Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
We’ve rented sprinters and vans when bringing a band, but we usually just bring our personal vehicle when it’s just the two of us. We used to have a Prius and that always allowed us to travel very cheaply and efficiently. We ran out of gas on the interstate several years ago somewhere in Nebraska just as a snowstorm was starting up. We were really in a pinch and just as we began to panic, a nice family with 3 or 4 kids in a suburban pulled up. They had to drive about 15 miles to the nearest station, purchase a gas can and drive the 15 or so miles back to help us out. We offered them some cash but they refused. They simply wanted a CD.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
It’s not easy. For years we lived off of bar food, truck stop fare and fast food. We used to drink those green smoothie things or a V8 at gas stations thinking that we were stemming the tide. Now, we try to bring snacks in a cooler or find healthier options along the way. Eating healthy on the road has definitely been something we’ve become more mindful of as we’ve gotten older.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
When I was much younger I played with a heavier pick so I broke strings quite often. Now I don’t really break many if at all. I personally have grown to love the sound of dead strings so I only change them out a couple times a year. A couple years ago I got gifted several packs of Martin strings so I’m still working my way through those.
Where do you rehearse?
We don’t really have a specific rehearsal space. We run through stuff backstage, in hotel rooms, in the car, on stage during soundcheck. If we ever have a full band, we’ll use one of the studios that our label owns to rehearse when there is a window of time when no one is recording.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The “song” was titled “Another Night Downtown.” I had been playing the guitar for about 6 weeks or so. I basically took the chords and melody to “Wonderwall” and just wrote my own lyrics. It’s talking about being broke and being down and out on the streets after a long night out on the town. I was 12 years old. What in the hell does a 12 year old know about a night downtown, much less ANOTHER night downtown?!
Describe your first gig.
I’ve had multiple first gigs. My first performance was playing the song mentioned above in my 6th grade talent show. At my birthday party when I turned 13, my parents rented out the ballroom at a local country club and my band performed for all of my friends and classmates. We played nothing but Nirvana, Green Day and Bush songs.
Our first gig as Carolina Story was actually in a venue in the basement of a Methodist Church in Midtown Memphis. It’s most famous for being the place where Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two played their first paid gig for a Women’s Bible Study Group during a Christmas fundraiser.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
For a couple years after our son was born, I taught creative writing at a private school here in Nashville and had the opportunity to coach 3 sports. I had so much fun and still have so many incredible friends from that time. If I wasn’t doing music, that’s what I would be doing so it was fun to live that out for a time.
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?
A lot has changed over the past 5-10 years with streaming being king. Our income usually is directly affected by how much we are or aren’t touring in a given year. We really earn a living out on the road. Not being able to tour for the past 6 months and for the foreseeable future is going to have a big impact on us and so many other working musicians. We hope that we can get back to it safely and soon!
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
That it’s a long, hard road filled with many mountains and valleys. There will be a lot of setbacks and a lot of small victories along the way. There’s no end destination or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I know that I do it now because I simply must do it. It’s inside me. There’s no other option.