“With our feet in the city, and our heads in the country.”
Trainwreck Riders are one of the few, if not the last, honest, true and authentic American rock and roll bands. They emerged before online digital streaming, building a fan base by driving around the country and handing out records the old fashion way and have spent nearly 20 years consistently improving upon their craft. The band is an example of how it is possible, however difficult, to continually push a vision forward and hone it to perfection.
Trainwreck Riders began in a San Francisco garage in 2001 under the moniker Rockin’ Chair. Their early sound pulled heavily from a punk/DIY aesthetic infused with their uniquely alt-country twang essence. A rocking blend of urban country, cow punk, Americana and their own quirky SF tendencies (think Creedence meets the Meats Puppets). Prolific singer/guitarist Pete Fraudenfelder would pen little ditties while off at college and then would mix them with jams that the Kerwin brothers had kicking around back in SF. Steve Kerwin’s raw energy on the drums propelling the band away from the down tempo slog of typical country/blues, while his older brother Andrew, already a veteran of the local punk scene, brought his virtuosic lead guitar skills into the fold. Rather than switching genres in search of their “sound”, Trainwreck Riders began their endless process of refinement from the very beginning, having already tapped into a solid musical vibe and then finding themselves at the heart of a vibrant scene coming out of local art spaces, train station busking events and supported by other like minded bands (touring with their SF brethren Two Gallants and playing shows with Grass Widow). Though vibrant, the early years were slow, as the members contended with geographic distances, educational commitments and playing in other projects but by 2006 the band was focused on taking things to the next level. Having by now played a ton of shows, self released an album, toured regionally and written a wealth of solid material, a signing to Alive Records culminated with the release of their first "proper" album, "Lonely Road Revival".
The following decade saw the band touring the US multiple times as well as releasing a couple more albums; 2009’s "The Perch" (Alive Records) and 2012’s "Ghost Yards" (20 Sided Records). It was during this era that your typical band would have quit, but not Trainwreck Riders. They survived having 6 bass players, with Shawn “Boof” Wyman finally rounding out the sound perfectly and permanently. They switched between multiple record labels and they somehow survived a gruesome accident which saw their van (and themselves) tumbling down a Texas highway in the middle of the night. Members have been arrested on tour in multiple US states for basically keeping it real and just like with any long term intimate relationship, they also weathered periods of inner band tension. Maybe it was the hiatuses along the way that offered the band a chance to take a breath and then rekindle their creative forces. Maybe it was that every member has multiple side projects that fuel their individual energy, which then gets brought back to the band (Pete leads Slow Motion Cowboy, Andrew plays in Burning Curtains, Steve plays in Asada Messiah and Boof plays in Old Pal). Or maybe it's just that these guys have it in their blood and know that the authenticity they bring to each other and the music keeps it worth coming back to. This train can’t stop and once you are on board, it’s a hell of a ride.
Trainwreck Riders continue down the track, having picked up steam once again and are tearing around the bend with railcars filled with their finest material yet. Check out their latest and greatest, the new self titled Trainwreck Riders LP on Orphan Records in 2020.