One of the finest rock bands America has given to the world is back to present their 12th album. Nowadays they seem to fit into what we call Alt-Country, but they’ve been making bluesy rock and roll for 2 decades now.
They probably won’t become more famous or handsome than they are now, but when it comes to the music you can’t save good adjectives. Drive-By Truckers have suffered some important changes to the line-up, but they always prove to know how to move on and get the best out of the band with every new release. English Oceans ([PIAS] 2013) is no exception, and after spending some time on other projects, they’re back and they’re as powerful as they’ve ever been.
Today we had the chance to talk with Mr. Patterson Hood, with whom we already spoke about a year and a half ago when he visited Spain with his friends, Craig Finn from The Hold Steady and Will Johnson. Today, he talks about music, life, and the career of the Truckers.
Hi Patterson, how you doing?
I’m fine thanks. I’m in Athens, Georgia, at my house. We’ve made some dates and we’re leaving again tomorrow.
So English Oceans is already out, and it is probably the biggest gap between albums. How was the moment when you put the band together and decide to put out a new album? Did you feel that you need more time than the previous albums?
Yeah we needed the time really badly. We worked really hard for this new record. With such a quick success we needed to recharge, research and fix few things that were broken in the band. Everybody was really ready last year. It was kind of magical.
What were you’re feelings when you finish recording English Oceans? I think it sounds more rock and roll than most other albums, don’t know if that was something you wanted before making the record.
It’s my favourite thing of what we’ve done in at least 10 years.I’m very excited about it. It’s been a lot of fun trying out and playing it live too. I’m very confident with it. It works really well as a live show.
“If I had known we were gonna be stuck with the band so long, I’d have picked a better name”
The band has had some changes on the line-up, but you proved you always stand up and keep making quality records. Is it something that at the end of the day you just got to learn to manage? Or does it get really hard whenever a member has left the band?
Yeah, Cooey and I we’ve been playing together for 29 years now. And we’ve had this band for 18 years now. We’ve played close to 2000 shows live. We’ve made 12 albums, so you know, people kind of get tired, and sometimes have to move on… But I think it’s pretty great that we’ve kept the core of the band together so long. And seems like each time we change we come up with something new.
Does the time you spend on stage worth all the time spent on the bus, promotion, etc…?
That’s the hard part. The promotion and interview it’s the hard part. I love touring, and I like the live shows as much as I ever did, and I still love recording.
Patterson, I’ve heard that whenever you finish and album you need to get the approval of your family, are you still doing it?
Yeah I always play for my wife and the kids. They pretty supportive with what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be able to do it if they weren’t.
I’m sure you got ask this question a lot but I have to ask, will we see another conceptual album like “Southern Rock Opera”.
I doubt it. They all tend to kind of have a little bit of loose flow or sometimes a theme that runs through them, sometimes more obvious than others. But I don’t think I would ever do another full-on one again. You never know, unless you get inspired by something, but you never set out to.
“I don’t regret trying things that didn’t work, because I’ve learnt from them.
Is it easier playing solo that playing with a Drive-By Truckers? Could you choose between one of the two or both options have its time and moment?
I really love playing with Drive-By Truckers. And I enjoy doing the solo shows too, but I would miss the truckers if I wasn’t able to do that too. Sometimes it’s good to take a break and go out to do the other, but I always want to go back with the Truckers.
You’ve been together for almost 20 years. You ever thought you were going to have a band this long?
No, I would have picked a better name. If I had known we were gonna be stuck with the band so long, I would have put more care into what we named it.
Would you change anything from your career?
I don’t have too many regrets. We’ve tried things sometimes that didn’t work.
But I can’t regret trying them, because I learned from them. I at least have to learn from my mistakes, and the records that haven’t worked as well as others, they all came from a place of trying to do something good or different. Sometimes it works, sometimes they don’t. I’m very happy with the last one. I think this is one of the things that has seemed to really work out.
You are a really hard-working band, after all these years, can you tell if there’s a secret for success?
Persistence. We just keep working. We just keep working until we get it right. At the end of the day I love playing with these guys. That’s what makes me keep going.
Patterson, internet has multiply the music choices a lot. Is it getting harder to classify the good music from the average?
Yes , it is getting harder. There’s good and bad to it, like with anything else. There’s things you can find now that you wouldn’t have been able to find but you also have to dig deeper through bullshit to find it.
You put a lot of effort in your covers right?
Yes I do. Wes Freed, the artist that has drawn almost all of them is one of my favourite artist. I love working with him and love what he does. I particularly love the new one.
What can we expect from your concert at Primavera Sound?
It’s gonna be really good. The band has never been better than it is right now. I think most people who have seen the band lately on this tour have been saying that it’s as good as it’s ever been.
We did it in 2006 and it was great then. But it’ll be better this time.
Last question, I always ask this question to every musician I interview, and you actually already answered me this question a year and a half ago, so I have to change it a little bit. I asked if you were happy and you said that you were. But, as a musician, after all the records, live shows, compliments and hard times, what’s the thing that makes you happier? What keeps you doing this?
I’m happy with the band, we’re playing really well together, we’re having fun and getting along. My family is very happy. I’m happy that the band is a good place. We’re playing really well together and having fun and getting along. My family is overall healthy and life is overall good.