Let’s start with the basics — what’s a cigar box guitar, and how did it change you live set and sound?
Lucy Tight: It’s just your plain old cuban cigar box with a neck that’s like a broom handle. It’s got three strings; one bass sting and two guitar strings and two inputs. So I can pretty much cover all the bass and guitar. And then Wayne plays the acoustic guitar, hi hat, harmonica. We both do a lot of the singing.
Was learning that instrument a challenge? What was the toughest part?
LT: It took some time. It’s hard to find time, really. We have a four year old daughter on the road, we’re always really busy. We just came off a three month tour, and then we went back to celebrate her fourth birthday in Philadelphia and now we’re out for another long tour. We’re pretty much on a straight six month tour, and so finding the time to learn things is tough. We actually just got a double neck cigar box guitar, so that’s gonna take a while to sit down a figure out. It was definitely a challenge to learn, but learning it was very rewarding. It’s a fun instrument to play.
How did it compare to learning instrument in the past? Is the challenge worth the reward?
LT: As a musician, I think you’re never completely accomplished on any instrument. It’s always work. There’s always a next level, there’s always something else you can learn. When you step into the music, it’s like you’re stepping into a deep well, and you will spend your life progressing on that instrument or many instruments. It will take lifetimes. But when you get to the point that you can actually play songs and sing and perform them on stage and get your point and emotions across, it feels really good.
What’s the best description of your music you’ve ever heard?
LT: Somebody said we’re like Amish folks meet Hell’s Angels. I thought that was pretty funny. It’s like the Amish with the family, but when we’re on stage, it’s just kick ass, rocking out. It’s kind of a little bit of everything in there.
So tell me about your touring vehicle and home.
LT: It’s very beautiful. We bought it from a wonderful couple in Massachusetts. They were fixing it up, and they didn’t really know anything about the internet (or the pricing/selling options they might have had with it). So luckily we caught sight of the ad in a local Massachusetts paper, and we went and saw it and fell in love with it. The couple really loved us and wanted us to have it. They worked out a really fair price. The guy was an electrician and fixed it all up. Everything was very brand new. When we got it, Wayne’s father painted a whole cloud scene with rolling prairies and big sun in the middle. Our daughter loves it. We travel all over and have a lot of fun, but this is our favorite place to stay. It’s very cozy and homey.
And for this last record, it was also your recording studio, right?
LT: Yep. We were touring from the East coast to the West coast on about a 9-12 month tour with String of Ponies (a folk band which the duo used to both play in and open for), and during the downtime we would park in trailer parks, friends’ driveways, campsites, or wherever we could and practice. We thought it sounded really good in the trailer, so we decided to just record our album in there. All the songs were very fresh and new.
Was recording on the fly very advantageous, as opposed to sitting on the songs for a while before bringing them into the studio?
LT: Well, it was just a different approach. You can just as easily look at sitting on songs for a long time as advantageous, because you get to work out the kinks in the songs and figure out if you don’t like a certain part in the song or if you need to add another part. But I think it really did add to the freshness of the album and the excitement for us and immediacy of the music. So as advantageous goes in that respect, it definitely was.
Asking if you guys enjoy being on the road is a bit of a no-brainer...but tell me specifically what it is you love that allows you to stay out for such long stretches?
LT: When you’re on the road, it’s a very freeing experience. Anything can happen. When you’re at home and you’re not playing music and just going through your routine, you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen. But when you’re on the road, you never know who you’re going to meet or what excitement awaits around the corner.
How much of that free-wheeling, on-the-fly lifestyle makes it directly into your music?
LT: I think it’s had an effect for sure. There’s the idea of travelling and being free but also wanting to look for a stationary home. It’s this switching back and forth from ‘having this, wanting that’ to ‘having that, wanting this.’ The grass is always greener sort of idea. Our lives will always make it into our songs.
Every night, when you go on stage, you try to be...
LT: In the present, and really focusing on the moment. When we’re playing, it’s the immediacy of the music. When we’re travelling, when we’re with our daughter, when we’re hooking up the Airstream or loading the van, that’s all leading up to us playing the show. So everything we do goes into that one or two hours on stage. That’s where all the energy and passion and magic comes out. Everything else is just about that. So we want people to feel that energy and be inspired to say ‘they’re going this with a family and making this life work? I can do what I want to do, too.’ So being an inspiration for people to go for what they want to do is big to us.
You seem to speak from experience with that. Did people try and talk to you out of what you’re doing now?
LT: So many people try to talk you out of what you want to do. Right when I was pregnant, everybody said ‘Oh, well you have to give up music now.’ And I thought, ‘are you crazy?’ People like to say their fears out loud and put them into your life. Those fears are there for everyone. But you just have to listen to the other side louder.
Your music seems uniquely “American” in a lot of its traits, if that makes sense. Where do those traits come from?
LT: I think part of that is the Nostalgia of our lifestyle, travelling in the old school Airstream and travelling with a family. People don’t do it as much these days. Gas prices are horrible, and we’re just getting by. A lot of people don’t just want to get by. They’re not all free to live this lifestyle. So I think that’s part of the American music idea, just living by the seat of your pants and not really worrying about all the other stuff.
What mindset is going to propel you forward in the next six months-year?
LT: Every day, we’re just trying to stay really in the moment. That was sort of our latest discussion with our family. Everything has passed by so quickly. As we were changing our daughter’s carseat into the next (older) level, I was just thinking of how fast everything goes. I remember when we first got that seat and had no idea to even put her in it (laughs)! And then all of a sudden she’s sitting in it and then she’s moving up to the next seat and soon she’ll be sitting in a regular seat. So I was thinking about that idea and comparing it to the rest of our lives and how fast everything goes by. We’re just looking forward to now. Sometimes that’s not always easy to do that, because the future is always there sort of laughing at you, telling you that you’ve gotta pay this bill or do this thing coming up, ya know? We’re trying to ignore that and be fully focused in the present.
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