Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
The way we tour is a bit different in that we usually travel with a total of 4 and we usually just rent an SUV or minivan and drive ourselves from place to place. In the past, we’ve had plenty of different setups with lots of entertaining stories from our travels but I’m saving those for the books!
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
I have terrible food habits both on and off the road. In lieu of per diem to the fellas, I just pick up every tab and I certainly enjoy the finer things in life, so at least once a week or so, we splurge on a really nice meal. Most days, we avoid fast food altogether on the drive and lean on the scene around the venue and hotel for dinner. To answer your question, we don’t eat cheaply or particularly healthy on the road.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I used to break strings nightly but I once had a friend, Lucas Reynolds, talk to me about how he changed his strum technique and was avoiding breakage. I just started thinking more carefully about it and stopped breaking strings. I probably break less than 3 strings a year now and I’ll go a month or more on the same set which means that on the rare occasions we run into a string rep and get broken off with a few boxes, I’m set for the decade.
Where do you rehearse?
Our rehearsal space is the stage. We play almost constantly and I have surrounded myself with some of the most gifted players on the planet. If I’m adamant about a particular arrangement that I’d like to introduce, we work it out at sound check and implement it when it’s ready. Most of the current set is just an evolution of earlier shows that organically shifted over time as a result of things that happened during a show.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Oh goodness… I think a song called “Danielle” was the first and I wrote it for a buddy who had just been dumped by one of my oldest friends, Danielle. I’m blanking on the lyrics, but I think the arrangement was strikingly similar to “Tears In Heaven”.
Describe your first gig.
I was 5 and a half years old so I don’t remember much. I just remember liking it a lot!
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I’ve been fortunate to be a full-time musician for almost 20 years now but my last day-job was stocking the produce section at a local grocery store. Before that I was cutting grass for a living and I loved it. I could see myself on a tractor for a living, for sure.
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 went independent 6 years ago, so my revenue streams have changed dramatically over the last decade. In 2011, according to the IRS, I made $0.00. It was a really bad year and I had to sever ties with some folks that had been with me from the jump.
New management and a new outlook made for a rough go at first but we’ve managed to right the ship and get things going again. I feel like I got a second chance, and in this business, those can be hard to come by. So to honor this charmed existence and the privileges it affords, I decided to make records for charity. I figure, those record dollars used to keep the lights on in Manhattan office buildings when I was on all those labels. Maybe now it can keep the lights on for folks about to be evicted from their homes. When we stepped out with THAT intention, the universe sent back more than I could have ever imagined.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Authenticity and a well-executed vision, not fame and fortune, are the only things that’ll ever bring me any kind of satisfaction.