An Interview With Drive-By Truckers Playing First Avenue on 1/27

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On January 27th, 2018 the southern rock band “Drive-By Truckers” will hit First Avenue’s Mainroom. With them they bring, Lilly Hiatt, a Nashville singer with strong ties to the musical world. There are still a few tickets left for this show HERE.

The band has released eleven full length studio albums, as well as some live ones. The members have also released solo material along the way, all of which are fantastic. If anyone hasn’t seen this incredibly diverse rock and roll band, now is the time.

I had a chance to talk with DBT member, Patterson Hood. He graciously responded with depth in each answer. We discussed his future endeavors, band members, family and the Twin Cities music scene.

Cameron Campbell: Craig Finn once said in an interview that he was stuck in a desk job in NYC after Lifter Puller feeling sorry for himself.  He listened to a DBT album, quit the next day and The Hold Steady was formed.  You played a tour with these guys which included two shows in The Mainroom.  What do you remember about that experience and do any of you keep in touch with what those guys are up to?

Patterson Hood: Hard to believe that the tour with Hold Steady was nearly 10 years ago. Craig and I are good friends and I was fortunate enough to play a solo show opening for them a couple of months ago during their Brooklyn residency. I also love his solo stuff. His last album made my year end list and his song “God in Chicago” was my favorite song of last year.

CC: Last year you said you really dug the album done by Car Seat Headrest. What’s been on your listening list of late that you’d like people to discover?

PH: Lilly Hiatt’s album (she’ll be opening for us on this upcoming tour), Waxahatchee, Aimee Mann’s new album, Big Thief, Feist, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Open Mike Eagle, Twin Peaks, and a band from Athens GA called The Hernies.

CC: There seems to be a strong affiliation between DBT and clubs like The 40 Watt and Fillmore along with First Avenue. You’ve come to the point where First Ave is not only jammed but you guys really seem to love the place.  How do you feel about the venue and can you recall your experiences when you first started playing here?

PH: It’s one of the greatest rock and roll rooms in the world. Truly. It’s always been one of my favorite places to play. I was a huge Prince fan (of course) so I dreamt of playing there for many years before I actually got to. It’s a perfect venue.

CC: Your Father went back out on the road with Mike Scott’s Waterboys back in 2015 in support of the killer album Modern Blues. Did you have any conversations with him about that experience and whether he enjoyed mixing it up night after night with that incredibly talented Scottish band?

PH: We talked about it a lot. I was very proud of him and kinda amazing to see him becoming a road dog after all these years. He is a session guy and as such had hardly ever toured in his life other than a couple of years with Traffic (in 1972-73) and those were relatively short bursts even back then. Suddenly he’s out, literally playing more shows in 2015 than I did (I think about 117 shows) at 72 years old. He’s done with that now, it was just too much, but I think it was a great experience for him at the time.

CC: You have been on the road with Lilly Hiatt this time. I grew up listening to her father’s music! Plus, I just missed her opening for the Old 97’s. What does it mean to be travelling with someone who has family lineage in the music world like that?

PH: I’m always thrilled to be playing with an artist that I love and admire so much. I am huge John Hiatt fan also, but she totally holds her own in her own right. She wrote some of my favorite songs of last year and her album is still in my heavy rotation. Plus she’s a great live performer and has a fantastic band. I recently played with her solo and she was fantastic that way also.

CC: Is there any place in the Twin Cities that you all love to go? Whether it be a record shop, park or restaurant?

PH: I have a very dear friend in town who always takes me out to great places to eat and shows me around. I love the Twin Cities.

CC: In addition to your DBT work as well as the solo efforts (Heat Lightning done at the Fine Line down the street from First Ave was really cool) you have also produced a couple albums. Betty LaVette and Booker T both come to mind.  What was it like working with a couple living legends?  Anybody else that you’re proud of?

PH: I’ve truly been blessed to have worked with so many great folks. I love my band and have had a couple of fantastic bands for my solo projects. Working with Booker T. Jones was a dream come true and I’m super proud of the album we made with Betty LaVette. I also have been playing some in the NW with Chris Funk (Decemberists) who is a close friend and incredible player.

CC: How do you see producing fitting into your future plans?

PH: I’m really hoping to get back into it pretty heavily in the next couple of years. I have a dream project I’m hoping to work on soon. Top Secret.

CC: How’s Oregon? Pretty different culture from before. What’s the biggest change?

PH: It’s culturally less different than most people would imagine. Athens GA is a wonderful small town but culturally it has more in common with places like Brooklyn, Austin, Portland and even Twin Cities than it does typical small southern towns. Very liberal, artsy, wonderful music scene, friendly. I love living in a bigger city and I really love the climate and look / feel of the great northwest. I love living in a blue state, especially now. Portland has been very welcoming and kind to me and my family.

CC: Cooley has been there forever and half of what you now do is his stuff. Any comments about what it’s like to collaborate with the same guy for over 20 years? Is it the same relationship or has it evolved in any significant ways?

PH: Both. We’ve been playing together now for nearly 33 years. DBT was our 4th band together and that’s been nearly 22 years. He’s an amazing artist and one of my very favorite songwriters in the world. We’ve been close a long time, but have definitely become close friends in the past few years than ever before. I love what he does to my songs and even more so, I love playing on his songs. I love singing harmony and getting to be the guitar player.

CC: Every musician worth a damn is ever evolving and usually likes his or her most recent stuff best. If you had to exclude that and you look back over your catalog and picked a period, song or album which is particularly meaningful what might it be?  Not necessarily the most realized effort or most polished but a period that you recall as hitting on most, if not all cylinders.

PH: Love how you phrased that question. I’ll always be extra fond of Decoration Day. The touring for that album and point in time was pretty hellish, but I think the album really holds up on all levels. I am super proud of my Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance album. That was a special experience, making the album and touring behind it.

CC: Follow up, is there anything off the most recent record that you look forward to playing every night?

PH: I’ve loved touring behind this album. I really enjoy the energy of it live. Cooley’s songs are extra fun. I love doing “Ever South”.

CC: Finally, I’ll ask the common question. What’s up next for either you and or DBT?

PH: I’m really hoping for DBT to make a new album this year to come out early next year. I’m writing. I have a solo project and some production things I really want to do, but it all will have to work around DBT. The band is in such a great place, on all levels, that I want to make that the priority.

 

CC: Thank you for your time. We are looking forward to seeing you live next week.

 

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