Talking with TruckDog & The Go People: The Most Beautiful Expression

Talking with TruckDog & The Go People: The Most Beautiful Expression

Around these parts, musician Chris Cuddy is better known by his band name: TruckDog & The Go People, or TruckDog for short. TruckDog is an independent musician in every sense of the word. His music is solid rock with an outsider’s voice, unique and experimental but also catchy and sometimes beautiful. I talked with him about his bands and collaborations, his “album-in-a-night” approach to music, and how he found a home in the Only the Host community.

Uncle Funkbeard: For those who don’t already know you, how would you define or describe your genre?

TruckDog: This is a tough question for me. I try a lot of things. I'm pretty solidly somewhere on the rock and roll branch of music. But, my music doesn't always pack a bunch of energy. So, I used the term "Eclectic Rock" as a catch-all. There's a lot of oldies, blues, rock, funk, punk and pop influences in my music.

UF: What’s been your most popular track so far?

TD: “Fear of Success.” I'm not entirely positive why. I think it's a relatable song. It's about those dreams that are just out of reach. The idea that I'm my own worst enemy... and it's got a drum beat that people really seem to respond to, so that probably helps a lot.

UF: Which song is your personal favorite?

TD: “I'm Almost Home.” It's a song about fractured mental health, thoughts of death, and dreaming of sanity. It's a serious topic treated in a light-hearted manner and the song is dripping with a sort of happy sadness contradiction that I enjoy.

UF: How did you get started making music?

TD: I was 16 years old when I bought my first guitar. I paid a friend $25 for an old Yamaha acoustic with nylon strings.

I have no formal music education. Everything I know about music has come from learning from musician friends, guitar magazines, or the Austin City Limits program on PBS. The first time I ever heard Ozzy Osbourne's “No More Tears” was on Austin City Limits.  

UF: Tell me about Telepathic Station Nine.

TD: I've known Andy Cook since we were in first grade together and we both started playing guitar at about the same time. He started Telepathic Station Nine with Logan Callen on bass guitar and myself on drums. The band name comes from a poem written by the wife of famed author George Orwell.

TS9 formed in 2015 and sporadically played gigs in Spokane, Washington between 2017 and 2020 until the Covid pandemic shut us down. We’ve opened for some great bands including Ghost Ship Octavius, Buffalo Jones, and The Purrs.

Over the last year or so, we've been developing new songs for an album that is coming together now and should be mastered soon, to be released in 2024. We'll be playing live gigs around Spokane as opportunities arise.

UF: In addition to TS9 and your solo work, over the past several months you’ve been involved in a number of collaborations. In fact, you and I have worked on three songs together that are about to be released, two of which are covers of The Monkees. How are the experiences different between being in a band, writing and performing solo, collaborating on an original song and collaborating on a cover?

TD: Being in a band is the most beautiful expression of music, in my opinion. When each person is in the room and you're each controlling your instrument and you figure out the song in real time as a group is really an amazing experience that is unlike anything else in life. The collaborative spirit is most on display in the band environment.

Next best is collaborating on an original song. All the collaborative elements are there. But, you might not necessarily be in the same room like one might be with a band. So, there's a little less intuition and a little more time involved. Next is collaborating on a cover. This one sort of depends on how drastically the cover differs from the original, but with a cover you're typically working within more guidelines and trying to achieve very specific goals. It's fun, but it's just more strict than all the other ways of working.

Finally, writing and performing solo is great but there is no collaboration at all and that has a huge impact. Collaboration is really important in music and if you're solo then the only way to collaborate is to seek feedback. Otherwise, it's just you by yourself flying in an airplane of your own ideas. They better all work well enough, or that plane won't stay in the air.

UF: I’m curious about your creative process. How does TruckDog build that airplane?

TD: I call my style "album-in-a-night." This phrase came from living with roommates, getting drunk, and making an album’s worth of music in as little time as possible. In doing so, you lose inhibitions and work with what you have. It may not be the idea you set out to achieve, but it's always interesting. Typically, the process begins with a flat drum beat. Then a guitar riff or a bass riff. Those riffs will often lead to chorus riffs or bridge riffs. Then I will start thinking about lyrics and vocal melody. Lyrics usually dictate song structure for most of my work. And simplicity is always a main factor in the "album-in-a-night" process. There's no time to overthink things. And I'm recording each part myself, one at a time. So, the whole song really only comes together during the mix.

UF: You’ve said that you like to intentionally leave mistakes in, which fascinates me. I tend to obsess for days over tweaking a recording, down to adjusting individual notes.

TD: As part of the album-in-a-night philosophy, I don't get too worked up about an imperfect guitar lick or piano roll. I do go into the midi and make adjustments. I do many, many takes when recording every instrument and part. But, philosophically, I just feel like there are so many great artists that can play everything perfectly and they can sing everything perfectly. I'm not that. I am imperfect. So, my music should be imperfect.

All of it probably traces back to growing up watching Bob Ross and learning his philosophy of painting. Bob Ross always said "there are no mistakes, only happy accidents." Those happy accidents or "mistakes" that I keep in my music add character and give the listener the REAL TruckDog & the Go People.

UF: Talk to me about “LiveForever.” You’ve released several different versions of this song and I can’t decide which one I like the best.

TD: The Live Life Forever EP is actually six songs. It all started with this guitar riff that is basically three chords but there's some special sauce going on. And depending on how I played the special sauce, the song sounded dramatically different. And doing that led to different chorus riffs and other parts. And I couldn't really choose which one I liked better. I felt they were each different enough to be their own songs. So I packaged them into the Live Life Forever EP and I sought the design services of Moss Cottage to create the artwork for the release. The title is a meditation about happiness and human beings' fascination with living forever.

 UF: My recollection is that you’ve been a part of the Only the Host community and the Indie Music Hunt almost as long as I have. How did you get involved? 

TD: I recall seeing an Uncle Funkbeard post on Twitter about the Hunt. At that time, I had about 40 songs on Soundcloud. About half of them were instrumentals. After I learned about the Hunt, I decided to group all the songs that had lyrics into one album and put it up on Spotify. That move was entirely inspired by my desire to get played on the Hunt. Smile Smile Smile is that 18-song album.

UF: What draws you to this community?

TD: Were it not for the Hunt, I probably wouldn't have my music on streaming platforms other than SoundCloud and Bandcamp. Likewise, I wouldn't have learned about all my favorite music right now. I got involved in the community just by listening to them. Trying to "deep dive" each band and artist has been a truly daunting task. But, the quality of music that features regularly on the Hunt is truly remarkable. Everyone's music keeps me coming back. The people are all so nice and offer great feedback on the livestream and on Twitter and the OTH Discord server.

Before I learned about the Hunt, my stereo was always set to the same old classic rock radio station. And those stations play the same 100 songs over and over. At that time, my favorites were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and the Doors.

Now, because of the Hunt, I am a voracious music listener. I've developed the IndieDog & the Song People playlist with over 10 hours of great music from artists who've been on the Hunt. Whenever I just want to put music on, that is my go-to. I can put that playlist on random and rest assured I'll only hear songs I love from too many great artists to list here.

UF: How would you like to see this community grow and develop over time?

TD: Quoting Spaceballs, "Merchandising!" ...And physical media such as CDs, vinyl, cassettes. Bands and artists seem to be chasing streams for pennies. We all agree that it's just about getting our music into ears. If that's true, then we should be leaning towards physical media and hopefully selling some volume. I personally don't like selling myself. The OTH Community, John Woodson himself, and the OnlyTheHost.com website have already helped me in so many ways. So, I am just beginning to get involved. Because it's more than money and music. It's about reimagining the music industry landscape. Only The Host is giving back to the community and it inspires me to do the same.

When we work together, there is no stopping us.

 

Visit TruckDog & The Go People’s Indie Page and follow him on Twitter.

 

Uncle Funkbeard
Leader of the house funk revolution
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