CULTURE- INTERVIEW- Divided time: Trucking between the bands

Derek Trucks' stupefying moves with a slide are the envy of every guitar player short of the late Duane Allman, who single-handedly defined the role of the bottleneck in Rock. Trucks is a very close second, though– by the age of 12, he was filling in for Duane with the remaining members of the Allman Brothers Band, and he has since been elevated to a full partner.

Later this year, he'll embark on a tour with Eric Clapton, who collaborated with Duane on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the celebrated debut album from Derek and the Dominoes.

Somehow, Trucks still finds time amid the shoe-filling to front his own band, which blends together blues-rock, Coltrane, and Indian classical music and then conjures its magic from the spaces between the frets.

The Hook: How did your early start affect you?

Derek Trucks: I think with anything, the earlier you get started, the better. It's more time to progress, it's more time to make mistakes early. It's all part of the maturing process.

The Hook: So what was the biggest mistake?

Derek Trucks: There are mistakes on the business side, trusting the wrong people. That seems to be the biggest one.

The Hook: You have a bit of a fascination with Eastern music, and cover Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on your latest album. Does microtonality bring out a different side of your slide playing?

Derek Trucks: I think anything you listen to heavily enough is going to come out in your playing. I spent about two or three years listening to that stuff pretty solidly. There will be times even in the blues songs where that stuff comes out, in a little inflection or something.

The Hook: Reports of your stolen equipment have been circulating around the Internet for a few weeks now. What happened?

Derek Trucks: About two weeks ago, somebody ripped off our trailer with everything in it. We're trying to track stuff down. There's years and years of stuff in there. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, so life will go on.

The Hook: Would you please describe, preferably in graphic detail, what you'd like to do to the individuals involved?

Derek Trucks: We'd probably just take the gear back and just guilt him. I think stealing equipment from a traveling band... there's enough weird karma mixed in with that. Some other people have some other things in mind, though. I've gotten some emails from angry fans who have mentioned what they might do.

The Hook: But somehow they didn't get your trademark Gibson SG guitar?

Derek Trucks: Yeah, I was off gigging with the Allman Brothers, so I had my guitars with me.

The Hook: How do you divide your time between the two bands?

Derek Trucks: This year it's really full time. And this year there's the Clapton tour, too. Rehearsals start in April. Gigs start in May. I don't know what to expect completely, but it sounds like it'll be a blast.

The Hook: Does Duane's influence manifest itself differently when you're trying to fill his shoes with the Allman Brothers?

Derek Trucks: Yeah. The other night with the Allman Brothers, it was the 35th anniversary of Live at the Fillmore East, so we played the whole record from top to bottom, and you kind of dip into the early influences a bit more. When you're playing in your own group, you have a thousand influences that come into play, and you're not really thinking on that level. I'm not sure which role I'll be playing in the Clapton band.

Derek Trucks plays at Starr Hill Music Hall on Sunday April 2. $20, 8pm.

Derek Trucks