Tenacious D’s Southern rock spin-off pulls into town
Do you love bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top as much as you love a fine woman with a towering perm who wears jeans cut so high the fabric reaches past that perm? Would you rather drink a six-pack of Bud on a lawn chair in the bed of your truck than sip wine at one of those fancy Olive Gardens? Does your arm bear the symbol of freedom that is an eagle sheathed in the American flag? If you answered any of these with a spirited “Shit Yeah!,” then read on, y'all.
Formed around 2002, Trainwreck was sired by Kyle Gass of metal/comedy rock band Tenacious D and features Gass’ alter ego Klip Calhoun. The band is heavily influenced by the sound and lifestyle of Southern and classic rock from the '70s.
Last week we spoke on the phone with John Konesky, otherwise known as John Bartholomew Shredman, Trainwreck's fierce electric guitar player.
What does Trainwreck stand for?
We stand for quality rock 'n' roll and good times. Fun and excitement. I think what we actually do is cherish and embrace all of the wonderful music that we love, while at the same time parodying it with the utmost respect.
How do other musicians receive you?
I like to imagine in my head that they're blown away by our musicianship and talent—and also laugh hysterically at the same time—but I don't know if that's actually what's happening.
Are any of you from the South?
No, but I like to think we have the spirit of the South. Three of us are from the Midwest—we're from the Heartland—a very similar aesthetic and mentality.
So you earnestly love Skynyrd and Grand Funk and other '70s classic rock bands?
I have about a 1,000 vinyl LPs in my closet proving that I very much love old '70s rock 'n' roll, and that's all of us, too—it's definitely an obsession.
In all of that vinyl do you prefer, say, Boston or ELO?
I think in any situation where one thing is weighed against the other, be it music or musical entities, you could say I prefer Boston. But yeah, I love it all. There are weird rabbit holes too ... of, like, the weird guy who really never did too much, but played with Deep Purple a little bit, and had this sweet band that put out a record in ’72. It's like the record that Led Zeppelin never wrote, but it's amazing. There’s an endless well of amazing music, and I think generations keep rediscovering but also unearthing these artifacts of amazing rock 'n' roll.
What's a good example of that?
Specifically, the one I was referencing is this band Trapeze. And then there's a million other ones—without boring people and going through my knowledge base of obscure rock 'n' roll and sounding like an elitist douchebag.
Do you perform in costumes?
It's not so much costumes as what we wear every day. It's all real.
Do you have mullets?
Our singer does. And that's more of a modern term for just good hair—I don't really understand it. But our singer [Darryl Lee Donald, stage name of Jason Reed] has really good hair, and it's longer in the back than it is on top. It's good for styling if you don't want hair in your face. I just have long hair and an equally long mustache. And then the other fellows have hair of varying lengths.
What would you be doing if you weren't playing in Trainwreck?
I'd probably work construction.
Do you think it’s amusing that when you search “Trainwreck” on the web, you get images of actual train wrecks?
It's hard to beat the popularity of an actual train wreck, so we won't even try. There are some other Trainwreck bands out there, and we've been systematically beating them down, one after the other, as they pop their heads up. So fortunately we've climbed to the top of the Google search realm in Trainwreck bands. But we will never be more popular than a full-on, actual train wreck with casualties.
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