The Next Rig Thing

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

1. "Somebody Somewhere": Actually, it's not a song per se, just some free-form radio scanning before a brief snatch of a song about a brief snatch that inspired a piece of Long Wong's toilet graffiti: "Somebody somewhere is sick of her shit." Ironically, one of the found AM sounds mentions carpal tunnel syndrome, which Wolfmeyer was afflicted with.

"I worked at a bakery in Seattle, putting twist-ties on bread, and got carpal tunnel. The owner was Transylvanian. He was nuts, like the bread Nazi. He was all about bringing bread to the people, but he only sold it in fuckin' Costco. You gotta pay a membership price to get his bread. That was his ass-backward logic. I quit that job when I started playing guitar and couldn't feel my hand various times of the day. They kept telling me they were gonna get a twist-tie machine, but they never did."

2. "I-10": A fine slice of what used to be called alt-country.

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.

"What's called alt-country now, there's no trace of punk in it. Uncle Tupelo, Jason & the Scorchers, it has to have that kind of edginess to it," says Wolfmeyer. "Everyone's trying to out-Hank each other." In other words, alt-country has gone to traditional country now that mainstream country sounds like Captain and Tennille. "I don't think we ever considered ourselves alt-country, but we sort of embraced it a bit. It set us apart. It's just rock 'n' roll with a twang in it."

3. "Ice Cream": After hearing Hines play the ultimate lazy Lynyrd Skynrd riff, the fellas turn this sucker into the ultimate nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah song, singing "I've got ice cream, but you ain't gonna get none."

Wolfmeyer says, "That's just what the guitar was saying. 'Ice Cream' is more about kicking back and barbecuing with your friends. You get a guy like Willie Nelson or Paul McCartney, and they can take everyday, mundane shit and make something cool out of it in a song. That's the songwriting challenge."

4. "Omaha": "Omaha" is the last word uttered by Charlie Daniels in "Uneasy Rider," so this would probably be a good place to mention that one of Hines' favorite records is Million Mile Reflections by The Charlie Daniels Band. "I worked for KNIX for six or seven years; it was still the time when Buck Owens owned it. I was an on-air jock for five years and the real country format, Waylon, Willie, Merle Haggard, Ray Price. I played the last song they broadcast from Phoenix and the legal ID before they flicked the switch. When I got in my car, they were broadcasting from Dallas."

5. "Irish Speedball": There's no sense in going over Hines' Jeepster incident again unless we can prove the SUV tires were at fault. Let's instead turn our attention to kickass drummer Mike Wood, who talked up a storm about the Web site for 10 minutes before we sat down for an interview. He then rode out the interview with the mute button on, doing every thing one can do with a ride cymbal: wearing it on his head like a Japanese sun hat, threading fishing wire through the hole and suspending it like a piñata from his outstretched arm, spinning it on his finger and running his nail across it like a phonograph needle for a good half-hour, tapping out a Morse code message on its bell and finally making it disappear in the trap case. All of this went completely unacknowledged by the rest of the band. I suspect his full-on boycott of the press has something to do with the joke, "What do you call a guy who hangs around musicians?"

6. "Parasites & Vampires": "My sordid past," fesses Wolfmeyer. "A lot of the songs are about people I've known and dumb situations I got myself into. Here's my baggage, world, I'm gonna sing it to ya. I was involved with some friends and we all got into tweaking a little too much. Their house was like party central, and you'd end up listening to Tool and Rage for 12 hours at a time. I saw a dude do rails wider and longer than your arm. Everyone in the room's eyes would water because it hurt watching it."

7. "Sunshine": It should be noted that this track, like every other on the album, does not feature Shelby James playing bass. And James, being from Toledo and all, felt like maybe he shouldn't be in the CD cover art until the guys told him to shut up and pose for the photo. He joined the band, having never really played the bass before but figuring he'd give it a shot since he couldn't work or sing after a Halloween brawl left him with his jaw wired shut.

"I was going to a party with some friends, and we were really drunk. Somebody said something to someone else. I just remember me being on the bottom of a pile of guys, with me in the fetal position, pleading that these guys quit stomping on my head. I was in the hospital for a while and, when I came out, they had to rebuild my jaw. I was in Long Wong's when I heard they were auditioning bass players, and I was sedated enough to try it."

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