From the "Big Truck Round-Up" banner and the open-air toilet barely concealed by a chunk of drywall to the graveyard of broken instruments strewn around the stained concrete floor, Two Story Double Wide's Delray Beach warehouse is more reminiscent of a central Alabama shanty than a rehearsal studio -- all that's really missing is an old hound dog.
Tearing into their practice set, the local yokels in 2SDW served up a steaming bowl of country-soaked punk so hearty that the Coors Light cans were vibrating off a broken television set and spilling onto the floor. The four-piece band's sound is something like a guitar-spun tornado punching you in the face as it screams past your head and knocks down the walls.
The numbers for Two Story Double Wide go something like this: Four guys, 18 months as a band, three self-released recordings, one national tour, a string of five bass players, five broken guitars, two busted amps, one smashed mandolin, a few black eyes, one fat lip, and zero record contracts.
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The band plays at 9 p.m. Thursday, January 20, at Alligator Alley, 1321 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park, 954-771-2220. On Friday, January 21, 2SDW plays Ray's Downtown Blues, 519 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, 561-835-1577. They also play at 9 p.m. Saturday, January 22, at the Poor House, 110 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5145.
All four of the fellas came from the same musical background as a lot of modern-day musicians: metal with a taste for Southern classic rock. It's the very same riff-rife rock that hipper-than-thou indie-rock kids won't admit to cutting their teeth on. 2SDW, however, wears its influences proudly, like a black concert T.
`"I was a metalhead," lead guitarist Andrew Rockwell boasts. "I was into all that heavy-shredding stuff -- Black Sabbath, Pantera. Wasn't everybody?"
Singer/guitarist Matt Edrinton and bassist Joe Conellan have similar stories; they're music fans without a whole lot of performing experience.
"This is the first band I've ever been in," Edrinton explains. "I wrote my first country song a couple of years ago for a friend, and I really liked it, so I started listening to more bands like Slobberbone and Lucinda Williams."
On the other hand, drummer Otis Possum -- he of the fitting surname -- used to run with the big dogs. Possum spent time drumming with national acts like Lords of Acid and the Cro-Mags; then, in August of last year, he received a call from an old friend, the tour manager of Dokken. The German heavy-metal hair-band progenitors requested Possum's drum-tech services for the remainder of their tour.
Possum announced his temporary departure from 2SDW that evening. Some arguing ensued in the tour van, and Edrinton and Possum tangled in the middle of a Brooklyn street while a crowd gathered around them.
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"He kicked my ass hockey-style -- he pulled my shirt over my head before unloading on me," Possum says. "I showed up at the Dokken tour bus the next day with a face that looked like a raw hamburger. Matt and I were friends again after a bottle or two of whiskey."
Hell yeah. Apparently, most of the band's waking life is spent hanging with close friends Jack and Jim. From their hard-luck story-songs to their hell-raising practice sessions to the trail of busted instruments left in their wake, liquor makes them write and fight.
Not surprisingly, enthusiastic boozing keeps a lot of the band's exploits off the record, at their behest. Only Edrinton admits his age (27); Rockwell cites his vaguely as "old." As far as where they all hail from: "Let's just leave it at Delray Beach," Edrinton tells me with an outlaw gleam in his eye. I start to wonder if they're cattle rustlers on the lam or, worse, closet Yankees.
On the record, they've still got some great stories. Edrinton enthuses over opening for Molly Hatchet at the Metal Factory in Fort Lauderdale back in '00 and how the band formed a sort of union with former South Florida band Pank Shovel, which used to practice next door and inspired such anthemic 2SDW classics as "Lesbian" and "Mohawk." He also explains how they keep the bodies of their ex-bass players in their gear trailer.
"It only says 'Leo's Septic' on the outside, so no one suspects anything," Edrinton says. "What kind of dumbass would advertise their band name on the outside of their trailer? You're only asking for someone to break in and steal your shit."
The collective beer buzz gives rise to a non sequitur: If the Oak Ridge Boys were in a cage match with Alabama, who would win?
"It doesn't matter, because we'd kick all of their asses," Possum says. "We'd meld into a Two Story Double Wide monster, half mule/half redneck, and destroy them all."
Halfway through 2SDW's next song, Possum flies out from behind his drum kit and pitches his drum sticks at 90 mph at two blonds who've strolled into the rehearsal space.
"Get the fuck out of here!" he yells, shoving them out the door. The rest of the band stops momentarily and apologizes for the disruption while the ousted blonds and Possum scream at each other outside. A few minutes later, the drummer returns. "Sorry 'bout that," he says.
Turns out the ladies were Edrinton's girlfriend -- Possum's sister -- and a friend. "That was just the middle of a loving brother-sister tiff that got brought into the warehouse," Edrinton explains later.
Possum climbs back behind his kit, and the band finishes the song.
Their music is a mirror of who they really are: rip-'em-up, take-no-shit, hard-playin' cowpunks. They start to play "May the Circle Be Unbroken," an old-time gospel ditty that in 2SDW's hands boils and spits grit from its teeth.
Like tonight's practice session, the band's live shows always work up a sweat with a vague and violent sense of impending anarchy. Rockwell is especially spastic, usually flailing rabidly, dancing and jumping with his camouflage hunting cap pulled low, never missing a note. When asked for his influences and inspiration to play guitar, he shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know," he responds, just having a good time as far as he's concerned.
Possum mauls the drums like he's got something against them, still hungry, his playing still fresh as a "smashed June bug's guts," as my Alabama-born grandfather used to say.
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Conellan, on bass, is new to the band but not new to Matt. "We met in middle school and smoked pot together for the first time 11 years ago," he explains like he's been playing with 2SDW since its dawn.
Edrinton completes the picture up front. He's the consummate showman, sometimes buying midsong rounds of Jack Daniel's for the audience, sacrificing his Telecaster tomahawk-style into the drum kit, and leaving everyone in the room out of breath, almost unconscious. At 2SDW's recent gig at the Billabong in Pembroke Park, Edrinton jumped into the air, crashed down onto his guitar, and, landing backward, fell head-first into his guitar cabinet.
"That hurt like hell!" Edrinton exclaims. "I had a knot on the back of my head for weeks! That was a borrowed guitar too, so I guess I shouldn't drink that much before shows."
Yeah, but then where would he find his muse? That's the one problem when you're a shit-kickin', barn-stormin' cowpunk band -- liquor makes you quicker. Next time you see the good ol' boys of Two Story Double Wide warming up on stage, buy a round of shots. Once the music hits overdrive, everyone in the place will thank you for it.