Their third album, Let’s All Go To Bed, is gathering accolades left and right (including being on our top albums of the year) and they’re getting ready to get back on the road for a few dates in California and Arizona before the holidays.
After putting up their Christmas tree, singer-songwriter and guitarist Teal Collins of the Austin-based band, The Mother Truckers paused to answer some questions.
Q: Do you have any favorite songs to perform?
A: When I Get My Wings is always one that’s fun for me because vocally it’s really a song you can stretch on so I like doing that one.
Q: What does your creative process look like?
A: Usually, what happens is Josh and I write all the songs and one of us will have an idea already. We’ll come to each other with a song, you know, about three-quarters written. We’ll get together and flesh it out and stuff. I think most the time it’s easier to create on your own at first because you can just edit yourself. You don’t go off on directions with anybody else before you have a solidified picture in your mind. So that’s kinda how we do that.
Do you get melodies first of lyrics?
Yeah, melodies, maybe a lyrical idea where there’ll be a hook idea and then we’ll share it with each other and see if the other one has something to add to that.
Q: How has your style evolved since you’ve been playing in Austin?
A: I think it’s evolved, well, when we started out doing the Mother Truckers, we kinda started out trying to keep really to a country thing because that’s kinda what we were going for. Over the years the rock, rock ’n roll influence that we just grew up with and love crept back in. So now, I would say our songs have gone more in that direction more and more over the years. And it’s funny because we’re in the most country place but I don’t know, you just write what feels good to you so that kinda just seeps back in, in a good way.
Q: If you could sit down with someone that you don’t usually play with for an hour, who would it be?
A: I guess Bonnie Raitt for me. She’s somebody who I think would be really fun to hang out with. She seems like she’s done it all and had such a long career and recorded albums that are a lot of different kinds of albums. I think that would be neat.
Q: Did you listen to her when you were growing up?
A: Yeah, I did, among a lot of other things. I always enjoyed Zeppelin, the Beatles, and that kind of stuff. But I listened to jazz and and Americana stuff too. There was a lot of different things I always was listening to.
Q: How did you decide to become a musician, or did you always know that’s what you wanted to do?
A: Well, my dad was a jazz disc jockey and Josh’s dad plays folk guitar and banjo so we grew up in musical environments. It just kinda became something, you know Josh took up guitar at 11 and around my house the ukulele was never put away, we were always, you know, listening to music. So it just kinda was a natural for both of us I think.
When did you start playing?
I started playing ukulele when I was five. I started singing in bands when I was about 16.
Q: What about the upcoming tour?
A: We’ll be out on tour again, for like a week. We’re not doing a very long one, we’re doing about ten dates. Then we go back to California to visit our families for the holidays. Opening for Mike Ness, I should let you know.
Q: Are there things you always take with you on the road?
A: There are things we always take on tour. Some of the comforts of home like a candle for the hotel room to make it seem more cozy and a basketball so the guys can like, whenever we stop at a gas station the guys will just like throw a football or throw a basketball around, get a little exercise. We like those brainteasers, I’m kinda hooked on those Sudoku puzzles right now. Stuff like that, pictures. Josh has a bunch of pictures in his wallet of his family and loved ones and stuff, and our dog. Just stuff to kinda make you feel connected to home.
What kind of dog do you have?
We have a rat terrier. He’s a good boy, his name is Ajax.
Q: When you’re out on the road do you have favorite places you always stop when you’re passing by?
A: Actually there’s this visitor area, like rest area in Colorado. I think it’s like 129 if I’m not mistaken, Interstate 70 but the exit is 129 or something and it is the most beautiful rest area you’ve ever seen and then there’s also a place, it’s like 45 minutes east of Tucson when you’re driving by you’ll see these big, huge, dinosaur-egg looking rocks and we’ve driven past it a half-dozen times and finally this last time we stopped and got out and walked around, it’s really cool.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals or things you always do before a show?
A: Yeah, we do. Josh and I do our vocal warm-ups before a show. They’re just scales and exercises to keep your stamina and strength and range. So you have that feeling that you’re not gonna poop out half way through the tour. The guys stretch, we always stretch but you know, everybody has their own warm-ups they do, but that’s pretty much what we do.
We don’t have any superstitions, other than maybe like at the end of the night when we’re parking the van there might be a little obsessive compulsive checking that the van is locked.
Q: Are there any records you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend?
A: Well you know, I’ve been listening a lot to that Pandora internet radio. I made a couple different channels for myself of different things and it’s been fun. I’ve just been listening to all kinds of stuff. Stuff that I used to like, and new stuff and like Stephen Stills and we were listening to like the Kingston Trio and funny, cool, all kinds of different stuff. I love it.
Q: Any closing words or things people should know about the Mother Truckers?
A: I would mention that we recorded the video for Dynamite and you can see it on YouTube by just putting in ‘The Mother Truckers Dynamite Video’ and also our websites, themothertruckers.com and myspace.com/themothertruckers. And if they come out to our show this next tour they will probably hear a Christmas song.