Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
We drive a 2008 Ford Econoline 250 Tuscany Conversion van. It has 130,000 miles and was an old airport shuttle that we converted. The only major repair was to a few spark plugs that decided to fail. We got a flat tire this summer on the 4th of July in nowhere MN. Only then did we discover that the van has no spare! Roadside assistance was not helpful (did you know they can’t plug a tire?) Luckily there was an auto parts store open that had a tire plug kit that worked. Then it took 3 gas stations and a Jiffy Lube to find a strong enough air pump to get the tire to the correct PSI. That little plug is still going!
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Grocery Stores. Whole Foods hot bar. Natural food stores. It’s also good to just not go inside when stopping to get gas. If you go inside while getting gas you will see the bag of combo’s and be compelled to buy them.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Luckily I don’t break a ton of strings. It almost never happens so I don’t worry about it too much. Single guitar strings are cheap. However I use Elixir strings for my acoustic which are expensive and artist deals are hard to come by.
Where do you rehearse?
We just get together in one of our houses. Since we’re all acoustic we can keep the noise to a minimum. Lately we’ve been rehearsing with our effects and stuff plugged into a small PA which has been fun! Our rehearsals are usually pretty chill……I can’t think of any crazy stories….just the normal yelling, crying and light wrestling.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
One of the first songs I wrote was called “Retinue” that I wrote for my then girlfriend and now wife (I think you may know her…..shhhh)
“Oh me oh my, please let me try to sing a-long with you
I just want to be your Retinue”
(Editor’s note: Groopman is married to Front Country singer Melody Walker)
Describe your first gig.
Very first real gig was at this thing called the Village Green Fair at my high school in Virginia. My high school band called the Village Idiots played and I’m sure it was bad. We played “Voodoo Chile”! Somewhere there exists a VHS (Video home system….you can play a movie in your home!) tape of that performance. May it never see the light of day.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I don’t have a day job currently. Front Country is my full time job. However I don’t really like the “day job” thing as it relates to the music business. Do I work all day on the band and on music and still gig? Of course! Music is a full time job…..there’s no clocking in and out…..you’re just in it all the time working on the instrument or writing an interview like this one! Next I’ll be working on tour budgets! Fun!
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 basically stayed the same. In 5-10 years I hope to be making more money…..or living in a dystopian post American hellscape…..depends on the midterms….more money or hellscape.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
It’s ALL about relationships inside the industry. You have to be good…..obviously…..but you also need those relationships.