TRUTH & SALVAGE CO.:
THE BAND RIFF ABOUT EVERYTHING FROM THE TRUTH
TO THE OUTRAGEOUS TO THEIR PURE AMERICAN ROCK & ROLL
A Q&A WITH TIM JONES (VOCALS/GUITAR), WILLIAM SMITH (VOCALS/DRUMS), WALKER YOUNG (VOCALS/KEYS), ADAM GRACE (KEYS) AND SCOTT KINNEBREW (VOCALS/GUITAR)
(September 21, 2010)
Q: With four singer-songwriters in TRUTH & SALVAGE CO., you are a shining example of a true democracy at work. Can you explain how this dynamic works?
TIM JONES: The same way any great democracy works, with true liberty and an honest respect and deep love for everyone that is a committed member to the Union.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: We bring all of our songs to the table and simply pick the songs that we think best represent us. Lately we have been writing collaboratively together and this I think represents the band fully.
WALKER YOUNG: We enjoy each other’s company and respect each other’s opinions. The band was born out of casual jam sessions where we learned each other’s songs. Everyone wanted to sing and it fell in place naturally.
ADAM GRACE: It’s kind of like making a gumbo. We all throw ingredients in, cover the walls with flour, cook at 400 degrees, and see if it tastes any good.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: Aw, shucks, you sure know how to flatter us! When you realize that your ego has the tendency to destroy in five minutes what took your whole life to culminate, then diplomacy has a special ring to it. Daily mantra: ‘Alone I am good, together we are great.’
Q: The band performed in 2010 at the Stagecoach, the big California country music festival. But your music wouldn’t necessarily be in the “country” section of a record store bin. How do you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
TIM JONES: A little bit country and a little bit rhythm and blues, which I believe is commonly known as Rock n’ Roll.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: Pure American Rock and Roll
WALKER YOUNG: I think it is Indie Rock in spirit and the sound is rooted in Southern/Country Rock.
ADAM GRACE: That depends on who that person is…If they like country music, I would say, “Heck Yeah…we’re country!” If they like rock and roll, I would say, “We ARE rock and roll!” If they like rap I would say, “You are sh#t out of luck!”
SCOTT KINNEBREW: I call it country rock–emphasis on the rock. It twangs and bangs.
Q: You guys came from all over the country and formed in California, which has a rich country legacy, from Buck Owens and Merle Haggard to the Byrds and Eagles and onto Dwight Yoakam. Your debut album features “Welcome To LA” and “101” which tap into this country legacy. How do you feel living in Los Angeles impacts the sound of TRUTH & SALVAGE CO.?
TIM JONES: The mountains, the ocean, the desert, the dirty streets, the broken dreams, the abundance, the desperation, the euphoria. What else do people write songs about? There’s gold in them hills.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: We all have worked very hard all of our lives just to keep our dream alive. Since we’ve lived in L.A., we have experienced the true meaning of hard work, love, the quality of life and brotherhood from the support of our amazing social group in L.A. and families pushing for us. Realizing these elements has created who we are as a group and have written the songs that we perform.
WALKER YOUNG: Los Angeles–along with its rich musical history–has incredible unknown talent flowing from its pores. We have had the fortune of being part of a rich music scene inside Hollywood. This scene has inspired us in song but mainly in our communal vibe as a band. L.A. is critical to what we do and in the middle of an egocentric beast we have found a community that binds.
ADAM GRACE: Los Angeles has little bearing on our sound–I think we would have developed wherever we resided. That being said, we really love our fans in L.A. and couldn’t have done it without their support.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: Los Angeles has been integral to the forming of this band. Less than music, what’s been so impactful is the city itself. What, 25 million people? A world hub of every shade of people in mass quantities? A community of freaks with undiminished optimism who work hard at their craft and party even harder? Honestly–when it’s all said and done–I feel that Truth & Salvage will impact the sound of Los Angeles.
Q: What’s your idea of “truth” and “salvage”?
TIM JONES: Nothing is beyond repair and everything can be forgiven. Rock n Roll never forgets.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: God don’t make no junk!
WALKER YOUNG: The Truth is our song. We Salvage those parts of our past which are important to bring with us into the future. The Company is the friendship that connects us.
ADAM GRACE: Two important things: seek the truth and salvage what you can from your life while on the journey.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: The truth is we’ve been at this music thing for a while and we’re salvaging the best of ourselves to give you our greatest.
Q: You are touring all the time, either headlining shows, playing festivals or opening for bands like The Black Crowes and the Avett Brothers. So how do you guys keep sane and pass the time during travel (van or bus)?
TIM JONES: We decided to let sanity fly away and be free a long time ago, but we just laugh ‘til it hurts and then laugh even harder when it feels good. And usually laughing makes you feel pretty good.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: A lot of patience, acceptance and detachment. We listen to a lot of music, text our loved ones and do a lot of band work. And sometimes if it’s not too bumpy in the van, we will read a book.
WALKER YOUNG: The American landscape is so vast and constantly changing I get lost and amazed by the beauty outside. We listen to a lot of music. In fact, Chris Robinson just gave us ten Dead bootlegs which we are jamming heading across southern Utah. Blue skies, Mountainscapes, “Drums” and “Space”…ahhh…
ADAM GRACE: We daydream a lot. We keep in mind how blessed we are to have such amazing fans and how lucky we are to be living the dream. We hope for a future in music and the chance to do it with our brothers.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: We gave up on sane a while back, and to pass the time we have digressed significantly: elementary potty humor is the new norm, you know, the p-word, the d-word, everything sarcastic.
Q: How did you connect with Chris Robinson? How did his perspective—as a producer, fellow artist and fan of your band—influence the album?
TIM JONES: Chris is one of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time and our band is all about our voices and his perspective is to never settle for anything less than what is inspirational. And we decided not to let him down.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: We met Chris through manager Pete Angelus. Chris’ belief in us gave us a lot of confidence and humility. He let the songs be what they are and added just the right missing ingredient to make the songs taste like the best southern fried chicken that you’ve ever put in your mouth.
WALKER YOUNG: Chris was very hands-on with the entire production, from guitar tones to back-up harmonies. He really helped create a mood for the album through arrangement, tones, and intensity. Chris forced us to try and get the most out of every song.
ADAM GRACE: Chris is like a wise sage. He came in and waved his wand and made magic happen. It’s hard to encapsulate what he did…he just did what he does and we are better off for it.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: I think we all worked well together, we had a mutual interest, a fucking bad ass record. He, as all the Crowes, brings a level of professionalism that every musician can learn from, and as far as our debut record goes, he carved out the fat and made our songs pop.
Q: Tell us something about one of your band mates that few people know. You can be brutally honest.
TIM JONES: Adam Grace is a master magician and can read your mind, steal your watch, levitate, and deal you a straight flush in a 5 position draw poker game. Not necessarily in that order.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: Walker modeled as Jesus for the cover of David La Chapelle’s book “Heaven or Hell” with Courtney Love.
WALKER YOUNG: Scott Kinnebrew was in the merchant marine as a line cook. He travelled through the South Pacific for a year before pursuing his love for music.
ADAM GRACE: We all have alter-egos. Walker sometimes turns into “Snake-handler Slim.” You might find him juggling cobras or walking the fire pit. He’s one of the bravest people I know.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: Adam has never eaten a vine-ripened cherry, is deathly afraid of sharks and has never stepped foot in the ocean.
Q: You guys made your late night national TV debut when you performed “Pure Mountain Angel” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (and “Rise Up” as a JKL web exclusive). How did it feel to receive that kind of mainstream exposure?
TIM JONES: It felt like being Jane Fonda’s boyfriend in “Barbarella.” Enchanting and Wild.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: We feel very fortunate and blessed to have had the experience. There are a lot of great bands out there that don’t get the opportunity, but because we have such a great team behind us, we have been granted great opportunities like being on Kimmel.
WALKER YOUNG: Performing on JKL felt really good. To sing a song which has meaningful words and such impacting harmony to millions of unsuspecting viewers felt a little subversive. It made me feel like we actually do have a voice.
ADAM GRACE: Every time something like that happens we feel this “momentum” building. We are enjoying the ride and Kimmel was another in a line of amazing experiences.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: We were at the neighborhood bar with a lot of friends the night it aired, the whole place packed watching the tube and singing along–it reminded me of all the support we had a long the way, it was great to be with the folks that were there from the start. Lots of hooting and hollering. Felt fucking great!
Q: For anyone who hasn’t seen TRUTH & SALVAGE CO., can you describe your live show? Also, do you vary set lists and throw in covers (if so, which ones)?
TIM JONES: Our show is an exercise in controlled elation. Lots o’ singin’ and smiles! We play our record when we open. If we headline, you’ll get all that plus a case of beer and a sweat-soaked towel from Walker.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: Our live shows are like an episode of “Hee-Haw” with a sloppy bbq sandwhich on your lap and a cold beer in your hand. Yes we vary the set, but we focus mainly on the songs off of our album. When we have longer sets ,we will throw in covers like “Cowboy Song” by Thin Lizzy, “All I Can Do Is Write About It” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.”
WALKER YOUNG: Our live show is very energetic and more balls-out than our recordings. We do have some covers that we throw in, and when we get to do longer shows, the set changes. Our show is always very tight even when some of our jammier songs are introduced.
ADAM GRACE: It’s like fishing–we use the songs as bait to reel in the audience and then give them the live experience they need. Humans need the live experience. It goes back thousands of years and in that experience we–and the audience–are part of something eternal and true.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: It’s a study in energy. It’s watching a clan of brothers playing for their lives. “Lola” by The Kinks
Q: What has been your Spinal Tap moment on tour so far?
TIM JONES: We opened for wedding band called “Run For Cover” in Visalia, CA and I ended up in jail later that night. It wasn’t a puppet show, but it was pretty humbling.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: Man, we have been so lucky on these tours. I guess maybe driving 3 days to Missoula, MT setting up our gear to open for the Crowes and Mother Nature gave us 45 mph winds and rain–blowing over mic stands, trying to cover our gear with plastic, blowing over etc. Needless to say, we didn’t play, got in the van and drove to Boise.
WALKER YOUNG: When we were playing at Stagecoach Country Music festival last spring, all of our power went out on stage. We were three songs into our set. There was a moment of “what do we do now?” We quickly grabbed up our acoustic instruments and continued the show… acoustic. The crowd stayed.
ADAM GRACE: We encountered a sound man who left the room during our set. As soon as he left, we had a terrible feedback loop that started. It was a squealing, painful sound that cleared the room and almost deafened us! It took a few minutes for the soundman to come back and realize what he did. By that time no one was around. I thought we were being punked!
SCOTT KINNEBREW: Our first gig with the Crowes I was fretting all day about whether I should change my strings, didn’t want to deal with tuning I guess. Well, on the first down stroke of our show starter “Hail Hail” my B string popped, put my whole guitar out of tune, definitely made me feel pretty ridiculous, but hell, it’s rock n roll, WTF!
Q: What were the pivotal albums in your lives growing up? What are you listening to now?
TIM JONES: Prince Purple Rain, Van Halen Diver Down, Kenny Rogers The Gambler, U2 War, Neil Young Decade…been listening to a lot of the Black Crowes and Avett Brothers (live). Just got my first iPod and downloaded Gordon Lightfoot, My Morning Jacket, Carl Broemel (from MMJ), The Promise Ring, Johnny Rivers, John Denver, Guided By Voices, Bob Dylan, Brandi Carlile and George Harrison. And I love local/national Los Angeles friends/bands/singer/songwriters Jesse Cole, Lissie, Dawes, the Brother Sal, Cary Brothers, Brian Wright, Ragsy, and a whole bunch more. Sorry–I went overboard on this one.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: In Through The Out Door/Led Zeppelin, The Basement Tapes/The Band and Dylan, Who Made Who/AC/DC, all of Gram Parsons’ albums, Crawfish Fiesta/Professor Longhair, Bobby Charles (self titled), The Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker. Now am digging on the Band Of Horses, Avett Bros, Felice Bros., Dr. Dog, Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark.
WALKER YOUNG: Right now we are listening to a Grateful Dead bootleg from 1977. The Dead was a huge influence on me as a kid. They first showed me the influence and power music has on people. No longer was it just about the music, it was a happening, a scene.
ADAM GRACE: For me it was the Grateful Dead Europe 72. My mind was blown at the first live album I had ever heard. Instantly, I wanted to do what they did. (Not really possible though). Now, I’m listening to the new Band of Horses album and I’m loving it.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: American Beauty by the Grateful Dead. I was a lil uptown New Orleans punker and this dude was like, ‘Man you need to listen to some Grateful Dead,’ and it sounded so punk I bought it that day. It sounded so country the vinyl collected dust for a year until my first acid trip at 15. Right now my favorite record is Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
Q: If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would that be?
TIM JONES: Lee Harvey Oswald
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: Jesus
WALKER YOUNG: Clint Eastwood
ADAM GRACE: Tim Jones–dead!
SCOTT KINNEBREW: I would very much enjoy the opportunity to rap with my grandfathers. That would be pretty cool.
Q: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
TIM JONES: My biggest guilty pleasure is Pleasure. Not one much for guilt.
WILLIAM “SMITTY” SMITH: “True Blood” and Coffee
WALKER YOUNG: Denim–when you’re a denim man you just can’t find enough denim.
ADAM GRACE: Escaping to some remote place to see a Widespread Panic show or three.
SCOTT KINNEBREW: I spend so much time in bars and talking with folks that when I’m home I really just want to chill with the babe and drink screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed, tree-plucked oranges at my Pasadena retreat. I guess I feel guilty cause I got a lot of friends I want to see and support but I get off the road and I just want to chill–I guess I feel guilty for a second, but it sure is a pleasure.