New York City's own Trailer Radio returns in fine form with their second full-length album, Country Girls Ain't Cheap. Their self-dubbed brand of 'Metro-Twang,' blends genuine country music with hilarious (and truthful) songs of “dysfunction, drama, and discount vacations,” to name a few. Front woman Shannon Brown graciously called to talk about the record, her roots and more.
As a group, Trailer Radio has been playing together for over five years now. How did you guys get together?
In 2008, I wrote a show called Moonshine Martinis, which was a country music show done cabaret style. I performed it in the city and was just bitten by the bug! I thought performing country music would be so novel in NYC, so I started hunting around to put a band together. I met David Weiss [guitar] at a club called Banjo Jims in the East Village. He already had a writing partner, Joel Shelton [bass] so the three of us got together. They had some material that was sitting around collecting dust that hit me square in the funny bone, so we grabbed Mike Dvorkin [guitar] and Kenny Soule [drums], and learned the material they’d written. That’s how the ball got started.
You are originally from West Virginia. Did you come to NYC to pursue music?
I have a background in musical theatre, but once I moved to New York I got into the tech world and sat around building websites all day. The day job came and stole my real life - which is what happens when you move to New York. You have all of these big dreams but then you suddenly get so tired….so after ten years of doing that I realized I wanted to sing again which is when I started the cabaret.
So with your background in musical theatre, how did you turn to country?
I was trying to do musical theatre and had a vocal coach who said: “Why does everything you sing sound like country?” I thought ‘Probably because I’m from West Virginia!” But I thought I would give it a try; and not only was it fun, but it sounded so much better than when I tried to sing musical theatre! I had never thought of singing country before, but it was a pretty natural thing to do!
Even after living in NYC for so many years, your songs definitely have a firm grasp of country life. Did the band write them all?
We did and they’re all originals. Joel suddenly had a burst of inspiration around the middle of 2015 and kept coming to me with new songs. I had never written a song before, but I started writing as well, really focusing on it and trying to put myself in that head space. I would bring my songs to him and he would help me tweak things. David, too, sat in on some sessions and helped with the music and lyrics. It was very much a collaborative process.
The album is filled with true story songs about real life that are infused with so much humor which is so refreshing and different from the typical confessional singer-songwriter tunes or terrestrial t40 radio.
I’m glad to hear you say that because that’s what we’re going for. There are so many songs that revolve around love and drinking when there are a ton of other things to write about! We try to write about different things like a vacation on the rooftop, or the woman who smoked too much pot and tried to kill husband.
And you guys do it so well!
Hearing the stories behind the songs is something that I love. Can you pick one and tell the story behind it?
There’s a song on the record, “Dirt Queen.” In West Virginia people love to ride their ATVs, and it’s not just the residents of the state, people come from all over to ride dirt bikes. It’s a big industry that is getting bigger. I’ve never done it, but a lot of my cousins love it and post pics on Facebook where they’re covered head to toe in mud. They’ve been up since the crack of dawn, watching the sunrise and riding bikes, so I came up with the song about a woman who doesn’t care about a job, relationships or settling down…. she just wants to ride her ATV all the time.
The opening track, “Country Girls Ain’t Cheap,” is also the title of the record. Why did you choose that particular song for the title?
Joel wrote the song first and I loved it! It was tough to come up with a title, but I started to think about the lyrics and “Country Girls Ain’t Cheap” really was the whole kit and caboodle. Everybody wants to know if those are my boobs on the cover and I’m like, “I waited until I was thirty years old until I had boobs, so I’m gonna get some play off of these girls!!” (laughing)
The album is available now. Will there be a release show?
Yeah, it will be May 17th at Brother Jimmy's, but before then we have a show on April 30th at An Beal Bocht, which is one of my favorite places to play. We’d love for everyone to come out; it’s going to be a blast! We love an interactive experience and try to engage the crowd at a Trailer Radio show, we want people up and dancing. Plus, sometimes we have friends in town who are musicians, so you never know who may show up! It’s going to be cool.
Sounds like it’s not to be missed!
Finally, I always love to know – is there any recent release you cannot stop listening to?
Well, I love Brad Paisley. He and Miranda Lambert are really the only two modern country singers that I dig. Zoe Lewis is a wonderful singer-songwriter whose music is very quirky and crosses many different genres. I listen to her all the time. And I just downloaded Elton John’s new one as well which I am really digging.
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Purchase Country Girls Ain't Cheap here