Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
We always rent a touring van ~ ideally a splitter, but also happy with a 18 passenger van with the back seat rows removed.
The only breakdown story of any interest happened 100 years ago on the Belly/Radiohead tour when we were on a tour bus. Both bands were heading up a mountain to Gunnison, CO in a snowstorm to play the university there, and the Belly bus broke down halfway up the mountain. Our driver managed to contact the Radiohead driver on his cb and they turned around and came back for us. We left our bus on the side of the mountain and made it to the show just under the wire.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
If the club or promoter supplies a rider, we make sure that rider is healthy ~ hummus, veggies, fruit, cheese ~ and we rely on that stuff for dinner and the next day’s road food. If we don’t have the benefit of a rider, we tend to mainly eat from markets rather than restaurants. I drink buckets of water on tour also, and double my usual vitamin and protein intake.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I’m knocking on wood as I answer this, but I rarely break strings. And I rarely change them, so not sure how I get away with this. I change strings about once a week tops on tour, and I’ve only broken a string a handful of times on stage. So it’s not a big expense for me.
Where do you rehearse?
My own rehearsal space has been the basement of my house for years, and it is remarkably uninteresting. But Belly rehearses in Gail Greenwood’s basement, which she calls the “Rock n’ Roll Control Center”, and it’s way more rock than my home cave. Most of Belly’s last album, Dove, was written and tweaked there. I am always strategically stationed under a large mounted statue of hairy buttocks, which is of course very inspiring.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
It was called “Let’s Go Outside”, and this is the first verse: “I had a dream, I dreamed that I dreamed the answers to all your questions, and then I woke up, no answers, no chance of sleep.” And then I say “Let’s Go Outside” several times.
Describe your first gig.
It was at the Newport Art Association in 1983, I think. Our parents and their friends were there, as well as a smattering of our friends. My dad’s friend Tony Lioce was there, and he was the music critic for the Providence Journal at the time ~ he wrote a review of this small show, and we ended up getting ourselves booked in Prov as a result.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I have been a part-time post-partum doula for the last several years, and this has been by far my favorite day job to date.
A close follow-up would be a year as print-runner, model-builder, errand-runner and lunch-organizer for the visionary architect Moshe Safdie, a job landed for me by Gary Smith (producer and manager) and shared with David Narcizo (TMuses’ drummer).
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?
It really depends on touring. If it’s a busy gig year, the income is pretty good. I still get royalties from across the years, but that fluctuates pretty widely, and isn’t reliable. I have no idea what to expect from the future, which is now frighteningly hypothetical. Hopefully, all will have returned to normal, the clubs I love will have survived and be open for business, and I will be releasing music and touring again.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I’m going to give more than one, if that’s okay ~ To understand that a dry spell is part of the work and is not a closure. To understand that I know my work better than anyone else. To understand that ethics on every level mean everything.