It isn’t often that you find Patterson Hood in a road-weary state of mind. So when the Drive-By Truckers singer/guitarist says it’s time to take a break from performing live, you know he isn’t joking around. For more than 15 years, Hood and his bandmates have toured relentlessly while harkening the heyday of classic rock. The Truckers make true albums – sometimes double-length – filled with cohesive themes and extended jams. The three-minute radio single has never been on the band’s agenda and that’s just fine with its fans. But once his band rounds out a few remaining scheduled shows, Hood is looking forward to calling a timeout.
“We did two albums right in a row and [toured] two years straight of that and there was still a little unfinished business – like Birmingham – places that we just hadn’t got to,” Hood says, speaking by phone from his Athens, Ga. home. “So, we’re in the process of wrapping all that up and April is pretty much the end of touring for the indefinite future. We’ll have some one-offs and a few weekend things between now and the end of the year, but no more actual tours booked after this one. We’re going to have a little bit of a hiatus, which I think will be a good thing.”
On Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7, Drive-By Truckers will perform in the Workplay Soundstage with Centro-Matic opening both shows. Showtime for each performance is 9 p.m. And while Hood says it’s time for the Truckers to rest, he lets me know that he isn’t exactly going into hiding after April.
“I actually found time somehow in the midst of all that last year to make a solo record, so I’m going to put it out in the fall and I’m going to go out and do some playing with that,” he offers. “Not like the kind of thing the Truckers do by any means, but I’m going to definitely do some smaller, more intimate rooms. I need to give my ears a rest from the big, loud Rock show for a little bit. No telling the damage I’ve already done.”
Hood’s musical pedigree is well-documented, but it never hurts to tell the story again. Raised in Muscle Shoals, Patterson is the son of David Hood, bassist of the famed “Swampers” studio collective that helped spawn countless hits for a multitude of artists. I ask Patterson if growing up in a musical household was helpful in charting his career or if he had to learn the lessons for himself over time.
“Probably a little bit of both,” he says. “I certainly learned a lot from what my dad and them did, but at the same time what I do is pretty different. He was in the same business, but he was kind of in the opposite end of the business. They were studio session folks, and as I was growing up I never saw him play a live show – that wasn’t his world – whereas for years and years that was all I did.”
Having relocated to Athens, I ask Hood if he finds many occasions to get back to Muscle Shoals.
“It’s hard,” he admits. “I don’t get back there nearly as often as I’d like to. I’d love to see Dad right now. Hopefully, I’ll get to a little bit more before the year is up.”
In 2011, Drive-By Truckers released Go-Go Boots less than a year after releasing Big To-Do. Hood says both recordings blended newer material with some revitalized older songs that he thought would never see the light of day.
“I spent a couple of years writing a bunch of songs and we recorded two records at once, mostly in ‘09,” Hood recalls. “We recorded Big To-Do and Go-Go Boots and decided it was going to be two different records and kind of separated the two. That kind of opened the door for some things that I’d written along the way that never fit what the Truckers were doing. All of the sudden, it seemed like they would fit. ‘Mercy Buckets’ was an older song - I always liked it, but I didn’t think it fit where the band was going. I went back and did some re-writing on it and improved it, so it was kind of a mixture of all of that.”
Forging his career in the Internet/iTunes/satellite radio era, the music industry that Hood knows is distant from the one that fostered his father’s career. As a second-generation musician, Patterson holds a unique perspective.
“The old system made some people really, really rich and famous and successful and all of that,” he says. “But there was also a lot of great bands and artists that never could find their thing. After MTV came along, so much of it was based on how a band looked rather than how they sounded. When we started this band, we had a plan of, ‘We’re just going to do as much of it ourselves as we can.’ As timing worked out – just as we were getting our thing going – the old music industry kind of collapsed and died. The bands that survived were the bands that had built-up what they had done going town-to-town and building a reputation as a live band. We became a much bigger band because of not having to compete with this year’s model of pretty boy. It probably helped us, but for someone starting now it would have to be daunting.”
But as important as momentum can be, it’s also smart to know when to take a break. Hood seems convinced that now is one of those times.
“There’s not really much I can complain about, but if I had a complaint it would be a lack of balance in the last few years,” Hood says. “It’s just been tilted a little too heavy in that one direction, so I’m excited to have some more time at home with my family.”
Tickets to the 18+ shows are $25 and can be purchased at www.workplay.com