Shahin Yazzie said she grew up surrounded by studious and athletic people in her family, so when it was time for her to attend college it was only natural that she wanted to study exercise science.
But she said that three years into her studies, she abandoned them to pursue a career in the rock music industry.
Yazzie left school and in September 2011 became the tour manager for Hunter Valentine, an all-female alternative rock band. She said she had been a fan of the band for two years and hosted an after party for the band at her house before the members asked if she would be interested in being the band’s tour manager.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know, the semester’s starting, I can’t be gone for a month. I’ve got to go to school, I’m on scholarship, I just can’t,’” she said. “So I asked my mom and she was like, ‘Do it. Just go. You only get to do it once,’” she said.
Yazzie said that on the first tour the band performed at The Roxy, a world-famous venue on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“It was so sick because so many great people have played there, you know, like Nirvana, the Red Hot Chile Peppers and Mötley Crüe,” she said. “I got to see the green room where people sign their names on the walls. It was just really bizarre to me, being so in love with music and being around it.”
Yazzie said although she isn’t paid much, her job is still rewarding. She said traveling with the band gives her the opportunity to form friendships all over the country and helps her grow as a person because she has to interact with many different people.
“My income with them is pretty nonexistent,” she said. “I’m kind of doing it out of my own pocket. I save up money, and then when we tour I also do merchandise, so I get a percentage of the sales.”
When she isn’t on tour with the band, she does everything from helping with yard work to painting in order to save up.
Yazzie said that while on tour, she talks to the band’s fans to make them comfortable and form a deeper connection with the band.
She said a strong relationship between the band and the fans ensures the band will keep their fans and continue to be successful.
“They feel like they connect with someone there, someone they don’t know, a stranger, and then they see the band and they connect and they come over later,” she said. “You gain a trusting fan and you make money to eat, so that’s what you do.”
Yazzie said the band will be in season three of “The Real L Word,” a reality TV show airing on Showtime about lesbian women and their lives. She said the show will follow the band, whose members all identify as lesbians, as it tours the country.
Yazzie said despite the band’s increased popularity and recognition, she doesn’t know if she’ll be the band’s tour manager forever.
“I really love helping them and giving them that boost and that extra arm,” she said. “But it’s not my baby, it’s their baby. It’s their band, it’s their thing, it’s their thoughts, feelings and everything is all in it and then expressed and I’m just helping them express it.”
She said that the excitement of being a tour manager makes her job worth it, even though most of her time on tour involves making sure the band is fed, going on coffee runs and running equipment back and forth.
“Not only are you seeing the inside of a venue, but you’re cruising the USA in a van,” she said. “You hear things like that and say ‘really people do that?’ But we pack into a van and just cruise around — new city every day.”