Two decades and 11 albums later, Two Tons of Steel is still out tearing up the Texas blacktop with a hefty touring schedule that currently includes road-testing some new material from their soon-to-be released album, Unraveled.
"It's really the best thing Two Tons has ever done and Lloyd Maines produced it," says the San Antonio-based rockabilly band's front man Kevin Geil about the band's latest album. "It's stripped down, it's punk rock and sometimes it's alt-country and everything that makes us Two Tons.
"We've been playing some of it live and how the crowd is reacting to the new songs, everybody's loving it," he adds.
Truthfully, Grammy Award-winning producer Maines -- father of the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines -- has produced most of Two Tons' albums. Maines has also worked with artists including Pat Green and the Dixie Chicks as well as Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Actually, the list would be shorter to mention who he hasn't worked with over the years.
The band's current lineup includes Geil, Jake Marchese on the upright bass, Brian Duarte on lead guitar and Paul Ward on drums. Geil says the album's title is kind of inspired by some changes in the band and about old things coming unraveled and new situations and ideas emerging. It's also a good take on Two Tons' tear-it-up, in-your-face vibe.
"It's kind of a good play on the old stuff coming unraveled and getting a fresh start," he said. "This was more of a grass roots approach. We wanted to be more true to what we actually do and to keep it bare bones and rockin' and that's what it is."
While Geil and the rest of the band wrote the majority of the songs for this album, there are also a few songs added from not only Augie Meyers of the Texas Tornados but also songwriter Phil Thomas. There's also a Two Tons take on the Harlan Howard tune "Busted." While it has been done a few times (and made famous by Johnny Cash) this version will be totally different.
"It's a total new take on it," Geil says. "It's a pretty cool take on it, but it's also total original way of doing it."
The rootsy Americana clash of rockabilly mixed with a pinch of punk has worked for Two Tons over the years, especially in places like iconic Texas Country/Red Dirt venue Gruene Hall. The venue was made famous by country legends including Willie Nelson, George Strait and Townes Van Zandt.
For almost 20 years, Gruene Hall has also hosted its Two Ton Tuesdays summer series. The band's distinctive sound also has been exhibited more than a few times at the Grand Ole Opry.
As for how Unraveled, due out July 2, is different from other Two Tons of Steel albums, Geil said it may not be as radio-friendly as some of their other projects.
"It's stripped down and in your face and it's kind of rude," Geil says. "The other albums have been a little more radio-friendly where you wouldn't want to cuss or say something like 'hell.' I think hell is in every one of our songs."
Two Tons of Steel performs at 11 p.m. tonight at the Continental Club, 3700 Main. The Eskimo Brothers open.
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