Tell us about your tour vehicle.
1995 Ford Econoline E-150 Cargo. We call it “Van Quixote.” Bought it from a homeless shelter in Louisiana. It’s the best van I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned every brand of van there is. Van Quixote is the greatest van of all time. It runs like a beast. I don’t know if all Fords are like this, but if they are, I’ll be a Ford man for life.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
I don’t know how healthy it is, but we eat lot of salami and cheese sandwiches. Preferably hard, dry salami. But we also do a lot of camping and guerrilla BBQ’ing, meaning we toss coals under anything that will burn and throw meat and corn on top of it. Then feast. For a band, we’re very frugal.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Incalculable. A lot. I’m hard on strings and sweat a lot, so they go bad quickly. I’d gladly accept any endorsements in that department. When I start getting aggravated at how shitty my Dobro sounds, I usually take that as a sign it is time to change strings. Good quick fix.
Where do you rehearse?
It changes a lot now that I live in New Orleans and the band lives two hours away in Lafayette. Last year I had a space in a near-condemned New Orleans Hotel that was converted into storage units and practice spaces. It was low rent. A locally famous band once poked their heads in my space to peep out the room. Picture me shirtless and sweaty with four Dobros laying around the room. The year before that I had a space in a near-condemned warehouse that had homeless people living in it. It was sketchy. The Deep South is like a giant ghetto, but that’s also why it produces timeless music.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
TITLE: “Nuclear War.”
SAMPLE LYRIC: “Shelter the rich and draft the poor.” It was a punk rock song. I made it up. It wasn’t that good.
Describe your first gig.
Open mic gathering of artsy, activist-type people in Baton Rouge. Outdoors. I’d been writing songs for years, alone in my bedroom, but had never stepped outside to do in front of people. I wrote songs for my own therapeutic reasons. But then I’m like, “Maybe I can do this in front of people.” I played solo, acoustic at this event. I was so nervous my hands shook.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last day job was driving transport for an offshore supply company. The job entailed driving a lot of knuckleheads to and from Louisiana coastal ports at all hours of the night. I kind of liked it. Wasn’t too bad. I like to work. My first job was working in a former slaughterhouse in Louisiana that had been converted into a bicycle shop. They would haze all new employees by throwing them into a disgusting gully behind the shop that was filled with a yellow, muddy toxic goop and some snakes. I was 12 years old. I did not get a pass. They threw me in there, too. Welcome to Louisiana.
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’s gotten better, but it could improve…a lot. I don’t envy artists that brag about how much money they make. I find it distasteful. It’s such a difficult business. You have to be crazy to want to do this for a living.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Oh, lord. Don’t wait for anyone to do anything for you.