It's been a long road from song to studio for the guys from Taft High
They used to be known as the Taft band Good Question.
Now they are known as the Bakersfield band Truxton Mile.
A lot has happened to the band that started six years ago as a class project at Taft Union High School.
Since that time the band endured a long, frustrating road leading to a debut CD that had its coming out party in front of a packed house last Thursday at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.
Besides a name change at the suggestion of country music wizards in Nashville that the band consulted, Good Question-turned-Truxton Mile also lost two members of the original cast.
They started out with Ryan Coulter (vocals, guitar), Taylor Unruh (guitar), Alec Olivieri, Shawn Wynn (bass), and Ethan Morris (drums).
All except Olivieri were buddies at Taft High who got together for a class project, hit it off and formed Good Question.
Olivieri, a Garces High grad, saw them perform, struck up a conversation and quickly became a band member despite hailing from Taft High's hated – and perhaps envied – sports rival.
Somewhere during the grueling process of performing, writing and recording their debut album and then trying to get it mixed, mastered and produced, including an unforgettable trip to Nashville, Wynn moved to the coast for a job and Morris to Bakersfield to work and continue his education.
"As you go through life your priorities tend to change," said Coulter. "You kind of figure out what you want. Being in a band is very daunting. We all had day jobs. We would always say our jobs support our careers."
He emphasized that all five original members equally shared the tasks needed to get the debut album finished.
"Everyone contributes every step of the way. That's the way it was from the very beginning.
The band has found replacements, including their manager, Garrett Tuckness, who is filling in on bass.
The road from a garage in Valley Acres to the stage at the Crystal Palace last week was long and arduous.
It even created real doubt about what they were doing – whether they should keep charging ahead or pack it in.
The plan to have the album mixed in Nashville didn't work out.
"A lot of time and money was wasted in the process," Coulter said. "We just couldn't accept the product. We wanted something that we could be proud of and represented us."
In an ironic twist, the band turned to a jazz producer.
"We talked to a consultant who sent us to Leslie Chew at Double Rainbow Studios in San Pedro," Coulter said. "He'd never done country recording before."
This time the band provided much more detail about the songs and work that went into the project.
And, this time it worked.
The process took six months. The band paid Chew with profits generated from performing.
The finished product is titled "On My Way," a six-song EP available wherever music is sold, including iTunes.
"In the near future it will be sold in record stores in Bakersfield," Coulter said.
The band got a positive review from Matt Munoz, a musician who also writes a weekly column for the Bakersfield Californian and has become a big fan.
"Even after the long journey from song to studio, it serves as a primer for a group well on its way to an even brighter future," he wrote. "While all six tracks showcase the band's strong songwriting abilities and musicianship, standouts include the CD's title track, 'You're Right' and 'Love Like This.'"
Last week's debut at the Palace didn't go well at first.
"Just as we were walking down the stairs to the stage the power went out," Coulter said.
Despite the blackout, which wrecked food service at the popular venue as well, most of the packed house of 600 or more stuck it out and the band played on.
"We wanted to use the party as a kind of springboard," Coulter said. "This was to be our hello to Taft, Bakersfield and Kern County."
By the way, what's with that "Bakersfield band" moniker anyway?
It was strictly professional, Coulter said.
When the band was in Nashville the agent the guys were working with insisted on a name change.
"In Nashville everyone has heard of Bakersfield but no one ever heard of Taft," Coulter said, hence the name change built around a downtown boulevard in the county seat.
But make no mistake. Truxton Mile is Taft at its heart.
"Oh yes, we always give a shout-out to Taft when we do shows," he said. "Our fans have been so loyal and we truly appreciate that. There was a huge Taft presence at the show. They have been supportive since day one when we played our first show at the Oasis. We're still a Taft band."