By Joe McGehee
Drive-By Truckers will take the stage Sunday, July 11, at Otto’s in DeKalb, as they continue to tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“It’s killer touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” said Patterson Hood, lead singer and guitarist for Drive-By Truckers. “Everybody in the band is a huge fan of his music.”
The band, which was formed almost 25 years ago in Athens, Ga., by Hood and singer/guitarist Mike Cooley, is also touring in support of their new album, The Big To-Do. This latest release is the band’s 10th album dating back to their 1998 debut, Gangstabilly.
As should be expected, the band has had more than one lineup change as it has toured ferociously in support of its music for the past decade.
“This is far and away my favorite lineup yet,” Hood said. “All I have to go by is what I hear in my head; and, from that point of view, this lineup creates a lot of musical room and space to breathe.”
Three of the band’s current members are from the Muscle Shoals region of northern Alabama, where Hood’s father, David Hood, was a founding member of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. This studio, tucked away in the northern part of the state, has played host to such acts as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Bob Seger, The Rolling Stones and Alice in Chains, among many others.
“I’m really proud of that,” Hood said when asked about his music possessing the Muscle Shoals sound. “I’ve got pretty eclectic tastes, and our music draws from a pretty deep well of country, blues, punk, and to some extent, R&B and arena rock.”
The tag of “Southern rock band” has followed Drive-By Truckers since their 2003 release of Southern Rock Opera, which was a concept album that used the rise and literal fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd as a means of analyzing the cultural deterioration of the South during the 1970s. But, as the band has grown and aged gracefully, more of their roots have become apparent through the albums they have produced.
However, the lone, unchanging characteristic of the band that has remained has been the ability to write lyrics that tell stories of heartache, joy, triumph and loss. They paint vivid, realistic pictures of the South through song, which may explain their being considered a Southern rock band. No other band has come close to hashing out and explaining the duality of life in the Deep South, that feeling of being born “with one foot in the grave, and one foot on the pedal,” as Hood once wrote.
“I’m influenced more so by literature and film than music,” Hood said. “I almost feel pompous agreeing with the notion that our lyrics could even be as considered literature, but our songs tend to tell stories.
“I’m a big fan of Cooley’s lyrics,” Hood continued. “He always came at it from more of a musical angle than I did in the beginning. But, we’ve been playing and writing together for almost 25 years, and I’ve really learned to put a greater musical emphasis on what we do.”
Otto’s is at 118 E. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, Ill. This 21-and-older show is slated to start at 9 p.m. Tickets are available online at ottosdekalb.com or by calling (815) 758-2715.
From the July 7-13, 2010 issue