Lost Trailers Biography
Last updated: 04/11/2010 12:00:00 PM
The Lost Trailers sound like no one else because they have a story like no one else.
Strengthened by five years of constant road work, the Georgia quintet share a bond born of overcoming setbacks that would have broken many bands. The Lost Trailers wear their tenacity like a badge of honor: songwriter-guitarist-singer Stokes Nielson, lead singer-keyboardist Ryder Lee, guitarist Manny Medina, bassist Andrew Nielson and drummer Jeff Potter have been through the fire together, and it's made them better musicians and a tighter band.
In the end, that's what counts: for, whatever it took to get them where they are today, there's no denying this is a band that makes amazing music together. As proven by their self-titled BNA Records debut, The Lost Trailers, the band takes contemporary country music and gives it a youthful, distinctive stamp all their own. Like their heroes Alabama, they energetically push country music forward by giving new life to its age-old strengthsstrong storytelling, sharp musicianship, positive themes and an of-the-people, for-the-people spirit.
"We're five different people, but when we come together, we're one." Stokes says, "Going through hard times together helped us find out who we are and what we do best."
Stokes Nielson and Ryder Lee began making music together in high school, writing and recording demos on a short trip to Nashville in the late '90s. Bassist Andrew Nielson (Stokes' younger brother) and drummer Jeff Potter attended the same high school and were the first recruits once Stokes and Ryder began performing the songs they'd recorded. Guitarist Manny Medina joined shortly thereafter, meaning this is a band that's grown up together and held on through years of hard touring.
"We love to bring people together for a good time," Ryder says. "But we also know what it's like to be down. Our music is about hanging in there and always looking up, because there's redemption in the end."
The band's first demo impressed Willie Nelson, and he invited them to perform at his annual 4th of July picnic. The band's first live performance occurred in front of thousands of rabid country music fans, who gave them a hearty, welcoming ovation.
Their name came after a trailer full of instruments and equipment was stolen in the band's first year together. The Lost Trailers was meant to be an in-joke, but it started to seem prophetic by the time their third instrument trailer disappeared in 2004.
"When I first realized it was missing, I figured the band was playing a practical joke on me," Ryder says. "I thought there was no way it could happen to us again."
They may laugh about it now, but the loss of the third trailer devastated the band. "That's when we hit bottom," says Manny Medina. "But it's also what pulled us together and focused us on the future."
As the band put everything back together, they felt a sense of renewal. Stokes' songwriting, always the band's core strength, grew even bolder and deeper. The music took on more sweetness and more muscle. At the same time, the group decided to get back to basics and return to where they started: making country music in Nashville.
Almost immediately, their fate changed. Famed Nashville producer Blake Chancey saw the re-born Lost Trailers raise the roof in an incendiary performance at the legendary Billy Bob's in Fort Worth. Chancey, who's worked with the Dixie Chicks and Montgomery Gentry, enthusiastically courted the band. The Trailers, in turn, jumped at the chance to work with a big-name Nashville producer and capture their newfound focus on CD.
Setting up in a Nashville studio, Ryder began to sing more lead vocals; his stout, resonant voice added emotional weight to the strong themes coming from Stokes' pen. "As soon as we started working on this new material, all of us knew this was itwe'd found ourselves and our sound," Ryder says of those first sessions. "We'd taken a creative leap forward, and everything was coming together like never before. We've never had a self-titled album, and I'm glad this is it, because it's our defining sound."
Meanwhile, Nashville talent executive Renee Bell saw one of The Lost Trailers' undeniable live shows and noticed the excited response by devoted fans and newcomers. She introduced them to Joe Galante, and the legendary chairman of the RCA Label Group immediately signed them to BNA Records.
The resulting album captures the band's heartfelt passion and all-for-one sound as they unite behind songs that combine compelling, true-life stories and good-time party anthems. "I want our songs to give people hope," says Stokes. "Our songs have people who struggle and face life-changing turning points. But it's always with the mindset that even in the darkest times things will get better."
Live, the band ignites a crowd, mixing fist-pumping, good-time sing-a-longs with slice-of-life story songs. "We're all about having a blast and letting loose," Ryder says. "You put us in front of a crowd, and we'll win them over. The stage is pure adrenaline for us. That's where we make our stand."
The band's first single, "Call Me Crazy," combines all of their winning elements: catchy, melodic and fun, it's a celebration of young love and the willingness to follow your heart. Similarly, the sunny "Summer of Love" induces smiles and memories of lost school breaks reminiscent of Kenny Chesney's "Young" or Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee."
Songs like "Why Me" and "Simple Life" deal with real-life struggle and redemption, while "Hey Baby," "Dixie Boy Special" and "Gravy" are just old-fashioned barn-burners that remind all of us to let our hair down once in a while.
"I think this album is a testament to five guys who love to have a good time, and have stuck together through thick and thin because we know we have something to offer," Stokes says. "We see the response we get every time we play, and how strongly people react to us. We've always just needed one good chance to show the rest of the world what we could do. This is our chance."
- Michael McCall