The six guys, four singer-songwriters among them, who eventually formed Truth & Salvage Co. met at Hollywood's Hotel Cafe, where Indianapolis native, guitarist and songwriter Tim Jones was talent booker.
Jones, ex-leader of Bloomington's split-too-soon alt-country band Old Pike, which officially broke up in 2000, left for California around the turn of the century. His cohorts in the band hail from the Eastern half of the country: Atlanta, New Orleans, Tupelo, and smaller towns in Ohio.
Starting with impromptu jam sessions, they began to nail down a sound that eerily captures Old Pike's anthemic Springsteen chord changes, not to mention the Bloomington band's splash of church organ, rootsy guitars and rock and roll rhythm section.
Truth & Salvage Co.'s self-titled debut record, produced by Black Crowes leader Chris Robinson, releases on May 25. The band has already hit the road for an April tour with the red-hot Avett Brothers, and will stop at Birdy's for a headlining gig May 6.
Jones spoke to NUVO from Los Angeles a few days before heading on the road.
NUVO: Why'd you move to LA?
Tim Jones: Old Pike had all kind of split. The writing was on the wall and I really didn't think that there was much more that I could do in Indianapolis. It wasn't like there were A&R people in every corner. There was a producer in LA that I had worked with that said, "You know if things don't work out with Old Pike, I've got a studio here. You can come out here and work with me for free."
Three years ago or so, I started playing with all these other guys and music became fun again. It is what playing in a rock and roll band was like when I was in college, you know? When everybody got together just to play for fun. When Old Pike signed a major label record deal, a lot of the fun got sucked out of it. And it just became career-driven and success-driven, instead of music and soul-driven.
I always wanted to be in a rock and roll band and I loved that about Old Pike. After all these years, we finally get that back, where it's more about, "Well, let's make great music." We have so many songs with four or five songwriters in the band that we just get to pick and choose from a wealth of material - it ends up making it easy.
NUVO: How did Truth & Salvage Co. hook up with Chris Robinson?
Jones: We were called the Denim Family Band for a while. We all took ourselves seriously as songwriters and musicians, but when we came together and play, it was like we just were having fun. Pete Angelus had been the Black Crowes manager since 1990. He found us through a mutual friend and was like, "I may know somebody who might like this, my good friend Chris Robinson." And [Robinson] was like, "We're starting our record label and were looking for artist". So he came and checked us out two years ago this July and really dug it. And six months later, we're signing our record deal and making a record.
NUVO: What made Robinson a good producer?
Jones: Well, he's sold 20 million records with his own band. [Laughs.] The way I see him work, I imagine he was pretty much the producer on all of those records. He knows what he wants and he usually gets it, and would work with us until we got that result. But it wasn't like Mellencamp, where he was throwing chairs around if he didn't get what he wanted.
NUVO: Does it bother you when people or critics who try to stuff your band into a certain category or genre?
Jones: We're definitely a rock and roll band, but we all love country music and I think there's an element to that. Its the same with the Avett Brothers. They're crossing over to a huge amount of country people. There's part of the Nashville community that is resistant to it. I'd love to be the band that people who love Dave Matthews and who love Vampire Weekend love us too, because they feel a certain authenticity.
I was playing Indianapolis bars when I was 16 years old, on tour when I was 18, all the way through college and then signed my first record deal in 1998. We're still doing it, you know. I am still living this life. And it just feels good. When everything lines up right and you feel like you're doing what you're supposed to do and what you want to do, all at the same time, then that's a pretty good moment.
Hear a free full album stream of Truth and Salvage Co's new album via AOL Music.
Truth & Salvage Co.'s 2009 Daytrotter session featured performances of album tracks "She Really Does It For Me," "Rise Up," "See Her" and "Pure Mountain Angel."