The Bushwick Hotel has figured out something most bands only dream of: how to tour without having to pay for hotels or even sleep on friends’ couches like nearly all Brooklyn musicians do when on the road. How, you might be wondering? The Bushwick-based band (hence their name) decided to forego the whole tour van thing and went straight to an RV – RV Keitel, that is, sometimes referred to as Camper Van Beethoven. (The RV’s name is ever-evolving—the band jokes that when they go to San Francisco, they’ll call it RV Milk!)
“Ever since we started the band . . . we wanted to get an RV,” said guitarist and backup vocalist Rudy Temiz, 36.
Gregory Ferreira, lead vocalist and guitarist, also 36, chimed in. “It was one of the first things we talked about because we really just wanted to get on the road. Before we were even ready, we were like, ‘Gotta go, gotta go!’” The band, which Ferreira described as influenced by classic rock and Americana, came together in the summer of 2012 and by about the same time the next year, they had their RV, a 1999 Four Winds 5000.
Ferreira’s dad, a retired musician with a lifetime of knowledge about RVs (the first time Ferreira was in one, he was wearing pink OshKosh B’gosh corduroys) was tasked with the job of finding the band an RV. With a house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where RVs are abundant, Ferreira seniorwas able to find one in a week or two.
For Ferreira, the RV is not just a vehicle large enough to hold a bunch of dudes (there are six band members altogether) – it’s incentive. (Ferreira technically owns the RV, but the band splits all the expenses and maintenance.) “Bands like Black Flag in a van, there’s four of them and they can live on pinecones – it’s a little different. You’re taking people out of New York and you’re like, ‘Let’s go on tour.’ People have their apartments and their lives and all that; you have to give them a reason to go, keep them somewhat comfortable,” Ferreira said.
While RV Keitel is not plush enough for everyone to have their own bedroom, they at least each have a designated sleeping area. Keitel is equipped with a refrigerator and a gas stove, too (they get power from a generator), so they can cook their own meals while on the road. Bathrooms are often where many draw the line when it comes to the RV lifestyle, and the members of the Bushwick Hotel are no exception. “There’s a bathroom in here but you can’t really use it,” said Ferreira. “It’s too close quarters to be just using the bathroom all the time cuz then that’s gonna be the worst part of living in this thing.” As a solution, they frequent coffee shops, and for showers, they rely on the kindness of strangers they meet along the way.
Even when the Bushwick Hotel aren’t on tour, they find endless ways to make use of RV Keitel. They use it to transport their gear to local shows, and for storage. In typical musician fashion, the band members have a collection of odd jobs between them, which include, among music production and IT work,modeling and acting; while on these jobs, the RV serves as a backstage area, or even adressing room.
Housing ranks high on the list of uses, as well. “Occasionally musicians have a habit of going a little homeless,” Ferreira said, “but not on my watch!” At least two band members, Temiz included,have taken turns living in the RV for a month or two. “Cheapest rent in Brooklyn,” Ferreira said, all smiles.
As for RV Keitel’s shelf life, Ferreira said, “I’m gonna have it as long as it will have me. And I’ll tell you, after what I’ve experienced—the band thing, yeah, boy did it change the game in a big way—but just life in general. I’m not the richest dude in the world, I can’t always go fly anywhere, but I can drive anywhere if I have the patience.”