Tell us about your tour vehicle.
Never own your own tour vehicle. Never own anything. Want a rock star lifestyle with a country house with a car-ready pool? Rent it. British bands don’t have vehicles. They have vouchers for train tickets.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Buy a lot of raw vegetables and nibble them occasionally. But it’s best to eat healthily before you get on the bus. The rest is just chaos and you get what you’re given or grab what you can. Use bananas frequently. Carry nuts. Avoid pâté.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
We haven’t broken a string since 1987. We change them when they start to give off a resentful odour. I’ve had the same set of strings on my Precision since 1998. I keep them clean with turpentine. I buff them up like mirrors.
Where do you rehearse?
We don’t have one. We rent spaces when we need them, which is once in twelve blue moons. We rent rooms from thieves and aristocrats. We once used an attic above a small discotheque, accessible only by a stepladder balanced on a bar table. One of the places we rented had a library and a croquet lawn. One had its own art school attached. It was a projection room from which we produced no projects nor projected any produce. Once we practiced in a cupboard, arrayed vertically like policemen in a motorcycle display.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Title: It’s Nice Here
Entire lyric: It’s nice here, they give me petrol
Describe your first gig.
It was a village hall booking that came through our drummer, Paul. The secret he kept from us was that it was a benefit concert for the Scottish Liberal Party, the sort of fence-sitters who sanction the death penalty but only in the case of extreme poor taste. People “frugged” to our overly intricate rhythms. There was no alcohol and we borrowed the PA from a band who left their door unlocked. History beckoned from its unmade future.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I was a poisoner once at an American style hamburger joint. The waitresses wore roller skates and I stole a lot of cheese to feed the group back at our furnished flat. A record deal got me out of that job. If it hadn’t, I’d have drunk myself to death in the pub next door before I was 25.
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 look at the income, I just get paid a wage each month and wait for it to stop, like most people. I expect to be dead 10 years from now and if I’m not, I expect you to kill me.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I know less now than I did then, whenever then was. I used to believe in a future full of astounding possibilities. I used to understand the difference between the possible and the probable. Now everything seems improbable — which is impossible.