The members of Sol Driven Train first met when they performed in the Wando High School band. Now, after 20 years of playing shows across the nation, the Lowcountry group is releasing its 10th studio album.
Sol Driven Train's new record "Ridin' " is out Nov. 29, bouncing from horn-driven, Chicago-style rock to contemplative ballads and percussion jams overlaid with spoken-word poetry. It's an eclectic mix that shows the group's wide range of influences and ability to play various styles.
As they gear up for their album release show on Nov. 29 at the Pour House, members Joel Timmons, Russell Clarke, Ward Buckheister, Matty Thompson and Wes Powers answered a few questions from The Post and Courier while they were heading to a show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
From Wando days to now, a lot has changed. What has stood out most?
Joel: A whole lot of life has happened since our days jamming in the Wando High School band room. Through all the twists and turns, the love and brotherhood of Sol Driven Train has remained a constant. Through illness, heartbreak, addiction, weddings, countless miles on the highway and thousands of live performances, we have weathered life’s challenges and celebrated each others' victories together as a band. Now, with children entering the picture, the feeling that we are a family has only deepened.
Musically, how have things changed? From “Watermelon” to “Ridin’,” what are some of the biggest differences, and what’s new this time around?
Russ: True to Sol Driven Train style, "Ridin' " is a broad spectrum of styles and sounds that somehow seem to all come together in a snapshot of our time together in the studio. Sonically, we did a lot of experimenting with sounds in the studio. I can hear the freedom that we gave ourselves.
You have a lot of different musical styles represented here. What inspired some of the tracks specifically?
Russ: "Welcome to the Drum Circle" takes me back to the LEAF Festival in Black Mountain, N.C. — climbing a rocky, dark trail without a flashlight to have my mind blown by the fire, drums and dancers. It was a mind-opening experience.
"Ridin' " was a rock anthem I sang in the shower in high school, a young kid with big dreams. The vision in my head then was a lot different than (how) the song is recorded. Twenty years later and we are still ridin', and all the love has come full circle.
Ward: "Banana Fridge" is a love song to my wife and teenager (child). I intended it to be a funny reaction to coming of age and major appliance purchases. I tried to cram all advice and guidance one would give a developing adult into a few minutes of music.
Tell me more about the making of this album. Who did you work with? Where did you record?
Ward: We tracked everything at Charleston Sound. We have been lucky to record several of our last albums there and are very comfortable in the space. This go-around, we were actually writing a lot in-studio, so our comfort there really was key. Having several different people mix songs was really cool, too: Thomas Kenney, Will Evans, Matt Zutell and Michael Dalbello. ... And I got to play triangle!
What’s the deal with the album art for “Ridin’ ”?
Joel: I sent the album to Noodle McDoodle (Donald Whitley) and asked him to create an image for each song. He came through with a folder full of artwork inspired by the music. I picked my favorites and put together the composite images for the front and back of the CD wallets.
What’s next in store for Sol Driven Train?
Ward: Fatherhood, then figure out a way to ride our kids' coattails. Or is this a prompt to say "Keep on Ridin' "? Also, a March 2020 Virgin Islands tour.