Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
Our touring vehicle is a 2008 Ford E-150. I think it has somewhere around 240,000 miles on it. Luckily, we haven’t had to make any seriously major repairs. We’ve replaced a few of the shocks and ball joints. The a/c was out for a while. That was brutal on long drives in the summer.
Deep in the Rocky Mountains we got a flat tire. Should be an easy fix. Not so fast. Removing the tire required a special tool; that tool was rusted to the van. Luckily, we were able to get towed to a dealership that was able to patch the flat good enough for us to get all the way back to Michigan.
And once in Oklahoma we came out of a bowling alley to find the van with a shattered side window. That’ll make your heart stop. However, none of the gear was missing. The weather had gone from extremely hot to extremely cold and the window couldn’t take it and broke. We patched it up with garbage bags and cardboard and enough duct tape to keep the San Andreas fault from moving. We got the window replaced a day later in Nashville.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Eating healthy on the west coast seems to be easier than elsewhere in the country. But most gas stations have almonds and few pieces of fruit. If we’re lucky the venue will supply the green room with too many snacks for us to finish and we can bring the leftovers along to the next stop. Ordering a salad at a restaurant isn’t the most fun but you always thank yourself later.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
In the early days of the band it was just myself on acoustic guitar and Adam on the bass. There was a lot of space to fill with the guitar and I adopted a style of playing that has been called “hammering jackass”. I was probably breaking strings every third show. Sometimes I’d break two. And at that point, when you only have one guitar, the show is pretty much over. I use elixir stings. $15 a pack. You do the math. Now there is Christian on keyboards and Tony on drums. I play more electric these days and rarely break strings. More money to spend on gas station wasabi almonds.
Where do you rehearse?
We’ve all been playing together since high school and since that time our most used rehearsal space has been Tony’s parent’s basement. We find room for our instruments between the valor squat rack and indoor sauna. If we come off stage feeling like we just played in the basement, it was a good night.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The first song I wrote was called “The Thought of Losing You”. It’s an incredibly embarrassing song about a shy middle school crush. The opening line is “Little notes and emails sent to show affection that I could not present to you/and I never understood why I could not speak, why I could not think on my feet around you”. Thanks for reminding me about this…
Describe your first gig.
My very first gig was sometime in middle school with Tony on drums and our friend Andrew on bass. We played in an alleyway behind a coffee shop that was owned by my aunt. We played a handful of songs and our showstopper was a cover of CCR’s “Fortunate Son”.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last day job was working as a cashier/delivery driver at a Jewish deli called Lovi’s Delicatessen. Lovi’s was certainly my favorite. Most days I drove around listening to music and delivering platters of corned beef and pastrami. Not a bad way to spend the day.
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?
The music-related income has changed in the past 5 years in that it didn’t exist and now there is a shadow of income. Of course, the pandemic messed it up but we were at the point of making enough to pay our rents and have enough to put in the gas tank and keep making it to the next show. We all expect (hope) it to grow over the next few years. Getting out of the hand-to-mouth cycle would be a nice feeling.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Honestly, I’m not sure. We come to learn things as we need to.