Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
A souped-up Chrysler LeBaron, broken odometer.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Fritos and Slim Jims. Rainwater.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I never break strings. I have the same strings from when i was 10. Nobody sounds as cruddy as me. (Laughs)
Where do you rehearse? Any interesting stories about the space?
My high school band was so insanely driven that at one point we were rehearsing 7 days a week. NOT healthy!! We graduated from rehearsing in the drummer’s living room to renting a small warehouse space in Panorama City (near North Hollywood, CA). When we broke up, the keyboard player (Eric Drew Feldman) joined Captain Beefheart’s band, and they took over the rehearsal space. If I remember correctly, the “Bat Chain Puller/Shiny Beast” album was worked out there.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
“I love the children of yesterday”. I was probably 9 years old and I think I was vibing on the sad nostalgia of songs like “As Tears Go By”. I was a sensitive, melancholy boy. And I didn’t know what the f___ I was singing about. It still embarrasses me!
Describe your first gig.
My first band got a gig to play at the organ player’s junior high gym at lunch. I took off school in order to play at this other school, and luckily so did my best friend who also played guitar. So just before show time I got horribly nauseous and could not play. (I said I was a sensitive boy, right?) I remember lying down on a bench in the gym, while my buddy filled in for me on guitar. That was my first gig!
Oh actually, that’s not true. I sang “The Hokey Pokey” at my uncle’s wedding when I was 5. There’s a great photo of the bandleader holding a tuxedo’ed 5 year old Robby up to the microphone. I was hot shit when I was 5.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My father and my uncle started Tiger Beat magazine. When I decided to bail on college, I got a job in the mailroom, which led to a job in the art department (full on nepotism!!). But the deal was: I had to take a college graphic design course (clever dad!). So I pretty much learned a trade…which has since been entirely outmoded by computers.
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?
The only good money I ever made in music was from the advertising world. As musicians’ non-touring income sources became scarce, commercials became more appealing to even the big acts. So even ad music gigs have become rarified. (I remember when commercials were completely off limits for self-respecting musical artists!) It’s nice that an act can get online and self-promote their music to the high heavens….it’s just rough that audiences can pretty much stream anything for free at any time….I’m sorry, I can’t see into the future. Don’t even wanna look!
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I remember distinctly when I was a kid, having this special feeling. It was the emotional connection that I made with my instrument. It seemed I could impart something special, just from my feelings. It felt like a secret superpower. I remember thinking that as I grew up, the real world would conspire to snuff out that feeling, that knowledge. I remember telling myself to never forget that power. And if I were ever to forget, I could always reach back and access that ‘thing’. I’m guessing we all have our own superpower, which is the power to be uniquely, defiantly ourselves……Thank you, Twangville, for the opportunity to blather.