MM: So is it just kind of like a conflict you have to deal with?
BL: Yeah. In that same theme that it's not the end of the world. Growing up Catholic is kind of a strange thing when you're a non-Catholic in your adult years.
MM: I'm completely with you. When I look back on it‚ I'm amazed of the stuff I was put through. As an adult looking back‚ that's really weird to me. I think that's why some of the lines jump out at me; it's about being younger and not knowing what you're actually doing. So is that where you're at? You're at a conflict with the stuff you've been brainwashed with? [laughter]
BL: Yeah. It's like you were told to do and believe all of these things‚ and you were told to spit that right back out‚ and then all of a sudden you stop spitting it right back out‚ and you're like‚ "Wait a minute - the world's OK." I used to live in the South‚ so a lot of my friends growing up were conservative Christians‚ but now in their adult lives are not so conservative and not so Christian. Battling with that‚ but still knowing the world is OK and that you can have faith in the world‚ is kind of cool.
MM: Yeah‚ and you can live a good life with a lot of those underlying principles without all the hypocrisy‚ and all these other things that divide people. I'm with you; I grew up the same way. Then I got older and at the age of reason was like‚ "What the hell? They bombarded me with all this crazy stuff."
BL: I was 15 when I realized it. All of my friends were getting confirmed‚ and I chose not to get confirmed. I lost a ton of friends. I was like‚ "Really?! You guys are going to stop being my friends because I'm not ready to be confirmed?! This is silly!" [laughter]
MM: Go back in time a little bit. I don't know much of your story. I do know you come from Minnesota.
BL: I come from Minnesota. Catholic school all of my life until I was 18 and moved far away to the most liberal college I could find‚ Warren Wilson College‚ which was a hippie college in the mountains of Asheville [North Carolina]. It was farm school‚ and everybody worked for the school. It was like camp‚ but college. I was always a piano player. I started writing songs in high school. I started playing guitar to learn how to write songs‚ because I couldn't really figure out how to write songs on the piano. I had a major crush on the kid in school that played guitar‚ so I obviously had to learn how to play guitar. [laughter] It's a lame story‚ but that's where it started. I graduated from college‚ became a music teacher for a year‚ and decided if I want to do this on-the-road thing‚ I've gotta do it now. That was six years ago. So I've been doing it full-time on and off for six years.
MM: For six years? How old are you now?
BL: About to be 28 in a month.
MM: That's a lot of time. It's kind of amazing‚ just growing and growing as a musician. How do you feel about it these days‚ in terms of where you're at and what you have to offer‚ and what it does for you?
BL: It's certainly hard. I've heard stories of the road‚ all the cliché stuff about being a touring musician‚ and I'm actually beginning to feel the cliché. It's tiring being out there‚ and I like home. It's strange. I often feel lost with my goals. They're constantly shifting. But then I look back to six years ago when I left my teaching job‚ and I have grown so much musically that I really think I've grown as a person through my music and the fact that I get to meet so many amazing people and write these songs. My favorite part of it all is meeting people and being out there collecting stories. In understanding the world‚ I think we can understand ourselves better‚ and vice versa.
So‚ yeah‚ I'm feeling a little lost right now. I've been doing the exact same thing for six years. What makes me want to do it more? My income hasn't really grown [laughter] all that much. I've learned how to manage money pretty well. It's just my passion‚ and you can't ignore your passions. So‚ here I am‚ still doing it. I'll go back out and try to pace myself. My major goal is longevity in this‚ so I have to learn to pace myself. Keep growing‚ and keep looking back and say‚ "Hey‚ I actually did grow. I actually did learn something and this is not all for nothing."
MM: I think there's a lot to be said about that‚ going back to what you said earlier about writing songs about other people's lives and trying to understand it. And going out and being on the road and just living and understanding that‚ and what it does for your own life. I get a lot out of doing this in that same way.
BL: I was thinking a lot about you and your job‚ because I think that any person that is following their passion‚ or any person in the arts in particular‚ really knows it. They're like‚ "What the hell are we doing? But really‚ we love it!"
MM: Tell me about the duo thing you're doing.
BL: Yeah. Liz Stahler is her name‚ and she's great. She's from Boston.
MM: So that's a little bit different. What's the show like?