The Trainwreck Riders have been kicking out excellent country-rock for nearly a decade, and are now streaming their forthcoming LP Ghost Yards on Bandcamp. The album will be released on vinyl October 20th on 20 Sided Records, and continues their combination of great songwriting and storytelling, tight instrumental breakdowns, and just the right amount of twang. I was able to catch up with the Riders via email to ask them some questions about Ghost Yards.

TBB: What have you guys been up to since the release of The Perch?

TR: In a lot of ways we have been really trying to figure out our place in this City, a lot has changed since the days of us playing Bart Station shows and living just to play music and travel. Those are still things we like to do, but after a while you start wondering why you’re not doing them as often. Partly it’s because we needed a break, and partly because it’s become harder to exist in a city that doesn’t necessarily promote the “simple life” as much as it once did. Steve (drummer) moved into the downstairs of his Grandparents house in the Sunset, which gave us a little club house to hang out, listen to old records, play music and hosts friends from out of town. So I guess you could say we’ve been hiding out and writing and recording new songs in the basement.

TBB: What do you feel are the biggest differences between this album and your previous work?

TR: Ghost Yards is a Trainwreck Riders record in the purest sense. Just like in the case of our first record, it was just the band and an engineer in a studio, except this time it was done at our dream studio, and we recorded it to tape, and we didn’t have anyone to answer to, or any deadlines to make as with The Perch. Also, there’s songs about sharks, gypsies, losing your weed in the laundry, those are things we really haven’t sung about before.

TBB: Were there any particular themes you were trying to explore with Ghost Yards?

TR: We are still pushing ourselves to write songs that hit people over the head, that surprise people with their honesty and creativity and build on the music we have put out up to this point. Heartbreaking nostalgia for a time that may or may not have ever existed, loss of loved ones, the power of the Ocean outside our window, San Francisco; our home town and how it’s changed. These are some of the themes present in “Ghost Yards”.

TBB: How do you decide who sings lead on each song?

TR: Practicing a lot.

TBB: How did you get into country music while growing up in San Francisco? Or did the country sound just happen?

TR: We all became friends at a time when the music we were listening to was really important. It was shaping our individuality as well as giving us a soundtrack to all the crazy things we were going through at the time. We started talking music before we started playing music together and there was nothing better than exposing one another to something they hadn’t heard before. Because of this we started digging into each others collections as well as our folks. Country music was around the house, you could hear the Mariachi bands playing down the hill in Bernal. This band the Skirtheads from the East Bay really blew our minds. If you love rock n roll you’ll eventually discover all the country greats that influenced your heroes.

TBB: I’ve seen you cite the Meat Puppets as influences before – who are some other artists that have made an impact on your sound?

TR: John Prine (Diamonds in the Rough), Virgil Shaw (Quad Cities), Skirtheads (Rock Imortal), any thing by the Michael Hurley, Minutemen, Kinks or Robert Wilkens to name a few.

TBB: Do you have a favorite Buck Owens song?

TR: “Together Again”…but we tend to listen to a lot more Merle Haggard to be honest.

TBB: Have you had any particularly memorable Bay Area gigs over the years (good and bad)?

TR: We have definitely had more good gigs than bad in the Bay Area, it’s touring that can often be a little crazy and unpredictable. A memorable show that we can remember most recently was our singer Pete’s Birthday Party at the Light House in the Richmond. There was ten bands (Jus Folks, Dead Westerns, Betsy and Beau, Two Gallants…) and lots of food, a piniata full of joints and tequila nips, a cake shaped like a penis. We played to tons of folks and the cops didn’t come till the end of the last band.

TBB: What’s next for you? Will there be a tour associated with the release?

TR: We’re really grateful to our friends at 20 Sided Records for helping us put this record out. We are planning on going up to the North West in the Fall to push the record up there and then shoot down to the South West to see some old friends. We are always writing a performing new songs so you can always expect for the band to put something new on the table to dig. We made a pact when we were in High School we would never break up so for better or worse we’re gonna keep on chugging along, good thing is we’re still friends and still writing lots of weird country rock songs for our friends and neighbors.

The Trainwreck Riders will play the 20 Sided Records Compilation release party September 29th at Thee Parkside. The show will consist of live music all afternoon and into the night, and will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. You can stream Ghost Yards below.

Trainwreck Riders, Saything, Slow Trucks, Ugly Winner, and MANY MORE
Thee Parkside
September 29, 2012
2:00pm, $10 ($15 with CD purchase)