Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
Brother Pete (Coatney) owned a 98 Dodge Ram legacy van and recently had to get rid of it so we tour in my Toyota Yaris. That little car is a beast and at 150K miles and counting, I haven’t had any major issues. Fingers crossed!
Being a two piece band, we don’t need much room for gear and everything fits in. Once I run it to the ground, we’ll switch to something bigger.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Fruits and trail mix/bars are a good way to hold you off during the day (oh and coffee) ’til you get to the venues where they usually feed you. Pete & I are not into fast food and I guess I personally don’t mind spending a little extra to eat good. Gotta do it!
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I do not break strings! I fingerpick (with a thumb pick) so even though I get a big sound out of the guitar, I do not hit the strings that hard. I do change them ever so often if they get a little dull. I’ll tell you a funny story… a couple years ago, I got the opportunity to guitar tech for my compadre Billy F. Gibbons at the Austin Speed shop in Austin, TX. He’d been invited to sit in for a few songs with Lou Ann Barton and her All Star Band, and since he was just visiting and I was gonna be there anyway, he asked me to take care of his guitar. Change strings, tune it and making sure no one tries to steal it! Everything went fine that night but right before he got on stage I got a little nervous that he had no back up guitar… so I asked him. “Hey Billy, what if you break a string on stage?” He lowered his shades, look my in the eyes and said in his deep, recognizable voice: “…Oh, I won’t…” Ha… it’s all in the fingers!
Where do you rehearse?
Our rehearsal space is the stage! Ever since our first show as The Blues Destroyers, we’ve had that musical connection that allows us to intuitively know where to go… plus being just drums and one guitar/vocal, there’s not much to it besides the performance itself. If I bring a new song, I’ll just start it and Brother Pete will know what to do!
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
For a while I dabbled with writing only music with other bands. If I remember correctly, the first full song (lyrics and all) I wrote was one called “Long Way From Home”.
I think the chorus went like this: “It’s a long way from home, never look back, never think twice. A long way from home, across the ocean and down on the road I will pray, for the day I’ll get back to you…” It’s been at least fifteen years! Ha.
Describe your first gig.
My first gig? I must’ve been around 13. Playing outside a bodega in my hometown of Nimes, France with an older friend of mine who played harmonica. We played blues instrumentals all night!
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I’ve been lucky to make my living solely by playing music in the United States since I’ve arrived nineteen years ago. The only regular job I’ve ever held was back in France after dropping out of high school, working for the local music store. I lasted a couple of years before packing it all up and move across the big pond!
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?
I don’t live beyond my means and I’ve never cared much for material things. So I’ve been able to sustain a decent life up ’til now (not without its challenges, but that’s the lot of many people, not only musicians) and I’ve been lucky that I’ve got my health… So, who knows what the future is made of! For now the main focus is the music, the writing and the stage.
To reference one of my favorite artists, Seasick Steve: “I started out with nothing and I’ve still got most of it left.”
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Not sure. But if you had told me when I first started playing guitar at the age of twelve in the South of France that one day I would become an American Citizen, call Texas home and play music for a living; I would’ve called you crazy!