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You mentioned your drummer, Steve Misamore, telling you how true Damn These Dreams is to your life. Is he the band member that’s been with you the longest?
“Yeah. We started playing Lower Broadway together 10 years [ago]. Well, gosh, we started back in ’99.”
That’s more like 15 years.
“Yeah. I just gave him a 10-year present. I paid for his pilot’s license training for his 10-years-in-the-band present. But now I’m realizing that’s probably his 12- or 13-year present.”
How long have the other guys been with you?
“[Steel guitarist and banjo player] Tim [Sergent’s] been there going on – well, this is his 9th year. And then the other three guys all came on after I did Up On the Ridge [in 2010]. Up On the Ridge was like a transformative record of my life. It really reset a lot of things for me. I brought in Dan [Hochhalter] on fiddle, Brian [Layson] on guitar and Cassady [Feasby] on bass. That would’ve been ’10. So this is their fourth year. I mean, just great players, great guys.
“I was doing that [CMT] Crossroads [taping] with One Republic and talking to Ryan Tedder about that, the importance of having that group of guys around you. It makes life really enjoyable. Because I don’t go out; I don’t do like social stuff in town. I’m at home. So when I go on the road, my band has to be not only my band but my best friends and my male support group.
You reference your “beat-up, old guitar” in I Hold On. What kind is it?
“It’s a Martin. It’s a 1997 HD-28. People see it and they think it’s a pre-war, like a ‘39 Martin, because it’s so beat up, so worn out. There’s a hole underneath the pickguard from me playing it so much, from my pinkie just going back and forth over that piece of wood, over and over. I wish that guitar reflected how good of a guitar player I actually was. It looks like I’m friggin’ Bryan Sutton, or Tony Rice. I’ve got a signature Martin deal now, but I still kind gravitate towards that old guitar. It’s got a lot of stories in it.”