Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
My main ride is a 2007 Honda Element. It is my favorite that I have ever owned, and there isn’t even a close second. It hauls all of my gear, is big enough to sleep in (if I have to), and it has a killer stereo. This one is right at 100k, and I haven’t had any breakdowns in it yet. Hopefully I won’t have any if I keep up with it.
The worst that I have had on other cars are really bad blowouts. I had a tire explode at about 70 mph outside of Raleigh one time. Fortunately it was about 1am and there weren’t any cars around me, but the van I was driving took me for a wild ride.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
I don’t eat any fast food no matter what. The closest that I’ll get is a Chipotle or a Subway. With that said I don’t tend to eat super healthy when I’m on tour, I like to try whatever is good in whatever town I am in. When I’m in Nashville I get hot chicken, I don’t care how many calories it is, but I also keep a pair of running shoes in my bag.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I hardly ever break strings. I used to go through them like butter, but I changed the way that I attack the guitar and I cut it out. I also prefer the sound of slightly dead strings, so those two things add up to me spending less than $150 a year on strings.
Where do you rehearse?
Most of my rehearsals happen at home in my apartment, but when the full band gets together we need a larger room. Often I will rent out a space, or we will use one that the drummer has… drummers always have the big practice spaces.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
“You Don’t Really Know Me” is the first tune that I wrote, I think that I was 13 or so. It was about my parents divorce… The first line was –
You don’t really know me, but maybe it’s better that way
Cause there’s too many secrets in this little house and too much of a price to pay
It was time that could have kept us together but it was that time that wore us down
For a love that should not have existed, for you who got lost in my run around
It’s kind of intense when I look back at that, I was a pretty intense kid.
Describe your first gig.
My first gig was at the Border’s Books in Fairfax, VA. I played at the little coffee shop on my Ovation guitar when I was about 14. I shook like a leaf, partially because I was nervous, and partially because they paid me in coffee so I drank about 5 of them.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last day job was bartending in Wilmington, NC. I think that my favorite day job was working in a hot ass warehouse carrying heavy stuff. You feel like you did something when you get home and you stay in good shape.
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?
It comes from different places than it used to, but it’s not too much different. I do a lot less shows in seedy bars now. That drops the day to day gig income, but I get some licensing deals here and there that more than make up for it. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but if I can keep a roof over my head and food in my belly I will keep at it.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
I wished that I knew that I could sing. I spent many years as a side man and bass player because I didn’t think that I could sing. I would try to get other people to sing my songs, but one day I decided to make my own record even if I hated my voice… I wish that I had done that at 17 instead of 25.