Live & Direct: Drive-By Truckers
WYEP’s Joey Spehar is joined by Patterson and Jay from Drive-by Truckers for a Live & Direct Session to play some songs off their album Welcome 2 Club XIII
Learn more about Drive-By Truckers here.
- “Shake and Pine “
- “The Driver”
- “We Will Never Wake You Up In The Morning”
- “Welcome 2 Club XIII”
- Patterson Hood: Vocals & Guitar
- Jay Gonzalez: Guitar & Back-up Vocals
- Host: Joey Spehar
- Audio Engineer: Thomas Cipollone
- Audio Mix: Tom Hurley
- Videographer/Editor: Nick Wright
- Program Director: Liz Felix
- VP, Broadcasting: Mike Sauter
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Joey Spehar: We are Live and Direct today here at WYEP with a room full WYEP members. Make yourselves known. And the reason for our little visit this afternoon, we've got Patterson Hood: and Jay Gonzales of the Drive-By Truckers. Here. They're playing at in the Carnegie Library Musical Hall of Homestead tonight, along with Lydia Loveless. They got a great record that came out last summer. We're going to talk all about it, but would you start us off with the song?
Song: “Shake and Pine”
Joey Spehar: So Drive-By Truckers, Live and Direct to your here on WYEP. They're out at Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead tonight with Lydia Loveless, and last summer put out the excellent album, Welcome 2 Club XIII. So that song you just played, Shake and Pine, I read that it kind of came to you on a subconscious level where it's just pouring out of you. And correct me if I'm wrong.
Patterson Hood: That's exactly what happened. And I went downstairs and I played it for my wife, I had just written it. And I went downstairs, I played it for her. And she just kind of sat there and gave me a funny look. And after a pause, she said, 'Ah, that's not about us, is it?' And, I truthfully, I'm like, 'No, it's not. I have no idea what it's about. But I promise you, it's not about us.' And she said, 'You wouldn't tell me if it was, would you?' I'm like, 'No. But it's not.' And literally, like, six months later, I was in the middle of a show and I was playing that song, and it popped in my head in the middle of the song. I knew exactly what I'd written about in a because I lost a friend the fall before, during 2020, and he passed away like beginning of November in 2020. And it was definitely about him. And I just but when I wrote it, it was all subconscious stuff.
Joey Spehar: Now, so we've established that you would not tell your wife if you did write about her, but would you write about her in general?
Patterson Hood: I mean, I have, but not like that. I'm trying to keep her.
Joey Spehar: Yeah. Smart.
Patterson Hood: I need her. I don't need to run her off.
Joey Spehar: I mean, I think honesty plays such a big role in your music, whether it is joyful or regretful or beautiful or ugly, it's always there. Now, whether everything is a true story or not, I think you guys make it sound believable. So you're like, what, almost 30 years into this band?
Patterson Hood: Yeah. Good grief. You're right.
Joey Spehar: Do you think you're running out of stories to tell?
Patterson Hood: We're turning 27 next month. Wow. On June 10th, we're turning 27. The band. Not me. I was 27 a long time ago, but so, yeah, we're at that bad age. I hope. I hope we don't do something terrible next year.
Joey Spehar: Well, you. There's a lot of terrible things in the world. And you guys certainly do not shy away from it.
Patterson Hood: No, for sure.
Joey Spehar: For sure. The three or so albums that came out before this were very overtly political. Yeah. And and I feel like this one might be a bit more personal. So can you talk about that?
Patterson Hood: It is. You know, I mean, I've always considered our band to be political because I grew up, I've always followed politics closely. Even at a young age. I was that gives away how old I am, but I was that weird kid in third grade that wrote a paper about Watergate and and about how basically Richard Nixon should be thrown in jail. And my teacher did not feel the same way and like sent a note home to my parents. And it was like the one time I ever got in trouble at school that my parents actually kind of took my side. But so yeah, but so we did. We did American Band, which was the most overtly political thing we had ever done. And that was supposed to be a one off. And I was already kind of writing songs for what became the Club XIII record by that time and with kind of a plans of, you know, doing something more like that. But, you know, then that we had this, this thing happened in 2016, and I don't know if anybody remembers it, but it was really an awful thing happened. And the next thing you know, there were more songs that were in that vein. And so we made the unraveling. And then something even worse happened in 2020, at the beginning of the year when we all had to go lock down for a year and a half. And and so we ended up making a record during the pandemic. We made a pandemic record too, The New OK. So after all that was over, we went in the studio and we literally made Welcome 2 Club XIII in 3 and a half days in there. So I think it was like the floodgates just opened and we hadn't seen each other in a year and a half and we were all so glad to see each other. And we just started we pushed record and had a record three and a half days later.
Joey Spehar: Amazing. And we'll talk more about that record coming up in just a little bit. But if you guys would like to place a couple more songs, we love that.
Patterson Hood: Let's do it. This was the last song I wrote for the Club 13 record, and I wrote it in, I think March or so of 2021 shortly before we made the record. And it's pretty autobiographical and it's called “The Driver.”
Song: “The Driver”
Song: “We Will Never Wake You Up In The Morning”
Joey Spehar: 91.3 WYEP We are live and direct today with Patterson and Jay from the Drive-By Truckers. They're out at the Carnegie Library Musical of Homestead two nights with Lydia Loveless. To start. A couple of great songs will never wake up in the Morning and the driver drivers. The first song on Welcome 2 Club XIII and I love l "this is how we got here" type of song. I think about like Truckin' from the Grateful Dead or like the first song on the first Hold Steady record, right? How do you feel looking back at your life and writing about it? Like it's got to be an odd experience for those of us who don't write songs.
Patterson Hood: I mean, I think if I actually thought about it, I wouldn't be able to do it. It's one of those things where it just it just kind of has to come out and it's I wrote a song about that, actually. I think it was even called The Driver, like 1984, like way before even before I met Cooley. Mike Cooley, my partner in the Truckers, we've been playing together for 38 years this August, this was our fourth band together. But, but it was a very, very different song. But it was kind of about that. I mean, I think, you know, I was I learned to drive really young and and, you know, living where I did in Alabama, you couldn't you couldn't get anywhere if you didn't have a car. And so when I was eight years old, I could tell you that my 16th birthday fell on a Monday because because I'd already figured it out. And when I first figured it up, I forgot about leap years. And so it was like a, you know, like a Saturday. It's like, oh, no, I'm going to wait two days to get my license. And of course, doing what we do, we're on the road a lot. And so and the road has kind of given us this life that we get to live, that we love, but is also can sometimes be a terrifying place, you know, because you see all kinds of stuff out there and it's sometimes not pretty.
Joey Spehar: So when I was listening to this record just the other day, it made me think of a conversation that I had recently with a friend where I kind of jokingly told him that I was going through a midlife crisis, and he said, 'You know what? I had that a couple of years ago. But I thought of it more like a midlife reckoning.' Which honestly changed my life in the last week or so, thinking about that. And I think it plays an important role in your music. And you talk about reckoning and and how it's been for you guys.
Patterson Hood: Yeah, for sure. You know, I think a lot of the songs on this record are written kind of from a place of looking back on the era when, like Mike Cooley and I started playing together in the age we were then because I was I think I was 20 and he turned 19 shortly after we started playing together. And we have kids that age now. You know, I have an 18 year old at home and [Cooley's] oldest kid is going to turn 20 this summer. And so we're seeing our kids go through stuff that we went through when we were playing together or just learning to play together. And I think that's a big part of this record, kind of is looking at it through that lens of, you know, you want them to have fun but you don't want to hurt themselves.
Joey Spehar: At this point in your life, are you still shocked that as much as things change, they're basically the same over and over again?
Patterson Hood: I mean, yeah, sure, sure. You know, I, I lived for 21 years in Athens, Georgia. Which, by the way, thank you, Jay Gonzales, for being here with me today. And doing this with me is so awesome. Jay lives in Athens, You know, and I bet you can vouch for this. You go with the 40 Watt Club, which is, you know, where I have hung out since I first moved there in 94. And there's these new people who work there. But in a lot of ways, you kind of go, 'God, this person reminds me of so-and-so that worked here in '98,'and it's almost like there's these same roles being played.
Jay Gonzalez Archetypal rockers.
Patterson Hood: Yeah, yeah, definitely a lot of archetypal roles. And I mean that in the best of ways, because I love that place.
Joey Spehar: Well, you know, I was a little baby intern here at this radio station when you guys came through after putting out Brighter than Creation's Dark. And I'd never heard of your band before, I was floored by that performance and have followed you ever since. So I want you to take us back to your early days, like the Adam's House Cat days and what this real place Club XIII, what it what it meant for you. Because it wasn't always good, right?
Patterson Hood: No, it wasn't. It was not. You know, this is definitely not glory days. You know, I mean, I grew up in a dry county, and so there was, you know, when I was, when I was, which was awesome when I was a teenager because because at the state line where you'd go to buy beer, they didn't care. It was a border town, You know, like you go to the Tennessee state line, there was no law. There was nothing. They didn't care that I looked like that I looked 13 at 16. You know, they would sell me the beer. And if you wanted liquor, you had to go to the bootlegger. And they the bootleggers didn't care either that I looked 13 and was 16, but ah, and then around the time I turned legal age, they voted liquor in and it's like, 'Oh man, you know, we're going to have like cool clubs. We'll be like another Athens, Georgia or something.' But instead, just the honky tonks there were up at the state line, just closed and then reopened in town. And and the nicest one by far was Club XIII because they had Roman numerals, because they were classy. It was concrete floor and industrial carpeting. The stage was not quite as high as this one. And about the same size, though. And the owner was a a nice guy and he he didn't hate our band unlike most people in my hometown. But also knew we wouldn't pull any people, so he would throw us a Wednesday night opening for some hair metal cover band, which we were so not that and so Cooley would wear a dress and basically everybody would wait outside smoking cigarettes until we were done with our set. And then they would rush into the dance floor to see Sidewinder and Radio Tokyo and all the different bands that would play. And that was it. That was our glory days.
Joey Spehar: Well, it makes for a really fun song to listen to. Would you play it for us?
Song: “Welcome 2 Club XIII”
Joey Spehar: We're running out of time here, but I just want to mention you do have something else in the works, though. So you guys are redoing the Dirty South?
Patterson Hood: We're putting out a very super deluxe version of it. And back when we made that record, we were fighting at that time with the people who ran that label, which they don't now, that's the people that run it now, are actually very nice to work with. But we were fighting and they were unhappy with the length of our record because it was going to be a double and we'd already just done Southern rock Opera. And then we had Decoration Day right between them. So we're putting out records like every year at a fever pace, and they were unhappy with everything we were doing. And so we ended up dropping three songs off of the sequence. And it's kind of a concept record. It kind of told a story in those missing songs. I was always unhappy about it. And so they contacted us a year or so ago and asked if we would be interested in basically doing like a director's cut and making the record the way we always wanted it to be all along. And that included doing like super, super beautiful job with the packaging and the artwork because I'm kind of a nut about that kind of thing. And so, we did that. We put together the original sequence with the with the missing songs, and I did re-sing a couple of songs that have always bugged me the way I sang. It always drove me crazy every time out here. Just I couldn't stand it. And something that's trying to do that I can do now that I couldn't do then. So we did fix a couple of things, but we put it out. And then last fall, just as we were like working on it, our beloved dear friend Wes Freed, that does all the artwork for the Drive-By Truckers very unexpectedly passed away. And so he was aware of what we were doing and was really excited about it. So this is a chance to really pay tribute to his beautiful artwork. And the packaging for this thing is just absolutely stunning.