Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
I drive a 2008 Honda Accord Coupe that desperately needs a paint job due to my lack of spacial awareness. I no longer attempt any manoeuvres in tight spots which involve reversing. Not too many miles, though. I don’t tour solo by car in US that much. Occasionally I’ll borrow the wife’s CRV. Even our lawnmower is a Honda. Back in the band touring days it seemed like vehicles were always breaking down. The Negatives were the best band to tour with, stuck in some tiny town in Colorado with the van in the shop. Dave Derby’s solution was to drink really good tequila all day. Simple genius. Later the same tour we got stuck in the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains en-route to a show in SF the same day. Rafa the drummer was the only one small enough to crawl under the van and put the snow chains on. We arrived at the venue and the audience was already there…
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Well, both is ideal. I like good food, though, so I will research the best restaurants for my days off, show days the schedule is usually too tight so I eat a large breakfast and then something as close to sound check as possible. I can’t eat within 4 hours of singing. On tour in France once I spotted a Michelin 3 star restaurant close to our route on a long driving day. That was fun! It was lunch but still, we were the only diners not formally dressed. It wasn’t cheap, that’s for sure, but every now and again one needs to be rewarded on tour.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I haven’t broken a string on stage for at least 5 years, maybe longer. I can’t remember the last time… solo acoustic, that is. Steel strings do go dull, though. I can usually get 3 shows out of may main guitar before it needs changing and 4 or 5 out of the alternate tuning which gets played less. I recently started changing strings in the middle of the night when I’m still too wound up from the show to sleep. It doesn’t feel like such a waste of time, then. On my occasinal band forays I seem to break strings quite often, I think I have forgotten how to play electric guitar properly.
Where do you rehearse?
My attic is full of modular synths. My basement has a room with a drum kit in it, but since (my son) William left for NYC, it doesn’t get used much. Learning heavy rock songs to play with my kids at my 50th birthday was the most fun. Frank would have been 12 playing the drums. Dave from the Negatives came and sang “Back In Black”. I played bass. How fast is “The Ace Of Spades”? As fast as you can possibly play…
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I don’t have a record of it. My 2 pals and I formed a punk band when we were 16. We played the school ball in the gym. All punk covers except one soppy love song I wrote.
Describe your first gig.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
I never had a proper day job. In college I bar tended. I tried to work in a fruit and vegetable market once, that was a bad idea. I am not strong enough, I lasted until I saw how little I was being paid then went back to bartending. Since I left college in 1983 this has been my day job.
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?
There is less from royalties, that’s for sure. There is more from live income because I perform more. In 5 years I hope to be semi-retired and play maybe a month a year.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Taking a long time and spending a lot of money to make an album is never a good idea. Deadlines are helpful.