Tell us about your tour vehicle.
It’s a Ford van that is in desperate need for some use right about now. Anybody in the market for a Ford Transit with low miles? Signed our lives away on it last year, now it’s waiting for the repo man.
We have been fortunate that our old & new van have yet to leave us stranded. But in the old van, affectionately referred to as, ‘the nug’, we knew it had to go when the AC would only work in the winter, and the heat would only work in the summer.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Try to eat as little as possible on tour. Practice ancient traveling techniques of the early minstrels and cowboys, sticking with what we know is safe, like Lager and Coffee.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
According to our books, In a regular year about 2.75. In a leap year more like 2.69. Strings are usually less of a problem than Upright Bass bridges, which have a tendency to collapse on stage, especially in Fort Collins, CO.
Thanks to D’Addario we get strings real cheap, when we can remember to order them. What’s more important than how many you break is how fast you can change them. I have been called the ‘fastest mandolin string changer this side of the Mississippi’ on both sides of the Mississippi.
Where do you rehearse?
It’s half of a one car garage with so many instruments and amps and computers and mics that we don’t all really fit in it without standing. more of a ‘demo chop shop’, really. So we keep our rehearsals short, and so raucous that it’s difficult to remember what we worked on. It’s dark, dank, dusty, and lonely right about now…..
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Without having my old notebook in front of me, the best first song that I can remember ‘writing’ myself, and would be willing to share!, would be ‘Propaganda’. I was probably 16 and it came with special help and thanks to a radical poster my mom had hanging on my wall as a kid. It went something like “Wake up America! Civilization Calls!/Every Man, Woman and Child, Civilization Calls!/ Raise your fists in Rage, Propaganda’s on the way/Raise your fists in Rage, Propaganda’s on the way”
Describe your first gig.
For me, it was In El Paso, TX, Playing outside at the zoo for Mona the Elephant’s birthday with my band, Distorted Silence.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
Last job that didn’t involve mandolin was as a cook in 1997 and that would also be my favorite day job.
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 goes against my raising to talk about money. I will say this: music is not something I got into for money. It requires sacrifice. It means not accruing a lot of bills, smart decisions and luck regarding how and where one lives, not having hobbies or new cars or buying new music or tickets to shows, learning how to fix stuff oneself, and whatnot. It doesn’t matter how much we do or don’t make, or think we will or won’t make. A life in music is a life of public service. Music, the healer, the diplomat, the universal language, is a gift to be able to provide, and that is the greatest ‘income’.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
It’s not about me.