The Derailers are an American country music band based in Austin, Texas. They were founded by Portland, Oregon natives Tony Villanueva and Brian Hofeldt in 1994 , and their first LP, Live Tracks was issued in 1995. It was the first release of the Austin-based independent label Freedom Records. Shortly after the release, the Derailers became one of the most talked about acts at Austin’s 1995 South by Southwest music festival, and the record became profitable within two months. This occurred at a time when “Americana” radio stations were starting to mutiply and various forms of non-mainstream country music were coming together under such rubrics as Americana and alternative-country. The Derailers became a major part of that movement, representing the “traditional honky-tonk” end of the sub-genre.
With its fan base growing, the band signed with the more established Austin independent label Watermelon Records for their second release, Jackpot (1996) and then moved to Sire Records for their third release, Reverb Deluxe (1997). Aggressive touring across the U.S. and airplay on Americana radio stations grew a steadily increasing fan base and The Derailers came to be seen as an act poised for breakout success in mainstream country, and were even hailed as “the future of country music” in the Austin press. They signed with Curb Records for their first major label release, Full Western Dress, in 1999, which would reach #69 on the Billboard Country chart. A single from this album, The Right Place, appeared on the Billboard single charts at #71 and the video became one of the 50 most requested of the year 2000 on Country Music Television.
Seeking greater mainstream success, The Derailers switched to Sony’s Lucky Dog Records for their next release, Here Come the Derailers, and were paired with Nashville A-list producer Kyle Lehning . This album had the unfortunate release date of September 11, 2001, and was largely overlooked by mainstream radio stations that began emphasizing patriotic songs. A profile of the band on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition in 2002 did help push the album just into the top 50 on the Billboard country charts. The follow up release for Lucky Dog, Genuine (2003), did slightly better, cresting at #44. But soon after that, founding member and primary vocalist Tony Villanueva announced he was leaving the band to spend more time with his family and become a church pastor.