The Next Rig Thing

Covering the tracks of Truckers on Speed's raucous new CD

Before www.truckersonspeed.com was up and running, all routes of Truckers on Speed Web information led to P.A.T.T. Who's P.A.T.T.? Parents Against Tired Truckers, that's who!

Ever since Mothers Against Drunk Drivers realized they were M.A.D.D. (cool!), folks have been organizing under any cause, just as long as the initials spell out something catchy. Mothers Against Deadbeat Dads realized their initials also would be M.A.D.D., but what possessed them to settle on this alternative -- Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears (M.A.F.I.A.)? What's that about -- mob kingpins who enter the witness protection program and don't take the family along? Ever wonder why dads never make a decision without consulting Mom? Check out Dads Against Discrimination, which blows, since the initials just spell out D.A.D. Once united, parental units will rail against just about anything from speeding teens (P.A.S.T.) to Ritalin (P.A.R.) to childhood epilepsy (P.A.C.E.).

One listen to Somebody Somewhere, the sophomore effort from Truckers, and you can bet Tempe will have a chapter of P.A.T.H.O.S (Parents Against Truckers High on Speed) picketing the band's shows. Case in point, track five: "Irish Speedball." To the best of my lyric-detection abilities, the song entails some vehicular recklessness:

Truckers on Speed: Just your typical sweaty, tattooed, hillbilly grungemeisters.
Kevin Scanlon
Truckers on Speed: Just your typical sweaty, tattooed, hillbilly grungemeisters.
The band's "Irish Speedball" is an ode to vehicular recklessness.
Kevin Scanlon
The band's "Irish Speedball" is an ode to vehicular recklessness.

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Long Wong's on Mill.

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Glory Revival till the break of dawn

Rollin' my Jeep just to have some fun

Something something something -- makes no sense to run

Gotta thank God I didn't kill no one

Truckers on Speed's singer-songwriter David Wolfmeyer told me what the "something something something" bit was, but since he sings and talks with a twang, I can't discern it from the interview tape. But affirmative on that loco motorvating, good buddy.

"That was Chad Hines' escapades on the first show he played with us," laughs Wolfmeyer about his lead guitarist's lapse of positive driving techniques. "We played with Glory Revival at the Sail Inn. And those guys are the ultimate in 'Don't Drink and Drive.' They would move their party from one place to another in this convoy of cabs." Hines decided he would make the short drive home a memorable one.

"I fell asleep behind the wheel," recalls Hines, "and I woke up missing a curve in the road. I had a Jeep and did what you're not supposed to do with an SUV. I took it over."

"Had anyone been riding with him, they would not have lived," Wolfmeyer shakes his head. "You should've seen this fuckin' thing." Hines walked away from the wreck with a tiny scratch on his elbow and a broken headstock on a shitty Dan Electro guitar.

"Welcome to rock 'n' roll, Chad," snickers Wolfmeyer. "We just figured we'd get all our stupid shit out of the way at the start of the band. Everybody you know can be distilled into one stupid event. I got plenty of 'em myself."

We'll get back to Truckers on Speed and the stupid events behind the new album, but first a brief band history. Wolfmeyer played in various Tempe bands that went nowhere in the mid-'90s before deciding to pick up and move to Seattle. Having arrived there close to the day grunge was officially cancelled, he found a thriving acoustic scene of open mikes in coffee houses and pubs -- but few if any drummers. It was there he formed an early version of Truckers on Speed that didn't really live up to the name. It could've been called D.A.D., for all it mattered.

Flash forward to May 1998. People are no longer calling Tempe the next Seattle, but people are calling Starbucks the next Nirvana. Wolfmeyer hooked up with drummer Mike Wood, guitarist Chad Hines and bassist/cellist Theron Wall and remembered the jokey name he'd used in the rainy city. Suddenly it fit. The band self-released a first CD, No Sense In Runnin' and established its Tuesday-night residency at Long Wong's. Wall left the band about seven months ago, shortly after the completion of the new CD, and was replaced by Shelby James, a singer-songwriter who plays acoustic Monday nights at Long Wong's.

Not as staunchly roots-based as many local cowboy-hat outfits, Truckers on Speed plays an open-minded mix of cow-punk and singer-songwriterisms, allowing the band to slot on the most eclectic of bills. Truckers has played the outdoor First Friday Art Festival with belly dancers. And there was the biker jamboree in Jerome, where lightning raged in the background and the concert organizers asked the band, "You boys about ready to go on? I think it's cleared up." Truckers recently played the largely hippie Earth Mother Mind Jam in a cloud of patchouli and incense. "It's the first time I ever wanted to get inside a bar because I couldn't breathe outside," laughs Wolfmeyer.

Even local radio has been playing the new tracks in prime-time hours. The guys have been on with Tim and Mark at KDKB, Tracy Lea at KZON and Stu D. Baker's free-form Americana show on KRXS. The album falls mainly under Hines' heading of "rock with a twang," but it contains some heavier sounds as well as traditional ones. Now, as promised, is the track-by-track discussion of Somebody Somewhere, with applicably tragic Behind the Music-style anecdotes thrown in.

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