Nick Loss-Eaton of Leland Sundries On Borrowing His Grandma’s Sedan and the Secret to Ordering at Taco Bell

June 21, 2016

Tell us about your tour vehicle.

Oh man, it’s going to be a van, probably a rental. The other option was to take my grandma’s old sedan (she’s still living but she stopped
driving) and hitch a trailer to the back of it. It’s 12 years old but with very few miles. The problem there is that it would put three people in the cramped back seat and I fear a band mutiny.

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

Taylor Hollingsworth taught me that one can do well to go to Whole Foods. The other trick is to go to Taco Bell and ask for beans instead
of meat. Greg Mulkern had a huge thing of peanut butter and a giant thing of bread in the backseat for that tour. I love sampling BBQ in
the south and getting breakfast sandwiches.

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

Strings, well, probably one every 3 shows or so. Doesn’t cost much to replace them but I’m no luthier, so when I restring a guitar, I can’t
quite do the sweet set up thing and slowly the intonation and action go out. Fortunately, we’re usually on tour for a few weeks and then
off so a guitar lasts about that long before it needs real attention.  I’m not a guy who uses new strings every show or even every week.

Where do you rehearse?

Generally we rent by the hour in NYC. Trying a new space in Gowanus next week. The hourly spaces in Bushwick always smell likes cigarettes
and beer. The ones in Manhattan are really nice and the gear usually works well but they’re more expensive. I’ll keep you posted!

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

Well, I wrote songs as a kid but started writing more seriously in college. I wrote first on piano then guitar. I wrote this thing in A
minor then went: “I’m going down to the river, to finish my bottle of rum. I’m going down to the river. If you like, you can come.”

Describe your first gig.

Piano recitals as a kid don’t really count. Probably a show in a dorm common room at college where I did a couple of songs that inevitably
included Bob Dylan covers.

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

Music publicity. Only one I’ve had in a long 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?

Well, we’re still a growing band so we try not to charge much. Income’s been pretty low but we’ve had a few kind people buy a batch
of CDs at different shows for their friends, knowing that they were probably subsidizing a gas tank to the get to the next show.

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

I was afraid to get started for years and then after my grandmother died, I decided to do it. She had been a prolific visual artist and I
realized that had she waited to start a band like I was doing, there wouldn’t have been as much of her wonderful art to enjoy. I think I
could’ve used more stage time when I started. I didn’t have the songs memorized and used a music stand, which I dropped after a few years. I
wish I’d known that if you drink a little less at a show, you can memorize your lyrics more easily!

From a purely chronological standpoint, Leland Sundries—the musical project led by Brooklyn troubadour Nick Loss-Eaton—is relatively young. But lend an ear to one of the band’s albums or check out Leland Sundries’ live show, and it is quickly apparent that this music is imbued with qualities that belie its tender years. Loss-Eaton’s plainspoken baritone has a weathered, lived-in quality. “The Band meets Lou Reed,” is how Boston Phoenix summed up their sound. His lyrics reflect a keen sensitivity for details and characters that less-seasoned souls might overlook. Leland Sundries’ take on Americana sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like Elvis Perkins, Jay Farrar, and A.A. Bondy, yet is informed by decades of history, too.

The band’s name emerged during a road trip through the Deep South, when Loss-Eaton made a pilgrimage to Leland, Mississippi, the small town where bluesman Eddie Cusic resides. The octogenarian guitarist, who’d played with numerous R&B stars of his era (most notably Little Milton), was happy to spend the afternoon telling stories and playing music for an enraptured Loss-Eaton and his traveling companions. Having already seen the somewhat antiquated term “sundries” on multiple signs in that pocket of the country, Loss-Eaton fused it with Cusic’s hometown, as an homage to what the elder statesman and his life’s work embodied.

Leland Sundries latest release is music for outcasts.  Connect with the band online and on the road.