Paul Givant w/Rose’s Pawn Shop photo by Scott Chernis
Americana Highways’ 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 Paul Givant from Rose’s Pawn Shop.
Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
Paul Givant: Well… I’m a bit of a fancy man when it comes to my coffee to be honest. I’m usually looking for an independently owned, fancy, third wave coffee shop to get an oat milk latte. In the mornings when we’re out on the road I’ll often jump on Yelp and see if there is a coffeeshop like that close. Otherwise often settle for a Starbucks oat milk latte with hazelnut.
But that’s just me. I’ve seen most of the rest of the band be happy with hotel room coffee.
I know Stephen the bass player’s coffee order is “coffee no sugar, with just enough half and half to make the coffee the color of cardboard.” If we’re in a state where they put the cream in for you, I’ve heard him say many times “half and half till it’s the color of cardboard please”.
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road for music?)
PG: There are a lot of stories over the years in this department. But I’ll say two quickly. We once were put up in a room behind the venue in Weed, CA that was just below a supposedly haunted former brothel. They told us they needed to lock us in till the morning when the morning bar shift would arrive.
There were no windows, a bunch of futons, and a locked door in one main room. Dark as hell, strange sounds all night long, and I woke up yelling with night terrors at one point. So that was horrible.
Another one that comes to mind is from the early days of the band when were young still in our 20’s and willing to do the house crashing thing with strangers who we’d meet at the shows who would offering lodging.
We were playing Shepherdstown, West Virginia and a seemingly nice lady invited the band to stay with her at her house after the show. She said she had extra rooms. After we had arrived and hung out for a little while she told us she was going to go meet up with her ex-boyfriend, and oh yeah by the way, her 2-year old son is asleep in the other room, so if he wakes up just tell him mommy will be back in the morning. We got conned into being babysitters for some wild lady’s kid!
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
PG: For me it’d be Gillian Welch’s Revelator. One of my favorite albums of all time. An album that changed my life in big ways actually. For those late night, sometimes lonely drives down the road, there is nothing that is more of a vibe for those moments than the 14 1/2 minute closing track on that album “I Dream A Highway”. For me it simultaneously makes me lonely for home, while feeling like I have a thread weaving me all the way back. It romanticizes the road, American music, and makes it all feel like a beautiful dream.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?
PG: Vicks personal vaporizer. It looks like a high-tech bong for a robot. But it really is just like a steamer for the vocal cords. Keeps me singing nice, night after night.
AH: 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)?
PG: We try to keep it healthy. We stop at a lot of grocery stores and fill up the tour vehicle fridge with healthy stuff like hummus and vegetables. Fred Meyer in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska is a grocery chain we’re slightly obsessed with stopping at.
But also always have an eye out for good authentic Mexican or Mediterranean food if we can find it.
Sometimes if we’re lucky the venue also has an awesome menu and hooks it up. Shout out to “Garage on Beck” in Salt Lake City and “The Potato” in McCarthy Alaska.
AH: 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?
PG: This question is actually an ongoing one that comes up in the vehicle on tour when we’re in transit somewhere. It’s an interesting one to consider. So many amazing places in this country and world it’s fun to imagine living in.
My answer is always changing but I know a couple locations I’ve answered previously on this question were Santa Fe, New Mexico and Port Townsend, WA. And also shout out again to McCarthy, Alaska on this one.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
PG: I’ve gotten a lot of advice over the years not always from people’s words, but in observing how different people live. Good advice and bad advice in that way. You meet so many people while traveling and playing music, usually just for a brief space of time. But I’ve met so many beautiful people who at least in some areas of their lives, in the way they have chosen to live, or the way they treat people, you could sense they had some sort of enlightenment. A way of being in their actions, the way they treated people, or their willingness to be true to themselves that there were lessons in.
Also a good piece of advice I’ve heard over the years from a variety of people in the music industry is, if you love music, if you’re called to do it, no matter the ups and downs and difficulties of the pursuit, just stick with it. Don’t give up. You’re gonna take some hits and get knocked down, but if the calling is in you, just keep going. Tenacity and hard work lead to success.
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Vince Herman Jimmy Smith Ben Nichols Bruce Cockburn Charlie Musselwhite Nicki Bluhm Jim White Danny Barnes Patterson Hood Jerry Joseph BJ Barham Rodney Crowell Todd Snider Elizabeth Cook Tommy Womack Eric Ambel, Dan Baird, Robbie Fulks, Malcolm Holcombe Jon Langford Steve Poltz, Lilly Hiatt Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Sadler Vaden )
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