Julian Abrahams of Mustered Courage Discusses the “Mustered Carriage,” Truck Stop Food and his Favorite Day Job.

December 18, 2014

Tell us about your tour vehicle.

Australian ‘Mustered Carriage’ is a Mitsubishi Delica silver 4WD van that runs economically on diesel. It’s a bad-ass ride with all bucket seats and it’s never broken down on us once (fingers crossed and touch my wood). Our American ‘Mustered Carriage’ is a Dodge Ram Van. We have a love hate relationship with it as it broke down three times on our last US tour. When it’s rolling it’s super comfortable, when it’s not, we let off fireworks in the Arizona desert and blame each other for our life choices.

How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?

In Australia, we pack a cooler and make healthy wraps and sandwiches. Turkey breast, ham, hummus, carrots and leafy greens are all staples. We don’t have the abundance of truck stop and takeaway choice of America, so packing healthy supplies makes a lot of sense. In America we went insane with the takeaway, truck stop and burger novelty of road life. We ate every fucking nasty burger and piece of fried chicken we could get our hands on. It wasn’t cheap or healthy, but it was damn delicious and a fun way to break up a 12 hour drive. Jules got addicted to French vanilla creamer and Nick ate a giant bag of jerky at every stop.

How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?

Considering we are a string band/newgrass band you’d expect that we break a lot of strings but we actually don’t. We definitely go through a shitload of strings every year. I’d say about 1-2 million. Sometimes we cut the banjos strings off Nick’s banjo so he doesn’t practice in our hotel room.

Where do you rehearse?

It’s usually in someone’s bedroom. Seeing as we don’t have a drummer we have the luxury of rehearsing wherever without too many noise complaints. One time when we were rehearsing in my room, Nick thought it would be funny to bring over a UV light. No one wanted to jam in my room anymore after that.

What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?

“Karma” – If ignorance is bliss then you’re blissful indeed

Describe your first gig.

It was a house concert type deal. It was a three song set. We were pretty shit but the crowd still dug it and even got up and had a boogie. It wasn’t our last gig so I guess we did something right!

What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?

My last day job was a venue booker. I much prefer being on the stage and being a struggling artist then sitting behind the desk taking emails from the struggling artists. My favorite job is being a guitarist/songwriter and struggling artist.

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?

This is a pretty touchy question. I think I’m more broke than I’ve been before and we just signed a major record deal. I would hope that I can afford to pay my rent in 5 years time.

What is one thing that you know now that you wished you knew when you started your career in music?

I know how to play an instrument now. That would have helped in beginning.

Despite calling Australia their home, when it comes to their music, Mustered Courage is American as apple pie and as bluegrass as the benches in the ‘Mother Church of Country Music’ – The Ryman. The band’s impeccable ability smudges the lines between Alison Krauss and The Avett Brothers, finding a kinship closer to Nashville than Melbourne. This is never more prevalent than on Powerlines‘ US-exclusive track “Rosa,” which features Kasey Chambers and accompanies the 12 original tracks from the 2013 Australian release. The full tracking list and tour dates can be found below.

Mustered Courage breathes new life into the progressive bluegrass scene with a style that appeals to both traditionalists and newcomers alike. Music Australia Guide describes them as “the link between Bill Monroe and Mumford & Sons.” The Melbourne-based quartet has quickly risen to the top of Australia’s folk and roots scene on the strength of their dynamic live shows and albums that have won them a string of glowing reviews, national radio support, an endorsement from Seal, and two “Golden Guitar” nominations at the 2014 Country Music Awards of Australia.

You can find Mustered Courage online and on the road.  The band’s latest release is Powerlines.