The little ol’ alternative country/Southern rock band from Athens, Ga., is coming to Pensacola. According to the folks at Vinyl, the Drive-By Truckers have been the most requested act since the venue opened this year. The Drive-By Truckers normally sell out venues twice the size. Fans are looking forward to the release of their new album, “Go-Go Boots,” in February.
The IN reached busy front man and founder, Patterson Hood, for an interview.
IN: The band, even with various members, has been making albums since 1998; at last count, there are 16. What does it take to produce that amount of work—and how much Jack Daniels?
Hood: Barrels of the stuff. My driving force is, and has always been, the songs. I keep writing them and therefore want to record them; it’s honestly as simple as that. I once said that I’d like to record a thousand songs before I die. I got a late start, so I’m not sure if I’ll make it or not, but it’s a good aim. I’m lucky because Cooley writes better songs than me, and Shonna writes great songs, too. Plus, we get asked to do really cool side projects like Booker T. Jones’ album and that Bettye LaVette album we did. Making the albums is usually a lot of fun and almost easy, but then we have to go out and tour for a year or so. I love playing the shows, but the constant touring takes its toll sometimes.
IN: Who are some of your current musical influences?
Hood: The late great Eddie Hinton was a huge influence on the next album. We all love the classics like Neil, Bruce and the Stones. I have always been a huge Todd Rundgren fan. Punk rock figures into it all, too. I was a huge Clash fan (still am) and have always loved the early NYC pre-punk era.
IN: Your next album, “Go-Go Boots,” is scheduled for release in February of next year. Tell us what to expect.
Hood: The new album has been really influenced by that mystical intersection where country and R&B collided. Country/soul is a sub-genre inhabited by Tony Joe White, Bobby Womack, Otis Redding, Dan Penn and the aforementioned Eddie Hinton: artists, both black and white, who played in that area. The town half of us are from, Muscle Shoals, is kinda almost famous for that.
IN: We read your update on DBT.com that the band has been having a few illnesses lately—some shows have been cancelled. How is everyone doing today?
Hood: We’re all okay. We’ve been touring non-stop since January, plus we made a new album, plus most of us have small kids at home, and we kinda hit a wall on our European tour. Everyone got sick, and it was cold as shit and the travel conditions were pretty rough, and it all caught up with us. We’ll all be okay but we had to bring it all home for a bit to recuperate. As it turns out, we got out just in time, as Europe was hit by a massive blizzard about 12 hours after we flew out. If we had stayed, we’d probably still be on the side of some road in Denmark or Sweden. It’s cold there this time of year.
IN: Tell us about the band’s involvement in local Athens causes such as Nuci’s Space, Whatever It Takes, and participation in the Rick Kurtz Benefit.
Hood: We are lucky enough to get to do what we love for a living, so we’re glad to give back anytime we can. Nuci’s Space has been my pet cause for 10 years now. They do amazing things over there. Check it out at nuci.org. Rick is a good friend, and we, of course, would do anything we can to help him out. What an amazing guitar player.
IN: Currently you are requesting fans to vote for “Big To-Do” to be included on NPR’s 2010 “All Songs Considered.” What is that about?
Hood: I have no idea. The fine folks who do our business stuff and web stuff are always cooking stuff up on our behalf. I have my hands full writing, recording and playing plus raising a family, so I don’t really keep up with that end too much.
IN: Just moments ago on Twitter your fans were posting about your music. What does your fan base mean to you?
Hood: I’m thrilled that there are folks who care about our music and our band. The fans I meet tend to be really smart and cool folks.
IN: Tell us about the films you have made.
Hood: Jason Thrasher, who is a great photographer and filmmaker, has been working on this project with me where we profile the songs on the new album. We are calling it the “Go-Go Boots Episodes.” It’s about two hours of film with stories and songs, live performances from the band, as well as stripped down acoustic ones. We have some other plans for the future, but I have about a year of hard touring to do first.
IN: The cover art for your albums is intriguing. Tell us how you became involved with Wes Freed for your cover art and how many covers he has done for you so far.
Hood: He’s done every album since 2001’s “Southern Rock Opera” album. I think the new one is the ninth, plus he did my second solo album cover, too. He’s a genius, and we consider him part of the band.
IN: Have you played in Pensacola before?
Hood: We used to play Pensacola all the time. It was actually one of our biggest and best towns in the early days. We used to play Sluggo’s. I always really loved that venue before it closed. We played The Handlebar, too, but I think it burned down. We dedicated our live album to a bartender at Sluggo’s who fixed our van for us on an early tour. He was out fixing our van (for free) while I was puking in his front yard. Those were the days.
IN: It turns out the Drive-By Truckers are the most requested band at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola. What can we expect from your show?
Hood: A ballroom blitz of sweet rocking sounds, played really loud and with wild abandon.
WHEN: Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show begins at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox Place