Roughstock recently had the opportunity to sit down with Big Vinny, Butter and Crystal of Trailer Choir to discuss how they met, how their hard work made Toy Keith interested along with what inspires them to write among other fun things like Vinny describing what a "Pop Worm" is.
MB: How did you meet?
Big Vinny: There wasn’t no match.com though we try to tell people that sometimes (laughs), well I was walking by my office and met him out on his porch and we became friends. I went to one of his shows and was dancing in the crowd. He said “Man, I want you to come to my shows because you’re like a professional icebreaker.” Because when you see a 400 pound guy dancing it kind of makes it easy for everyone else to dance. Next thing you know, I was singing with him and called me one day, and had the idea for The Trailer Choir.” Originally it was gonna have us in choir robes with a fiddle and stuff but kinda molded into what it is now.
Crystal: I started going out to different shows, I had met them individually and became friends so I was supporting them around town and one night, I jumped on stage and I just started singing with them because I felt they needed female harmony on the song. They jokingly say that I didn’t ask to be in the band but I was sort of there. Then Toby saw it and liked it and signed us up.
MB: How does it feel to be on Toby Keith’s record label?
Crystal: It’s amazing, it’s like a family. We get to tour with them; he’s producing the record, so that’s amazing, just having that as part of what you get to learn from. What he does in the studio, what he does on tour and how he gets to do that.
Butter: you know, writing songs and recording, that’s where the artist part of the whole thing comes in. because there are a lot of songwriters throughout the world and there’s something that goes into making that songs into a real product. I think working with Toby to transition the songs is one of the neat things and advantages that we have. We get to learn and use his experience to make our stuff better. It’s a compliment that he likes our songwriting because if he didn’t we wouldn’t be here.
How is the tour going?
Big Vinny: It’s been going great. Being out here with Toby is like being with the cool Quarterback. We’re like the rookies coming in and learning from the veteran, having a good time, staying up and never going to bed, ever.
Butter: We’ve been in front of crowds but to go from frat parties and clubs to playing these big stages, and it’s been good to start getting his fans to become our fans and to see the fans come out for us as well as toby. We’re just grateful for it. We’d be doing this anyway, or trying to get there but we realize that we’re lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to be able to do this. That’s where the gratefulness comes in.
MB: Like the party never ends…
Big Vinny: That’s right, The party never stops (relating to the song)
MB: How does it feel to have your song “Off The Hillbilly Hook” out on the radio and video, in addition to being on the soundtrack?
Big Vinny: you know, it’s kind of weird. You never know when you write a song if it’s gonna turn into something like this. Me, Butter, and Jewels Hanson, we knew we loved it and were gonna put it in our set but it’s kind of crazy to see it go from a room in Nashville to being on CMT, in movie trailers, in the movie, us in the movie; it’s a real cool feeling. When you set out to write there are no pretenses or anything. You don’t know how it’s gonna turn out so to see it become something big like this is pretty cool, because we write just because we love to write.
MB: Where do you get your song ideas from?
Big Vinny: Well, every song idea comes from something different. “Rockin’ The Beer Gut” one night Butter was sittin’ at a bar when a girl wearing low rise jeans and a high rise shirt and butter thought she was hot and said “Man, she’s rockin’ the beer gut.’ She had a little more love around the waist. “In My Next 5 Beers,” I was watching “Family Guy,” and he said “What am I gonna do in my next five beers” and I thought that was a song. “Roll In The Sunshine,” Butter played me a melody and as I was working at Sonic about 3 years ago and while working the grill, I called him up and told him that I had the title for the melody. Jewels Hanson came up to me, after a show, and said I got this song title “Off The Hillbilly Hook” and I want to write it with y’all.
MB: Who are some of your favorite artists?
Big Vinny: I like everybody but I’m a big fan of entertainers. Of course Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake. Kid Rock. He’s one of the best entertainers I’ve ever seen, I just want to put on shows like he puts on shows. I’ve been listening a lot lately to Shannon Lawson’s “Smokin’ Grass.” And Toby’s new song “Love Me With You Can.”
Butter: I would say Toby, Garth. Early on, I didn’t have a huge musical guide but I’ve been inspired by the radio, more by what I heard on the radio. All genres, all styles, a little bit of everything has molded me to what I am. I Like what Taylor Swift is doing, what Carrie Underwood is doing, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” I don’t know much of his stuff but I loved that song. I kind of enjoy the variety. Runs the whole gamut.
You know, we’re kind of built in a way that hip hop is in. Built from the club, and to the club. To get people out listening.
MB: That’s apparent when listening to your stuff, a little bit of everything mixed in...
Butter: The root of what we do, as Trailer Choir, is country music, there’s no doubt. But for a while, it was one of my biggest assets and downfalls was that I did enjoy so many styles and every three months I’d have a new band and a new style and at the root of it I realized I was a country songwriter. It might be an advantage for us but with “Off The Hillbilly Hook” it’s not a typical radio song. I don’t think people at radio don’t like it but it’s not a typically presented country song.
We’re having as much success as we could expect to have with the first single. Toby competes with “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” when he releases a single like “She’s A Hottie” and there aren’t a lot of slots for new artist.
MB: You bring up a good point because country stations play the older hits along with the new ones. So you’re competing with classics, unlike pop or rock which don’t have the classics playing at the same time...
Butter: Yeah, you bring up a good point. Our first song which is being presented to the music world is one of our most aggressive songs you’re gonna hear from us. I agree that a Trailer Choir album is going to be a little all over the place but it isn’t that one song. That could be an advantage that helps us and may be a little harder to sell at first but once we get through, we’re not here to have a few hits and go away, we genuinely want to do this for a while.
MB: Yeah, for example you’re not gonna score the ‘lightning’ hit and but be able to build your career organically. How does it feel to have Toby being your mentor?
Butter: It’s amazing, especially once you get passed the fact that he likes you. You learn what he sees in you, why he wants you there. We’ve learned a lot of the business outside of the stage where you learn the most from. I think we’re learning how a successful tour is run, how you treat the fans.
MB: That brings up a good point with Toby. What I like about him and his label is that he’s signing unique artist, no cookie-cutter, retreads so to speak. He’s signing people to nurture them, get them on the road and recording albums the old fashioned way.
Butter: Also along with that, Toby signed us because he found us, he was in Nashville out hustling trying to find an artist. He needed to be inspired by us. He found us, we didn’t go to the label, his cousin didn’t give him our CD. We were out doing it, pretty successful band where we were running a little business; it’s one of the things he respects in us. When he pulled us out on tour, they didn’t have to worry about us. We didn’t ask for help, we just kept doing what we had to do and it helped us get to were we are. Hustling, working hard.
MB: Do you have an idea of when the full album will be coming out?
Big Vinny: We don’t have a for sure date yet. We have the four songs done and we’re going in to record a song called “Last Man Standing” for NASCAR.
MB: Sometimes, Nashville is so image conscious. Do you think being with Toby helps you to not worry about the image?
Big Vinny: You know, one thing about us was that we created a huge buzz around town (Nashville) and had (other) label interest but Toby jumped on and said “I want to do something with this.” I think that’s what people want. Something different, I certainly don’t fit the mold from what the normal country music singer looks like but Butter’s your everyday guy who makes his hometown proud while Crystal’s just as hot as they come. It’s definitely been a good things for us.
MB: For those that don’t know, what is a pop worm?
Big Vinny: The pop worm. Well, the worm has been a popular break dance move, it’s a bit of a comedic move but it’s hard to do. Butter taught me how to do it. You jump up and land on your chest and move backward whereas the worm you fall forward. He was a breakdancer back in the day and gave me his linoleum and cardboard and taught me everything.
MB: Ahh, now I know what it is. When I heard pop worm all I could hear was “does he mean eating gummy worms?”
Big Vinny: Hah ha, well I do love gummy worms, I ain’t gonna lie.
MB: What do you think about the internet and how it relates to your band? How does it help?
Big Vinny: Well, I was kind of born and raised in the era of the download so I think people are gonna get their music for free. So putting your music out there and making your name a brand is how you’re gonna have to do it. So Having a CD out there with our friends on Show Dog is good or us. WE have it on the spot; they can buy it when they want to buy it or get it off of Limewire and put it on their iPod. It’s been cool to have it out where fans can buy it at the shows it’s been a really good thing.
MB: Do you think when people listen to stuff for free that it might help the artist, like a promotional tool?
Big Vinny: I think that when people hear the music and like it, it will make them want to go to a place like MySpace to hear four or five more songs and see when they’re playing the next time, go to the show and then that’s when you’re gonna be a true fan of that person. That’s when you can create a following and get people to create a buzz aobut you. Definitely, think it helps you out.
MB: What makes country fans unique compared to other genres?
Big Vinny: They’re loyal. Until you do something stupid to lose them, these fans stick with you. In pop music you’re hot when you’re hot and not when you’re not. But there are those people like Justin Timberlake who rise above that but country music fans are loyal and they are genuinely interested.
MB: If you could record with anyone living or dead who would it be?
Big Vinny: Me personally, I would definitely would want to record with Elvis because of he did everything, dancing, performing writing, movies. But my other one would be the original Lynyrd Skynyrd.
MB: What would you like to say to people reading this interview?
Butter: First, holla, nice to meet you. Thanks for taking the time to check something about us out. It does mean the world to us to have this opportunity. Come eat a hamburger and trailorgate with us before the show, Vinny likes to call our songs 3 minute vacations. Come check out our MySpace, our website or download a song. We’re not heroes, we’re lucky to have this thing. People go out and work very hard for their things so we want to make music that has people enjoying themselves and maybe escape from that for a bit when they see our show.