Tell us about your tour vehicle.
We actually no longer own a touring vehicle! We used to own a maroon 15-passenger van named Chauncey, but mileage eventually caught up and Chauncey left us for the great parking lot in the sky. We considered getting a replacement, but after crunching the numbers, vehicle ownership didn’t seem make much financial sense, especially given how often we fly to and from tours (i.e. for west coast runs or appearances in the UK/Europe). We rent a van for most every tour we do, which has its pros (clean van to start every tour!) and cons (logistics of rentals/returns, inability to make any modifications).
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
We try to stop at health/natural food stores every few days. The grocery store option isn’t as romantic as a sit-down restaurant meal (which we also do occasionally), but it provides the greatest flexibility in terms of both dietary choice and budget for each member of the touring party.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I play violin and mandolin, and my strings don’t break often. I probably replace my mandolin strings once a year ($7-10) and rehair my violin bow as often ($50). Harris, our cellist/guitarist, on the other hand, will sometimes change his guitar strings ($12-16) every couple days on tour, which adds up quickly.
Where do you rehearse?
We currently rehearse at Dave’s home in Waltham. A few months ago we walked out to the porch to find Dave’s pitbull Murph engaged in a battle-to-the-death with a woodchuck that had been making its way across the lawn. Dave intervened before things got too bloody. The suburbs can be a wild place. We often repeat the phrase “This is Waltham” to each other to underscore the point.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The title is “In The Morning,” and it includes the lyric “I liked it and I’d do it again//To be a turtle and a mayonnaise magnet.” We still play it at shows, occasionally!
Describe your first gig.
We got our start in Western Massachusetts, home of an excellent bakery called Hungry Ghost Bread. Our first appearance was at the bakery’s now-annual bread festival, where we played on their front lawn. I believe our performance was immediately followed by a puppet parade.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I managed a pizza shop called Sam’s Pizzeria in Northampton, MA, just down the road from the aforementioned bakery. It was both my last day job and my favorite. Managing a small business has a lot of overlap with running a band.
How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?
It has changed immensely! 10 years ago our income from original music performance was close to zero, and we made ends meet by working day jobs and playing covers at private events and weddings. 5 years ago, we were just starting to pay ourselves a bit every month. Now (and by now, I mean pre-pandemic), we make something approaching a reasonable salary. Our hope is to continue to grow such that my bandmates with kids make enough to comfortably support their families.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Balance is extremely important. It takes a long time and a lot of persistence to build a sustainable music career, and while thinking about the long-term is valuable to a point, it can also drive you nuts. Equally important is taking care of your body and mind, and taking care to enjoy the small successes along the way.