Beneath the moss-draped oaks of Savannah, Georgia lies a burgeoning music scene, and one of the bands at the forefront of that scene is The Train Wrecks, a dynamic musical force that blends outlaw country with bluegrass and rootsy rock ‘n roll, all with a distinctive Southern swagger. Led by singer, guitarist and harmonicist Jason Bible, The Train Wrecks released their debut album, Whiskey & War, in 2007, and they followed it up with 2011’s Saddle Up, which showcased the band’s astute musicianship and songwriting.
Accompanying their albums with relentless touring, The Train Wrecks have opened for music icons such as Jerry Jeff Walker and B.B. King, and they have been dubbed by local reviewers the “hardest gigging band in Savannah.” With their fanbase growing on the strength of their intense live shows, The Train Wrecks returned to the studio in the summer of 2014 to record their next album, which is scheduled for release in the fall.
For more information, including upcoming show dates, check out www.thetrainwrecksband.com.
I was happy and loved being outside. I grew up in what was a small town called Colleyville,Texas. I played piano a little and sang in church. My mom played piano and I used to play our player piano with my sister a lot. I remember watching the keys and wondering how they all worked so fast. I loved sports and being a wild Texas kid. We took a lot of road trips in an old 1977 Suburban all over the south. I heard alot of ’80s country on those trips.
When did you begin playing music?
It wasn’t until I was 14, when I heard Bob Dylan. I was drawn to the words. I got a right-handed Hondo Electric guitar and flipped it left handed, got a harp holder which I still use, and learned “The Times They Are A Changin’.” There was a talent show and that started me on a path to where I am now. I love songwriting!
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons, Elvis, Buck Owens, Josh Roberts, Hank III, Johnny Fritz, John Prine, U2, Radiohead, Beck, Ben Harper, bands like Lucero, Centromatic, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, etc.
How did you meet the other members of The Train Wrecks?
I met Eric Dunn, our bassist and then we did some duo shows and the rest of the band kinda fell into place over the next few years.
Musically and/or creatively, how have you and the band evolved over the years?
We have had to make some changes and evolve as people and find a balance with our families, the shows, partying, and continuing to write great songs is what we strive to do. I feel like our new album is our best songwriting to date.
What is your songwriting process?
Most of the time I like to write by just setting up in my home studio and recording vocal and piano or vocal guitar. Stream of consciousness is something that I really find to be a fun way to get a blueprint for a tune. I write as much as I can these days and co-write with Stu Harmening, who plays dobro and my good friend Dave Williams in Athens. Almost all of the songs are then shown to the band and we arrange them from there.
What do you enjoy most about performing?
Kicking my amp over… being completely lucid and wild as possible.
What has been your most memorable live show?
I would say opening for B.B. King. Sold out theaters are amazing places to play. That was so fun and he has a great spirit and a big family that tours with him.
To be honest, my favorite shows are the ones that are in smaller venues where the audience is right there in front of you. When there is distance, it is not as intimate.
When it comes to playing a live show, what’s the most underrated bar or club in or around Savannah?
I really like playing at Huc-a-poos on Tybee Island. The music fans out there are always fun to play for and they know how to cut loose.
Are there any venues that you weren’t so sure about at first, but that turned out to have a great setup or a surprisingly-enthusiatic crowd?
I really like Foxy Loxy. The courtyard is great, but I really like playing inside the place. It is the kind of thing where you sit and play with no mic or PA. It always makes me uneasy, but it always reminds me that relaxing and just playing songs is what I love to do.
Which cover song do you most enjoy performing these days?
I would say “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” We do a Cow punk thing with it and then slow it down and then speed it up at the end. It’s like Leadbelly meets Bill Monroe meets Nirvana meets The Train Wrecks. I love the challenge of wondering if I can give the song 180%. It takes all I have to perform that one with the intensity that it deserves.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
Mud was really good. I like stuff that is story based. Can’t wait to see the Hank Williams movie they are working on now. I hope they do it right and treat Hank’s life with care.
What do you wish you’d figured out at a much younger age than you actually did?
How to stop smoking and learn to sing. I thought my first two-song cassette was my ticket to a tour bus. Twenty years later, I’m more aware that it is not about the fame and awards as it is about writing great songs, and you’re only as good as your last show. I also try not to pay attention to perfection because I had to give up on it a long time ago.
How is the new album coming along?
We are mastering at this time with Dave Greenberg at Sonopod. The art is moving along and we are doing vinyl records this time as well. I am very happy with the songs and I feel like any music lover is gonna like at least three of the eleven tracks.