Tell us about your tour vehicle.
We are currently on our third van, after our first two left us stranded multiple times. This time, we decided to spoil ourselves with a gently used Ford Transit that we’ve already put 50K miles on. Her name is “Vannah Montana”, and we try to take care of her, because we know what it’s like being stuck on the side of the road.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Taco Bell and the Feed the Beat program have been life savers these past couple of runs. Travis Curry (fiddle player) is our compass when it comes to food, the man knows how to eat. We have started eating cleaner on this last trip, being out west made it easy — it’s easier on that side of the country to trade the jerky and Red Bull for fruit at the gas station.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Travis has the most expensive strings, $120, I haven’t seen Travis break a string in a minute. I will break a few, but I change my strings when the start to sound dead or won’t stay in tune, my strings are between $10-$15. I use D’Addario in the studio and Elixir Polyweb on the road.
Where do you rehearse?
Since we are on the road, typically we opt to just rent an hourly room to run new songs or rehearse the set after a long break. As far as rehearsal stories, we typically save all of the crazy shenanigans for tour when we are passersby with no accountability for our hedonism.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I wrote a song called “One Day Left” when I was 12 years old. It was a song about getting out of school for summer. I played at my middle school talent show.
Describe your first gig.
I was in a band called Duck Tape that played a New Years Eve (2000-2001) party at a roller rink. We were one of three bands, a bunch of kids from a bunch of different school were there. I got my first kiss that night, I was hooked.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last job was as a barber. I loved my clients, and the craft was interesting. Being a musician has been my passion my whole life and this experience has been incredible. I didn’t stop working till there was no other choice.
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 assume my current struggles now will morph into similar struggles later, but we are seeing growth. People are coming to see us in every city and every state. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve performed for no one. I’m lucky people want to hear my songs and watch us play at the moment.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Somebody great recently told me “compare and despair,” which is to say you should just keep doing you and not worry so much about what everybody else is doing or how your career is advancing relative to your peers. I’d tell young me to just keep writing, and to keep in mind that no means no, maybe means no, and yes means maybe.