"I loved the 'guitar heroes' type, such as Jimmy Page and Ted Nugent, but the Beatles were my biggest influence. Through the Beatles, I heard about Buck Owens, whose music was as raw and visceral as anything I had heard. Then I heard James Burton. Wow!"
Along with musical partner Tony Villanueva, Hofeldt spent several years in numerous bar bands refining a sound. Eventually the two relocated from Oregon to Austin, Texas, in the early '90s, and they officially formed the Derailers. The band's country and rock influences were slowly combining, and the group created a unique identity in a town full of great acts. By the time of the Derailers' debut release, a live album culled from a radio show, their reputation as a powerful live act was clear, and the group's Texas fan base continued to grow.
But to move to the next level, the band had to hit the pavement, so Hofeldt and Villanueva took the show on the road -- for months at a time. An almost endless touring schedule took its toll, and the band went through several lineup changes in fairly rapid succession. "It gets tough being on the road so much," says Hofeldt. "Tony and I are a team, and when some of us are down, the other is up. It helps the ones who are down to be more positive."
The Derailers released Jackpot in 1996 on Austin-based Watermelon Records. Produced by Dave Alvin, the record featured all original tunes, and set the band a few notches above most other Austin country bands. Alvin stuck around to produce the next pair of Derailers albums for the Sire label, and following the rather difficult sessions for the second of the two, 1999's Full Western Dress, he gave the band some advice that proved prophetic.
"Dave told us that we were a country band and needed to record in Nashville," Hofeldt recalls.
The band took his advice, signing with Lucky Dog Records, an alt-country/roots subsidiary of Sony Records, and securing the services of Nashville veteran producer Kyle Lehning (Randy Travis, Waylon Jennings).
Their latest release, Here Come the Derailers, represents a number of firsts for the band. It's their first major country label release and their first album recorded in Nashville. It's also the first time the band has recorded two albums in a row with the same lineup, which includes bassist Ed Adkins and drummer Mark Horn. "Recording in Nashville was a whole new thing for us," says Hofeldt. "We worked 'banker's hours,' and did the whole thing in three days."
Avoiding time-consuming overdubs, Lehning had the band record everything live in the studio. "It was the first time we had the steel, piano or rhythm guitar playing along with us as we recorded," says Hofeldt.
Lehning's suggestion to use other people's songs has widened the Derailers' range. In the past, they covered a few classic country tunes and some '60s rock numbers, but rarely recorded songs by contemporary writers. The band welcomed the inclusion of work by such well-known Nashville songwriters as Kostas and Jim Lauderdale.
Thankfully, the Derailers' unique style-blending formula is preserved on Here Come. "We didn't want to compromise our sound, or make a Nashville-sounding record," says Hofeldt.
Still, it may be the Derailers' most radio-friendly release to date. There's even been some backlash in their hometown, where one of the more eclectic local stations won't play the record because it's "too country."
"We want to get some mainstream radio airplay, and that is finally happening," Hofeldt says. "As much as we love Austin and the local scene, we have to move to the next level."
If change is inevitable, then the Derailers are willing to accept it. But they are clear on what they will and won't do.
"We may seem to be joining the country establishment, but we aren't changing anything," says Hofeldt. "Hopefully we are changing them."
The Derailers play Thurs., Nov. 29, at Smith's Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave. Show time is 9 p.m. $10-$12. Greta Lee opens. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…