that helps?
TG: Yeah. I think it’s important to see equality everywhere so yeah. On tour, in any realm. Yeah, I feel like it’s the same everywhere. Everyone should be doing everything that they wanna do so it’s like having that, it’s a really positive thing.
GBTRS: Now have the fans reacted to you being a girl on tour? Like come up to you and be like “I wanna do this!”
TG: Yeah I’ve had so many people come up to me and just be like “that’s so cool that you’re out here doing this. I never see girls teching.” And yeah, it’s been really fun and it’s an awesome experience and I think if other people can do it that would be great.
GBTRS: Do you have a piece of advice for young girls who want to do more of what you do or get into this?
TG: Yeah, honestly, just work hard and let people see that you’re a hard worker because ultimately the reason I got the job is because they knew what a hard worker I am and knew that I would be able to competently do this job so it was not a difficult decision to bring me along. It made sense because they knew that I would be able to get it done. Just work hard.
GBTRS: So are you planning on staying for a few extra days or are you going right home?
TG: I’m gonna go right home. I’ll be here for one extra day and then I’m gonna take off. I have a dog back home that I miss a lot.
GBTRS: What kind of dog?
TG: He’s a Jack Russell Terrier/Yorkie mix.
GBTRS: What’s his name?
GBTRS: (laughter) I love it. No dog on tour?
TG: I know! I wish. They all love dogs and they joke about a tour dog all the time.
GBTRS: Did you have a favorite show in particular on the tour?
TG: Favorite show…probably New York. That one was so much fun.
GBTRS: Oh wow! I’ve never been to New York City. I’ve heard about every single venue there from being in music for ten years. Was that your first time in New York City or had you gone before?
TG: No, I’d been there a ton of times actually. I actually saw them perform there once with someone else so then to see them headlining it, and it was sold out and just this huge fun show.
GBTRS: Oh you had a proud sister moment. Has it been cool seeing the sold out shows and stuff?
TG: Yeah! It’s been crazy. They said like 19 out of 23 were sold out so that was just unexpected and amazing.
GBTRS: Well they’re very talented and you know, it’s cool that you’ve been able to work with them. Are you sad that it’s ending or are you kinda ready to go home?
TG: I am sad. It’s mixed emotions. I’m sad that it’s over ‘cause it’s been really fun. Also happy to get back home and settle in a little bit, sleep in my own bed.