Interview- Pull out the To-Do list: Drive-By Truckers play two nights at the Jeff
Despite their improbable fairy-tale rise to prominence, Drive-By Truckers are now arguably the South's preeminent alt-country rockers. Fueled by booze and buzz over their character-driven, lyrically-provoking albums, the Athens, Georgia-based band balances Southern charm with backwoods rowdiness, poignantly nostalgic imagery, and a rousing three-guitar approach to country rock.
"We respect our audiences– times are hard, and it amazed me last year, with the horrendous downturn in the economy, that we had packed houses for most shows," frontman Patterson Hood says. "We don't take that for granted. It's a cliche that every show counts, but it does."
Following in the footsteps of former Trucker Jason Isbell, who was the first act at the heavily anticipated re-opening of the renovated theater, the Truckers play two nights at the Jefferson Theater this week. Material from The Big To-Do, their upcoming and substantially more rock-and-roll oriented new album, should keep things plenty loud.
The Hook: How has the live show evolved since your first live album?
Patterson Hood: The material off the first two records were largely acoustic at the time and when we hit the road, we pretty much thrashed the hell out of those songs.
The Hook: Was there ever a time when you weren't comfortable on stage?
PH: Not really, it's more trying to find out how to be comfortable the rest of the time.
The Hook: Did the recording of The Big To-Do go smoothly?
PH: We went in to record an album and basically recorded two. We were making a pretty concise rock record and even had the title before–- but then we had a bunch of songs that were the polar opposite: swampy, moody, spooky. We made two very different records.
The Hook: How would you say it's better than Brighter Than Creation's Dark?
PH: That last record was a breakthrough for us artistically. This time around it was probably more relaxed and fun just knowing we had more big rock songs.
The Hook: Before that album, you had an avalanche of songwriting–- 50 songs in six months. What happened this time around?
PH: A lot of it was written on the road, which was something we've never done before. Now that we have kids, when we come home and have distractions, it's hard to get anything done. As a writer, I had gotten burned out. It was a little scary.
The Hook: You often incorporate your personal life in your lyrics, and the result is often angry or distressing. How has having children influenced that?
PH: Having children has definitely made my writing take on an extra depth–- even though it has made the actual physical act of writing harder, because of time restraints or distractions, I think the songs I've written have profited from it. Having babies hasn't mellowed me out–- I'm as angry about things as much as I ever was–- this is just another reason to be mad about those things. I'm concerned about my well-being, my band's well-being, but now this baby has to grow up in this fucked-up world.
Drive-By Truckers play two nights at The Jefferson Theater–- Friday, February 26 & Saturday, February 27. David Barbe and The Quick Hooks open. The shows starts at 8 pm and tickets are $25.