And You Will Know Them By the Trail of Debt

Life on the road for the Trail of Dead means fixing broken-down vans, sleeping on the floor at a stranger's house, and living hand-to-mouth. What keeps the Austin indie band going? Rock and roll.

The van’s engine reeked of burning oil when the Trail of Dead stopped outside Winnie on the warm spring afternoon this year that inaugurated the band’s first world tour—a journey that would eventually take the Austin foursome as far as Oslo, Norway, but which seemed in danger, at that very moment, of ending in the switchgrass of East Texas. The group was already running late for its first show in New Orleans, so after a few perfunctory glances under the hood and against better judgment, Neil Busch, Conrad Keely, Jason Reece, and Kevin Allen piled back into the van and hit the road. But about an hour later, as darkness was settling over Southern Louisiana, the engine gave out at a run-down gas station along the poorest fringes of Lake Charles. The prospects were grim: The only passersby were a homeless man selling stolen watches and a gold-toothed thug in a lowrider Cadillac who stared at the four musicians, all wearing jet-black mod haircuts and thrift-store clothes, as if he had spotted an extraterrestrial life form. Jason leaned against the van and

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