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Drive-By Truckers headline new FestivALL concert

By Bill Lynch, Staff writer
ENGLISH OCEANS Released March 3, 2014 by ATO Records

Patterson Hood believes people are basically the same. Hood, who performs with the Drive-By Truckers Saturday night as a part of Festiv-ALT, said you find the same kinds of people everywhere. The American South hasn’t even cornered the market on rednecks.

“There are rednecks in England,” he said. “Believe me. There’s the British equivalent, and there’s no shortage of them.”

British rednecks aren’t even that hard to spot, Hood added. You just know them when you see them.

There is more “same” than “other” in most of the places he’s been, he said. Things tend to repeat, and he’s not the only one in the band that’s noticed this.

Band co-founder Mike Cooley once told him, “You can be in Seattle and drive 20 minutes in any direction, and you might as well be in Alabama.”

Hood explained that once you get away from the city, there’s a sameness that interjects itself.

“You’re going to see trailer parks, working class poor people and people who don’t have a great education or much of a tangible future,” he said.

Some of that isn’t just America, but all over the globe.

“The world has become a really small place,” Hood said. “People really aren’t that different.

“Just the accent changes.”

The Drive-By Truckers will be hearing a lot of different accents over the next few months. The band is out touring in support of its latest record, “English Oceans.” It’s just back to the States after a tour in Europe that included an appearance at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona.

Hood said, “We did pretty good over there. Pretty much all the shows were sold out.”

The 50-year-old performer thinks Europe is still fascinated with American music.

“We’re exotic birds over there,” he laughed. “We’re from this far away place.”

The new record is a departure from previous releases. On it, Hood and Cooley split songwriting credits; Hood has seven songs, and Cooley has six. The record goes back and forth — one song for Hood, then one for Cooley.

“That’s kind of how our live shows are,” Hood said.

While the Drive-By Truckers have played songs from a variety of the band’s songwriters, Hood has always been the dominant writer within the group — at least, numerically.

Cooley isn’t as prolific, but Hood said his songs are usually more finished when he brings them to the band.

“If he writes, it’s probably ending up on the record,” Hood said.

He can’t say the same, though he writes constantly. At a rough guess, he said he probably had written more than 3,000 songs and recorded more than 120.

“I tend to edit after the fact,” he said.

The songs are stored in stacks of notebooks and computer hard drives.

From time to time, Hood goes through the songs, mines them for other projects and even other songs. His solo record, “Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs),” was largely based on material written before he co-founded the Drive-By Truckers.

For “English Oceans,” Hood said he’d basically had a record written six months before the band recorded, and then at the last minute, he swapped all of those songs for new ones.

“Some of those songs left out, I really liked and feel really good about,” he said. “At some point, we might want to go back and use some of them.”

Hood said the direction of the album just wasn’t where those songs were.

The record is also named for one of Cooley’s songs, “Made Up English Oceans.”

“We wanted something that worked well with the art, the songs and the themes on the record,” Hood said. “And I think the point of the song is there are no English oceans. I liked the play on naming the record after no such thing.”

“English Oceans” isn’t a typical Drive-By Truckers’ record. The songs aren’t all story songs, which is something the band is known for.

“The songs are a little less literal,” he said. “It allows people to assign their own interpretation.

“Lord knows, we’ve got plenty of the other kind of songs.”

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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