BY ANDY ZIKER
It’s taken Florida Georgia Line (FGL) only two years to knock it out of the park, riding their hit “Cruise” from packed clubs to supporting act on Jason Aldean’s Burn It Down tour. FGL is also now a headliner, selling out baseball stadiums with Nelly as the opener. Although drummer Sean Fuller is a sideman in the group, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard (the frontmen) espouse a band atmosphere, steering clear of an “us vs. them” mentality.
The band’s mantra, “Give the performance of your lifetime every time” has been an integral part of FGL’s success, serving to amplify the enjoyment of the audience.
From flailing arms to an array of stick tricks, Fuller is all about giving maximum effort. However, at age 42 this requires a sensible approach to staying healthy on tour, starting with nutrition. “Even at a McDonalds, you can find ways to eat well. If I order a hamburger, immediately I’m discarding the buns. They’ll actually wrap the paddy in lettuce for you. Once you do it, you do not miss the bun.”
Besides staying away from breads and sugar as much as possible, Fuller goes by the old adage: everything in moderation. “Growing up as kids, we were always taught to eat everything on your plate. As you get older, if you still eat like that, you’re not
doing yourself any good.” Besides eating right, Fuller also takes vitamin C and B12 as well as such supplements as omega-3 fish oil.
Staying hydrated on tour is a matter of survival. Water is important because, as Fuller puts it, “That’s what your body is mostly made up of,” but he also adds Gatorade for those grueling 90-minute sets. “It gets the carbs back in my system; that’s the fuel that I need. I drink it room temperature because it gets into your system quicker.”
An FGL show is an intense aerobic activity in itself, but Fuller also works out on the road, pairing cardio with high repetition weightlifting. “For me, it’s about staying trim and looking good: Nothing against the guys with big muscles, but to be as liquid as I am around the kit, the extra muscle mass will weigh me down.” Fuller spends 10—15 relaxed minutes before each show in a quiet spot. “It’s the calm before the storm,” he says. “You get your thoughts straight and think about the set list and what you’re about to do.”
After a typical high-energy performance Fuller finds it difficult to wind down. He takes a shower, gets into some comfortable clothes, walks around for a few minutes, and then ends up in his bunk on the bus, ready to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. Keeping your biological clock ticking just right often boils down to common sense. “Stay away from debauchery. I hardly ever drink. All you’re really doing is setting yourself up for a miserable next day.” You need to set up the drums in a logical manner and develop efficient technique to help protect against injury. “Don’t overextend your arms; keep everything within reach. Consider swinging in and away from the cymbal as opposed to dead straight on, and when you come down and smack the snare, pull off the drum instead of into it. This helps to absorb shock waves sent up though your hands and arms, and prevents carpel tunnel or shoulder injuries.” As most touring musicians do these days, Fuller wears in-ear monitors. These devices help block ambient noise, which allows for a lower volume monitor mix. Fuller boosts the middle frequencies and attenuates those harmful lows and highs. He also rests his ears as much as possible. For example, right after a show he rarely listens to music through headphones, or stands at the side of the stage to watch other performances.
Fuller has a message for touring musicians who shy away from health insurance. “You’re on a tour bus and you make one slip off of the stairs and you break an ankle; you come off the drum riser and you bang your knee; or you hit your head on something, become unconscious, and are rushed to a hospital. You could not only be affecting your health but also your financial status, and ultimately, your gig.”