The honky-tonk-inspired upbeat swing of TruckerBomb’s music is blended with a dash of dive-bar grunge. Even though Los Angeles isn’t known as a mecca for Americana, TruckerBomb persists in doing what they do. Before long, one of their songs will appear on a soundtrack for a movie. Bassist and singer-songwriter Troy Richardson spent numerous summers in South Dakota as a child. It seemed like the Wild West in comparison to his Minneapolis home. He would later spend the majority of his time playing in rock bands, but he never forgot the atmosphere of those truck stops and diners that played retro ’70s country music. In order to connect alt-country and Americana with alternative and hard rock, he founded TruckerBomb, which was inspired by that experience as well as the southern rock of the 1980s that blended elements of all the different styles together. While the band is working on their upcoming debut album, six TruckerBomb singles have been made available on the internet. The band keeps listeners guessing as to what may come next while maintaining their distinctive sound, ranging from the hard-driving country-rock of “Irregardlessly” to a nice dose of melancholy on “Broken Like Me,” existential dread of “Mobridge, South Dakota,” guitar-forward alternative on “Cannibal,” and others. Cannibalism and existential dread aren’t typical themes in country music, but Troy Richardson isn’t your typical songwriter. He is renowned for his ability to play with words, adding humor and sarcasm to his serious observations in equal measure. The songs stand out because the characters and observers in the narratives could be any of us, anywhere, and this kind of universal sentiment. About a year ago, the group’s final lineup was set. If you didn’t already know, drummer Dave Rodway is from New York, and he gives the band so much personality that it almost overflows from behind the kit. Salty Rose, a native Californian, introduced rock, blues, and punk to numerous LA bands. His intricate lead guitar playing cuts across all genres and broadens the band’s sonic palette far beyond what is typically heard in country-rock. Peru is where Ursula Lari is from. Since the very first performance, her rhythm guitar playing and seamless vocal blending with the band have been a striking focal point.
Troy Richardson wrote the lyrics to Break My Heart, which are melancholy, emotional, and heartfelt. The words express the narrator’s desire to avoid settling for a lesser love in real life by preserving the one-sided love he was never able to experience. Peruvian Ursula Lari gives a standout guitar and backing vocal performance. The deeper meaning of the song is left up to the listener to decide, thanks to evocative lyrics. With a dash of country to spice things up, Americana meets rock. The illustrious Fernando Perdomo recorded the song at Stairway Studios. Genuine lyrics and a hint of sarcasm combined with the country and rock genres create a seamless listening experience. Check out the single and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how it all got started?
Troy Richardson from TRUCKERBOMB: The band is based in Los Angeles. I’m originally from Minneapolis and lived in Boston for a long time as well. When I first moved to LA, I took a break from being a singer-songwriter/frontman/bandleader and was happy just playing bass with a few different bands. The desire to get my songs out into the world and sing them myself got the better of me eventually. I started TruckerBomb with some coworker friends and my college roommate. The lineup changed a bit over time as I found people who were more aligned with the direction I was going. I couldn’t be happier with the current crew. I’m really excited about the future.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
TRUCKERBOMB: I have a degree in songwriting from Berklee College of Music. I suppose training doesn’t get more formal than that. I was pretty much self-taught before I was accepted to Berklee, so I feel I speak both languages.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘TRUCKERBOMB’?
TRUCKERBOMB: The original band members came together to do a set of songs by The Replacements, so that is probably undeniable as an influence. Recently Jason Isbell has been a songwriter I respect a lot. Tom Petty, Wilco, Supersuckers, Bottle Rockets, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers all informed the direction I wanted to go.
I wanted a band name that was uniquely American, tough-sounding but also with a sense of humor. Like what an outlaw country band would be today. I think I saw a news headline that said, “North Dakota confronts its trucker bomb problem,” and I thought that sounded about right. Your readers can look up the definition of the name themselves.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
TRUCKERBOMB: I hope the key element of the music is that it’s good. After that, I hope it’s original. I want people to feel they heard something genuinely new and different when they experience a TruckerBomb song. I want listeners to be captivated by my stories and feel they know the characters. If the song isn’t character driven, it should have them feeling an emotion or vibe. I describe the sound as Americana or country rock, but we straddle a few styles. There are elements of hard rock and alternative in there as well. I sometimes say we sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd moved to Hollywood, hung out with Guns N’ Roses and got into a bar fight with The Eagles.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Music is political, cultural and spiritual. Anyone who says otherwise is playing into the hands of people in power. Music is one of the few places where marginalized people have a chance to be heard. As much as I think it’s essential, there aren’t many of those elements in my music. I could never write effectively on political or social issues without sounding forced. I think I will someday, but it will come about organically for me.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
I get way more back than what I put into it. I have a great community of musicians and friends around me. Every show will have someone coming up to me to say how much they enjoyed the music. People keep coming back to see us. Fame and money would be nice, but the band’s connection with our audience is essential. I like to think that’s the actual foundation. All the other success will be built on top of that.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
There’s no one way I start a song. It could be a bass line, some guitar chords, or a melody in my head. It ultimately comes down to where the lyrics fit in. I always need more lyrics. The lyrics are time-consuming — getting each verse to have a reason for existing and propelling the story along, setting the chorus or title line correctly. I try to have songs 50-70% done and then bring them to the band. I also work through new material on acoustic nights, playing with my music partner Ursula Lari. She’s the secret weapon in TruckerBomb and vital to the creative process.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
TRUCKERBOMB: For many other artists and me, music is our full-time job, while we have a whole other full-time job. There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything. We are our PR department, social media manager, booking agent and everything else, all while trying to be creative performers.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
TRUCKERBOMB: I’m proud of the group and we have great success right now. Someone from the outside may look and think we are one rung up the ladder from nowhere, but I couldn’t be happier with how things are coming together. This is the direction I want to go and we’ve never sounded better. Every song is better than the last. The most significant point in my music career is ahead of me.
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Photo credits: Pierre Quinton