Tell us about your tour vehicle.
We drive a 15 year old 1-ton Chevy Express van (formally a state of Michigan vehicle) that we purchased from an auction lot. It has a lot of miles, even on a rebuilt engine, but I can’t recall at all how many. It probably gets about 15 mpg, but that’s just estimating. In the first 3 months after purchasing the van, we had to repair the fuel pump, transmission and then the engine itself. After these repairs, we found out that the auction lot had flooded and the van had sat in stagnant water for about a week, so our really good auction deal ended up costing the price of a new van in the end. Also, when the engine died in Wisconsin, we were next to a rotting deer carcass on the shoulder of the road. I’ll let you imagine the smell and bugs that we sat with in the hot weather while we waited to be picked up.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
We don’t exactly eat healthy on the road but we also don’t exactly eat healthy at home. Each day is different. Sometimes we will hit a grocery store and make sandwiches with our pooled cash but mainly we all just eat at whatever cheap fast food place once a day and then hope the food at the show or the places to eat nearby are cheap-ish and healthy. Also, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as healthy food in the southern states.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Ben probably breaks more snare drum heads/parts and cymbals than Ian and I break strings. We do like to change strings once a week or so on average though and it’s cheaper than it used to be since we now have a rep at Ernie Ball. It especially helps with bass strings, those things are mega expensive.
Where do you rehearse?
Our rehearsal space is Ben’s basement and always has been. It’s pretty customized with lots of Christmas lights, posters an such. It’s the best in the summer when we have evening practices/ BBQ’s. Also, the ceilings are very low and we all have had some pretty intense head wounds from bopping them on metal piping and such. To avoid this, you have to play in the “power-stance” position like Johnny Ramone.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The first song Ian [Graham, singer-songwriter] wrote that I recall playing with him was “Stay High (magic).” My favorite selection from the song is,
“There’s been no lesson learned that I will soon remember!
We’ve got no need to impress anyone,
but as it goes we know which way feels better.
And me? I wanna just see the clouds, stay high and glamorize laying down.”
Describe your first gig.
I believe our first gig as Cheap Girls was on a very cold night in February 2007. It was in Fenton, Michigan at a house party/birthday party. It was quite fun but my memory is pretty vague. The few things that I really recall are that the house had the thickest shag carpet ever, one of the other bands was called Fuckin’ Gnarly, and that one or all of the tenants were evicted for putting on the show.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I work with special needs youth when we are not touring I have been doing the work for probably 6 or 7 years and it has worked out well with the touring schedule over time.
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’s steadily increased like any job or profession would. In 5-10 years, I would assume it will continue to do the same.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Nothing that I can really think of. As long as I learn as much of it as I can along the way, that’s cool with me. There’s always more to learn or know.