Tell us about your tour vehicle.
Dustin Meyer: We have a 2003 Chevy Express van. It’s a conversion van and is pretty comfortable on the road. We named her Vannah Montana, so there’s that. She has about 110,000 miles. We haven’t had any major issues. I’m sort of a car person and know enough to save some money. I’ve found its easier and cheaper to keep up a car running by doing regular maintenance then to wait for something to break. Bloc need to change spark plugs, spark plug wires, water pump and do the breaks before we get busy on the road again next year. I usually bring my tool box along just in case we get in a bind on the road.
Cory Reinisch: Vannah Montana is a sweet lady. She’s the perfect rolling home base. Comfortable and reliable. Dustin really put this on his shoulders and moved some things around to find Vannah Montana and get this band on the road. I’m eternally grateful for that. It’s made getting out of town and playing in new markets so much easier and streamlined for us now. He really stepped up in that regard.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Dustin Meyer: It can be hard to combine cheap and healthy eating, especially on the road. Gas stations are especially hard to eat cheap. Jerky, salads, fruit and things similar to Lunchables are usually picked up. McDonalds takes care of cheap, fast and open late.
Cory Reinisch: I can be a fairly picky eater, by nature, so it’s kind of difficult for me to scrounge up a healthy meal. However, as weird as it may be, 7-11 has a decent selection of fruits and vegetables, and healthy sandwiches. With the exception of a few fast food places, you can always find a salad or some kind of healthier option on the menu than cheeseburgers and fries. The hard part is ordering them.
How many strings (and cymbals) do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Dustin Meyer: We seem to break a lot of guitar strings. Luckily they aren’t too expensive but it can add up. Guitar strings can run around $5 a set but we try and buy bulk sets to keep costs lower. Bass strings usually only break if there is a spur in the saddle or bridge, so it’s not so much a problem. But a set of bass strings can run $20 to $40. We don’t break much drum equipment either and thankfully. Cymbals are stupid expensive.
Cory Reinisch: I probably break the most strings in the band. Coby (our guitarist) usually gets a proper lifetime out of his strings, but I’ll go on streaks where I’ll snap mine like spaghetti noodles. I always buy D’Addario EXL110’s and I can usually find a 10 pack on eBay for $30 or so. The string breaks are becoming less-frequent, so that’s been nice.
Where do you rehearse?
Dustin Meyer: We have a rehearsal space we rent monthly and share with another group. It’s a great to have the space to maximize time rehearsing and not wasting time setting up and breaking down. We share a wall with producer/engineer Mike McCarthy. We have a double door leading into a small storage closet and if we forget to close it he can hear low end stuff (bass and drums) while mixing. We didn’t realize this at first. He casually asked us to keep the door down a few times but we would get a few beers and a few songs in and forget. Well, he probably had enough one particular nignt. He comes barging in and yelling at us to close the door. We all got a little pissed with his entrance. However, we’re also reasonable people and realized those open doors we’re a huge pain in his ass. We actually are all very friendly with each other. Mike is a great dude. Our plan is to get in with him and record an EP with Mike in 2016.
Cory Reinisch: We’ve been in our rehearsal space for over five years now. I absolutely love it. We’ve always shared the space with another band to keep the rent cost from hitting our wallets too hard, but we’ve always managed to make it work. I love the 24/7 access we have to it. When recording demos for the band, I’ve often loaded up my sound recording equipment and setup in the space to knock out a new song. I’ll get there and setup around 10:30pm, late enough that other bands aren’t making too much noise in the rooms around us, and before I know it, it’s 5:30 in the morning. I’ll sleep it off on the floor and emerge with a new song.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
Dustin Meyer: Cory has written a lot of songs and probably has some amazing first song. My first song was pretty dumb. I don’t remember the title but it was about my love for caffeine. I helped a friend wrote a song about a cactus early on. My early writing is pretty embarrassing actually.
Cory Reinisch: It was some angst-ridden folk-song called “Flattened” that I wrote when I was 15 in the first ever band I was in, back in my high school days. The bass player and drummer liked it, but the singer and guitarist weren’t on board. I have a sneaking suspicion it was simply because it wasn’t a song they wrote and brought to the table. Anyways, I let them talk me out of it and we never played it. It was a great early lesson on the importance of not giving a shit what people think.
Describe your first gig.
Dustin Meyer: My first gig was playing some small room in my home town that wasn’t really a venue. It might have been a small room off of some event center. I was playing lead guitar for a metal band. I’m pretty sure it was awful. I’m surprised my parents and friends continued to support me after that one.
Cory Reinisch: With the same band in high school, we grew up in a small rural town that didn’t really have a proper venue for a band to play. So, we took advantage of awards ceremonies and talent shows at our high school. Which, when you really think about it, is probably better than playing some shit-hole dive bar, because you have the whole damn high school as your audience. That’s how it usually showed up in my daydreams, anyways. Our first ever show under the name Harvest Thieves was at The White Horse here in Austin one hot summer day. We had a million beers that day and you can find a few songs from that set somewhere on YouTube.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
Dustin Meyer: I’m currently working as a registered nurse. I have been for going on 8 years. I only recently took a time job because it has a lot of flexibility. For the last two years I worked per diem and agency gigs to be able to make my own schedule and not worry about getting time off. It worked great, I could gig and hit the road whenever. Then when I was in town I work as much as possible, sometimes 20+ days without a day off.
Cory Reinisch: I was in sales and marketing for a small Austin company that serviced diesel fuel systems. I’ll admit it, my favourite day job was being a lifeguard. For 8 straight years, from high school through college, I was a lifeguard every summer. It was the easiest and most fun job a teenager could have. On the flip side, I’ve also had every shit job a person could have under the sun.
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?
Dustin Meyer: We are making more money now than before. We haven’t had to put in any money out of pocket so that’s a huge plus. With time we hope to be at a point where we can cover expenses and put money in our pockets. We keep working at it that way. Personally, I’ve been picking up gigs with other artist on bass to help supplement some income. That’s been a nice thing that has only really started happening this year.
Cory Reinisch: We’ve certainly moved ourselves into a place where this band is self-sustaining. We no longer use personal funds to advance anything in this band. We’ve setup an LLC and operate as a business, 100% now. I’m always hesitant to project too far into the future with regards to finances, but it would be nice to gain enough ground financially where each band member is able to earn some sort of healthy income for their efforts. That’s our goal, anyways.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Dustin Meyer: Learn the business side of music. There is more involved than writing, rehearsing and performing. And keep up with receipts and expenses. It helps at tax time.
Cory Reinisch: I’d agree with Dustin in that the business side was difficult to grasp at first. I think we’re in a position where everyone is on the same page as far as effort is concerned, and it’s nice to have creative people on the same page who want to work hard towards well-positioned goals. Knowing what I know now, I also wish I would’ve started doing this more seriously a lot earlier, because I’m having so much damn fun.