Chances are you’ve heard the country breakout song “Tubin'” on local radio. Did you know it’s sung by the Minnesota-based band Lost Highway?
The band, made up of members Jesse Charles, of Wanamingo, on lead vocals, Matthew Schwake, of Kenyon, on rhythm guitar and vocals, Tim Paulson on bass and vocals, Brett LaCasse on lead guitar, Aaron Seevers on drums and Nick Champeau on acoustic guitar, keys, and banjo, got their start six years ago. In May, they signed a deal with Spin Doctors Music Group, part of SMG Records Nashville.
“It’s baby steps, it’s not a full fledged, all-out record label type contract,” Charles said. “But a record label approached me a few months ago after finding us online and seeing the music video to ‘Tubin”. They thought it was a cool video and great song for summer and wanted to know if we wanted to sign with them for about a 24-week radio promotion type contract. They basically are pushing our song to national radio-secondary markets first, then major markets after we get some traction going.”
Lost Highway is Charles’ first band. “In high school, I was in a vocal quartet — we did stuff like the Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers and did that for a few years out of high school,” he said. Then, while snowmobiling in Montana, he had an accident and broke his neck and was paralyzed for about a day until they got him off the mountain.
“That changed everything for me,” Charles said. “At first, I thought I was going to be paralyzed the rest of my life, then a few days later after surgery, when they got me moving around, when I realized I was going to be OK, I decided I’d better do all the things I want to do before it’s too late.
“I quit snowmobiling and dirt bikes and ATVs, which were always kind of my rush and my escape, and I needed something to fill that void,” he said. “The next biggest rush is going on stage, so that’s what led up to the band. Four years after I broke my neck and after I found out I was going to be able to sing again — with all the surgeries, and fusing the front and back of my neck, for the first couple years, I couldn’t talk very much and would get really sore; I couldn’t talk too long, and I certainly couldn’t sing.
“Everything got better and better and came back, and I decided, ‘screw it, I’m gonna start a band,'” Charles said.
Lost Highway’s first show was July 4, 2009, and they’ve been building a huge fan base ever since.
“If you think about it, Johnny Holmes has had the last 30-plus years to build a fan base in the Midwest,” Charles said. “With our band, we’ve had six (years), and we’ve done it a different way; we’ve done it recording our own music and getting as much local and regional radio stations to play it.
“Until we got this contract, we’d been doing it on our own. Now, we have this record label to help take care of marketing and social media. We are trying to attract maybe a larger record label by doing this with the smaller label as a nationwide radio promotion contract.”
Minnesota has been a little easier market to gain traction.
“We were already getting played on KWWK and Fox Country here in Rochester and on stations in Mankato and Austin as well, but now, we are branching out to other parts of Minnesota, and North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and other parts of the country,” Charles said.
The band also has kicked up their touring throughout the summer to go along with all the radio promotions. You can catch them around here at Wabasha’s Riverboat Days on July 25, the Olmsted County Fair on July 31, Chatfield’s Western Days on Aug. 8 and Plainview’s Corn on the Cob Days on Aug. 14.
“We aren’t looking at it as a gigantic leap, and we are going to be the next Florida Georgia Line or anything, but it’s a step in the right direction, and it brings awareness to radio across the nation on who Lost Highway is and what we are doing,” Charles said. “I hope we can latch onto something a little bit larger and try to put some more songs out this fall or winter.
“I’d love everything to happen overnight, but realistically, we know it usually doesn’t work that way,” he said. “We are just hoping for a little luck and to be in the right place at the right time. We are just hoping to keep climbing the ladder and spread out our territory more, keep building and put out some more music that a lot of people like.”
For more info on the band, check them out on Facebook or visit www.losthighwaymn.com.