Ronnie Fauss Talks Mini-Vans and What It Takes to Find Success

December 9, 2014

Tell us about your tour vehicle.

Typically we hit the road in my family’s mini-van, so that poor thing has to put up with 3 young kids Monday – Friday, and then 4 dirty musicians Saturday & Sunday.  It’s held up pretty well and gets good gas mileage, it’s dependable against all odds.

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

We usually schedule tour routing around friends and families who will feed us and let us sleep on their couch! Perhaps not the soundest approach strategically speaking, but it helps obviously.  So lots of the food is free, except in the sense that we pay them with our company and by giving them the honor of us using all their facilities and running up their utility bills. Other than that, lots of Chick Fil A & 7-11 tacquitos.

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

I used to break strings every show, but then I switched to the greatness of @MartinGuitar and now I break zero strings ever….hey @MartinGuitar, you know where to find me!

Where do you rehearse?

My drummer is my neighbor Bob, it’s nice to be able to walk 50 feet to rehearsal. He’s turned half his garage into a sound proof studio space. It’s pretty tight in there, so when we practice with the 4 or 5 piece it gets very hot and familiar. We’ve fallen down on each other a few times, and when we do, like I said it’s pretty tight, so we fall like dominoes.

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

Donde Esta Mis Panalontes – well we headed out from Alabam / headed west in our old Trans Am / with our stone-washed jeans and a muscle shirt / we turned our amps up until it hurt / but then we got sidetracked in New Orleans / by the prettiest girl that I had ever seen / and I said “donde esta mis panalontes?”

Describe your first gig.

There’s a bar in downtown Santa Fe where Jeff Bridges played a scene in Crazy Heart. I went and played an open mic night, and I was extremely nervous.  There were like 6 people in the room and I couldn’t believe they didn’t drop everything to listen to me. I thought I’d sell a CD to each of them; they left in the middle of the set!

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

My current is my favorite. I work in the business operations of the Dallas Mavericks, and I love it.  I’m as into basketball as I am into music, so I love that I get to do both!

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?

Since I have a day job, I’m able to channel all my music-related income into a special account where I buy equipment, pay rent for my writing studio, basically my goal is for the music thing to be self-sustaining. And at the end of the year whatever’s left over goes into a savings account for my kiddos to have some day. They’ll be really excited to split the ten bucks that’s in there when I’ve passed on.

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

It is such a grind.  I look at people who are on the road full time, and have a whole new respect for them. And especially people who have carved out a long term career. They’ve earned it.  It makes it hard to feel envious of someone else’s success, because you know they did so much to get there.  Every pr piece, every radio station ad, every gig booked, all those little victories come from such blood, sweat, and tears – that was a surprise to me, I don’t think people realize it until they do it.  It takes a lot of work to find a little success.

Ronnie Fauss is an alternative-country singer-songwriter from Dallas, known for crafting songs that hold true to the grittiness and resolve of the Texas troubadour tradition. His debut full-length “I Am The Man You Know I’m Not” was released in 2012 on Normaltown Records, an imprint of New West Records (Steve Earle, Old 97s, Drive By Truckers), and received high praise from the New York Times (“songs as catchy as the titles are memorable”) and Vanity Fair (“the dream of every lover of americana”), among others. Texas Music Magazine called it “one of the best albums of the year” and Lone Star Music said Fauss “merits a spot on any shortlist of rising troubadours worth paying serious attention to”.

Fauss’ sophomore album, Built to Break, was released on 11/4/14.  It features a duet with Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller (“18 Wheels”) and a cover of Phosphorescent’s “Song For Zula.”

Connect with Fauss online and on the road.