On the Road: The Glitch Mob
The three-piece electronic group share their favorite travel destinations, their favorite way to fight homesickness and how they're carrying on Anthony Bourdain's legacy.
The Glitch Mob just finished touring, a string of over 40 events that started in Paris, ended at Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan, and stretched over three months.
The Los Angeles-based trio – composed of Ooah (Josh Mayer), Boreta (Justin Boreta) and edIT (Edward Ma) – are a household name in the electronic music scene. Their music (difficult to describe in words but easy to get hooked on) and live performances have unlocked endless opportunities for them to explore the world and let fans take home a piece of their infectious energy as a souvenir.
When I met up with them at Bonnaroo, they were smack-dab in the middle of the North American leg of their tour, traveling alongside rising star Elohim.
Before you started touring, did everyone love to travel?
Boreta: Absolutely. We're very, very big travel aficionados. In addition to touring, we're big nature buffs and we all travel a lot.
When you’re on tour, do you have time to stop?
Boreta: That's the benefit of being on tour for a living and traveling for our work is that we can also add time on. So, for instance, we played a show in Mumbai and we added on six days so we could explore.
We had time to explore Russia, we spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe – which we maybe wouldn't have normally done. We have time off. We had five days of Paris in the spring. So we love getting to add on time and really just explore cultures.
Is there a city you can’t get enough of?
Ooah: For me, it would be Mal Pais in Costa Rica. It's one of my favorite places to go travel and spend time.
Boreta: I really – and this is going to sound cliché, but – I love Paris. We were just there for five days and every time I go there it unfolds a little bit more; I get to know the culture and the food. This past time, someone we grew up with was there with us, and that's the best way to see a place.
edIT: I'd say my favorite is probably Amsterdam or London. I love being in London. I just love everything about it. I love the music scene, the culture, the energy there. Amsterdam is a great city that you can just walk around really easily by foot. It's just fun, the canals are beautiful, it's great to enjoy.
What is your favorite thing to eat on tour?
Boreta: Rest in peace Anthony Bourdain, we're big fans. And because we're such big fans and have read most of his books we always, especially if it's a place we've never been to before, find a host who will take us around. We ask them: What is a place you and your family would go to? Where would you go on your birthday? Don't take us to a place you'd think Americans would like to go. That's how we've had some of the most memorable experiences.
edIT: But if we're in Canada, gotta seek out the poutine. Super crucial.
Ooah: Or if we're in New Orleans, gotta seek out the fried shrimp po' boy.
Boreta: Sometimes it's actually really fun to try to find a food, or a farm-to-table place, or some sort of local cuisine in small towns. Clearly in Austin or New Orleans or New York, Paris, London — it's easy to find stuff. But when we're in Madison, Wisconsin, we find a place that uses everything local. We were just in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, and we found a place that used local Alberta beef – stuff like that. That's an exciting way to experience a new place.
How do you fight homesickness while you're on the road? What food reminds you of home?
The Glitch Mob: Tacos.
Boreta: The other night we were in Richmond, Virginia, there's an incredible taco place and it just made us feel like home.
And yeah you get homesick, it's fun to adventure for work and get to see new places every day. More than anything, I miss my own bed and it's nice to be at home. I think that really it's just tacos are the medicine that cures all homesickness.
You guys have been on a long tour with barely any stops, when you get home from tour what's the first thing you want to do?
Ooah: I usually order pho from this Vietnamese restaurant right next to my house. There's something about when I get home from a long travel day, I'll get cozy, order the soup – hot broth with vegetables, mushroom, tofu, all the cilantro, bean sprouts. I feel so at home. I'm home, I made it on the long flight or the bus ride. Soup. Couch. Dog. I'm done.
There's something about it that's so comforting. It's a very healing bowl of soup. Something about that sets my mind right.
edIT: I don't have a food in particular that I will order, but I think getting home and [hanging] out with the animals and ordering some delivery is generally the way to do it.
Boreta: I'm the opposite – the first thing I want to do is go to one of the many good places to buy produce. After we've been eating out so much, I just want to cook some vegetables or have nice, real simple home-cooked food.
So you like to cook?
Boreta: Absolutely. Especially because it's hard to get lots of vegetables while I'm traveling. We eat lots of good meals, but at home it's really just simple, healthy food.
Do you ever find a way to cook or do any sort of cooking?
Ooah: It's really hard to cook on the road. That's something we definitely miss a lot. There's maybe an occasion where we'll get an Airbnb or something like that, but it's really rare.
Boreta: It's rare. We have a whole coffee station – a very serious coffee setup. We'll find our local hipster artisanal beans, we have a pourover, we have grass-fed butter, MCT oil. We do all that. So that's really our cooking, nerd fix on the bus. Chop some butter. Good enough.
What's the craziest thing on the tour bus?
Boreta: Well in addition to the coffee setup, we have a NutriBullet blender for making bulletproof coffees because we like the whole butter, MCT oil thing. What else is crazy?
edIT: Jigsaw massage.
edIT: We have a massage gun, it's basically a jigsaw, but at the end of it there's a massage attachment. So when you run it, it runs as fast as a jigsaw. You can use it to massage yourself or someone else with it, it's called the Jigsaw Massager.
Boreta: It's a power tool, it's like a Home Depot massager. You get really tight on the road from sleeping in bunks and traveling a lot, so it's really the best way to get yourself a self-care massage.
How much down time do you really have when you're traveling? It sounds like you have breaks when you can, but when you're doing back-to-back-to-back shows, how much time do you really have to explore?
Boreta: Very little. Every now and again we'll get lucky and we'll get a chunk, like we did with Paris. Last week we did seven shows in five days, where we had two days with multiple sets. So the day off, even if we're in an interesting place, a lot of the time is just sleeping and resting and catching up on stuff. So there's not a whole lot of time to explore, but even a couple hours in the city you get a pretty good pace of it.
Ooah: Just walk around, find a park nearby, hit the gym.
Do you ever go to national or state parks?
Ooah: Recently in Seattle we had a whole day off. Me and Justin and our opening act took a day-long walk across Seattle and walked to the park at the edge of the city. It was absolutely beautiful. It was one of the most gorgeous places.
I bet the weather was really nice.
Ooah: It was premium.
Boreta: Nature is the best reset button. You just get out in the middle of some trees when you're in the middle of a tour cycle or some deep travel to just bring you back down again.
Do you have a favorite festival? You don't have to say Bonnaroo.
The Glitch Mob: Definitely Bonnaroo.
Boreta: It's hard to pick a favorite. Every show and every festival really has something special about it. But being here at Bonnaroo – the Southern hospitality is very real. It's very different from being at a lot of other festivals. The people here, all the security guards are very nice, everyone is incredibly helpful. Love being here. It has the bigness of a festival like Coachella with incredible music, but people are really kind and down-to-earth here.
Turn on the Lights
This year's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival boasted new campground experiences, the return of the fire-breathing Kalliope stage, and standout performances from Anderson .Paak to The Killers, proving this fest is still a summer classic.
Grammy-nominated rap legend Future brought a little piece of Atlanta to Tennessee on the festival's closing night, with Bonnaroo superfan Chance the Rapper just absolutely dancing his heart out in the pit.
"You're Giving Me Black Swan, You're Giving Me Pride"
Whatever Hayley Williams, lead vocalist of the band Paramore, is giving us we are here for it. You can watch a quick tutorial of how she got her rainbow look for the band's Friday evening Bonnaroo performance right here.
Head's in the Clouds
Paramore felt right at home on the Farm. The band was originally formed just down the road from Manchester in Franklin, Tennessee. Bonnaroo was the first stop on their "After Laughter" summer tour.
A week before Bonnaroo 2018 a series of storms soaked the Farm, making festivalgoers worry they were in for "Mudaroo." In true Tennessee fashion, the storms stopped in time for the festival grounds to dry up and temperatures were, as usual for Bonnaroo, in the 90s. Even Sunday morning's heavy rain showers quickly gave way to sunshine, sending everyone trekking through mud to take a dip in the Fountain.
Gnome on the Move
We first encountered this ombre gnome chilling in the garden at Planet Roo. Gnome Roo Mars had directions on his back instructing festivalgoers to take him on adventures throughout the festival. The next time we saw him, he had made some new friends and was front row at The Other stage.
Amadou & Mariam
Amadou and Mariam met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind, both having lost their vision at a young age. They eventually married and started making music together. Their Bonnaroo stop comes in the middle of their North American tour, just before they jet off to Europe.
The Comedy Tent didn't return this year. Instead, in an attempt to make "comedy more accessible and fun for everyone," the lineup was split between the tent stages, Plaza 7 and Jake's Christmas Barn. Adam DeVine performed short, 15-minute sets between acts (sporting a Bonnaroo-issued fanny pack, of course).
Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews
Troy Andrews is a jack-of-all-trades, of sorts. He plays the trombone and the trumpet, has worked with everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Aerosmith, and co-created The Trombone Shorty Foundation, which provides musical instruments for underserved schools.
Kaskade Played Music for Four Hours Straight
A few days before Bonnaroo, Kaskade announced he'd be playing a sunrise Redux set in addition to his 2 a.m. performance at The Other stage. It could only mean one thing — head to Kalliope!
Master Glass Blower
Mark Haller of Haller Glass hosted interactive glassmaking tutorials throughout the weekend. The incredibly delicate process involves some surprisingly simple tools — a stack of wet newspaper, for example, is used to shape the glass. The glass is so hot (900+ degrees F!) that it creates a steam barrier between the glass and the newspaper that prevents the paper from catching fire.
Jake's Christmas Barn
Like many things at Bonnaroo, Jake's Christmas Barn is a festival inside a festival. The barn hosts daily themed parties (including the infamous Robe Rage), secret sets, comedy shows and, oh, did we mention this place has air conditioning?
The Headbangers Come Out at Night
L.A. producer Kayzo kicked off Friday night performances at The Other stage and his fans did not come to play — at one point they were shaking the rail so hard security had to kindly ask them to be just a little less rowdy.
Oh Yes. Pink Elephants.
Bassnectar ended his performance by bringing out larger-than-life inflatable pink elephants and playing Daladubz's "Pink Elephants," a Dumbo-meets-dubstep track that's become a cult classic among Bassnectar fans.
Have there been any cities or places that have really inspired your music?
edIT: Probably Joshua Tree, just being out in the desert. It's something we really connect with. It's something we really enjoy immersing ourselves in, and we've also started a lot of our records out of Joshua Tree.
Ooah: I think it helps tell the story. A beautiful desert out there always finds its way into our music.
What are some items you can't live without when you're on tour?
Boreta: For me, it's the Manta sleep mask. It's a new sleep mask that has two [foam contours] on it so you can open your eyes, but it really blocks out the light. That's super important, having a good sleep. It's not just like an airplane sleep mask, it's a nice one, it's adjustable.
Ooah: A portable fan, like a little mini USB fan.
Boreta: A fan's important because if you're in a hotel room, it's really loud and if you put a fan on it will block out all the noise. They're really helpful for sleeping. And if the A/C breaks, which happens.
Ooah: What else is important?
Boreta: Ear plugs. Creature comfort stuff. Just tons of lotions and oils and self-care, like Aesop products, to be extra comfy. Kindle. Nintendo Switch.
What games do you like to play?
Ooah: Mario Kart. Zelda. I've been playing this game Typoman lately – it's a word game, but it's an adventure word game with puzzles where you figure out a word, and then if you get the word spelled right it unlocks the next thing.
Boreta: We had a Mario Kart battle the other day.
Boreta: We played for hours. There were lots of winners and losers. Mario Kart is brutal. It's a brutal competition. You just have to go out there and try your best – just like life every day, out there on the track. It's a metaphor for life.
The Glitch Mob are taking a short break (just kidding, they're in the studio) and then they're off to Europe before kicking off their fall North American tour.