Dejan Knezevic - Lead vocals/Acoustic guitar
Mark Tomeo - Pedal Steel/Backing Vocals/Dobro
Brian Teille - Drums/Backing Vocals
Jonathon Candler - Bass
Stephen Dietrich - Lead Guitar
James Yepa (Chief) - Backup Bass
Last Train to Juarez hails out of Phoenix Arizona. Formed and fronted by Dejan Knezevic in late 2018, L.T.T.J. has created a unique sound which can be attributed to the diverse backgrounds of it's players. Prior to forming the band, Dejan spent the better part of the last 30yrs playing in the Phoenix area metal scene. While writing acoustic music was always something he enjoyed, it wasn't until 2018 that he threw his hat in and decided to give country music a serious shot.
Initially, Dejan started off as a solo act playing his first show at his Motorcycle Club's Clubhouse. The performance was well received leading him to form the band. The original lineup included Dejan, Paul Rugolo on bass, John Vick on drums and Gary Segal on lap steel. They played a handful of gigs around the Phoenix area but as things began ramping up, due to differences of opinion on which direction the band should go, Gary chose to leave and pursue other projects.
Dejan recruited a new pedal steel player named Bill Schmidt and began collaborating on material. However, just a couple months later due to health issues Bill was unable to commit to the project and had to step down. Sadly, he has since passed. Before his passing, Bill referred a pedal steel player to Dejan named Mark Tomeo who joined the band shortly after. Just when things seemed like they were gonna kick off, he was hit with more obstacles. Paul and John chose to leave the band in pursuit of other endeavors. This was a huge setback for the project but it wasn't enough to deter Dejan from pursuing his vision for the band.
At this point Dejan and Mark continued to audition new drummers and bass players without much luck. After witnessing the revolving door of musicians going in and out of the band, two of Dejan's club brother's offered to step in and join the band. Dylan Kidner became the new drummer and Chief the new bass player. Finally, the band had a solid lineup and was ready for the next step.
The band started playing gigs often and quickly created a buzz in the music scene throughout Arizona. Dejan introduced original tunes which the band helped bring to life and after several months, they were in the studio to record their first E.P.
Their first attempt at recording the E.P. didn't go as well as Dejan hoped and after completing the recording, he decided to scrap the entire thing and start over again at a different studio.
During this time, Dylan chose to go separate ways to pursue a touring opportunity. Shortly after, Dejan recruited Brian Teille on drums and after spending some time rehearsing, the band hit the studio again to record the first EP, "Dirt and Stone". However as fate would have it, the band was hit again with yet another obstacle. Chief, the bassist who also works for Slipknot was being called to go on tour for a lengthy and aggressive tour schedule. Therefore. a decision was made to find a new bassist which lead to the addition of Daniel Serin to the band.
The band released "Dirt and Stone" and went on tour with Billy Don Burns to the east coast and back to Arizona. Things finally seemed to be falling into place. Unfortunately, after the tour, Daniel made a decision to part ways for personal reasons and the band was looking for a bassist again. This time around they recruited Jonathon Candler, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who is now the band's full time bassist and the band added a lead guitarist, Stephen Dietrich.
So after a couple years of a revolving door of musicians, Dejan now seems to have the perfect lineup of players and are ready to hit the road again soon. With Jonathon Candler on bass guitar, Brian Teille on Drums, Mark Tomeo on steel, Stephen Dietrich on lead guitar and Dejan's vocals and acoustic guitar, the band creates a raw traditional sound that captures the spirit of real country music while also incorporating the modern new outlaw/red dirt sound that is familiar in Texas country.
The band has been playing throughout all of Arizona and has already placed their stamp on the Arizona country music scene. They have shared the stage with Billy Don Burns, Tom McElvain who co-wrote "Grey" and "Rock and Roll" with Cody Jinks. They have opening shows with Creed Fisher, Josh Morningstar and Darryl Worely on the books. You can catch them playing in Puerto Penasco, Mexico monthly and they have out of state tours booked throughout 2022. With a full album release on March 15th, L.T.T.J. is looking to ramp things up fast and is already working on writing their 2nd full album for which they plan to hit the studio again in fall.
Many say that L.T.T.J. has a sound that finds a home in the red dirt country genre. Though I wouldn't say that all their music fits neatly in any specific place. The songs capture a true grit feel while their lyrics reflect real life subject matter.
The band is primarily focused on original music but you'll hear them play cover songs by artists like Hank Jr., Cody Jinks, Jamey Johnson, Ward Davis, Josh Morningstar, Hank III, Merle Haggard, Alex Williams and more. No top 40 pop country with a twang from these guys! The road to where they are at now was a difficult one but with unrelenting perseverance and a strong desire to make his vision a reality, Dejan is committed to taking Last Train to Juarez as far as it can go.