End Sounds Records’ heavy hitter Tumbledown is cutting across the U.S. with a new album entitled Empty Bottle.
Fronted by musical mastermind Mike Herrera (MxPx and Arthur) and backed by Trotland brothers Harley and Marshall and guitarist Jack Parker, Tumbledown has taken country music and punk to a whole new level. While in Chicago , Herrera and the boys stopped at Taylor Street Tattoos after the November 16 show to talk about the pop punkabilly genre, douche bags, and how to avoid getting busted by the “man.”
You sing a lot about being on the road and drifting from town to town. Any bar fight stories?
Jack Parker: We’ve got to have left a bad wrap somewhere.
Mike Herrera: One of us had to get carried out of a place recently.
Harley Trotland: That was interesting [laughing].
MH: But that’s not the same. Nobody ever looks at our stuff.
HT: Except in El Paso. They took one look in our trailer and shut the door because there was just so much shit in it.
MH: When we’re at a club, we’re professional even if we’re drunk because we want to come back. We want to have a good time and have fun. We don’t want to be dicks.
Do you have any big name people you want to work with in the future?
MH: We don’t really have a list. Things just really happen organically. So far, it’s been people I know. I’ve just contacted people that I don’t know. Well actually, now that I think about it, Todd Beene – he plays the pedal steel – I technically know him. I met him right before he did it. He plays for Lucero and we play with Lucero. So I called him and asked, “Hey man, looking for a pedal steel player if you’re interested in doing a track.” And he was like, “Yeah.” So I guess technically that happened organically.
You said in a previous interview that your iPods are a big thing on the road, what do you have on them? What gets you going?
HT: Anything and everything, man. Tom Petty, Social D, some bluegrass.
JP: I’ve got like 14,000 songs, man. You want me to list them all?
Not really, what are your standouts?
JP: All gangster rap, just gangster rap constantly (laughing).
MH: I have a very limited amount of stuff on my phone actually. Bob Dylan, you know, all the classic albums. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Hank …
Can you guys expand on the Pop Punkabilly genre?
HT: We all had different influences and we all bring a lot of different stuff to the table and it just kind of meshes all together. Mike is pretty much the songwriter of the band and he pretty much brings all the ideas to the table and then a couple of loose things here and there that we tie up at practice. Maybe an idea gets thrown out here and there, especially in the recording studio. It’s where more ideas come out for stuff. There’s a lot of different influences coming in from all our parts and from slow country stuff because we do a couple of slow tunes even back to the old stuff. KW got me listening to a bunch of that old Buck Owens and stuff, dude. It really turned my ear onto playing country drums and shuffling in the background. I heard those songs and it made me think, “that needs to be like this” and some twangy guitars.
MH: It’s hard to step outside yourself and hear what other people are hearing. Because we only know what we hear what we are doing. It’s probably different because we are so used to it, so it’s a different perspective.
JP: Something I was thinking about earlier tonight during our set was that we have a lot of different types of songs in our set and I think they appeal to a wide range of people. We’ll do a fast, upbeat rock and roll song and all the dudes are like, “Yeah this is rocking.” Then, we’ll do a slow, kind of sensitive song where all the ladies are like “aw, this is nice.”
MH: We’re like the ‘80s hair metal, but …
JP: We’re metal without the metal.
MH: It’s good that we have the variety you know. I don’t want to play the same shit constantly.
What was the pull for “American Band” as the encore tonight?
MH: That was just something that we do sometimes. We have a lot of covers that we do and we hadn’t done that one in a while.
JP: Some douche bag at the end of the show tonight told me that he heard some other band do it better than we did it. He was like, “Yeah you guys were great, but this other band I know played it better than you guys did.”