DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – A happy accident
On the 31st of july 2008 Patterson Hood and the rest of Drive-By Truckers came to Oslo to play at Rockefeller as a part of Øya Open. A couple of hours before show time I got a chance to talk to Patterson, here is what he said.
A lot of big rock bands have one just specific song you think of when you hear their name, do you think or hope that you have one like that?
I think that would be like the hit, we don't have a hit, but maybe one of these days. I don't know, I like… All my favourite songs are usually Cooley's songs. I like his songs a lot.
Like if you would take a guess: what is your biggest hit?
God, I don't even know. On the new record probably "Ghost to most" or "The Righteous Path", those two songs probably of the new record, but at least in America, I have no idea over here.
So you don't have like an idea of how big you are here?
No idea. I know we're playing a lot bigger room this time than last time, so that's a good sign, given it's not empty, but if it's empty then it's not a good sign, less people than in the little ones.
At this point Patterson and I relocate to a different room because Shit City is practicing on stage and it's became extremely difficult to hear what we were saying to each other.
When you write music, where do you get your inspiration?
It depends on the song. Sometimes it will be something that I've been thinking about for a while, and I guess I finally think of way in expressing it in a song. Sometimes it just seems to come out the blue and I don't even know what it's about until after the fact, sometimes does are my favourite songs. The ones where I'm like "What the fuck does that mean?" "Oh that's what that means, ok." Sometimes Wes will draw a picture about it and I go "Oh, that's what it's about. Ok" That has actually happened a couple of times.
Do you structure your albums in a specific way? I mean do consider slow song after a fast song?
Yeah, for sure. I like sequencing a record, it is one of my favourite parts, and we all defiantly think a lot about the way it flows. Of course something like "Southern Rock Opera" was written as a sequence. It told a story, so we would have kind of a narrative, so it was kind of made to be sequenced in a certain way, but like this latest record it was funny in some ways it was almost recorded in order, and it so much accidentally sequenced itself.
Like an accident?
Yeah, it was the album of the happy accident, everything on that record felt like it was almost accidental but still was meant to be, we got lucky on that one.
According to www.wikipedia.org you have been a band since 1996, and your first album was released in 1998, and a single was released in 96, what has changed in those 12 years for you in a musical sense?
Well we've had some personnel changes along the way and you know almost every record has kind of had its own personality. First album was almost like a left handed take on a country record, it had this kind of very heavy country influence, little bit of a punk rock influence sprung in there, and the second album was almost a loupe towards kind of a rock record, but it still had some of that country going, our third album was kind of like a loud punk rock record, the fourth record everybody called southern rock since it was the "southern rock opera" record, and so they all have been kind of a little different, and hopefully we'll continue to be. The newest record is kind of dark/ pretty record, I figure the next one will be a short hard rock record.
So you don't want to fit into just one musical genre?
That would be boring. I think it would be boring if you were expected to be the same every year. Like on this record we had a lot of songs who are really pretty on the record, but when we started playing them live they became more rock songs then they sounded like on the actual record, so I think the next record will kind of be an extension of that to.
Has anything changed for you personally in those 12 years?
Yeah, I've been through a divorce, remarried, had a baby, quit doing a lot the things that were bad for me that I liked to do a lot. I'm defiantly happier and healthier. It's been a fun journey so far, to be honest I don't have a lot of regrets, you know the last twelve years has almost been like living a Mark Twain book or something, it's really been quite a journey cause we've really played around 1200 shows all over the world, several times. There is a lot parts we still haven't been to. When we put out that first record I'd hardly been anywhere in the United States, even less in Europe. So it's been great coming to beautiful cities we've never seen and rock, make new friends.
When you go on tour do you try to visit new places every time?
I like to, a lot of times we don't have time to, like yesterday we had the day of here, we wandered around and it was great. All of times you just come to a town, throw your equipment on stage, do a sound check, eat dinner, play a show and then you're of to the next town, and you don't really get to experience the cities.
"Brighter than creation's dark" is of course your latest release, did you and the band do anything different for this album?
We kept it fun at all cost! We were very committed to having fun, a couple of records before we had maybe been a little of track on that, like taking some things to seriously. If the magic wasn't happening we would try and make it happen. On this record it was more if the magic was happening; good, roll the tape, if not go home and come back to it. We cut 19 songs it 10 days and it was a blast.
That's good, you have to have fun.
Yeah, it's almost sacrilegious not to be having fun doing this, because it should be fun, if it's not fun then you're not doing it right, go home, go get another job
If you were to cover a song, which song would it be and why?
We've covered a few, but the next song I wanna cover is "two headed dog" by Roky Erikson. I like his songs and I just feel that would be a good one for us to cover. We're gonna work that up soon.
When you go to different countries do you make specific set-lists for each country?
We don't make a set-list, ever. The first song we're going to play we decide as we're walking up there and from there on its total anarchy. If I do the first song, I'll point to Cooley and he plays the second song, and then he'll point to me or to Shonna, and I have no idea what he is gonna play. Whoever starts the song will start it and the rest will hear a couple of notes and they will know when to hop in. You hope it's good and every now and then it's a train wreck and if it is a train wreck you hope it's an entertaining train wreck so that they'll go "man, that's an entertaining train wreck. I'll go see them again".
You have three song writers; do you every write songs for each other?
We've never done that, but I would love it. I would love it if Cooley says to me "Man I wrote this song and can't hear me singing it, could you sing it?" That would be great, but it's never happened, as far as I can remember. Once I wrote a song for Shonna, but she hasn't done it yet.
That was the end of my line of questions; I obtained an autograph for my father as I had promised in advance, and as we where walking out Patterson saw my Pink Floyd hat and we talked a little while about Pink Floyd. It was a nice tone throughout the entire interview, a lot of smiling and laughing.