Wells ended up on the wrong road, going the wrong way. He got caught pretty quickly. Maybe to scare him, he was locked up in a state penitentiary in Benton.
"There were guys in there doing five and seven years," he said.
If that's what the judge wanted, it worked, even though Wells was only locked up for 12 hours.
"That was my Johnny Cash stint," he said.
Johnny Cash was arrested three times during the 1960s for charges, including trespassing and attempted drug smuggling. He eventually served a night in jail. Far from damaging the man in black's music career, his brush with the law became part of his legend.
Wells also got a song out of his experience: "January in Louisiana."
"It's not a biographical song," he said. "It's more of a jumping off point."
The song, he said will be on the band's next album, its third.
Fifth on the Floor's music is rough and tumble, like a stripped down Drive-By Truckers or a less sober Waylon Jennings. It plays loud, hard and honest.
Wells explained, "Ain't none of us in this band rich. We write about the struggles of the common man. It's that kind of thing that permeates what we do, but we're not a political band."
One of the band's songs, "Another Day," addresses coal-mining issues. It caught the attention of outlaw country star Shooter Jennings, who was putting together his own brand of country music.
Almost since the beginning, Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, has been at odds with the country music establishment, which isn't surprising given his father's trouble with it. Among other things, Jennings launched the website www.givememyxxx.com. The website is part of a movement to promote a different kind of American music and bands like Fifth on the Floor.
"It's called the XXX movement. It's kind of a play on AAA music," he said, referring to Adult Album Alternative, a radio format that often features music by indie rock performers on the fringe of mainstream pop.
Since they became acquainted, Fifth on the Floor has shown up in a couple of Jennings' music videos.
"We've got some other stuff we're maybe doing," he said and laughed. "I'm not supposed to talk about it."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.