In a playlist curated for Document, the musician captures the highs and lows of life on the road

“My life has periods of inactivity, and then extreme activity,” says Beach Fossils frontman Dustin Payseur. He acknowledges that this is both a lucky and rare position: eschewing the nine-to-five grind in favor of life as a touring musician. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Touring—with its rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, and the inevitable exhaustion born of a nomadic lifestyle—can test your dedication to the game, leaving you crying in your bunk just as often as busting a move at an impromptu post-show dance party.

In the beginning—before the atmospheric sonic landscape and confessional lyrics of early albums What a Pleasure and the eponymous Beach Fossils launched the band into the spotlight—their tours were as lo-fi as their sound: getting paid a hundred bucks a night, sleeping in a van or crashing on couches. “Those first few tours were hard, but I was also the perfect age to go through that,” Payseur reminisces. “At the time, I was so stoked. The only thing I ever wanted to do in my life was just fucking be on tour. It was hard, but I was also awestruck by the idea that it was my life.”

In the wake of his most recent tour for Beach Fossils’ critically acclaimed 2023 album Bunny, Payseur looks back on his memories of life on the road, and assembles a playlist of the songs that got him through it.

“Fortune” by Dead Can Dance
“I would put this song on repeat on my headphones and fall asleep to it many nights. The bassline is so good, I wish I wrote it.”

“Rinsed” by Dean Blunt
“Dean Blunt is one of the best to ever do it. His music helps me a lot on tour when I need to escape somewhere and get into a mellow headspace.”

“Fever Dream” by Sunnbrella
“I love this band. They’re new but they remind me of stuff that was going on in 2009-2012, when we first started out. His take on this kind of music is unique and well-executed.”

“Shut Up” by Ruth Bryson
“This is my friend’s music and more people deserve to hear it. These lyrics are great. Sometimes you just need to tell somebody to shut up.”

“Blindsided” by Hovvdy
“Tour can be really, really difficult. I definitely escaped to my bunk alone and cried to this song multiple times on tour.”

“Suck Shit” by Machine Girl
“Sometimes you get pissed off and need a release. Machine Girl makes some of the most aggressive music I’ve ever heard in my life. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Atari Teenage Riot and wondered why more artists like that didn’t exist. Machine Girl does digital hardcore really well and brings a totally fresh take to the genre.”

“Carry Home” by The Gun Club
“I was on a big Gun Club kick on this last tour. It’s so raw and ramshackle; excellent music for being on the road.”

“My Life’s All Right” by Shira Small
“Like I said before, touring can be extremely challenging. This song helped me put things into perspective, and I had some good cries [listening to it] in my bunk.”

“Over and Over” by Bowery Electric
“This is one of the most calming and beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Bowery Electric is the greatest combination [of] shoegaze and trip-hop. The song is a perfect ambient track that I can listen to on repeat for hours.”

“ORB” by Pissmixer
One of the best punk bands I’ve heard in a while. I can feel weak and drained on tour, listening to angry music helps lift me up.

“Beef Supreme” by Plain Oatmeal
“Speaking of angry music, this band is killer. Shit is punishingly heavy and raw, and the lyrics are funny. I listened to only this song on repeat a few nights on tour.”

“Knights in White Satin” by Giorgio Moroder
“Our green room regularly devolves into some type of debaucherous dance party. This song was on a regular playlist that we were blasting backstage, and having fun before the shows.”

“Maybe” by Dan Reeder
“This guy’s lyrics are beautiful and funny. This song has a really great perspective on what it means to be a mortal human.”

“Swallowtail” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
“I love this early era of BJM. This sounds like something that we would come up with while jamming in our practice space. It’s like a combination of shoegaze and early goth.”

“Ag” by Sam Wilkes
“This is the first song I discovered the day I got home from tour. It really matched the mood of finally coming home; I listened to it on repeat all day. It kind of reminds me of Air and Boards of Canada.”