Almost Time

John Surge

A longtime member of Los Angeles' roots-rock community, John Surge has spent countless nights onstage, filling the room with a blend of roadhouse country and rocking honky-tonk. Between songs, snatches of unfiltered conversation from the audience will make their way to his ears. Almost Time, his second album as frontman of John Surge and the Haymakers, is filled with those barroom tales. "These are songs about people sharing their troubles, bragging, pontificating, and showing their vulnerability," he says. "As a working band, we spend a lot of time in nightspots. I had my antenna up, and those moments got captured and expanded into the songs I wrote for the album.”
With Almost Time, he and longtime collaborator Randy Volin wanted to do something different. Packing his car full of guitars, amplifiers, and Modelo beer, they drove 1,400 miles east to the outskirts of San Antonio, where Surge found a new champion in producer Tommy Detamore. "I'd heard some of his records," Surge says of Detamore, whose production credits include albums by Jim Lauderdale, Sunny Sweeney, Doug Sahm, Bill Kirchen and Jesse Daniel. "Those songs would pop out of the speakers. They really grabbed my attention, and I knew I wanted the album to sound like that.”  
Despite being recorded amidst the live oak trees of southern Texas and featuring some of the state's best-known instrumentalists, Almost Time isn't a “Texas country” record. Instead, the album creates its own geography, blending the saloon-styled shuffle of "You're So Right" — a song built for dancehalls, with a thumping Telecaster hook line, a shot full of pedal steel guitar and a singalong chorus — with the barn-burning bluegrass of "All You Gotta Do," the country-rock stomp of "Lesson I Never Learned," and rootsy rave-ups like "Tricks of the Trade" and "Rattle Me." Some gorgeous acoustic moments are scattered throughout the album, too.  "Almost Time doesn't sound like a particular place," Surge explains. "It sounds like me getting out of my comfort zone and exploring something new.”
John Surge has never been afraid to explore the full range of his musical influences. He emphasizes his country leanings with Almost Time. It's a collection of stories from the bar — a place where relationships start, stop, fire, and fizzle — delivered by a singer/songwriter who's logged plenty of time in the country's watering holes. Surge remains a loyal citizen of Los Angeles, but Almost Time widens his horizons, offering up a version of raw, rootsy country music that's informed not by the city in which it was created, but by the songwriter himself. 

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