It was about three in the morning, and most of the members of Lo-Pro were asleep in their tour-bus bunks. Then a woman driving in the same direction fell asleep, swerved into the guardrail and ricocheted into the back of the band's bus. Brakes squealed, the driver spun the wheel to counteract the blow, and the vehicle skidded to a halt, banging up and bruising the musicians.
"It was really chaotic," guitarist Neil Godfrey said. "There was lots of screaming going on and someone was shouting, 'Hold on!' "
"That's not how you want to wake up in the middle of the night," singer Pete Murray said.
Lo-Pro consider themselves lucky. The accident could have been much worse. "We were originally going to go out in a van," Godfrey said. "If we would have got hit like that in the van, who knows what would have happened?"
Fate might or might not have saved the band from serious injury, but so far, incidents in which fortune has arisen from misfortune have played a major role in the band's career.
Before forming Lo-Pro, Murray and Godfrey were in the nü-metal band Ultraspank. The group released two albums with little fanfare before being dropped by its label. Disillusioned by the music industry, the pair had no interest in signing with another label, but they still loved writing and recording songs.
"Everyone we played the stuff for said, 'This is great. What do you want to do with it?' And we were like, 'Uhhh, nothing. We're just having fun with it.' Then eventually we decided the day-job thing was getting old, so we started sending demos out."
The band — Murray, Godfrey, guitarist Pete Ricci, bassist John Fahnestock (ex-Snot) and drummer Tommy Stewart (ex-Godsmack) — received several label offers, including one from Staind frontman Aaron Lewis, who was starting up his vanity label, 413 Records. Lewis, who had hung out with Ultraspank when the two bands played together, decided to put his weight behind Lo-Pro, the same way Fred Durst helped sign and launch Staind.
"You don't pass up the Aaron Lewis card," Godfrey said. "I mean, here we are on our second Staind tour, and we're stoked. Aaron's been incredible."
"Right before we did the record, Neil and I hooked up with Aaron," Murray added. "He helped us rework a lot of songs and even lent a hand with lyrics."
While there's no question Lo-Pro have benefited from Lewis' guidance, now they're starting to strike out on their own. Their self-titled debut, a melodic hard rock disc that draws influence from Alice in Chains and Pink Floyd, came out Tuesday, and their first single, "Sunday," is getting some airplay at radio.
"It's definitely not about watching football or going to church," Murray said of the song. "It's really about how I've never had anything to look forward to on Sunday. I never liked going to school or going to a job, and when Sunday comes, you just know things are gonna hit the ringer the following day."
Lo-Pro will remain on the road with Staind through November 22. At that point, Lewis might take a step back like a proud father watching his kids make their own way. For now, however, he can't help getting involved.
"It's been nice because there have been a couple shows where he slides onstage and joins us for a song or two," Murray said. "That's always a surprise for us, but we're always happy to have him come up."
"Yeah, and then we go from being Lo-Pro to being chopped liver," Godfrey added with a laugh. "Because everyone's looking [at him] and not at us."