Tell us about your tour vehicle.
I don’t currently own a tour vehicle! I live in New York so it’s not that unusual to be auto-free. My last one was my beloved Chevy Astro van, which I maintained for my first six or so years in the city. I owned a few of them over the years–they made excellent solo or small-band tour vehicles. Good amount of storage space behind the middle bench seat, and eminently parkable because of the short front end. My last one, due to a transmission failure and an accident in rather quick succession, died an untimely death.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
The last few times I toured, I was vegetarian, and it’s somewhat easy to eat cheaply on that diet. Healthy is another story–the world of road food is paved with cheese. I haven’t been out in a few years–Jason Falkner and I have been making the Bird Streets record, and I’m now putting together the road outfit for that–but I’ve moved to a vegan diet since my last tour, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. I expect to do a lot of grocery shopping.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I play a bunch of different instruments . . . maybe five or six strings in a year? I’m not really much of a basher on guitar. I practically never break a bass string, and I’m always shocked when I see it happen to someone else. On drums, I probably break a stick once every gig or two. Depends on the gig.
Where do you rehearse? Any interesting stories about the space?
Again, the New York thing rears its head: I don’t have a regular rehearsal space. Playing in bands with other musicians who also play in a dozen bands means nobody can get together on a regular basis. So you find the two hours on a Monday afternoon when all four of you can be in the same borough and you schlep to some barely air-conditioned rec room in Midtown to run through your set, maybe twice if you’re lucky. If this question had been posed 10 years ago, I would have had some stories. But I might have been too drunk to remember them back then.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Describe your first gig.
My first gig playing rock music was in 10th grade, as the drummer for a band called Dïerlÿza. The name was the best thing about the band. We played a Battle of the Bands in my high-school gymnasium in Burnt Hills, New York. The five-song set included an Ugly Kid Joe cover and “Big Balls” by AC/DC, because we were children. I got a nasty stomach bug the afternoon of the gig and almost had to bail. It was very much touch and go.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I had a succession of proper “day jobs” before I moved to New York, but I’ve been primarily a freelancer for the last 10 years. My current semi-regular gig is freelancing as a background actor. The film industry in New York City has grown exponentially over the last 5-10 years so there are loads of jobs available. It’s a pretty low-impact work environment, the pay is decent, and you get to meet some cool people. A lot of artists and musicians are in that world. It’s also my favorite day job because it’s the one that doesn’t make me want to jump in front of a train (most of the time, anyway).
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?
Gosh, that’s a personal question! It was never extraordinary in the past, supplemental at best. Hence the succession of day jobs. I look forward to that changing dramatically. Call me in five years’ time and remind me I said this: “The next round is on me.”
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
If I could have told my 20-year-old self that “making it” wasn’t the most important thing, I might have been less grumpy for a lot of years. But the one piece of wisdom that I wish I had access to back then: It’s better without alcohol. That stuff never improved my performance, or my conversation skills, or any of the other dozen things I thought it “helped.” My voice improved so much after I put it down. There may be a bit of romance and mythology to seeing someone like Bob Pollard surf through a storied and prolific career, finely toasted on Miller Lite at seemingly all times. But nah, that ain’t for me.