Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Brad Kopplin
If there's any truth in the story - and there's not a damn reason to think that the Trainwreck Riders personnel would be anything but 100-percent up front about their origins - they exist because of a sousing, a direct result of what it means to knock back a mess of suds and get lost in the bubbles, the burps, the stumbles, the slurring, the whitish aftertaste. The music on the band's Alive Records (former haunt of The Black Keys and Two Gallants) debut is awash in the carefree folly that beer and more beer brings. Andrew and Steve Kerwin's mother checked in on the as yet unnamed band and commented that they were so drunk that they were trainwrecks. As comments go, they felt it was complimentary and they took it as a flattering remark, emblazoning their band with the observation.
One shouldn't attribute too much of anything to the magic of fermentation and its many resultant consequences, many of which cannot be predicted. The consequences that seem to befall the Riders are the ones that either lead to or are the fountain for an aftermath that involves falling off a wagon, if there was ever a wagon there to begin with. Moods and memories come in different hues and those that this San Francisco band counts as their only are a rich shade of amber, mixed with a sunset/sunrise (depending on if you're of the half full or half empty chapter) burnt orange.
They aren't combustible gents by nature, though they've got a raw and virile stripe to what they do that always them to mash the soft and the not so soft together for a premium blend of melancholic western rock and roll that either fits the bill as one of best hangover cures. It is calm around the edges and calming to the touch. The songs on Lonely Road Revival are consistent in their approach to finding the appropriate dressing for what happened the night before (all those beers again; and the old lady isn't as happy as she used to be).
They are a breakfast of eggs over-easy, some pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries, sausage links, some orange juice, dark, dark coffee and a couple triangled slices of buttered toast. With that spread in front of you, the troubles flutter off like loosened tail feathers, successfully springing free from the back of a migratory bird, landing somewhere and no where. All they know is that they're lost. There's just as much downtrodden, sapped of optimism sensibility to "Wine Stains" as there is this jumpy, yet smooth train track-like running gait. It works for the depressed and the depressingly lucky - for those relationships that people always seem to want to get themselves into are fraught with the kinds of potholes and bear traps that hit them the same way the sliding glass window smacks those sparrows in mid-flight, dropping them flat down to the patio or the ground.
A beautiful sloppiness - as if reflecting the calm hours between closing time and bed time (if you're in the right place, that is) - steams from the skin of "Hide Tide" and then again everything in Lonely Road Revival. Most of the songs are meant to show that a protagonist is set on getting over the troubled times - that there's an opposite end to the tunnel, with a bright spotlight and better food. Singers Andrew Kerwin and Pete Frauenfelder don't portray two different singing and lyrical voices, but one of the same vernacular, just with different pitches and shapes.
To some degree, if you were take each of the songs from the record and hold them up to your ear, the sounds that seashells make wouldn't come to you in a million years. What you would hear, were you to crack them open and knock around in the idea a little while is a famous, familiar slash. It's the serenity/excitement that kicks in when you open a can of beer should a crazing exist. They're frosty to the touch and small, but should the right time be in place and should the sweet, numbing release of a buzz be necessary to function sanely or discredit the crumminess they work wonders. Open the next beer you have...slowly. Hear the crack of the mouth hole breaking from its original aluminum home and softly you might hear Trainwreck Riders some, shuffling out a new deal.
The Daytrotter Interview:
* I hate asking questions about band names, but you guys actually have a good, pertinent story behind yours. Could you please elaborate for the folks at home?*
Andrew: Well, half the name is from mine and Steve's mom and the other half is from a list of obscure old blues references.
Steve: I always thought it was named after drugs.
*Do your mothers think you drink too much or are they supportive?*
Garritt: I'm supportive of your mom's drinking habit.
*Looking back on that Two Gallants club incident a few months out now, does anything else stand out as the most fucked up thing that happened?*
Andrew: After that incident, everything else seems so petty. Whether it's van problems or shitty shows, we can at least always say that things could be worse and we could be in jail for doing exactly what we do every night and what every other touring band does on the road.
*What came of all that brawl and jail business? Was it all dropped? How much did it cost you guys that night?*
Andrew: You should ask again next week as the whole thing is still dragging on and still draining our band fund and savings. Sean Walken and I will hopefully wrap it all up next week in the middle of our tour route.
*What's the most trouble you got into yesterday?*
Garritt: An old friend of mine who had let us crash on his floor kicked us out of his apartment as a result of mine and Pete's foot stench.
Andrew: Deadly combo.
*In what ways do you feel old-fashioned?*
Pete: Living simply.
*Where does the music come from for you guys? Are you thinking back or forwards through vintage glasses?*
Andrew: Well, Pete's glasses are being held together by super glue as they got stepped on in Olympia and run over by our van in Arizona. But he just picked up some used frames at Goodwill so those might be vintage. And Steve wares contacts now so those probably aren't too vintage.
*How did you meet Adam and Tyson from Two Gallants? They live by you, right?*
Andrew: We had a couple run-ins and stare downs in our neighborhoods before any of us actually met that we all recall, but I'd have to say we got our formal introduction to those guys from Full Moon Partisans. The three of us were playing at Bart Station together and from there we now get arrested together. BFF.
*What's your favorite San Francisco restaurant?*
Andrew: Bull's Head
Garrit: Lucky Penny on Geary
Steve: Arinells on Valencia
Pete: House Of Prime Rib
*The riding space in the back of your van, is it still so ghetto?*
Steve: Hey, the Gold Rush is sweet digs.
*How many wears do you guys go with the same shirt and pants?*
Andrew: Depends on how sweaty of a show and don't ask Pete cause he's a dirty hippy.
Garrit: I change my underwear after every girlfriend.
Andrew: But he's a faithful guy.
*Do you guys have any June Carters in your lives?*
Garrit: I prefer a little strokin' era Clarence Carter in my life.
*Do you have a new record in the works?*
Andrew: We have a good amount of new tunes that will hopefully add up to our next record, but ya never know. We might put some of 'em out beforehand on a 7" or something.
*What keeps you doing this crazy music-making thing?*
Steve: For the truth and pursuit of freedom rock!