In that regard, some bands are sharing gear on the road so they can carpool instead of taking out two vans. "I've seen more bands try to share vans or at least they're talking about it," Chilton says. "But I think in the next year, you're going to have to start touring with smaller setups — touring with gear in a van, which is always a pain. Using a trailer adds five miles per gallon. But some bands can't do that. If you've got six members and four cabinets, you can't tour in a band without a trailer."

The guys in Kinch modified their van to fit five people and their equipment. Still, the 1995 GMC Vandura gets about 350 miles per tank and costs roughly $100 to fill. Coughlin estimates that, between food and gas expenses, his band spends around $250 a day on the road. Most times, though, food money doesn't come from the band account. "We gotta feed the van first," he says.

As a preemptive measure to offset costs for its upcoming August venture, Kinch booked a few local shows (including an August 12 gig at Modified Arts) before taking off and will sell limited-edition T-shirts designed by famous Phoenix pizza chef/music lover Chris Bianco.

Whatever the solution, it's clear many bands won't let the financial hit deter them from what they love to do. The bottom line: Gas, expensive though it may be, is just a means to a more important end. "There's no substitute for face-to-face interaction," Sundin, of The Via Maris, says. "MySpace is great, but there's no substitute for getting out in front of people and shaking their hand and making that connection."

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