Afraid of destruction? Doom got ya down? Flirting with disaster on the dark side of town? Truth & Salvage Co. is just the band to keep the bad times from getting you down. Something resilient and genuinely hopeful reaches out from this West Coast-dappled, Southern-tinged outfit. They are steadfast purveyors of a silver lining for gray-cloud days whose music is a beautiful rag ‘n’ bone buffet of unshakeable rock, classic country strains, unfiltered blues, and folk’s bonhomie, accented with winningly human harmonies – i.e. great American music in the heartiest melting pot tradition of the Byrds and the Band, substantive fare with radio-ready pop instincts that coalesces into some of the most readily enjoyable, soul-nourishing music being made today.
“I really do feel like we’ve been on the road trying to spread truth in what we do and what we believe,” says keyboardist Adam Grace. “Our music doesn’t conform to what society is saying is cool right at this second, but it’s what we do and who we are. We’ve had to learn to salvage every little thing in everything we do to keep this going. There are times you think it’s going to hit bottom and then one of the guys salvages something from somewhere and makes it stick and work. So the name goes really deep. It was a fan who chose it but when we accepted that name I don’t think we had any idea what it would mean to us four or five years later.”
This workingman’s sextet–Scott Kinnebrew (vocals, lead guitar), Tim Jones (vocals, guitar), Bill “Smitty” Smith (vocals, drums), Walker Young (vocals, piano), Dean Moore (bass, backup vocals) and Grace–began their steady evolution in 2005 when its various members moved to Los Angeles to build their rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Under the insightful tutelage of the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, Truth & Salvage Co. produced their 2010 self-titled debut and proceeded to spend the next three years hard-touring, opening for the Crowes and the Avett Brothers, as well as establishing themselves as a reliably great headliner in their own right. The sweat and stage-won knowledge of these years is vibrantly evident on their sophomore release, Pick Me Up (released July 23 via Megaforce/Sony RED), an album self-produced in the sanctuary of Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain studio and mixed by Band of Horses’ Bill Reynolds. The 13 included songs lie rich with lived-in wisdom and tuneful dexterity, the harmonies redolent of long hours singing together on stages and in hotel rooms late at night.
“We’re really not aiming to be any kind of genre band,” says Walker. “Everybody writes and everybody has different styles they gravitate towards. When we bring it together it becomes our sound. I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation about what kind of band we want to be, or said, ‘Hey, listen to this band and let’s try to sound like them.’ I assume people do that but it’s not for us. Doing what we do, it may take longer for people to wrap their head around but you end up with genuine fans that truly love your sound.”
From the opening inducement to not let “The Bad Times” get you down through the mandolin-kissed salute to resilience and community on first single/video “Appalachian Hilltop,” Pick Me Up is filled with music that gets one through the days, good and bad. The nights are rewarded with a grinning nod, too, in instant barroom jukebox classic “I’m Not Your Boyfriend,” a last-call seduction of the first order. And a surprise on this set is a fits-them-like-a-glove cover of Joe South’s 1968 smash “Games People Play,” a reminder of radio’s golden age and confirmation of Truth & Salvage Co.’s place as peers to past greats. “It was suggested by Chris [Robinson] during the recording of the first record,” says Smitty. “He said, ‘You guys should do this Joe South cover,’ and it took us about two years to get around to learning it. But once we learned it, it just clicked and made so much sense. He was right!” Mostly, these guys are clear-eyed dreamers, realists who haven’t given up on brighter days even when current times seem only rocky and rough, a side seen most clearly on the album’s title tune where they remind one in direct ways that we are not alone even as we wait on the corner of Now & Then for a pick-me-up.
After spending their initial phase in Southern California, most of Truth & Salvage Co. relocated to a new home base in Hendersonville, TN, a haven for country music stars just north of Nashville where their band house sits right on the banks of Old Hickory Lake. The move situates them closer to many of their more devoted fan strongholds, making it easier for these natural entertainers to roll their newfangled revival into towns.
“I think Bruce Springsteen or somebody said every show should be 50 percent get-down-on-the-floor juke-joint wildness and 50 percent church…and maybe 5 percent circus,” chuckles Tim. “The name Truth & Salvage Co. reflects all the lessons learned and mistakes made, salvaged to be able to write the songs we write. Together we’ve taken the good stuff from our pasts to make something real and sustainable, something we really, really love that’s drawn an audience of people that really love it, too.”
“The name fits us well,” continues Smitty. “We’ve all been doing this for awhile and found each other sort of late in life as far as this business goes. Through that, we’ve developed a good work ethic. We don’t try to be a blue-collar band but we are sincerely that. We’ve all had to be carpenters and farmers and teachers and other things to keep our music alive. I think Truth & Salvage Co. says all that in one phrase. We all write from our experiences, and that’s very important. We all love music in the broadest sense and write music because of the tension and release it gives us. Hopefully it stirs up the same feelings in listeners.”
While the group has received positive ink from Rolling Stone, USA Today and the British music press and played major stages like Bonnaroo, Red Rocks, San Francisco’s Fillmore and Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium, the real truth of this band lies in their unceasing dedication to honest, passionately delivered music on whatever stage or studio they’re currently in, be it a tiny club or a massive amphitheatre, a cramped public radio station studio or a well-appointed recording facility. What is true in one sphere is true in all of them, and that truth is six endearingly sincere, incredibly talented guys who want nothing more than to inform and uplift through song.
“The sum of our parts makes a greater whole. We’ve been doing this endeavor in this group and lots of others before it for a long time, and this is the life path we’ve always been crafting,” says Scott. “The salvage part of our name is about salvaging all the good parts of the music we’ve made and harnessing that to all the strength and knowledge we’ve accumulated over all these years we’ve been playing music. We’re here and we’re doing this, trying to drop all egos and salvage all the love and good times we can in songs.”