As they wrap up the tour and head home to start work on their new album, Girlyman answers your questions on touring, the song they love playing most, and more.
Q: How many instruments do you bring on tour?
According to sound tech and instrument wrangler Ary, Girlyman goes on the road with a total of: 7 string-instruments, drum kit, hardware, and cymbals, 1 accordion, 1 djembe, and 1 tambourine.
Q: Technical question: How many sets of strings/drumsticks/rods/heads do you take on tour? How often do you change or replace them? And what are your favorite brands?
For the baritone guitar, Nate changes the strings about every six months. He uses custom-sized bulk strings that he gets from juststrings.com.
The guitars’ strings need the most frequent changing – about once a month. Ty and Doris both use long-life Elixir strings. Doris used to change her strings every two or three shows. But more often these days, she and Ty share instruments on stage, and that’s cut down on string-changes.
JJ uses Aquarian Studio-X coated drum heads, and changes them every 6-9 months. Her drumsticks are Lightening Rod. And she replaced one of them just today, after she accidentally flung a stick into the audience at last night’s Louisville show — and some lucky fan got a souvenir. JJ uses Blaststicks and Regal Tip Jazz brushes. They last about 6 months, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Q: Who drives? Does the tour van have assigned seats?
It’s like a lot of chores: whoever wants to, or objects the least, can drive. As for where to sit — If you’re feeling social or just want to take in the view, you can sit in the front of the van. If privacy or quiet is more your speed, the back, or up in the way-back loft, is the way to go.
Q: Do you always appear in the same order on stage, from (the band’s) left to right: Nate–> Ty–> Doris?
JJ moves around from show to show, because her position depends on how the stage is set up. But Nate, Doris, and Ty have always appeared in the same order on stage. Except for once, in Canada.
Q: By the way, what’s your sign?
Nate – Aries
Doris – Sagittarius
Q: What’s been your favorite new song to play on this tour?
Ty, Doris, Nate and JJ agree, it’s “Michelangelo.”
Q: What kind of music do you listen to, other than your own, when you’re on tour?
Music is pretty much out of the question in the van, because the engine is so loud. Unless they listen with headphones on their iPods. The one thing they listen to together is a vocal warm-up tape. It’s a recording of a voice lesson that Ty took back in 2002, when the band was just getting started. They use it to warm up in the van on the way to every show.
Q: What do you listen to when you’re not on tour?
Most of the band members say they sometimes find they listen to surprisingly little music in their off time. But JJ has a ready list of artists whose new albums she’s looking forward to hearing, including Edie Carey, The Weepies, Vienna Teng, Paper Raincoat, and Meg Hutchinson.
Q: Do you have a pre-show ritual?
Vocal warmup, group huddle, and setting intentions for the show.
Q: Do fans give you presents?
Just last night, a fan brought the band these amazing cupcakes:
Q: Any packing advice for the rest of us? One thing you never go on tour without?
Almost anything you forget can be borrowed or bought. But the things you’d be in big trouble without are listed in this useful little mnemonic tune that Nate sings when it’s time to pack up and leave for the next town:
Do you have your wallet?/Do you have your keys?/Do you have your cell phone and your computer?/Do you have your chargers for those last two things?… And/Do you have your toiletry bag?
Q: Last question. What would you do for a living if you weren’t a musician?
Nate – Cinematographer
Ty – Novelist
Doris – Pastry chef, and open a bakery called “Effin Good Bakery”
JJ – Either a neuroscientist or an astronaut