Interview by Jason Schreurs
For smaller DIY punk bands like Boston’s Trophy Lungs, finding good food to eat while on tour is a constant struggle. Throw dietary concerns into the mix and it can be even tougher for a band to take care of themselves out there. According to Kevin Bogart, vocalist/guitarist for the melodic punk band, the trick is being smart and inventive, and not settling for the kind of truck-stop fare that some bands fall into while on the road. And if you can sniff out a really affordable yet healthy restaurant or, even better, a home-cooked meal along the way, even better!
Tell me about how you guys have prepared for food on this most recent tour. Will you go out and buy stuff at the grocery store, or try to find cheap restaurants to eat at? How is it going to work?
Kevin Bogart: Well, the biggest thing for us is it all comes down to money. We don’t make a lot of money in our regular lives, and we don’t make hardly any money on tour, so when we’re out there we’re constantly trying to find places that give you actual good food that’s within the budget of the band. It’s super hard not to just get pizza and stuff like that because, to be honest, we all love pizza. But if we’re trying to save money sometimes we’ll stock up the van with a cooler and a bunch of food in it, or a bunch of granola, or peanut butter sandwiches or stuff like that. That way, instead of pulling off the highway to some horrible truck stop that has the worst food and has pushed-up prices, because it’s a supply and demand situation, we can stock up on actual food that’s not going to make us feel horrible out in the van.
What kind of budget do you normally have for food on the road?
I wouldn’t say it’s a budget; it’s just more how much are the three of us able to save up for tour? If we can get enough for gas money and a place to stay at each show, that’s really all we hope for. We’re just trying to have fun and see our friends across the country. But the money we bring on tour for food is not a lot.
It must be hard to enjoy a decent restaurant meal when you’re out on tour?
Oh, exactly. One of my favourite parts about touring is going to new cities and getting stoked about seeing things that I normally wouldn’t see, and a lot of that comes down to the food in the area. I’m a huge travel and food nerd. There’s obviously the stereotypical things, like, “Oh, I’m in Philly and I want to get a cheesesteak,” or, “I’m in Chicago and I want to get a deep dish pizza,” but we’ll often look up different spots online in each city that have a good representation of what it’s like there. It’s just a good opportunity to get something you wouldn’t normally get.
Do any particular places stand out that you’ve gone to, that were worth paying for a fancier meal?
Whenever we are in Ohio we always go to Melt, which is a really cool bar that has really good cocktails, but their sandwiches are also incredible. I think we’ve gone there three times and they have this crazy good fried-green tomato situation, and they always have really good pulled pork and stuff like that, so that’s definitely been a place we’ve gone to every time we roll through Ohio. And in New York, we’ll usually play Brooklyn, but we’ll drive out to this place in the Lower East Side near Chinatown called Vanessa’s Dumplings, and it’s super cheap, but it’s incredible food. They are pumping out dumplings all day and you can get… I think it’s 12 dumplings for $1.50, and it’s all fresh ingredients, and they come out right as you order them. So we always hit that place up.
Is it hard to find places like that with good deals, as opposed to the spots that are overpriced and trendy?
A lot of these places we found out about through our friends telling us, “Dudes, you have to go to this place when you’re in town!” I think one of the best parts about touring is people will recommend super cheap food that’s not going to make you feel like you are dying when you’re driving to the next show. We’ve definitely pulled off the highway and searched “best pizza” in whatever town and that’s backfired crazy hard sometimes, so we’ll probably try to avoid that on this run.
There’s something to be said for a home-cooked meal when you’re on the road. How does it feel when someone hooks you up with one of those?
It’s something that comes up a lot when we’re doing house shows, and we’re just blown away by the support of some of these kids who let us come in, they’ll put their house on the line, lots of kids show up, we’ll play, the cops might show up and shut it down, but every time the promoter has been wanting to cook us a home-cooked meal. And I’m always blown away by that, and there’s no better feeling than knowing you’re going to sit down and eat this food that was cooked by this person in their kitchen. For touring bands, to get a home-cooked meal on the road is really refreshing. We played a house show in West Virginia where we got homemade spaghetti. I think there was a house show in Cleveland where we got a vegan stir fry, so we’re definitely very thankful for it.
When you guys get back to Boston, what’s the first place you like to go to, or the first thing you like to cook for yourself?
For me, the first thing I do when I get back is shower, because there’s no greater feeling than being in your own shower after a long tour and feeling like a human being again. [Laughs] Then you look at the money you have after tour, and if I’m going to go out to eat after getting home, after I say hi to my girlfriend who’s probably super mad at me for being gone for so long, I’ll go to this place called Bova’s down the street in the north end of Boston. They’re doing these homemade hot pocket things, where they are stuffing croissants with meat and stuff. It’s super cheap, and it’s open 24 hours and they are a family-owned business. That’s definitely become a guilty pleasure since I moved to town.
Are there any other places you would recommend to other touring bands when they come through Boston?
Oh, definitely. Anytime a band comes through with dietary restrictions, especially if they are vegan or vegetarian, I send them to Veggie Galaxy, which is in Central Square in Cambridge. It’s completely vegan and all homemade stuff with local ingredients, so that place is definitely one to check out.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I’m obsessed with pasta. I’m 100 percent Irish, but for some reason I’ve fallen in love with Italian culinary. It’s not necessarily easy to cook, but it’s definitely a form of culinary where the less ingredients, the better, and you’re actually focusing on the taste of the food instead of covering it up with spice. I love pasta and I love cooking Carbonara, so that’s usually my go-to.