Rich Life Lab

Billy Nobel: Playing the World's Biggest Stages, Living Life on Your Terms, Great Teachers and The Life of Art #11

December 02, 2022 Nathan Hurd
Billy Nobel: Playing the World's Biggest Stages, Living Life on Your Terms, Great Teachers and The Life of Art #11
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Rich Life Lab
Billy Nobel: Playing the World's Biggest Stages, Living Life on Your Terms, Great Teachers and The Life of Art #11
Dec 02, 2022
Nathan Hurd

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand on a stage and look out at an ocean of people fans dancing and cheering as they listen to you play music? Today's guest lives it. Billy Nobel joined me on the podcast this week. Billy is the keyboard and piano player in Tim McGraw's band. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in music and ended up landing in Nashville, where he currently lives. We talk about his musical upbringing, what it took to make music a career, when he decided to go all in, the qualities to look for or to emulate in  great teacher. We talk about overcoming uncertainty,  what it feels like to play in front of tens of thousands of people and what it's like working as part of one of the biggest musical acts in the world today from the traveling and touring to the lessons he's learned.

Subscribe to the show so you never miss a new episode.
Subscribe or review on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe or review on Spotify

And if you like the podcast, drop a review!

The experience of playing to a massive audience [3:20]
How Billy makes a living as a musician [6:40]
Finding flow with other musicians [12:04]
The qualities of a great teacher [14:45]
Parents role in supporting creative interests [25:06]
Studying music in college [32:37]
The building blocks of training and practice [34:56]
Going all in on music [45:20]
Auditioning for Tim's Band [47:55]
What it's like to play with a world-class band [53:26]
The ups and downs of touring [58:56]
Balancing the financial uncertainty of a professional artist [1:03:58]

Sponsor: The Oxford Club

Support and Connect:

Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand on a stage and look out at an ocean of people fans dancing and cheering as they listen to you play music? Today's guest lives it. Billy Nobel joined me on the podcast this week. Billy is the keyboard and piano player in Tim McGraw's band. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in music and ended up landing in Nashville, where he currently lives. We talk about his musical upbringing, what it took to make music a career, when he decided to go all in, the qualities to look for or to emulate in  great teacher. We talk about overcoming uncertainty,  what it feels like to play in front of tens of thousands of people and what it's like working as part of one of the biggest musical acts in the world today from the traveling and touring to the lessons he's learned.

Subscribe to the show so you never miss a new episode.
Subscribe or review on Apple Podcasts
Subscribe or review on Spotify

And if you like the podcast, drop a review!

The experience of playing to a massive audience [3:20]
How Billy makes a living as a musician [6:40]
Finding flow with other musicians [12:04]
The qualities of a great teacher [14:45]
Parents role in supporting creative interests [25:06]
Studying music in college [32:37]
The building blocks of training and practice [34:56]
Going all in on music [45:20]
Auditioning for Tim's Band [47:55]
What it's like to play with a world-class band [53:26]
The ups and downs of touring [58:56]
Balancing the financial uncertainty of a professional artist [1:03:58]

Sponsor: The Oxford Club

Support and Connect:

[00:00:00] Nathan Hurd: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand on a stage and look out at an ocean of people fans dancing and cheering your name as they listen to your music? If you've ever had that rockstar dream or even just imagined what it would be like today, I have a guest who lives it. Uh, Billy Nobel joined me on the podcast this week, and he has a, he's a, actually a friend.

I've known him for many, many years, but today he plays with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on some of the biggest stages in the world, and he's been part of Tim McGraw's band for a number of years now. Um, we talk about his musical upbringing, what it took to make a mu music a career, and when he decided to go all in, the qualities to look for or to emulate.

In a really good teacher, or if you want to be a really good teacher to your kids or to people in your life. [00:01:00] Um, he talks about what the greatest teachers he had, what qualities they had, uh, including his parents. We talk about overcoming uncertainty, which he  certainly experienced plenty of trying to make it as a musician what it feels like to play in front of tens of thousands of people and, uh, and be part of that and what it's like working as part of one of the biggest musical acts in the world today from the traveling and touring to the lessons he's learned.

So it was really, really fun conversation. I think you'll enjoy it. And, um, and there's just, you know, there's so much to learn from a, from a, from a set of experiences like this. And needless to say, these are, uh, these are the types of experiences that certainly qualify as a very rich. And meaningful life and, um, and he's just got such great insight to share.

So I hope you enjoy it. And without further ado, this is Billy [00:02:00] No Bell,

[00:02:09] Billy Nobel: um, 

[00:02:13] Nathan Hurd: Billy Nobel. It is so good to see you, man. It's been a while since we caught up. How are you? Good. How are. I'm doing great, man. Thank you so much. I've really, uh, been looking forward to sitting down to talk to you. You know, it's, we've known each other for a long time, but it's been a while since we've caught up, so I really, really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and, and be on the podcast.

[00:02:35] Billy Nobel: Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's good to see 

[00:02:37] Nathan Hurd: you. Yeah, fairly good to see you too. Um, so I thought we could start with, I, there's so much that we can get into today and I'm, I'm really excited to talk through some of your perspective, but I thought we could start with just this, this, uh, experience I had a couple years ago.

I, I saw something that you were doing and it really caught my attention [00:03:00] and, um, it just really speaks to some of the crazy stories that you've, and experiences you've had. So there was a, a video that you posted a couple years ago and you, I think were touring with Tim McGraw and Band, and you guys were in Red Rocks and you posted this video looking out at just an ocean of people, like a packed stadium at Red Rocks.

And so I guess my question for you is, Can you just describe like, what was going through your mind? Like what is that experience like? Did you ever even imagine that you would look out at such a crowd? 

[00:03:37] Billy Nobel: No, I never imagined it. Um, it is in the moment, it's very joyous and it's very fun because we're on the stage and we're doing a show and the people are enjoying it and it's very loud.

The audience is loud, the band is loud. [00:04:00] The scenery at a place like Red Rocks is unbelievable. Um, you know, you don't have to be on stage to, to look at the rocks and the view. I mean, you just turn around in your seat and you can see, you know, the same thing that, that we get to see on stage. Um, But in those moments, it's just very, um, it's just really fun.

There's nothing, there can't be anything bad about what is happening right then. It's just everyone's kind of there for the party and for the celebration of music and, um, it's just, just makes for like a fun hang, like a fun, like, you know, 10, 15,000 person hang . Yeah. 

[00:04:49] Nathan Hurd: Yeah. I mean, what, how would you describe the energy, uh, of an experience like that?

[00:04:56] Billy Nobel: A lot of times the energy can [00:05:00] actually come from the, like, the sound of the audience. Like, um, I know you're referencing the, uh, the Red Rocks video that I posted, but, um, I, I actually have a vivid memory of starting a tour with Tim in Fresno, and it was an indoor arena. . And when he walked out, the place was so loud that like, I couldn't even hear like what I was playing or what the band was playing.

Like it kind of just got lost in how, um, overwhelming the response was. Um, and so, you know, overwhelming would be a way to describe it. Umhmm thrilling. I've never been like skydiving. I'm guessing that you have mm-hmm. I have. And what's that? Like, you know, jumping out of the plane. 

[00:05:51] Nathan Hurd: Yeah. It's like pure exhilaration.

Like, I, it really is a lot like what you just described, like, so maybe that is the, maybe that's the feeling. It's like, [00:06:00] it's like sensory overload. Totally thrilling and, and overwhelming. 

[00:06:04] Billy Nobel: So much so that like, you don't, you're not really thinking of anything else. The only thing I might be thinking of is like, what, what am I supposed to be playing here?

I can't hear anything. But otherwise it's just really fun. Um, So, yeah, it's, it, those are the fun moments of, you know, the kind of job that it is. There's a lot of fun moments and that's, that's a great, it's a great thing to point out. . 

[00:06:29] Nathan Hurd: Well, it's, it has been just an absolute pleasure and joy to watch your story unfold.

So, for anyone listening, can you just share a little bit about what is, we've kind of touched on it or hinted at it, but how do you consider your professional life? What do you do and what are you up to these days? 

[00:06:49] Billy Nobel: So I am a full-time musician. Mm-hmm. , and there are a couple things that make up for me being a [00:07:00] full-time performing musician.

So like I'm a keyboard player. And I play piano and any keyboard instrument that I can, um, you know, learn how to play or sort of play on the spot and um, or that I'm familiar with. And so I'm a full-time performing musician and I have two, uh, avenues of work, so to speak. One is playing in Tim McGraw's touring bands.

Um, and that's mostly, uh, kind of Thursday through Sunday job when we're working, um, because the shows happen on the weekend. Hm. Um, it's rare that we'll do something during the week. And then, um, during, during the week, I, uh, I'm also a freelance musician doing recording session work. So I work, um, in various studios, um, around Nashville.

Uh, I work for a lot of songwriters who are putting their demos [00:08:00] together, um, to pitch to artists and publishers. And so I'll, um, be part of a band that, um, that records their songs. Um, and it's always changing. The bands are always changing. The, the people you work for are always changing. It's very freelance.

[00:08:18] Nathan Hurd: I, I didn't 

[00:08:18] Billy Nobel: realize that's, yeah. So those two things make up sort of the, you know, the job of being a musician, 

[00:08:26] Nathan Hurd: the body of work. That's, that's interesting. And so, um, the question that just popped into my mind is like, Is it, uh, more or less diff you know, is it more challenging to just show up and learn to play a song with a, with a band that you're not familiar with, as opposed to, you know, Tim's band who you've been playing with for a number of years now?

What's the, what's the difference? Like, or, or how would you describe that contrast? 

[00:08:53] Billy Nobel: It's, it's sort of the same. They both feel very natural. [00:09:00] Like I think when you're, um, when you do what you do, you know, any line of work it, it's gonna feel, right. Does that make sense? There's just different ways of, um, of doing it.

Like with Tim, we have like several weeks of rehearsals where we put the show, a new show together every year, and then we are out for the year working that show. Um, And it's usually the same show as a few exceptions, um, for that calendar year. Um, but all of the work to build the show really goes really is like at the rehearsal stage.

 Mm-hmm. with recording sessions.

Um, Nashville has a way of doing them that's very efficient and, um, I'm not learning songs ahead of time. Mm-hmm. , like with Tim, I would learn songs ahead of time to bring [00:10:00] to rehearsal and, and then work with the rest of the band. When I do a recording session, I receive a chart. Of say, four to five songs.

And, um, the chart has all the information on it that I need. The musicians, I've been doing this for long enough that the musicians, I'm, I'm familiar with all of them, so the bands may change, but this, the bar is a certain level that there's reliability in, in everyone's skillset. Right. Um, and so, you know, you just kind of count off the song and go, it's, uh, it's hard to explain the, the recording session thing.

Like, my parents finally came and watched the session and like after years of me trying to explain how it works, they finally got it just by sitting in the room and seeing it. But it's a really cool thing. Um, and it allows for like a really nice day to day change. Cause there's always new songs, there's always, uh, different configurations of the band.

Um, it's [00:11:00] cool. 

[00:11:01] Nathan Hurd: So what sometimes when, when I like. From the audience member perspective, when I'm, when I'm watching a concert, when I'm watching a band perform, um, it feels like to me that sometimes they're feeling out each other. Like, I don't know how much of it is, purely choreographed or how much there's nuance in the, in the way that they might play a song on that given night.

Right? Like, there might be a solo that goes a little bit longer here or there, or, you know, those little nuances when you're playing. Um, is there a measure of the way that you're involved in the music that that is like a feeling, like, are you feeling into the other members of the band at all to, to listen for when they're coming in or out, or, or how things are going to flow with a song how much of it is that versus like, how much of it is like, you know, the song, you know, the, you know, the struc the overall structure of the song and it, and you're gonna hit the overall structure, but then there's. [00:12:00] You know, there's that, the dance that can occur in any given piece of music.

So, great question. 

[00:12:06] Billy Nobel: Um, well, it depends on what band you're going to see and, and how loose their show is in that sense. Like, um, how much are they bouncing things off of each other? 

For example, a few tours ago we did a song called Hallelujah Villa, and we just added this organ intro, like a very churchy, improvised gospel organ intro as he was talking. And so in that moment, there's no click track that I'm waiting on. There's, I just kind of do what I want and Tim sort of amps up the crowd and I feed off of what he's saying.

And, you know, if he's getting big, I get bigger. If he's kind of calming it down, I I calm it down. , and that moment might last a minute, maybe less, but it's short. But it is, you know, it just kind of sets up the song and then we get to count into the song, and then we play the song 

[00:14:44] Nathan Hurd: I'm, I'm imagining as you're talking, I'm imagining like Yeah, of course. It, it makes total sense. Like, because some of the, I mean, you guys are playing like the biggest venues in the world, literally.

And you have like, if you have a firework that's about to go off like a pyrotechnic or like a big, [00:15:00] you know, something really exciting, which of course it's so fun to watch those shows, then Yes, of course it means the hit right at a certain moment. Yeah. And it adds so much excitement for the, uh, you know, the audience member watching the show, but then, you know, but then that, that kind of flowing element, um, can be really cool too.

So, um, so let me ask you when, let's, let's maybe back up a little bit cuz you know, again, now you're it's been fun to watch you on, on the, all these, you know, morning shows and, and country music awards and all these really cool places. Um, I. How did this all start for you? When did you start playing music and what was your experience like, uh, playing music early on?

Did you like, did you like it right away? Did you know, how did you take to it early on? 

[00:15:51] Billy Nobel: Well, the cool thing about that question is you were there for a lot of it. Mm-hmm. . Um, so for anyone listening or watching, uh, you [00:16:00] and I used to take piano lessons together. I did. And, uh, you would, I think like you would go first for, I don't know, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, I don't even remember.

And then it would be my turn. Um, yeah. When we just shared, I wonder why we did share lessons. Well, 

[00:16:20] Nathan Hurd: we've, we've known each other for a long time, so that, I appreciate you bringing that up. Yeah. And,, and yeah, I guess we, maybe it was just easier for our parents to 

[00:16:29] Billy Nobel: Yeah. , so, but before that, I think, um, I was always like, curious about the piano.

I would, I would play the piano at my great-grandmother's apartment and just like hit a few notes and, um, I didn't know what I was doing, but I thought it was cool. Um, and I always really liked music. And, um, I think I asked my mom one day, could I take piano lessons? And then within a, within [00:17:00] a few days there was a piano rented in the house and, um, that was it, you know.

Um, and so that was when we lived in Toronto. And, um, so I took a few piano lessons there. It didn't really, it never felt, um, like something that would, that might stick. I don't know, it just felt like, Something to do after school. But, um, when you and I, when I moved here and you and I were taking lessons, our teacher, Shauna Friedman, she made it feel special in some way.

I don't, I don't know how she did it. She was just a very warm, excellent teacher. Um, and it was fun to have you there. You know, it's fun to go do these things with a friend. Yeah. Um, and, uh, and so I don't know, I think she just really, actually, there was a teacher before her that I had, um, his name was Mr.

Fos, and that also didn't, it just didn't [00:18:00] feel right. Mm. Sorry. Mr. Foss, if you're listening to the Rip Life Lab podcast, , but then with Mrs. Friedman, it was like, I don't know, she knew how to nurture the curiosity of being a. A piano student? , yeah. What about for you? Like, what was it like for you, you know, you did not become a professional musician, but what did you, did you enjoy it?

Um, did you just kind of do it because like I was doing it and we could do it together or what, you know, what was it like for you? Mm. 

[00:18:35] Nathan Hurd: It's, um, I remember, I don't, my, my memory of Mrs. Friedman, Ms. Friedman, was that she like really was so passionate about the piano. Like she loved music and she loved the, the art of playing piano in particular.

And so that aspect of it, you know, we were young kids who were like, had a lot of energy and we [00:19:00] were, , easily distractable and, but she was very, she just really, really loved what she did, , you know, that that rubs off. You know, when you, when you are just around someone who's so.

Passionate about something and so, you know, bless her because, I can't remember how, do you remember how old we were? I can't remember exactly. 

[00:19:19] Billy Nobel: Uh, probably nine or 10. 

[00:19:21] Nathan Hurd: Okay. So two, nine or 10 year old boys goofing around and, uh, she was able to, I guess, keep us focused for, , the period of time where, where we played 

[00:19:32] Billy Nobel: around, but like best friends and like, you know, just it's, there's almost like you and I could like enjoy each other's company.

And like have that hang and then she probably had to like dial it in somehow, or Yeah. You know, reign us in. It was probably hard, uh, for her, but she, she was great at it and she always gave us like really interesting like Russian candies. Do you remember that? I do The end . 

[00:19:58] Nathan Hurd: She would, she would reward us with, [00:20:00] uh, with a candy at the end of the lesson and she, yes, I think that's true.

I mean, I think what you said is true. The teacher can make such a difference and I suppose the. Just the love and, and interest and passion of the person that's teaching you is like, you know, I've had that experience in other ways later in life where, you know, just you, you're around someone who just cares so much about what they do, it's just in their bones and it just, it's like, feels exciting.

It feels more exciting, more interesting. 

[00:20:32] Billy Nobel: And especially when, when they love what they do so much and then you sort of have the realization like, I might be like, good at this. Like, I might like this is kind of special. Um, then that's a really nice, um, just a nice chemistry to have and that's, that's how I felt with any teacher I've had that's had like a big impact on me was that connection.

Mm-hmm. , um, you know, through [00:21:00] college totally. 

[00:21:02] Nathan Hurd: Totally. Yeah, I think that's, maybe we're, maybe we're, this is a good recipe I think for, for teachers. The teachers that I have. Yeah, I would agree. It's, it's a, it's a combination of passion and love for what they do. , and oftentimes it's a, I believe in you, like, like, , you got this, you can do this.

And, when you're early on, they have a belief in you that maybe you don't yet have in yourself, but then that clicks over into, oh wow, like you said, I believe I might be actually able to do this. All right. So, but here's the real question cuz, cuz there was a time where I took a, took a turn and, and stopped playing Uhhuh.

And I'm curious about what, at what point did this really feel like something that you wanted to stick with? You know, because I, there's a lot of, I think a lot of people relate to the experience where you go through school and at some point when you're playing an instrument as part of, you know, your curriculum, but.

Nine times outta 10, that instrument does not stick for people. . It's 

[00:21:59] Billy Nobel: just a face, right? [00:22:00] Yeah. Um, I don't, it was late for me where I wanted to have a career with it, so I never liked practicing.

When you and I were taking lessons with Mrs. Freeman, I didn't enjoy practicing. She knew that about me and she was always like pushing me. And I just, I was a lazy practicer, but I knew I was still good at it. , or there was some sort of, there was some, there was something about piano playing that made sense to me.

, and. That I think kept me interested in it. And, , she was just fun to be around and great teacher. , and then in high school I got really into like symphonies and operas, and I had a choir director in high school who like Mrs. Freeman nurtured that interest and like we had that connection. , and so I thought, well, I wanna [00:23:00] be a, I wanna be an opera conductor.

I want to go down the path of being an opera conductor. What does that, what does that. Entail, and this was like maybe at 15 or 16. , and for those that don't know, a conductor is kind of the leader of the, of an orchestra and they conduct, and I'm sure you know, they've seen the white tie tales and, you know, , that image and they, yeah, the 

[00:23:24] Nathan Hurd: person waving, they round the stick and keeping everybody in 

[00:23:26] Billy Nobel: control.

Yeah. They lead the music. And so I thought, I wanna do that, , with singers, I think that'd be really fun. And , I was probably 15 or 16 years old and so then I thought, well, how do I do that? Turned out that, , conducting is a graduate level study. I don't know if that's still the case, but it was at the time, so I needed to have an undergrad degree in something.

And so piano performance was just the natural. Music degree for me to get. And at that point I had to play a lot of catch up in practicing. [00:24:00] There was a lot of stuff that I was doing wrong. , my work ethic was not great, so I had to like sort of force myself to be a practicing piano player and that, and doing that, I was able to make like a lot of leaps and audition for, , schools with good music programs.

 And so, , I was very interested in conducting probably until my junior year of college. And then the interest kind of went away. I think, I think being the leader of such a big thing,, kind of intimidated me. Um, and I also lacked. Like really important skills of being a conductor, which is like being able to site read music,, not just horizontally but vertically, like large, , sheet music scores.

, that was not easy for me and I never really got good at it. , I always had a really good ear. I can hear things very quickly and, [00:25:00] and or I can hear things and play them very quickly. Mm-hmm. . But my sight reading was not great And so I, I don't know, I just sort of thought, I sort of had a hunch maybe this wasn't for me.

And,, after college moved to LA to try writing songs to see if I was good at that., and then I got a little impatient with that. Um, cuz I was young and wanted things to happen fast and didn't realize like how much. Hard work you have to put into any career, not just music, any career in order to be successful.

And so from there I went to work on, uh, cruise ships as a keyboard player. And , that was the first time making like a living, being a keyboard player. I was probably in my early twenties and that felt okay. Um, it was cool to be making a living and having fun kind of sailing around the Caribbean.

Mm-hmm. . And then I just decided I'm gonna move to Nashville for a year and see if I can pay my bills being a musician. [00:26:00] And I've been here since then. And the reason I'm going through it quickly, and we can touch on some of these things, but I'm trying to answer your question of when did I know I wanted it to be a career?

I didn't really have that as a plan. I just saw it as once I could pay my bills as a keyboard player in Nashville, I thought. Okay. This is a cool way to like, have a job and make a living and have fun doing it. And, and let's give this a shot for as long as, as long as I can. Does that make sense? Mm-hmm.

sorry, I really long winded . No, 

[00:26:32] Nathan Hurd: no, no. It's, it's wonderful. Yeah, it, I I do wanna to, um, to ask a couple questions about it, but yeah, I mean, I didn't know parts of, of that story, and I certainly didn't know what it felt like through your own, through your own perspective, um, before we leave your, the early days.

I guess one thing that I, I would imagine people might wonder about, certainly I wonder about was, I have young kids, is what do you, was there anything about the way that [00:27:00] your parents supported this whole, curiosity and interest of yours that fed or, or nurtured your, you know, your, your musical path?

 I think of this because like right now, My daughter, my son, they've tried different, hobbies, different sports. Some of them, it's pretty clear they're really interested or more interested right away. Some of 'em like absolutely clear, it's not a thing. Okay. And I want to, I, as a parent, wanna support them in exploring their interest, their passions.

Sure. And, uh, it just seems like your parents did a really nice job of that. So is there anything that you would tell anyone listening about the way that your parents approached this with you and supported you? That sticks out? 

[00:27:51] Billy Nobel: What I remember, um, there was not a lot of pressure. To practice the [00:28:00] piano, um, which was cool. Like it was almost like I could do it on my own terms. Um, which in my case, man, I've like never practiced, right? , I was not, I was not a great student, but even though I never, I didn't practice a lot until middle of high school.

There was never a lot of pressure to do it. And they loved music. There was always music in the house. My mom loves, you know, rock and roll and, and the whole history of that. My dad loves a lot of classical music. They love a lot of music together. , the arts were just so big growing up in my house, and I also liked performing and being like on stage in plays and musicals and I like to sing and.

None of it came with a lot of pressure and I think it allowed me to sort of enjoy all of those things on my terms. And, and it, I think it just so happened [00:29:00] that I happened to, I really like all those things, so they didn't need to put a lot of pressure on me to like, have fun with it. Um, I could have practiced more and I think they could have reminded me that maybe they did.

I don't know. It's long part, but, um, but yeah, I think it was the hands off, just very supportive. It always made them happy for me to, to bring music into that household and practice the piano sometimes and they could hear it. And, um, yeah, it was just never, not a lot of pressure and I think that helped.

[00:29:37] Nathan Hurd: Yeah, , that's a super helpful perspective actually, because. I don't know if I, I hadn't really thought about it that way, but I think there is something that, there's a direct correlation between, I mean, you hear about like, you know, great athletes and great musicians and so on and so forth, who's, who had the opposite experience whose parents were like, boom.

Like, you know, [00:30:00] really, really militant about Yeah. Them practicing. So the point where it was like a very unpleasant experience, but they did get good, , but there's a, you know, a lot of times there's a lot of almost like trauma in there and , it's not fun and , to your point,, it sounds like they really just allowed you to explore the things that you enjoyed without making it too intense.

And, I think we all can remember at certain stages, There's, there's a time where when you get pressured to do something as a teenager, for example, like you, your instincts are to do the opposite, literally. Um, if that's what your parents are pushing on you. So anyway, um, so that's really, that's really great,.

[00:30:39] Billy Nobel: That's, that's interesting. As a dad, you know, for you it's gotta be, it's probably a fine line to walk. Like how much is too laid back, you know, in their interests. How much, how much pressure do I wanna put on my kids to focus and, and do something? Is that, is that hard for you? Like, [00:31:00] I guess you want them to have an enjoyable life, so, you know, um, the fine line of like too much pressure to do something and then also just being a little bit hands off so they can figure out to enjoy it themselves if they, they wanna be.


[00:31:17] Nathan Hurd: that's a good question. I mean,, there are things like learning to read. Or learning to learning mathematics or whatever. Like there are fundamental skills that I know are going to unlock possibility for them to explore and learn about the world that are pretty fundamental. And so I try to, you know, I try to make it fun.

Like when I'm reading to them or when they're reading, I try very hard to make it a fun experience, but also just re reinforce the fact that it's gonna unlock a lot of possibility for them to read books about anything, learn about anything. But then there's other stuff that's,, like my daughter does not need to play soccer, for example, right?

It's just a thing that she could [00:32:00] do and she can have the camaraderie from being, from being on a team. But does she really love it? Does she enjoy it? And I, you know, it's, it's very, very interesting experience to watch the behavior of, of other parents that have different. You know, backgrounds and perspectives on sports and competition and, and so forth that are, are, are quite different in their levels of intensity.

So , your response to that question is really helpful because I think about the stuff like that. Like my daughter walks around the house a lot and she dances and she sings like unprovoked. She just looks like she enjoys it. So my wife and I have been talking lately about, , maybe we should let her or ask, you know, ask her if she wants to do some dancing lessons or some singing lessons.

Um, and for whatever reason we took them to karate recently and they, both of our kids love karate. And I think part of it goes back to what we talked about before. Their teacher is amazing. , she makes it super fun. , she's like a [00:33:00] great like preschool elementary school teacher mixed with a really awesome.

Karate black belt. And so she makes the whole thing like, it's a, it's a game, but it's also serious. And so, yeah, it's, I don't know. I I feel like your response is right though. It's like, yeah. That, that gentle support without too much intensity, um, seems like the right balance. 

[00:33:27] Billy Nobel: Yeah. It just seemed, it just seemed good, um, from my perspective growing.

It seemed very safe and, and enjoyable. 

[00:33:35] Nathan Hurd: All right. A quick break from the show and an invitation really to hit the subscribe button. It's either a plus sign or a little check mark next to the podcast player right on the main page, and that'll make sure you never miss any new episodes as they come out.

I've got some. Speakers lined up, and I don't want you to miss them. I can't wait to share them with you. Also, if you enjoy the episode and you enjoy the content, please uh, drop a quick review on the podcast. It's [00:34:00] really helpful to, you know, as other new people come and visit the page for the first time, they get a sense of what your experience is like.

And I'm super appreciative for your support. So, um, I invite you to subscribe and thank you so much for your support and interest in this growing podcast. Back to the show. 

, so you, you went to Carnegie Mellon. Is that right? Which is a really well renowned, um, arts and, and music college was, you described earlier that, that the experience of like going from and playing and playing in high school, it's a serious hobby , and also a kind of an interest in a passion, but then stepping it up to like a, , I suppose a professional sort of level.

, what was the most valuable part of your education in that setting that helped to set you up for the career that you ultimately stepped into? 

[00:34:57] Billy Nobel: Um, I had two [00:35:00] great professors in college that really stand out to me. I had many,, but there are two that were, , Just like guiding lights of just, I just couldn't get enough of their, what they had to say and what they had to teach and what they had to tell me.

, one was my, , piano instructor, Ralph, Ralph Zitter Bart. , he was just wonderful. And , the other one was Robert Page, who was the director, ofor Studies. , so I would take, , I would do all my, like choirs and stuff with him and of some musicals. And actually I did an independent study in conducting with him.

, I didn't know him as intimately as my piano, , instructor, my piano instructor, Ralph was just, he was like, he was like one of my best friends at the time, just a great guy. And,, The biggest thing he [00:36:00] taught me that I have used, like, kind of in real world applications is how to practice, how to prepare mm-hmm.

because so much of what I'm, I was doing in college was not performing, but practicing to perform, practicing, you know, four hours a day. Um, wow. And so I, I took from that basically how to take, how to take music that I need to learn to perform and how to do that efficiently so that I can perform it at my best.

And he, he taught me like how to do that. 

[00:36:40] Nathan Hurd: Um, can you break down any of the aspects of, how you think about practicing? Yeah. 

[00:36:45] Billy Nobel: Um, if anything is challenging, practice slowly. And practice with a metronome or a, or, you know, we call it a click in, in Nashville.

Um, but a metronome is just [00:37:00] like, you can set the beats for a minute and it's, you know, it'll click with you and then you just practice to that. Um, and always if there's something challenging that you need to get through, always do it slower than you think you need to. And speed up the metronome a little bit.

Do it over and over and over. And then eventually, once you're at the performance tempo, for example, it should be worked into your hands and ready to go. And that, that's just one example of how to practice. And then there's a little, there's some other detailed things. Probably on the more technical side might alienate, um, 99% of your listening

[00:37:41] Nathan Hurd: Well, you know what though? Like I, what I'm thinking about is like what are the global aspects of what, of, of what you would, would do as a practicing musician that are global to practicing anything, right? , that that kind of, idea translates I think very nicely to something else.

 My own experience has been when I want to [00:38:00] get good at something, I want to get good as the way I observe others who are good, which usually , it's muscle memory, they're fast, they have got it really dialed in, and the desire to push to that. To, to, to get to that level quickly is really frustrating because you're just, you're not there yet.

So I like this idea about if anything's really hard, just give yourself permission to take it slow and, you know, do it slow enough so that you can do it well at that speed. And then, I mean, the same thing's true if you're like reading a really dense book or, you know, I mean, you, you could, you could map that onto I think a lot of things that people, that people attempt to, to enjoy.

[00:38:49] Billy Nobel: Yeah, for sure. Um I was thinking of someone in your position maybe like, do you ever have to, um, speak in public? I do. [00:39:00] And. So how did you learn how to do that? And at first did you have, did you get worked up and talk really fast and like, did you have to learn to kind of chill it out and take your time with it?

Or were you just naturally good at it? Some people, I guess, could be naturally 

[00:39:17] Nathan Hurd: good at that. No. Oh my gosh, no. The, the first time I spoke publicly, I was so nervous that, like, I, I remember being at lunch with some of my colleagues and I, I couldn't even eat. I couldn't even eat. I was so nervous that I. I just like, I was just really filled with that anxious energy and yeah, I'm sure I just, I don't even remember.

It's all blur. I talked really fast and I, I got it done. I checked the box, but then you're right, as you learn, this goes back to you. Um, as you learn to sort of perform almost in that way, you realize that there's beauty in silence. There's nothing wrong with pausing and just looking, and those moments of [00:40:00] silence can be really important and valuable.

And, um, so yeah. So nowadays I, I've learned to just trust myself more instead of like memorizing everything perfectly. I memorize bullet points and then I just, you know, I practice, I practice kind of what I would say just based on how it, how it feels and that sort of thing. But, but yeah,, I totally think this translates, , so when you got to Nashville, let's go back to your, to Nashville.

So you arrived in Nashville and you started to get, you, you, you got to a point where you were actually making money, um, at, you know, doing gigs. Can you describe like, what it felt like to, or what it was like to, to kind of get to a point where you were actually doing the thing and you were making money, and then how things progressed from there to the point where now you are at a, in a whole different place playing with, playing with Tim and Faith and, and all of that.

How did that come to pass? [00:41:00] 

[00:41:00] Billy Nobel: So when I moved here, I stayed in a hotel with the person I, , moved you with and we, it was like a cheap hotel outside of downtown, you know, moved here, didn't know anybody except my buddy who was gonna be my roommate. And I think the first job I ever had was I, I would go on Craigslist a lot and I would just respond and respond and respond to ads and just hope that something would take, and, , I eventually, uh, I was put on retainer to play in someone's band who, , was, uh, based out of St.

Louis. , we'd go up there to rehearse a little bit and he just, he just always wanted us available when he, , when he wanted to rehearse or do a performance. So he paid us a, , a salary for, , for the time that we were with him. , and so that felt, that felt like a good first, that was actually a very good gig slash safety net, , to start with because not a lot of musicians, gay or salaried gigs, I [00:42:00] think I just happened to get lucky with, , Finding this person's advertisement and auditioning for them 

but uh, I think he was just an independent artist based in St. Louis and he was able to have a band and, and rehearse with us and play his music.

, and that was like my first job. And, um,, it was not like a big salary by any means. It was my first salary. , but it was just nice to have that. Biweekly income. I'd never had that 

[00:42:33] Nathan Hurd: before, ever. But you and so you were playing in Nashville though, or were you actually going to St.

Louis? Yeah, so that was 

[00:42:39] Billy Nobel: one job that was like one part-time job. And then, um, there was one guy in that band who I met, his name was Kyle Ierson. He's a pedal steel guitar player who plays, uh, now he plays with Martina McBride. Wow. , but,, I met him and just by knowing him, he just [00:43:00] introduced me to, , certain people.

And I started, I started playing bar gigs in downtown Nashville and that's when it really felt fun and just kind of like, I couldn't get enough of that. I was, I was single. I had no commitments to like be anywhere I would work. I would work 12, 18 hours a day if I could. Um, just playing, playing, playing live, playing live, because I was, it was fun.

, you get that audience, , participation, you know, you start to feel that, , it paid. , and it was a, it was sort of a reminder that maybe I was doing something right because I kept getting asked back to do these, you know, that was sort of my first, , freelance work was playing at these bars downtown, , on Broadway.

So it was just an indicator of, of I was [00:44:00] on the right path. I thought, , I didn't know what that would lead to, but it was just starting to work out and I didn't have to like, Worry about, um, paying my electric bill, you know, I was able to get that covered and mm-hmm. , I was by no means not making a lot of money or wait, that was like so many negatives in there.

I was not making a lot of money. It was very, very, um, kind of month to month, but it always worked out. 

[00:44:29] Nathan Hurd: Yeah. But you, you, I mean, it sounds like you were doing the thing that you really enjoyed in a way that you really enjoyed meeting 

[00:44:35] Billy Nobel: people, having a lot of fun. Um, 

[00:44:39] Nathan Hurd: it was great. And also getting, getting feedback from the universe, essentially, you're getting feedback from the environment, from the world that this is something that, you know, you're, you're on the right track, right, at some level.

[00:44:52] Billy Nobel: Yeah. And then just little things like, Hey, you sounded really good. Could I get your number? I've got a gig coming up. Maybe I could call you. Just [00:45:00] that kind of encouragement was all I needed to know that. I should stick with it. Mm-hmm. , um, and just see what, and see what happens. Did you 

[00:45:08] Nathan Hurd: give yourself a certain amount of time?

Like, I think you may have started to go down this road, but like when you got to Nashville where you're like, okay, I'm gonna give myself x amount of time to either make this a thing or not. 

[00:45:20] Billy Nobel: I did. Yeah. So, um, I came to Nashville after working on cruise ships, um, which was also like reliable income. Um, and I keep bringing up income.

It's just, it's just so important to me to like be able to, it was important to me at the time to be able to like justify my desire to play music, , by being able to pay my bills, doing so. Totally. So, 

[00:45:47] Nathan Hurd: um, totally., I mean, the story of the starving artist is like, you know, it's like an archetype that we all know.

So I can only imagine if and when you're pursuing that path, you wanna make sure that that's not you and that you're onto something that can [00:46:00] work. 

[00:46:00] Billy Nobel: Yeah. , so , I came from cruise ships knowing that I could always go back to do that. And I had fun doing that and I was fine with going back to do that.

In fact, I planned on it. I gave myself one year in Nashville. I think I had budgeted to make that work. And, um, I thought, I thought more than likely I'll be getting back on that ship like this. This is no way. Like, I tried LA and, and I, you know, I was a little impatient there, but I also didn't really feel much momentum with music and songwriting there.

And so I thought Nashville's probably gonna be similar. And, and in fact, my first night here, literally the night I got to the hotel, my roommate and I. Went out to a bar and I watched a band play and I was like, okay, these guys are amazing and I'll never be this good. And so my plan of leaving after a year is [00:47:00] most likely gonna happen. . So one year, but I'm still here, um, 15 years later. , . 

[00:47:06] Nathan Hurd: So, alright, so, so this, this kind of blossomed and then when did the, , when did you really make the leap into what you're doing now?

[00:47:16] Billy Nobel: , I would just play live as much as I can. I would say yes to everything that I could. , and I found myself on Sunday nights playing in a bar band. , With a lead singer. His name was Brad Nelson. , great guy was so cool about having me in his band, like I wouldn't be there some Sundays. And then, you know, the other, he was just like, if you can be there, come out.

And there was, there weren't a lot of people that came out to see us. , we just kind of did it for ourselves. We just played cuz it was fun. And we'd have some beers and play music. And you had mentioned earlier, , feeling out each other. Mm-hmm. , this was, that was that band was that thing for [00:48:00] the lengthiest of Solos and Arrangements.

I mean, we would just play forever just cuz we loved it and guitar player wanted to riff on something for 10 minutes. We just did it. It's great. Speaking of the guitar player, his name was John Pria and, , he. , does Tim's Tim McGraw's guitar teching. So he's a fantastic player. And also, , guitar teching is like, , stringing up the guitars.

Making the guitars are, they look good. They're in good shape for Tim and for, , any of the guitar players on stage. , I'm sure you've been to a show and you've seen a guy come from side of the stage and hand someone a guitar. Mm-hmm. , totally guitar has like recently been set up to be great for the next few songs or that's what the tech does.

Um, so 

[00:48:54] Nathan Hurd: they're behind the scenes actually tuning to make sure it's in perfect tune. And then some they hand it off and someone else will [00:49:00] run it out onto stage. When there's a transition in this switch of instruments, 

[00:49:03] Billy Nobel: one of many things that they, many logistical things that they accomplish to help the show run smoothly.

Yeah. And there's several techs. There's a drum tech, there's a few guitar techs. Um, I have a tech. , who, , he also was, , a guitar tech and, um, and it's all just part of the machine that, you know, helps the show run smoothly. But, so John was playing in the band and I knew he worked for Tim. , but it was never really, we were just friends and, , Tim had a full band at the time and, , John and, and I just enjoyed each other's company.

And, um, Tim made some changes, uh, in his band in 2012. And I had heard about it, but I didn't wanna bother John about that. And I didn't really feel like I was like, at the level to play in, in that kind of band. I just, I don't know. It seemed out of [00:50:00] reach for me. I just assumed it was. Um, and so, John, uh, very beginning of 2012, uh, he said, he said, Hey, what do you got going on this year?

I'm pulling for you to play a McGraws band. And I was like, what? Really? Wow. Okay. I would gladly talk to anybody to see if I can make that happen. Yeah. Um, and it was a few months of, a little bit of back and forth with him and the band leader Denny. And, , so Tim was essentially putting a new band together for like half of his band.

There were three other guys that had been there for years and were gonna continue to, to work with him. And, um, all of the other guys, the new guys in the band were like handpicked and offered a job, but for some reason they didn't have a keyboard player to, to, um, to, to ask if they wanted to do the tour.

So, They had to [00:51:00] have an audition with several in mind. So I got kind of lucky in the fact that I could be in a pool of people considered, because I think that if they were just gonna pick one person, it wouldn't have been me, only because, , I think it would be someone that the band leader or Tim would've known personally.

Right. Um, but, I got kind of lucky, to be considered for auditioning. And then I auditioned and, and got a phone call that day, like, Hey, the Bandley was really nonchalant about it. He was like, he was like, well, the gig is yours if you want it. And I was like, uh, yeah. Let's go do a big tour.

[00:51:41] Nathan Hurd: is it true that you, uh, when you went into audition were you, was, was like, were you really nervous? , I dunno, can you just quickly tell the story of what, what it was like going in? Were you super nervous and what was it like?

[00:51:52] Billy Nobel: Very nervous. I was also very prepared because going back to what I said earlier, I knew how to practice [00:52:00] for the audition and to how to prepare that music. Um, a lot of it included, uh, like, uh, there's a song that I auditioned with called for Little While that is of actually a very involved fast piano part.

So, um, So I had to like slow that down and play it very slowly over and over to get it into my hands. So not only did I slow down my practicing, I slowed down recordings of his music so I could hear every nuance ah, that, you know, because otherwise they can fly by you very quickly.

But I slow down just so I could get it exactly like the music. Um, and I just did that using a program, like a music program. Um, and then, yeah, I was really nervous on the day and I think what you're asking me about [00:53:00] was, um, I happened to hear to like be outside of the door and listen to the keyboard player before me.

And he's an excellent keyboard player. One of the best in town actually, but. I, when I listened to him play it down, I sort of felt that I had prepared the audition just a little bit more thoroughly. Um, again, nothing against is playing. He's outstanding award-winning keyboard player, but one of the best.

But in that moment, I just had those four songs for the audition, just prepared really, really thoroughly. And, um, and that just helped relax me a little bit knowing that I could go in after this keyboard player and, and play it hopefully just as well as him. If not, um, maybe a little bit more thoroughly.

Is that what you were getting at? Is that like what you heard? Well, so 

[00:53:56] Nathan Hurd: they, um, as I recall you, you [00:54:00] played a very brief period of time and then they were like, okay, thank you. Is is that true? Did you play, did they, did they play? Did you play for quite a while? Yeah. All the 

[00:54:08] Billy Nobel: films, we did the first song twice.

Um, I think I just asked them to do it again. I don't remember it being brief. And in fact I was like really sweaty and gross because I brought so much gear. I like wanted to overcompensate with the, like what I could show them I owned and then set it up and played through it. It was a lot. 

[00:54:37] Nathan Hurd: Okay. Um, alright, so you get this nonchalant call. You accept the gig, and then you're, I mean, this is now all of a sudden you're gone from playing in bars in Nashville too on the main stage. So I guess maybe let's just talk a little bit about what's like, what it's like these days.

Like, so what has been your experience working with, [00:55:00] I mean, You know, you can go around the world and say the name Tim McGraw, and virtually anyone will know exactly who that is. He's one of the most famous people in the world. And so what's, what has this experience been like for you? Man, 

[00:55:16] Billy Nobel: I've learned so much about not only music, but people, and, um, yeah, that's just such a big question.

[00:55:29] Nathan Hurd: . So, I mean, is there anything that, like, what are, what are some of the main things that you, um, that were different about playing with such a , world class band compared to everything you had done before that.

[00:55:50] Billy Nobel: Um, it's exhilarating to be on the stage and everyone there is there to see the singer you're playing for [00:56:00] that. I had never really experienced that before. , not on that larger scale. , like when, when I was doing the stuff in town, it was a hustle and I'd be dragging my gear everywhere from one bar to the next or to a wedding or, um, just all over the place and throwing stuff in my car, unloading my car, setting up, breaking down, you know, doing a, doing a gig.

Like Tim's has the infrastructure where everybody has a role that, like, I just show up and I play the keyboards. That's all I do because there's a tech to set up and, um, troubleshoot any issues with those keyboards. And then my job is to come in and play them in the band. And so there's that element of it.

Um, that's a big difference from like, even the session work, the recording session work that I do. I'm lugging my gear everywhere to all the studios, um, and setting it up myself. And when I go work with [00:57:00] Tim, like there's, there's less of that to do. Um, I get to show up and, and just play the keyboards. Um, Like, was there, 

We do workouts on the road together. , fitness is a big, big deal when we're touring. , and we, we do it as, as a group. No pressure to those who don't wanna do it. But for those that , that, that was a huge life changing thing for [00:59:00] me. I never exercised, ever or thought about food, , in a healthy way.

And so that was, that's been a game changer. And I've been exercising for 10 years now, as long as I've been in this band, which is, which feels great. 

[00:59:22] Nathan Hurd: Are you working out every day? When you guys are touring?

we'll join him usually in the afternoons for a few, couple hours, one to two hours of like high intensity CrossFit, , that he leads, He comes up with the exercises and this, it's like, it's all, it's outdoors, it's all this like gear and, you know, ropes and, , just a bunch of stuff to like climb on.

It's, it's really fun. You would love it. You would love it. , it's, it's really fun. And it's, uh, and it makes for having, [01:00:00] uh, a great show that night. We've all been exercising, we've all been hanging out together, makes the show good. Mm. 

[01:00:08] Nathan Hurd: So what have you, like, what are, what have been the, some of the, like, if, if you have to reflect, if, if I ask you to reflect back on the last 10 years, what have been the most surprising or enriching or amazing experiences you've had?

[01:00:27] Billy Nobel: Surprising was meeting my wife 10 years ago. Mm. I didn't see that coming. Mm-hmm. , in fact, I was like, I was like, oh, I got this cool gig and I'm single and it's gonna be great. You know, it's gonna be really fun. And then I'm, and it was fun because , but in a different way because I met my wife, you know? Um, and you 

[01:00:46] Nathan Hurd: met her through the, through this Yeah.

Connection somehow. 

[01:00:49] Billy Nobel: Yep. So she, um, she, uh, she was our assistant tour manager, uh, the first summer out with [01:01:00] Tim. And we became, or my first summer out with Tim, and it was her first summer as well. We became really good friends and then that just turned into getting married 10 years later. 

[01:01:11] Nathan Hurd: Nice.

Congratulations, by the 

[01:01:12] Billy Nobel: way. Thank you. Um, so, but you know, as far as like career-wise, enriching, um, I've gotten to play with like, our band is just. Some of the best musicians around

everyone is there because they're so good. And, and I, and they helped me get better [01:02:00] because they, they were all asked to be there and I was the guy who auditioned, who like, kind of got there, I guess. Uh, and, and they made me so much better as a, as a player and as a professional because it's, I always thought it's.

it's not getting the gig, it's keeping the gig. Like, okay, my audition went well and they're hiring me for a summer. How do I make it so they want to hire me after the summer? It's how I always thought about it. So you know, you live with seven or I live with seven other people.

Mm-hmm. , um, on that bus. Um, so you have to get along well. You have to be good at your job, um, reliable. Um, you have to sound good. Um, there's just so much that goes into the touring, uh, machine that, um, that you have to learn to balance and, and learning that, [01:03:00] and, and still learning that is, is a very enriching experience.

Mm-hmm. . 

[01:03:05] Nathan Hurd: So, so like what's, what are the best parts about touring and what are the least enjoyable parts? 

[01:03:13] Billy Nobel: Um, the best parts. Um, a lot of times there's more food around than you can even, and I love to eat, so between the dressing room and catering and the food after the show, I mean, there's just, there's so much food and I, it's great.

I love it, . I just love to stuff my face, um, and, uh, so that's really fun. Obviously we've touched on, you know, the shows themselves are great and really exciting, um, the energy of the people. Um, I love, I personally love watching Tim perform and I'm behind him and I sort of get a front [01:04:00] row seat every night and he's so good at it.

Um, I've, I don't know how he got so good at it, if he's just a natural, if he took a lot of years. But he is just a great performer and knows how to feel out an audience and, and keyboards my role, you know, I'm not really in the spotlight, so I get to, I get to just watch him and, and enjoy it and play the show and, um, that's really fun.

Um, I think seeing my road family, um, is always nice. It's, there's a lot of good people out there. Um, what's the, what's 

[01:04:38] Nathan Hurd: the best kind of venue to play? Like do you have a favorite venue or the best kind of venue? 

[01:04:44] Billy Nobel: A venue like Red Rocks is very special. Um, a venue like the Gorge. Have you been there in Washington state?

Um, it's like a giant outdoor gorge. It's, it's fantastic. Um, [01:05:00] some, some arenas can be, Great. They're also, they can be tricky with sound though, because I'm not sure that a lot of arenas are designed for, uh, like live concerts. They're designed for sporting events, but live concerts happen in them. Um, there are certain, uh, amphitheater that are really cool.

Um, there's one called Blossom Music Center in, uh, in Ohio, outside of Cleveland, I think. I think it's outside of Cleveland. It's all made out of wood, and it's where the symphony plays in the summers, I think. Oh, cool. So 

[01:05:34] Nathan Hurd: the acoustics are amazing 

[01:05:36] Billy Nobel: and acoustics are great. Yeah. And it's just like a, like a, Cool building to play in and the audience can be like right up at the stage as opposed to like any sort of barrier or distance.

So they're right there. It's like, it's like playing a giant club. Mm. So it 

[01:05:52] Nathan Hurd: feels more 

[01:05:52] Billy Nobel: intimate. Yeah. And then, you know, you asked about some of the worst things about Yeah. Like what, what have, what have 

[01:05:59] Nathan Hurd: For those that [01:06:00] have never been on tour, what's the stuff that we don't get to see that's, the most challenging part of it?

[01:06:05] Billy Nobel: Um, sleep and traveling are very taxing and. My sleep is usually in a hotel room or on a tour bus, and I, I can't say that I sleep that great on a tour bus cuz it's a moving vehicle. Um, I do okay sometimes, but I can get really tired. So I prefer a hotel, 

um, not always, but, so making sure that I get adequate sleep in order to be at my best and, and function properly is really important to me. And then airports can be taxing. Um, um, delayed flights, traveling, things that people experience all the time. Um, but those who travel for work probably experience it more than, you know, the occasional holiday [01:07:00] traveler.

But everyone, everyone's been in that boat. The frustration of, of flight 

[01:07:06] Nathan Hurd: delays. Yeah, totally. So, so with the sleeping, do you tend to like try to maintain a comparable sleep schedule where you sleep like around the same hours in the evening? Cuz a lot of concerts will go pretty late, right? 

[01:07:20] Billy Nobel: So yeah. Um, so we're usually done, probably done performing around 10 30 or 11 on average.

And then there's a little bit of a wind down. , and then I just try to like chill it out and go to sleep as, as soon as I can. 

So I guess the, the, just a couple more quick questions before we close here. What, um, the, the nature of your work is, you know, you, you, as you said before, you're gonna go on a summer tour, but then you don't know if it's gonna, what's gonna happen next?

And I, you know, I can imagine that Tim probably, and I mean, this is my imagination, you tell me, but I, I would imagine that they're not really, it's not like 10 years ago they committed to touring for 10 years and there's gonna, there, there's gonna be a time when they don't tour or take time off touring.

And I, I know that there's, that's happened along the way. So how have you balanced that kind of feast or famine, nature of the work with, you know, what, what you talked about before, which is like generating a steady [01:09:00] income and making a living as an artist. Are there anything, is there anything in particular you've done to make the most of that or insulate yourself so that you were prepared 

[01:09:09] Billy Nobel: for it?

 I've always, um, just spent. Below my means because they're in the very back of my mind. I, I'm just paranoid, like, maybe this will all go away someday. And like people won't need me to play keyboards for them, which is, , it's not impossible. Um, or the landscape in the business could shift and I'm not needed anymore for some new reason that I can't even foresee.

So I've always just lived below my means. I've sort of accidentally stumbled into Landlording. Um, I bought my first condo and that was in 2012. And a couple years later, Callie, my wife and I, um, she was my [01:10:00] girlfriend at the time, we decided to move in together and do a house.

And rather than sell the condo, I just, um, kept it and rented it out. And just thought, I'll give this a shot. And so it worked out and I've had great tenants and I consider myself to be a pretty good landlord and, and thorough and responsive and keep my tenants happy. And, and so that sort of passive income has been very helpful, especially during the pandemic where music work just was done for several months.

Um, and that was reliable income. , and I, I've bought a couple other properties since then. . And so we just have like a, you know, small rental portfolio,, that helps with the volatility of being, a musician.

[01:10:51] Nathan Hurd: . Um, well listen, man, looking into the future, what are you most excited about?

[01:10:56] Billy Nobel: 

I think, I think work should hopefully be pretty decent next year and I'm excited about that. I'm excited. Uh, you know, the next year with my wife should be great. The past 10 years have been good. So, um, we have a nice little setup here at the house. We have a dog. you know, those things that I'm really grateful for.

Yeah, totally, . 

[01:11:27] Nathan Hurd: Well, Billy, it has been such a pleasure, man. It's, it's really, it's really amazing what your twists and turns of life have, have unfolded,. And it's, it's been so much fun to observe and I hope to, uh, , I'd love to come and see you soon.

Yeah. And, you know, I look forward to hearing more about how things continue, man. It's, it's, uh, it's awesome. So keep 

[01:11:53] Billy Nobel: same. Congrats on everything you've been doing and yeah, best of your [01:12:00] family. 

[01:12:01] Nathan Hurd: Thank you brother. It's been a real pleasure and, uh, let's do 

[01:12:04] Billy Nobel: it again sometime.

All right. Thanks for having me. Thanks. All 

[01:12:07] Nathan Hurd: right. Before you go, if you liked what you heard, don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast player, and if you enjoyed the conversation or any other, please leave a review. It's the single best way you can support the podcast, and I would be so incredibly grateful for your support.

Until next time, this has been Rich Life Lab.