Tell us about your tour vehicle.
We rent vans, we don’t owe any…we have toured in cars, splitter vans, regular vans, on trains, planes…never a tour bus. We broke down in Black Canyon City once, the first time I saw a cowboy ride a horse down the main street and we arrived just at show time with our van belching black smoke in Albuquerque.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
We eat excessively and well on tour…we will eat cheaply or expensively if we can find quality food that represents the area we are touring in…our facebook page consists of endless photos of food. It’s a high priority for the Mekons that we enjoy our surroundings…healthy can be a challenge but I would say the quantity we consume is more the issue.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I think Tom said on the last tour that he hadn’t changed his strings for years, Jon breaks his every few days because he is an enthusiastic person. I assume Tom’s string expenses are close to zero, Jon’s I have no idea.
Where do you rehearse?
We don’t rehearse, we don’t even live on the same continent, rehearsal is nigh on impossible but we realized years ago that we don’t really need to rehearse. It is at the bottom of the pile of priorities (slight lie)..therefore we have no rehearsal space..we don’t function like a normal band, no rehearsal, very few shows, touring an excuse for a holiday..etc etc…
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The Mekons kind of write songs together, since I wasn’t in the early version of the band I’m not sure how they went about things. Personally I have written about 4 songs in my life. “Wiggly Worm” was one I wrote with my cousin Lizann one drunken evening many years ago and a sample lyric is “Wiggly, wiggly, wiggly, wiggly, wiggly, wiggly, wiggly worm. I’ve got a big bum, tied to my knees!” I still remember all the words to that actually but now’s not the time. Then there was “Hangahar” with Pete Shelley but the words are all made up on that.
Describe your first gig.
Probably it was the SheeHees, a three piece all women’s band who played country and western covers very badly but did an excellent, though hard to find, version of Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello”. It would have been some club in Leeds somewhere in the early 80’s. How does anyone remember this stuff?
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I have always worked full time all through the Mekons and any other musical endeavors so I had to find jobs that I could take time off from, some have been quite bizarre, others regular office jobs, however I’ve had the same job in Evanston for the last 22 years. They are kind enough to accommodate my musical schedule and I work as a paralegal.
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?
If I am still alive in 5-10 years I hope that the Mekons have had a massive hit and that we are all loaded 😀 In reality, my music-related income remains much the same as always, not enough to live on by any means. If the band tours we get paid, particularly in America. We fund our own tours so we put our royalties back into subsidizing things that we like to do, like touring the Highlands and Islands of Scotland or roaming around in the Joshua Tree desert or hanging out in Budapest for a week…so income is steady and essentially small but useful.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
In all seriousness, my feelings are the same as they were when I started in 1980. We came out of punk rock, we never expected to make a living from what we did, we did it because we enjoyed it and felt that others did too and that we had something to say…pretty amazing that that is still the case 40 years down the line. Being a part of the Mekons is the probably the most important thing I’ve done in my life and also the most fun, even when it feels like the opposite.