Today’s Feature, October 2nd & 3rd: The Derailers

October 2, 2007 at 9:00 am (Today's Feature)


From “Jackpot” to “Under the Influence of Buck,” a Derailers record can be a little hard to pin down. Consistently representing a variety of genres, the “alternative country” band called The Derailers mixes Rockabilly, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, and R&B – all adding up to what the band considers their “musical journey” of “classic country beats and a 60s pop sensibility.” The journey began over a decade ago when Brian Hofeldt got together with pal Tony Villanueva, and a love and respect for the work of one Buck Owens sparked the creation of this current heart-pumpin’, foot stompin’ musical force.

That force is kept alive today due the Derailers valued relationship with their fans, more specifically “the relationship between song, listener and dance floor.” This is why going to a Derailers show is the best way to understand and appreciate their sound, one that “mirrors the shuffle of happy boots on a hardwood floor.” Their latest work, a tribute album to Buck Owens titled “Under the Influence of Buck,” is “a rollicking and heartfelt tribute to the timeless music of Buck Owens,” the artist that originally brought The Derailers together, inspiring and shaping the ultimate path of the group.

If you see a show coming to a town near you, make sure you buy your tickets quick. Not only will you see a performance that you’ll never forget, but you’ll get to hear songs that may have been written while Brian Hofeldt was relaxing in “a bathtub full of baked beans” (you’ll have to ask the band about that yourself). Keep an eye open for another new Derailers album in the future, and get into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: The Derailers

PEV: How and when did you first get involved in music?

D: Ever since I was a young man, I’ve played the silver axe!

PEV: What was the music scene like for you growing up? Were you always drawn to the rock/country/honky style that you use today?

D: Growing up I played in a variety of bands, but have always had the roots of American music closest to my heart. When I was a kid in Oregon there was this strong grunge scene happening in Portland, which wasn’t exactly my cup of meat. I was real into X, The Blasters and The Stray Cats, but when Garth Brooks really took off he made room for an “alternative” scene in country music. I guess that’s when I found my niche. Then I got together with my pal Tony Villanueva and soon thereafter came The Derailers.

PEV: What were some of your earlier inspirations that help to shape your sound?

D: Certainly The Beatles have always been at the core of my inspiration and through them I came to Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Buck Owens and Arthur Alexander. The styles these artists represent-Rockabilly, Rock Ôn’ Roll, Country, and R&B-are what has determined my musical journey. I have always loved artists who mix these genres of music and blur the lines that seem to be so separate these days. Cats like Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and the Everly Brothers just did it naturally and what seems to come out of me is a mixture like that-for better or worse.

PEV: Tell us about the first ever Derailers performance. What was going through your head?

D: The first Derailers gig I remember was outside on the patio of Ruby’s BBQ in Austin in 1993, and I was just having a blast starting out the trip.

PEV: How has your music evolved from since your 1996 debut, Jackpot?

D: Well, I think we grew as writers and fans of music over the years and when we got on certain kicks, musically, it was apparent. “Jackpot” to “Reverb Deluxe” felt like pretty much the same vibe, but after three years of touring those albums and only being able to stomach the oldies stations on the radio, I think a bit of that came through in “Full Western Dress”. Later on, we pushed ourselves as writers and reached out to some extent to the mainstream genre of country radio, so there came Nashville and the two Sony albums. By the time I got to “Soldiers Of Love”, my life was different and Tony had left the band to pursue his calling, so there came an album with a bit of a new direction, and perhaps some change of focus on my part. The meat of “Soldiers…” is really true to me and I am proud of the album, but I think “Under The Influence Of Buck” was just exactly what I needed to be absolutely sure of where we’re going from here.

PEV: Tell us about your tribute album to Buck Owens “Under the Influence of Buck”?

D: Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were the dead clear inspiration when we initially shaped our direction for band. When The Derailers started recording and touring people would ask us about our sound and we’d always point to Buck as our source, but had to avoid getting too close and didn’t record any of Buck’s songs so as to establish who we were as artists and not just a “Bakersfield Sha-na-na”. Ha ha! Over the years Buck’s influence remained a constant and the group as it is shares the same passion for his music now as from the start.

We had talked about doing an all Derailers, Buck Owens tribute record for years and with a little down time in January, after touring hard on the “Soldiers…” record, we had the perfect chance. I’ll have to admit there was some hubris in our decision to make this album and maybe that is why we stayed so close to the original arrangements-because we could. That being said, our true imperative for this album was to further the legacy of the greatest country star of the 1960’s by showcasing his growth as a recording artist and songwriter with a chronological journey through his music and back again before a finale dictated by Buck himself.

PEV: What in particular was it about Buck Owens that made him not only a staple of American music but a special interest for you? Did you find there was any added pressure to doing an album in honor of someone like Buck Owens?

D: In particular, Buck’s sound was fresh, vital and stripped down, with twangy Telecasters and infectious beats along with songs that deserved their numerous #1 appearances on the charts. There are just a few artists who come along and do something special at the right time with the depth of talent to make an incredible impact on their world and leave it changed forever. Buck Owens was one of these artists. His generation bore more than its share of amazing talents, but the one thing they had in common was a drive to be the best they could be and to better themselves in every aspect of what they did. Buck was a studio caliber guitarist, had a great tenor voice that truly reached people, (with perfect pitch I might add), was an estimable songwriter with a unique amalgam of musical influences to make his sound singular, and had the personality to match his determination for success. His music had the power to influence contemporaries such as The Beatles and Ray Charles and countless other artists as time keeps rolling along. As far as pressure in doing an album in tribute to an artist of this measure, we went into it knowing we would fall short, but hoped by honoring him to pass along some of the passion we feel for his music!

PEV: Describe to us what it was like the first time you stepped into a studio to record your own music?

D: I was a teenager and was just excited about having the opportunity to make a recording. It was a great experience and we made an album, but I learned quickly the realities of the time/money factor and the importance of having someone at the helm.

PEV: Is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

D: The list is long and for the most part unrealistic, but I will say I’m proud of the associations I have had through the years. From the producers I’ve worked with (Dave Alvin, Kyle Lehning, Buzz Cason), to the writers and musicians who’ve shared the vision-it’s made for a fun job!

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

D: I think my parents knew I was heading there long before I did! When I went to college and declared a major of pre-med, my folks reacted kindly, but with some degree of puzzlement as I look back on it now. They said, “Why don’t you study music?” and “Go for what you enjoy doing.” But I guess I didn’t ever see the work I did learning guitar as equivalent to the work of school. A semester of challenging science courses and baffling math classes quickly cured me of my desire to become a doctor, and some positive reinforcement via female adoration, sealed my fate to making music a career. I guess you could say my education included studying a broad. Ha ha!

PEV: Is there another band/artist/performer on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we should all be listening to?

D: I’m picky about who I listen to and I feel lucky that two of the bands I’m most into are also on our record label, Palo Duro. Two-Tons Of Steel and 1100 Springs are both really doing it right and making cool records-look for us to do some shows together soon.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Derailers show?

D: A dancing good time! Our music is about letting go and having fun for the most part, and our live shows will give you a taste of all the albums we’ve made and a variety of songs that we feel represent us. Get there early and bring a friend or two.

PEV: What is the best and worst part about playing live?

D: The best part is connecting with an audience and seeing people “get it”. The worst part is getting there and being away from home to do it.

PEV: You have traveled, what seems to be everywhere, which city (US or international) has been your favorite to play? Why?

D: There are many special spots for us in both the US and overseas, and new ones still popping up, but the best place to perform is right here at home in Austin, TX!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the Derailers?

D: We average out to all having the same hat size.

PEV: With the constant touring, when you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing? D: Spending time with my family and working on my acreage, which are both always in need of attention! PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

D: I’ve had the most supportive family and group of friends anyone could ask for, and their love and encouragement has been the light in dark times. I simply couldn’t have done this without them. My brothers take a personal interest and even give me song titles and set lists that come to their minds! It’s been a great way to stay in touch with my extended family too-with all the touring I’m in someone’s town at least once a year.

PEV: What would you say so far, has been your most memorable moment as a band?

D: There’ve been many, some I can’t tell you about but will never forget, and some that I can tell you are unforgettable. Playing on the Capitol Lawn in Washington D.C. on the 4th of July for more than 100,000 people was a highlight.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

D: I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but for me it’s a bathtub full of baked beans.

PEV: So, what is next for Derailers?

D: We’re already on our way with a new “regular” Derailers album and we’re gonna keep on keeping on! Thanks to all the fans and friends who come out and support us and we invite you to stop in at: and our offical MySpace page for our touring schedule and to drop us a line. Keep twangin’!

For more information on The Derailers, check out 


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