Key to the Highway: Steve Poltz

Interviews Key to the Highway Series

Fans always clamor to learn more about their favorite, most beloved musicians and those who travel with them. There’s such an allure to the road, with its serendipity, inevitable surprises, and sometimes unexpected discomforts. This interview series is a set of questions we are asking some of our favorite roots rock Americana artists to get to know more about them and what they’ve learned and experienced on the road. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Steve Poltz.

How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?

I like tea. It better be steeped for 4 minutes. My brand of choice is PG Tips. In England they call it builders’ tea. I guess because construction workers like its high amount of caffeine. The water must be boiling or I’ll send you off to the gulag for a beheading. After it steeps for 4 minutes, put in a splash of whole milk. Not too much or I’ll throw a television out of the window.

What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road?)

First of all, let me say that I love hotels. I hate staying with people at their houses. I don’t want to smell their dogs and cats and wheeze. I don’t want to smell their tuna casserole and stinky couch cushions and sour smelling feet. I also don’t like old cute country B&Bs. The floors creak and you have to be quiet. There’s not enough anonymity. Same with Air B&B. I don’t want to be rated. I love a nice modern clean hotel. One where no one knows me. It’s dangerous enough that I’m manufacturing meth in the bathtub. Just give me a good DO NOT DISTURB sign. I need to make some extra cash selling illegal substances. I’m a folksinger. You think we get paid?

So in answer to your question- every hotel I stay in “becomes” strange.

If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?

It would be a CD single of The Dead Kennedys singing Holiday In Cambodia. No other songs are allowed. Why? Because it’s perfect.

What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?

A chainsaw and a hockey mask.

I know that’s two items but they really go well together.

What is your relationship with food? How do you handle this on the road, and what’s your favorite dish on the road, (or restaurant, and what do you order there)?

I like tacos. I figure they’re good for any meal. One time I found a taco in my backpack and it was a month old. It was still crispy and the flavors were really hanging in there. They’re durable and easy to eat while driving a getaway car.

If you could pause your life for a few weeks and spend some time living in a place you only have passed through, which would you choose, and why?

I would like to live in in the kitchen of a Cinnabon in a nondescript mall in a small town in Ohio. I’d feel safe.

What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?

One time I was on tour with John Doe and I was eating mini chocolate donuts and drinking YooHoo and Doe looked at me and said “Now that’s living!”

It’s not really advice but I took it as an omen that I was doing the right thing.

Find all things Steve Poltz here:

See other Key to the Highway interviews here: (click here for: Elizabeth Cook Tommy Womack Eric Ambel, Dan Baird, Robbie Fulks, Malcolm Holcombe Jon Langford) Sign up for our weekly newsletter here for your Friday reminder for this series and more:

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