Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
I do my tours on a bus. I think it is pretty nice, but I am sure there are a lot of people that would get on it and think “you tour in this?”
One of my best break down stories is probably when we hit a gas truck. I was laying in my bed thinking I had food poisoning or something, just in some pain. The bus stops, and I think oh, great! I can go throw up now! So, I come out, and I jump off the bus, and everyone is there saying like oh man, we are so lucky to be alive! We hit a gas truck! And I’m like yeah, yeah over there in the corner puking my guts out.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
What we do, since we’ve been touring together for so long, is to find the best food. We find what is good. Sometimes the only thing that is good about being on the road all of the time is the food. So it is worth it to spend the money and the time to find good food in each city.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Where do you rehearse?
Our rehearsal space looks like just any motel room. Because we pretty much always rehearse in a motel room.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I was eight years old. I wrote a song called “Larry’s Mexican Food Restaurant.” It was about how good the food was at Larry’s Mexican Food Restaurant in Rosenberg, Texas.
Describe your first gig.
I played to the Agronomy Society at Texas A&M when I was a sophomore. I was asked to just play the guitar behind this fiddle player that would also sing. This Kid from South Texas was like Doug Kershaw and would sing about the bayou. So, he was asked to play at this dinner as a featured act. He gets there and lets everyone know he has laryngitis. And me being that guy that can remember every word to everything, I knew all the lyrics. He asked me if I could sing, and I said sure! So I sang. And that was my first gig. They wrote out a $25 check and paid me.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I’ve had a lot of day jobs. But my favorite was probably being a roughneck at an oil field for five summers as I paid my way through college. I’ve been everything from a waiter, to mowing lawns, to herding cows, to the IRS, and on, and on. I even ran Hatch Show print for a few months when I was living in Nashville. My last day job was working at the Vanderbilt bookstore on campus back in 1987. But my favorite day job I have ever had was being a roughneck.
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 have a consistently high level of income, not in the stratosphere by any means. But because I play anywhere from 100 – 120 dates per year, and we do that consistently. Luckily my income has very little fluctuation because of this. I’ve done well in that respect.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I wish I had known from the get-go that you can learn how to do anything you want to do. I have only ever felt I had a natural gift for writing and remembering lyrics. I have that gift in spades. But for some reason, I put a lot more emphasis on natural gifts in life, and I realized late that pretty much anything you want to do, that you have enough passion for, is a learnable skill. So, you may not be as good as the people you admire and are trying to emulate but you can certainly learn enough to know what they are doing and how it feels to do it.