Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
Domestically we usually tour in a 15 passenger or a sprinter. The LB touring party is generally 6-9 ppl including myself, and I prefer to stay in hotels and not a stank ass bunk that smells like 8 dudes battling various road demons. I’m good, man. I prefer to leave the funk on the stage.
I haven’t had any major breakdowns, thank God, but I do have a tendency to get bored on long drives, and take over the wheel from the tour manager or driver/merch guy. As a result I’ve gotten just as many speeding/traffic tickets as I’ve sold concert tickets. Plus I’m permanently ineligible for traffic school. I need like a traffic school GED. My monthly car insurance is like a fuckin mortgage payment.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
I insist on buy-outs, even if the promoters offer meals. I don’t trust promoter-meals. I don’t play that “get whatever you want off our bar menu, as long as it’s in the $5 struggle section.” Fuck that. Fuck your GMO-ass chicken fingers. I’m going to the best restaurant in your town every nite, and you’re going to help contribute, Mr or Miss Promoter-san. If there isn’t anything good in that town, I post up at the Whole Foods and basically eat from the buffet bars as if they were plates. Can’t do 150 dates a year unless you eat healthy.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
None. Shit costs too much.
Where do you rehearse?
Rehearsal spaces by and large are disgusting. I always feel like when they’re not in use, they’re being Air B n B’d to the CIA as waterboard rooms. Either that or they’re so stale and corporate its like going thru TSA trying to check in to a rehearsal session. You damn near have to provide tax returns to rent a space in the more “professional” spots.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Asian Persuasion For Any Occasion.
Describe your first gig.
I was very first on a bill of like 30 rappers at the Gavin convention in San Francisco in 1992. I was 19 yrs old at the time. Kool G Rap, Nas, Souls of Mischief, Apache, Pharcyde, and others were on on the bill. I was on so early I think I had an Egg McMuffin before the show.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last day job was summers in college working at the telemarketing firm Boots Riley’s “Sorry To Bother You” was based on. I worked there with him, Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and others. That lasted a solid month. Shit sucked. My favorite job was delivering pizza in college for Cheezer’s in Davis, CA. I wasn’t trapped indoors, ate hella pizza, got to listen to music in the car, and smoked weed with the customers on my delivery route. Shit was boss.
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?
As far as life-long independent artists, I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s stayed relatively consistent. I took a hit during the great music business recession, and had to sell my 1969 drop-top Cadillac Coupe Deville, which was a heartbreaker, but in the grand scheme of things I’m incredibly fortunate. I think my saving grace has been that I own or co-own 9 out of 10 of my album masters.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
That as an AZN-American artist in the music business, I was going to have to work 10x as hard as my peers, and even after that I would have to add an extra squeeze of Sriracha to make it. Oh, and don’t buy 1969 drop-top Cadillac Coupe Devilles.