The Valdosta Daily Times
Like many musicians, Jeffrey Haineault can remember the first song he ever heard.
“It was Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ It was so wild, I was instantly obsessed with music,” said Haineault.
A few years later in the fifth grade, his cousin, Johnathan Coody, introduced him to a drum set.
“When you’re a kid, drums are the coolest thing. It helped me release some kind of kid angst,” chuckled Haineault, “something that was primal to the soul.”
After playing in various bands throughout middle school and high school, Haineault and Coody, along with bassist Jacob Sparks and guitarist Thad Megow, formed Ninja Gun in 2002.
Playing an amalgamation of ’70s rock and power-pop by way of rural punk, Ninja Gun toured all over the United States, up into Canada and over into Europe.
While touring, Ninja Gun would sleep on borrowed beds and couches, or pull into a camp site and, well, set up camp.
“Touring is freedom in the purest form, but it gets very exhausting,” said Haineault.
After three albums, hugging Willie Nelson, 10 years of shows and touring, headlining their own smaller tours and opening for larger bands, Ninja Gun was bone weary.
“We opened for some pretty big bands, Gaslight Anthem, Against Me. But even when you’re opening for bigger acts, you’re still only getting paid $300-400 a night. When you come home from a tour, you’ve made less than you would have working a part-time job. The bills don’t get paid,” said Haineault.
Ninja Gun went about as far as you can go as a touring band, but after a decade, they decided to break up, get jobs and go back to school.
Now a student at Valdosta State University, Haineault has started a new band on the side. Called Trailer of Tears, Haineault has traded in his drum skills for a pen, a guitar and a microphone.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it. I want to say something and see if people can relate to it,” said Haineault.
Haineault is joined by guitarist Jackson Dean, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Taylor Patterson.
Their first music video, for their single, “Not My Baby,” is up on Youtube, and their first album is coming out at the end of February. It is free to download, but Trailer is taking online donations for it. Immediately following the release, they will head into the studio to start working on their second album.
“Everything I learned from Ninja Gun, I’m carrying over. We’re trying to write songs that are timeless,” said Haineault.
With Trailer of Tears, Haineault wants to avoid the endless grind of touring.
“We’re shooting for the big festivals, like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. And we’re trying to build our catalog, so we can license music,” said Haineault.
Haineault cites Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and Queens of the Stone Age, and Tom Petty as big influences, as well as well as his cousin, Coody.
“He’s a really good songwriter. That’s why we (Ninja Gun) stuck with it for so long. We all just believed in the songs,” said Haineault.
Along with his musical influences, Haineault also cites his parents and grandparents and their long-term support for his musical endeavors, and their unending patience when he was learning how to drum and play guitar.
The musician lamenting life on the road has almost become a cliché, but Haineault is earnest about building a life for himself in Valdosta.
“Your personal life is very hard to keep balance, but you’ve got to have a healthy life. I like the home life more than I like the constant traveling. There’s culture here in Valdosta, but you have to look for it,” said Haineault.