It’s a big day for Tim Jones. His band, Truth & Salvage Co., releases their long-awaited second album, Pick Me Up (Megaforce/Sony RED), and starts their tour tonight at Nashville’s Exit/In. It’s also his birthday. “A perfect storm,” he says.
Truth & Salvage Co. is a confluence of people and events that generated something awesome. Singer/lead guitarist Scott Kinnebrew, singer/drummer Bill “Smitty” Smith and singer/pianist Walker Young come from Asheville, N.C.’s Scrappy Hamilton. Jones fronted Indianapolis’s Old Pike, which released two well-regarded albums. In Truth & Salvage Co., all four musicians write and sing lead. But there’s little conflict among so many captains. In fact, Jones, Kinnebrew, Smith and Young—joined by bassist Dean Moore and keyboardist Adam Grace—are the best of friends.
See the first lines of the first song from the band’s eponymous first album: “Hail, hail the gang’s all here/ with their heads full of reefer/ and their bellies full of beer/ 16 years of livin’ the dream/ we’re the pride of all our families.” Fittingly, “Hail, Hail”—a celebration of their musical and personal harmonies—has become a sort of theme song for the band.
Originally, Kinnebrew had written verses about each member of the band. “It was just kind of about name-droppin’ all our friends in this band, and how we’re singin’ and playin’ together,” Jones says. They’d all had varying degrees of success with their previous acts, and had all relocated to Los Angeles to seek greater solo success. “But this band is where we all started playing music for fun again,” he says.
It’s difficult to hear the song and not think of your own friends, of the good times you’ve shared. Actually, that extends to the rest of that album and Pick Me Up. Truth & Salvage Co. plays for the good times and even, sometimes, the bad ones. The country-rockin’ songs about facing the world with joy and optimism ring clear and true. “People always recognize pure fun and friendship,” Jones says. “That’s what this band’s about. Luckily, we survived to get back to that place.”
Truth & Salvage Co. (Silver Arrow), released in 2010, was produced by Chris Robinson, singer for The Black Crowes, who took Truth & Salvage Co. on tour with his band throughout much of 2009. The album boasted guest turns from Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Katy Perry and Franky Perez, and was well-reviewed. The group opened a string of shows for the Avett Brothers and played several festivals—including Bonnaroo, Stagecoach and High Sierra. But when the time came to record Pick Me Up, they faltered.
They scrapped the first attempt with producer Rob Schnapf (Guided by Voices, Beck). “We weren’t really happy with the outcome, and neither was the label, our management or agency,” Jones says, adding it was nothing to do with Schnapf. A second attempt helmed by Perez yielded similar results. Then their trailer was stolen. And as the clock struck midnight last New Year’s Eve, Truth & Salvage Co. believed there wouldn’t be a second record. “We’d lost a little bit of faith and trust in ourselves,” Jones says.
Not so much, though, that they forgot who they were. Retreating to Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording, they pooled their resources and took another shot. Self-produced and mixed by Band of Horses’ Bill Reynolds, Pick Me Up is a feast of great songs where the themes of friendship and perseverance are as strong as ever. “We had to learn that what we do is good enough on its own,” Jones says. “We’re not trying to be anybody else, or be different. We’re just being who we are, trying to make incredible music. And we know we’ve done it; we’ve made a great, fun record.”
And, through it all, they’ve remained best buds. “Everybody here keeps each other in check,” Jones says. “These are the same guys I’ll call to get a beer any day of the week, even when we’re not already on tour and don’t have to be together.” Hail, hail.
TRUTH & SALVAGE CO.
w/ Wes Sheffield, Kelley Hunt
The State Room
638 S. State
Sunday, Aug. 11, 8 p.m.