I watched several live performances of Truth and Salvage Co. on their YouTube channel before listening to their eponymous debut album (now available on iTunes), and I was immediately charmed by the six-piece Southern rock band’s ability to effortlessly nail four-part harmonies. The group consists of Scott Kinnebrew and Tim Jones on vocals and guitars, Bill “Smitty” Smith on vocals and drums, Walker Young on vocals and keys, Joe Edel on bass, and Adam Grace on keys. In addition to touring with The Black Crowes and The Avett Brothers, the members of Truth and Salvage Co. have collaborated with such artists as Ben Folds Five, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, and members of My Morning Jacket. I spoke to Tim Jones on the phone last week, immediately bonding over a mutual frustration with L.A. traffic. He was everything a Southern gentleman should be: polite, charming, and a great conversationalist. He asked just as many questions about my life and background as I did of him, and we spoke for about 15 minutes before even bringing up Truth and Salvage Co.When we did finally get down to business, Tim was very thoughtful and frank about what it takes to keep a band together, their recent performance experiences, and working with Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes. Be sure to check out the brand new music video for their song “Pure Mountain Angel” below.
Laurel Kathleen: You released your eponymous debut album back in the spring, and Chris Robinson produced it. Are you planning on working with him on your next record?
Tim Jones: I would love to. We’ve spoken briefly about it; I know he’s going to be doing his own thing for a lot of next year, and we hope to tour through 2011 on this record. If the timing is right, I can’t think of a more brilliant person for the job. Everything he did for this band, I’d love to do it all over again. Now we have the benefit of being more comfortable with him. Personally, we were all such fans of The Black Crowes that I think we were a little…not starstruck, but still in a fan mode when we did the first record. Having the benefit of being friends and really getting to know him, I think it would make working with him even better.
LK: Are you already working on your next album?
TJ: Not exactly. We’ve got plenty of songs, we’ve got four songwriters in the band. Even when we made this last record, we had to first narrow it down to 18 songs. Honest to God, so many bands are just putting material out there and peole are so inundated with the amount of music that you’re able to access, I’d really like for everybody to have this record first. We’ve only just started touching the tip of real music listeners. The people who have it now are people who read indie blogs, magazines. Everyone that’s a fan is really on the edge and hungry for new music, but we want to reach more people. So we’re concentraitng on this record and getting it out to everyone we can. When we do make anothe record, I hope it’s not until 2012. I want to reach more people with this one first. Lots of people equate quantity with quality, but it’s more about us as a unit and the fans, the listeners. We’re more dedicated to playing for people that want to hear us than playing for ourselves. We could play a ton of new songs every show, but the people who come to the shows want to hear what’s on the record.
LK: You guys have all been involved with various projects before coming together as Truth & Salvage Co. What would you say are the necessary ingredients that contributes to a band’s staying power?
TJ: The first thing is to really like the people you’re in a band with. You can be the most successful band in the world, say the Eagles: I think at one time they really did like each other, but now they’ve grown apart. Or maybe it was like that from the beginning, I dunno. Walker, Scotty, Smitty, and Joe have played together for over a decade. They’ve all quit a band that they were in and they’ve stuck with each other because they like hanging out and actually enjoy each other’s company apart from the band. I sort of watched them from afar for two years before we were in a band together, and they were my good friends before we were even in the band. You have to enjoy each other’s company, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time together.
Secondly, you have to have a lot of great songs. A lot of people put business plans ahead of music plans, and at end of the day if you don’t have great songs… You can have friends on Facebook, a great marketing strategy, et. cetera. But if you don’t have songs that people want to live and die by, then you don’t have what it takes for staying power as a band.
LK: Whose songs do you live and die by?
TJ: I’m always listening to Bob Dylan. If you pick one song off of every single record, it’s pretty much better than any other song out there (laughs). Neil Young, there are a ton of great singers that write great songs. Otis Reddding, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley. Anything Motown, you can’t really go wrong with that. I don’t feel like I need to listen to The Beatles, but you can’t deny their songs; they are so universal and so simple and yet so achingly beautiful. Who could write a song now called “All You Need is Love“? Or write a song called “Stairway to Heaven”? You couldn’t. Songs that I think are great are ones that you can sit down with on a piano or guitar and a singer can just sing along with.
LK: You played several festivals this year, but which one was your favorite and why?
TJ: As far as big festivals, we’ve done Stagecoach, Wakarusa, Bonnaroo; we also did one in Little Rock and Memphis. Wakwarusa was so much fun, that was the first one we did. It was huge and a lot of people came to the show, but also we got on really late because another band had taken awhile. So we were quick to soundcheck, and the show just didn’t go as well as it could have with the amount of time we had to prepare.
Stagecoach was this country music festival with a totally different crowd. Real salt of the earth people, not just young kids looking for drugs. We were playing and the power went out. But luckily we had an acoustic guitar and accordion, so we just strapped those on and played. People went nuts for that, and that’s what music is really all about. When 500 people gather around tight to hear you play, they’re there for the music.
At Bonnaroo, there were so many amazing bands there. Norah Jones played across the way, and I guess we were so loud we drowned her out during part of the show. We had been up for like 24 hours, and Walker had a concussion, but it was still great. There was no time to look back on anything until it was done. High Sierra was the last one, if I was to say any was my favorite it was that one. The weather was perfect, and The Black Crowes headlined and they had just taken us under our wing. We played, then hung out and watched their set. It was just a really fun hang.
LK: You recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. What was that like?
TJ: It’s like anything you build up so much in your mind. And then, it’s over. And you’re like oh s***, I hope that was cool! But you look for those moments when you’re just going on instincts. It’s just this great energy, but I don’t get necessarily get nervous. There were hundreds of people that are there, friends that are excited for you, thirty people in the crew running around setting it all up. We rehearsed like six times that day, and then all of a sudden Jimmy’s shaking your hand live. Every superstar in the world has to go and meet him so they can shop their next movie or album. A lot of us all work in the industry, doing art department or behind the scenes work, and all of a sudden you’re the talent. But it was super exciting and very humbling. We had a great time, and I was so pleased with our performance. Whatever that energy was, Walker took it and really turned it into something great. You only get one moment like that, you know?
Truth & Salvage Co. will be playing in Los Angeles with The Black Crowes at the Hollywood Palladium this Saturday, December 11th before heading back to the East Coast. Hollywood Palladium is located at 6215 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Tickets are now available and can be purchased here. For more information on their upcoming tour dates, please visit their website here. Their debut album Truth and Salvage Co. is now available in stores and on iTunes.