DRIVING THE TRUCKERS: PATTERSON HOOD

I remember once when I was a little guy I came limping home all beat up from the inside out. I remember my mama meeting me on the porch and sitting me down. She wiped the tear I was afraid to shed off the side of my cheek and said, "Son, whatever doesn't kill you will only make you stronger."

If that old adage has ever held truth it is seen in the Drive-By Truckers, and nowhere is it more prevalent than in the eyes of lead man Patterson Hood. It was the Truckers 2001 Soul Dump Records release Southern Rock Opera (re-released on Lost Highway Records in 2002) that forced the music world to pay attention, but it damn near killed them in the several year process. Unwilling to compromise and unable to finance the record, the band sought financial backing through a group of fans (including Dave Schools) dubbed the DBT investors.

In the wake of divorces, suicides, a hell of a lot of pain, and a bottle full of strength, the Truckers appear to be reborn and ready with a mountain of momentum from their most recent release Decoration Day. If the Rock Opera opened eyes, it is Decoration Day that has solidified the Drive-By Truckers as one of the most important, talented, and vital rock bands currently touring. With incredibly favorable reviews in SPIN, Rolling Stone, USA Today and a slew of publications spanning all walks of life, it seems that all this hard work just may have been worth it.

There is something about their stories that seems to make life more livable. Something about the trials of families with their backs against the wall allows for hope to grow out of pain. This is real music from real people who play straight from the gut. There ain't no elaborate light show or any magic hat, this is what rock and roll was born to be.

Patterson Hood leads this five-piece monster both on and off stage. The band's press release tells us that Patterson is, "a very stubborn man and the poster child for persistence." It is this persistence that has allowed, or perhaps even forced this dream to be a band. Of course the 18-year relationship with Mike Cooley is key to the equation, and then there's the young gunslinger Jason Isbell and the producer turned bassist Earl Hicks. But if there is no Patterson Hood, there is no Drive-By Truckers.

Without further adieu I welcome you to come along as I speak to Patterson as he travels through Tennessee trying to get to back home to Athens.


Kayceman: I'd like to jump into it with your touring schedule. Seems like y'all don't really take much time off, and I'm curious how you felt this past tour went and this summer with Bonnaroo, and just the whole tour in general?


By The Kayceman | Bonnaroo 2003
Patterson: I've been really happy with the tour. I'm really happy to be out touring behind a new record, and not touring behind the Rock Opera specifically. Bonnaroo was a lot of fun, got to play in front of a lot of people. There seemed to be a lot of people who had never seen the band before. It was like everywhere we've gone since then - I mean literally every night - I have someone come up to us, "Hey man, saw y'all at Bonnaroo." And that was the goal in the doing it. So it always makes you happy when it pans out like it's supposed to.

Kayceman: In line with that, are there any cities that you particularly do or don't like playing?

Patterson: Love playing Chicago. Big cities were kinda the quickest ones to embrace us. You know like Chicago and New York, L.A., Seattle, those were the first ones to jump on board. The college towns were a little slower about it. They're gettin' better now, but it was a little slow in building those.

Kayceman: Maybe their ears aren't ready yet.


By John Agee | Farm Aid 2002
Patterson: Yeah I don't know. I kinda had a theory behind it as far as the southern towns. Because the South has been the toughest region for us to break.

Really?

Tends to surprise people a lot of the time. They assume otherwise. But you know I'd always heard that it was kinda that way with some of the other southern bands. From even possibly R.E.M., and certainly Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers and bands like that did better in the northern cities first and on the West Coast. So I don't know. I don't really consider us a southern band except that we're from the South and we're a rock band, and that record [Southern Rock Opera] was kinda about all of that. But I don't really think of us as "southern rock" or anything.

I feel that.

Kinda rock and roll.

Now I reckon a lot of our readers might not be particularly familiar with you or the Truckers. I think they may just be getting into it. So I was wondering if you wouldn't mind me getting a little background on you first. I know you grew up in Alabama is that right?


Muscle Shoals Music Association
Right, four of the five of us are from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, or from that area. Which was kind of a music town, but a different type of music town. It was a dry county and there weren't places to play. There wasn't like an active club scene like Athens has or anything. It was kinda the opposite, there were just all these little studios that popped up in the back of these buildings, and all of a sudden all these hit records started coming out of there. Particularly a lot of the classic soul records in the '60s. Percy Sledge, Wilson Picket and Aretha Franklin - stuff like that. And then it kept going in the '70s when they crossed over and did Bob Seger and the Stones recorded there. But by the time I was putting together bands, all of that was kind of over with. It was more of a historical thing than something actually still happening. And I've been playing with Mike Cooley for 18 years. He and I had a band back in the '80's called Adam's House Cat. Stayed together for six years and then we kept playing after that band broke up off and on for a while before this band. I've had this band since '96 and we've put out five albums with Decoration Day being the newest one.

Right, and what was it like growing up for you prior to Adam's House Cat, what were you up to?

Flunked outta school. Wrote a bunch of songs. I started writing when I was eight.

Yeah I read that.

Wrote a whole lot of songs, used to be real prolific when I was young. Started playing in bands, you know, high school bands when I was like fourteen. Then I guess I was 20 or 21 when I started Adam's House Cat. And for six years that's pretty much all I did was work crappy restaurant jobs and play in that band. We were kinda like the hard luck story though. I mean everything we tried to do never worked out. We were the born loser of the band circuit. My theory on why things seem to have gone a lot better with this band is that I think we made every mistake then, so this time we were able to kind of come on through.

Now you mentioned, and I've read how you've known Cooley for so long, how did y'all first meet?


By The Kayceman | Bonnaroo 2003
Well we actually became roommates. He had a roommate who was a guy I knew in school and I needed a place to live and they had an extra room so I moved in. He and I met that way, and the day I moved in I noticed he had a guitar and I was like, "I have one of those too." We were both broke so we would sit around and play and pick, and one thing led to another and we ended up with that band.

Now if I'm not mistaken you sometimes introduce him as "The Stroker Ace." Where does that come from?

A bad Burt Reynolds movie.

Hah, Really!?

Yeah. Where I think he was a racecar driver and sometimes dressed in a chicken suit. I mean a really really bad, probably the worst of the bad Burt Reynolds movies of the '70s. It kinda fits him though.

[Laughter breaks out]

I feel that for sure. Since you just mentioned a movie and I know you take a great interest in screenplays. I'm curious if there have been any other movies, books or people off the top of your head that have really laid heavy on you?


By Adam Smith | Atlanta, GA
Yeah a ton of them. There's an independent little short film called The Accountant that inspired one of the songs on the new record called, "Sink Hole." And the guy who made that has a new movie coming out in January or so that I really can't wait to see. Hopefully we're gonna have a song on the soundtrack for that. We've been talking about it and hopefully that's gonna happen. I went and saw Dirty Pretty Things last night, that's really good. Really enjoyed it, a lot better than I thought it would be.

I know that your dad [David Hood] was a real good session player, and you were writing songs at eight years old. When was the first time you ever picked up a guitar?

Probably as soon as my hands got big enough to hold one. I played bass first because dad had a bass. So I'd go down in the basement and play his bass when he wasn't looking. And at that time my hands weren't big enough to make chords so I didn't have a guitar, but as soon as it got to where I could, my cousin showed me a few chords on his. And then I cut lawns one summer and saved up enough money to buy me an acoustic. Then I started saving for my first electric, and then all hell broke loose.

Now you mentioned how you wrote that first song when you were eight years old, what was that song about?

[Starts laughing] It's about being a misfit in school and nobody liking me. I think it was called "Living In A World Of My Own" or something cheesy like that. It wasn't very good, but I was eight.

Shit, you were eight!

Yeah, I guess it was good for eight.

I also read that you've written over 3,000 songs. Where do you come up with all this material?


By Lance Davis | SXSW 2003
Well I used to just write all the time. I'd sit in class and instead of listening to the teacher I'd daydream and I'd write. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. Made terrible grades and then got grounded. So then I couldn't go do anything, so I'd just...

[Background noise breaks in and Patterson's attention is quickly stolen. Patterson begins speaking to someone in the van and it's clear something is definitely wrong with the van.]

You want me to call you back Patterson?

Can you do that? I think our van just broke down.

Of course man, of course.

Yeah, we gotta figure out what we're doing.

[I call Patterson back roughly 45 minutes later.]

Hey that's perfect timing. Cool.

Y'all get that worked out?

I think the transmission broke in our van.

Damn, so what are y'all doin' then?

We're trying to figure out a way to get me back to Athens, which is about five hours from here. So what's up, where are we?

I guess we can jump back in with your song writing, which was pretty much what drew me in first, and then the whole thing just took over. Do you have a favorite song, or a couple favorite songs that you really enjoy playing right now?


By John Agee | Farm Aid 2002
I don't know, I always kinda gravitate toward the newer ones, also gravitate to the ones Cooley and Jason write too. I think I enjoy playing their songs more than my songs honestly. I don't know... I really like this new song of Cooley's for the next record called, "Where The Devil Don't Stay" that’s really cool. A big rocker. I think we played it at Bonnaroo; it's big, kinda anthemic, head-banging song. And he's got a new song called, "Sam Perkins Cadillac." And Jason's got a new song for the next record called, "The Day John Henry Died" that's real fun to play.

You said that new Cooley song is a little more of a head-banging rocker and I heard that the next album was sort of going to take that angle. Is that where you guys are heading?

Yeah I think it's gonna be pretty hard rockin'. There is some talk of us doing an EP before the next record. We're actually about half way through recording the next album. We've kinda got this song cycle that's not really a full album, but like maybe nine songs for an EP that we are thinking a little bit about doing. We might actually put it out first, because it's gonna be kind of a quick immediate little lower budget thing than our album will be. We are thinking about releasing it in the meantime. I'm not sure though, all that is still up in the air.

Now are you guys sticking with the name The Dirty South for the next one?

I don't know, I kinda like that name.

I kinda like it too.

I don't want the people, whoever made that name up and started applying it to the urban music or whatever to be mad at us and think we're ripping them off or anything. Or worse yet, think we're making fun of it, because I mean it in tribute. So I don't know, but it's definitely the working title, unless we come up with some better name or just decide not to for some reason. I like it because it kinda tips the hat to probably the most vital thing going on in southern music right now, the whole dirty south movement in hip-hop. I probably listen to more of that stuff right now than probably anything else. Anything that's new anyway.

That was actually something I was going to ask you, what are you listening to these days, what do you have in your CD player or whatever?

I just picked up the Little Bob record the other day, that's a good dirty south hip-hop record. I got the new Neptunes record; the N.E.R.D. record was my favorite record last year.

I've listened to that a bunch as well.

It's kick ass! And I got the new Neil Young [Greendale]; I really like it, really like it a lot. I think it's a fantastic record.

Me too, I'm with you, and I love concept albums.

Yeah, it's a concept record that actually works, which is a rarity.

Agreed, a lot of them don't.


By Traci Goudie
Ohh gosh, there is something else I got recently that I've been listening to a whole lot. I got the remastered re-issued Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything? from '72, and that's one of my desert island records, and it sounds really good.

Now with the Drive-By Truckers, I know a little bit about the history of you and Cooley, but I'm curious how the rest of the band came together. I've always been under the impression that the Truckers have been your brainchild, so did you put this band together? Did you pick the players? How did it go?

Ya I think I did. Initially anyway. It's kinda like I put it together and then let go of it. Because initially it was my baby, and I did put it all together, but with each record and the more the line-up got solidified the more I stepped back and turned over control of it to the band itself as opposed to it being my thing. And it's really gotten to the point now where I feel like I'm truly closer to a fifth of it than some kind of big driving force. That makes me happy you know. Because if I feel like I'm not getting my way enough I can always go off and do side projects or do some kind of solo thing which I would really like to do. But for the band itself, pretty much what became the final line-up is such a bunch of head-strong, strong-willed bunch of folks that it's really the only way for it to work, for it to sort of control itself, and to some extent not control itself. 'Cause it's almost like, well not controlled chaos, but almost like some kind of anarchy where everybody sort of luckily moves in the same direction most of the time. It's pretty unwieldy.

I feel ya.


By John Agee | Farm Aid 2002
As far as how this line-up came to be the band. In the case of Earl [Hicks], he's an old friend. We were friends for a decade before he joined the band. He produced two of our records, Pizza Deliverance, and the live record, and was supposed to be producing the Rock Opera, when our bass player didn't work out at the last minute. So he just almost by default jumped on board and said, "Fuck it, I'm gonna play bass. I’m just gonna do it." And he did. That's the story with him.

And then Brad [Morgan] saw some of the band's earlier gigs. Our original drummer was a guy named Matt Lane who played on the first two records. He has a band called The Possibilities. And from day one we were kinda borrowing him. Initially it was a day here and a day there but it got to be where we really wanted to tour and do all this stuff and it was taking so much time away from his band, which he is a definitely a vital member of, and god they are a great band, another one of my favorite bands out there. And so it got to be where it was really becoming a conflict and it was kind of a touchy situation because I'm really friends with that whole band. And I didn't want them to think I was trying to steal their drummer. But at the same time we needed a full time drummer. So Brad had sort of become our substitute guy when Matt couldn't do it, and he did a great job. He pretty much let us know on no uncertain terms that he was there anytime we wanted him. And it got to be where we were using him more often than Matt, so it wasn't really being fair. So we ended up getting Brad in the band right after we did Pizza Deliverance. And he hit the road with us for that record and has been with us ever since.

So where the hell did you find Jason [Isbell]?


By Adam Smith | Atlanta, GA
Jason is from my hometown also. I was home hanging out with a mutual friend, and he was over at the house. At that time I think he was living in Memphis, and he came over and we were sitting around jamming, just picking guitars playing each other our songs. He was just this kid. At that time he looked like a teenager, he was 21 but he sure didn't look it. It was like every song he'd play was more amazing than the one before it. Plus when I'd be playing he'd be accompanying me on songs that he didn't even know. It was magical. It was almost like he instinctively knew what I was gonna do before I did it. And I was knocked out with his stuff too. So by the end of that night I told him, "Man when you're ready to make a record I'd really like to co-produce it with you." So we became friends based around that. And he happened to just be around when things went south with us and Rob. Rob had been in the band for a while, another old friend. We had a conflict going on, I think it was time for Rob to move on and he did. And we were in the middle of a tour and we needed a guitar player, and Jason was there. We asked him if he wanted to go play with us for two weeks on a temporary basis, and after the first night I think we all knew that was it. He was just there; he was going to be the one. And has been ever since, and he's been great.

Sure as hell seems to fit, I'll tell ya that much.

Yeah. And everything's great with Rob now. We're friendly and everything, and he's doing a lot of real cool stuff himself. I think he had gone as far as he could with this band without it really starting to constrict what he wanted to do. He kinda pushed in a different way than the rest of us and it seemed like it was time for him to do his thing.

On Decoration Day, and I guess just in general, there are a lot of songs that are dealing with pain, suicide, guns, and I'm wondering are these ideas are coming from experiences or observations, or both?

Pretty much both. We definitely had several pretty close friends that committed suicide during the several year period that record was written in. And that certainly affected the songs and the record. I got divorced during that period, another member got divorced and another member broke up with a long term girlfriend, and another member went through all kinds of hell but managed to at least not fuck up his marriage. So we all kinda went through this really trying, bad period. These were the songs written during that time. Some of them are more literal than others. Sometimes I tell people it's more emotionally autobiographical as opposed to being some literal story. "My Sweet Annette" takes place in the 1930s but the way the guy tellin' the story feels is probably pretty close to the way I was feeling at that time. There's a lot of that kind of stuff in it particularly in my writing. And I think Jason's two songs are just so vital to the record. In the case of "Outfit" kind of shining a light in a dark part. That song is such a beautiful, almost uplifting song to me, which is something you don't say very often about our music. And in the case of "Decoration Day" it kind of takes the opposite extreme. Kind of like how "Outfit" shows how it's done right, and "Decoration Day" shows just how bad it can be when it's not done right. Kind of a cool thing about this band, weather intentional in the case of Southern Rock Opera or totally accidental in the case of this record, it seems like all three of us kinda write about the same things, just from totally different slants and viewpoints. And I think that makes for a real interesting listen when you hear three radically different songwriters and viewpoints, but all basically writing about the same unified thing.

That's definitely something I've noticed, and I actually was wondering if that was accidental or if that was something you guys sat down and tried to do so that's interesting.


By David Wilds
I think it just kinda happens. 'Cause certainly in the case of Cooley and I's songs on Gangstabilly and Pizza Deliverance it was already happening there and it was absolutely not intended in any way. It was in retrospect that we even realized that it happened. Like when we listened back to Pizza Deliverance after it was over with, the way his songs and my songs fit together was just pretty amazing really. Considering at that time we had just recently started playing together again after taking some time off from each other. And in Adam's House Cat Cooley never wrote, so it was real cool thing. And in the case of the Southern Rock Opera that was a little more planned out. We came up with the story line, decided what ground we wanted to cover and then almost assigned it. Everybody was like, "Oh I’ll take this one," or "I'll take that one" and that was the process for that record.

There are a lot of songs that I've been digesting heavily and really listening to, and there are a couple I'd like to ask you about. Some of them seem as if they tell the story pretty straight forward, but I'm wondering if you could give me a little more information into where they came from. One of those songs is "Heathens." Is it just as it sounds, or was there any deeper inspiration into how that song came about?


By The Kayceman | Bonnaroo 2003
Probably both. You know it's weird in the case of that song. That's definitely one of my favorite songs that I wrote, I consider it one of my better songs. And in the case of that one and a handful of songs that I feel the strongest about of my songs, it's almost like every line is about it's own thing, and the way it all fits together implies a story I didn't even realize it was telling me. And that one was certainly a personal one. That absolutely had a lot to do with the breakup of my marriage and my relationship. Although a lot of it was written before the fact. It was almost like a lot of that song was predicting it rather than writing about it. Because the basic narrative of that song was written about a year before the shit really went down, before either of us were even aware we were having problems.

Interesting. How about "Margo and Harold?" That’s a song I find myself going back to for some reason. Where did that come from?

Demented little story. That was inspired by a specific chain of events that happened one night that I don't know if I can really go to far into in.

Fair enough my friend.


By Wes Freed
Kind of a creepy story.

It sounds it, and I guess that's why I keep going back to it, because it intrigues me a little bit. But I kind of figured that there may be a side to it that you...

It almost implies more malice than it actually tells about, but I think I like that about it. You know nothing really happens in it, but you just kinda feel like something could happen at any minute that would be bad. And that was the way the night ended up anyway. It was one of those nights where nothing really got as bad as it seemed like it was going to. But at times it was almost reminiscent of a scene from Pulp Fiction or something.

That's the way it comes across. Songs with mystery are always intriguing and that song is really a great one I think.

That song was actually recorded the very first day of the Drive-By Truckers. I came up with the name for the Drive-By Truckers and wrote a bunch of songs, most of which became Pizza Deliverance, which I wrote first. Pizza Deliverance was actually older songs than Gangstabilly. When it came time to record the first record we ended up recording the new songs instead of the ones we had planed on recording first. So we kind of did the second album first. But before all of that I came up with the name and I had some songs and I saved up some money for a day of studio time, and I invited the people I wanted to play. It was like, "Alright, today we're the Drive-By Truckers and we're gonna do this."


By David Wilds
So we rolled tape and that was one of the songs we cut that day. And that was I think the third of five songs we cut. And that was the moment there in the studio when we all looked at each other and realized something magical had happened. It was like, "Wow that was a fuckin' cool take. We need to do something with that." And the initial session was supposed to be for a single, but we cut a 45 of "Bulldozers and Dirt," and "Nine Bullets" that same day. It's a different version than the one that ended up on Pizza Deliverance but we cut those that day. And "Margo and Harold" was kinda the other song from that day that was the leftover. It obviously didn't need to go on the 45 but it was too good to not do something with. So I had to sit on it for a couple of years until there was a place to put it, and the middle of Pizza Deliverance fit like a glove.

I agree. Last song I'll pick your brain about and then we'll move on is, "Hell No I Ain't Happy." Seems kinda to be a road weary song, is that where it comes from?

Yeah, it is. The title and the chorus of it was written a year earlier than the rest of the song. I wrote a song called that at a time when I was really really unhappy and the song was so bitter and nasty and pissed off and angry and everything else that when it was all said and done I couldn't listen to it, much less play it with the band. It just wasn't workable, it was too much. Not that I mind that.

Yeah, coming from you it must have really been too much.


By Lance Davis | SXSW 2003
It was so angry it got in the way of it even being a good song. It just didn't work. But I loved the title, and I felt like there was a good song in there somewhere, so maybe some day I'll resurrect it and re-write it. And about a year later we were on the road, and things were a lot better, but it was a really miserable tour. We were all crammed into a van, it was the dead of winter our heater wasn't working and we were all cold and everybody was sick. We were somewhere out west, I think we were in south Utah or something, and I had gear wedged between my legs it was just miserable uncomfortable. We'd been out for about three weeks by then and so I wrote that song, or I resurrected the chorus and wrote the new versus then.

In thinking about the road, what's the craziest shit you're willing to share with us that has gone down on the road.


By The Kayceman | Bonnaroo 2003
Mostly it's a lot of hurry up and wait. Frustrating, being uncomfortable and homesick. Contrary to the song, I do have a home now, and I do get homesick. But I sure like the shows. That's like the oldest cliché in the world, but it's true. The first couple of years you spend on the road it's all new, and we were like ten years older than any of the other bands we'd run into out there. It was one big party in a lot of ways. We had all been working shitty jobs for so long and dreaming of doing it. So you didn't even mind the uncomfort or the homesickness or any of that. It was the joy of getting to do it. And like I said, it sounds like a cliché, but it's true, the shows are still that way for me. Every night is like a brand new experience and really fun. Of course there are the bad nights where the PA sucks, or it's just not a fun crowd or everybody is just a little too sick or something, and it's just not happening. But those are so rare. I truly look forward to every night's show, and generally once we're up on stage dread it being over. But as far as the rest of being on the road, I'm pretty damn over it. We've gotten to a point now where our comfort level has increased dramatically where we're not all crammed into one van. At the very least we get to go in two vans so we have one for the equipment. And the last tour we even had a tour bus, although not like a pimped-out MTV looking tour bus. It was more of like a budget version of it. It was quite a bit smaller, and not really as comfortable as it might look on the surface. Because now the down side of that is all of sudden we couldn't afford to stay motels so we were always in that damn thing. The bunks about two inches shorter than I am and that's kind of a problem because I'm almost 40 and my back hurts. Not to be whining or anything, but we've been on the road more or less since March of '99, and I am kinda over it. But I don't see any end in sight, but I'm definitely a little over it. But I do love the rock shows, so we are trying to strike some kind of a balance to where there is at least some semblance of home when I am home.

Switching gears a little bit, I read where you said that you believe Alabama people are just naturally more suspicious than others in general, and I'm wondering why you think that is?


By James Adams
[Laughing] I bet I did say that didn't I. I think because whenever anyone talks about Alabama, or Mississippi, or Arkansas, those are the three states that everyone makes the butt of their jokes. So it's like, "Guess who came in 50th, or 49th." The part of Alabama that I'm from managed to have double-digit unemployment through the entire Clinton boom years, so you can imagine what's going on there now when the whole country is suffering. Whenever it's bad anywhere it seems it happens worse there. And I think it's generation after generation of being told, "Y'all are in last place." Or "Y’all 50th out of 50th." And I think it just kind of affects you. I think it starts to become almost an "Us versus Them" mentality. That's my theory on it, and I'm sure not speaking for all the good people at home. And I don't live there anymore so it's almost like I don't have a right to talk about it anymore because I got the hell out. But I know that's a lot of why I left. I'm real proud to be from there, and I think in a lot of ways it is underrated, but in a lot of ways a lot of the problems get brought about themselves. You have that big of a percentage of the population that is more bent out of shape about some goddamn monument to the Ten Commandments at the court house than they are about the fact that our rivers are so polluted you can't fish out of them without taking your life into your own hands. And God bless you if you jump in and swim, you'll get a rash all over you from the Monsanto Plant or whoever's polluting it. Instead of worrying about the important shit that actually affects our lives they're talking about the goddamn Ten Commandments.

For people who are outside of the South, do you think that the South is still a really misunderstood place?


By Adam Smith | Atlanta, GA
I don't know. I don't know if it's as much as I probably used to think. It's almost part of my own legacy, kind of what I was just talking about. You think it's Us versus Them. "Oh they think we're just a bunch of dumb red necks." And sometimes the way the media treats things certainly still does that. The way we [Drive-By Truckers] get clumped in. It's like the fact that we are southern and sing about southern things all of a sudden we're ripping off Lynyrd Skynyrd. We don't sound anything like Lynyrd Skynyrd. I love Lynrd Skynrd and we did some songs that were about their mythology, although even that was really meant to be in the context of a way of expressing and telling a story. But it's so much easier just to go for the simple obvious thing than to actually listen and look and figure out what's being said or talked about.

Well that's the way people live their lives unfortunately.

Yeah.

I'll move back toward Decoration Day, in talking with Jerry Joseph I know he really enjoyed with working with Barbe, I was wondering how your experience was for you guys?


Dave Barbe | By Lee Smith
David Barbe is the shit. He's just amazing. He's a brilliant technician and a great engineer. He really knows the studio and how to operate it and get the most out of it. But that's just a fraction of what he does. That enables him to not give a lot of thought to that end because that just comes so naturally to him.

Would you say that this [Decoration Day] is your favorite record to date?

By far. I'm sentimental about them all, they're all kind of like my babies to some extent. But this is the one that we all listen back to without any kind of cringes or compromises or anything. It was a very happy experience making it, and now a year later when I hear it, because we cut it back in June of last year, so a year later I listen to it and there's still nothing I'd change.

Now do you think that's in great part to Barbe?

A great part of it. He's super underrated.

You know that's what I've heard from a few people. I would assume that it also has to do with the maturation of the band as well?


By David Wilds
We were definitely in a much better place. Honestly if things had continued the way it was when made the Southern Rock Opera we wouldn't be together. I don't think any of us have enough tolerance for all of that bullshit to ever repeat it. It was kinda like we did it, and we're proud of what came out of it now that it's all said and done, but the one rule we had going into Decoration Day was that if it ever got bogged down like that record, we were gonna walk away form it. No matter what. I don't care if we have studio time booked and the studio sits empty. I don't care what happens we're not gonna do it, we're not gonna fuck with it, we're gonna walk away from it until we can come back with our attitudes right. And it never happened. There wasn't even an unpleasant moment in the making of that record. We'd start everyday, we'd come in and drink some coffee and start rollin' some tape or listen to what we did the night before and maybe do some overdubs and some tweakin'. Then we'd start drinking and start rolling tape and lay down a few songs. I mean we ended up keeping seven first takes on the record, so pretty magical.

I'd say so. Are you guys going to use a similar recipe for the upcoming album?


By Super Dee | San Francisco 2003
Yeah it's pretty much been going like that. Really the only problem we got with this record is we just don't have time to make it right now. It's not anybody's priority to see it getting made right now as far as on the business end of things because we've got a brand new record that we're out touring behind and working. And when we're home from the road we generally have a few days to rest before we are back out again and so no one really wants to spend those days confined in the studio. But we're all dying to get back to making this record because we're havin' a great time making it, and it's really coming along. I think it's gonna be as strong a record as this one has been. The songs are definitely there, the performances are there. If anything the band is better than it was when we made Decoration Day because we've got another year and half of touring behind us.

When do you speculate that album might get done?

I'm thinkin' it will be out next fall. I think that's the goal. As far as when we'll get back to it; we're gonna work on it for a few days in October. At least go in and do some overdubs and work on some of the stuff we've already cut and do a little tweaking here and there. But as far as when we actually get to go in for a week or so and record it, probably January. Actually we're talking about doing this EP too kinda in the mean time. But I don't think it's something that's gonna take a lot of time. It's kinda like a little rock thing where we could go in for about two or three days and knock the thing out without much hyper-push, just kinda get it out as something for the people who are already into the band, not necessarily to try to break new frontiers or anything. It's really more just something for us. So we'll see what happens with that, and I'd like to see it come out in the spring and then the real album come out next fall. But all of that's subject to change I guess.

Of course. You guys have probably seen that since Southern Rock Opera and now with Decoration Day y'all have been having an increasing fan base, and success has sort of been coming on kinda quickly, wouldn't you say?


By The Kayceman | Bonnaroo 2003
I think so. I mean quickly to us. Quickly on the scale that we're used to working on. We're playing much bigger rooms and sometimes they're sellin' out, and if not their usually at the very least three quarters full, and that's real good. But I mean we're not all over MTV or flying up the charts or anything. It's like so many of the records that are coming out that are getting the big hype and the push, when I hear 'em they suck, and it pisses me off. And I think, well fuck, we can do that. And our record doesn't suck, so why them and why not us? I'm not whining or complaining because I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I'm gettin' to do what I love, and even to some extent, and I don't know if I can say I'm earning a living, but I'm not working in a restaurant at least, and I'm close to making ends meet. But it don't take but about five minutes of TV videos and all the bullshit and all the people who are making millions of dollars off that shit to get kinda disgusted pretty quick.

Well that's all a bunch of shit. You're not even trying to reach those people, I don't think.

Ya you know as far as the people themselves they generally buy what's served to them. They see those golden arches when they're hungry and they go eat a Big Mac. They're not really looking for something that's organic or home made.

They don't even think about it.

Same for the masses with their musical taste. They're getting served fast food. And they come back for more. It's kinda sad and I don't think there's anything to do about that. So the best we can do is to hope for the people who want a home cooked meal will take a little more time and seek us out, or Slobberbone, or Jerry Joseph or whoever. There's no shortage of great bands and great music being made by really talented people who are having to struggle to survive because they don't make fast food.

The Kayceman
JamBase | HeadQuarters
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[Published on: 10/1/03]

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