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Patterson Hood Interview

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

As one of three vocalists for the Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood shares the role of leading one of the most well-rounded Southern rock bands on the planet. In branching out with the release of his first studio recording, Hood is now reflecting on the past decade and a half of thoughts, songs, memories and stories that he’s written and recorded with Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs). The album is a collection of tracks that date back as far as the early ’90s, and has been a work in progress for just as long. Here, Hood discusses his continual need to record, the importance of working with his father on Murdering Oscar, and the likelihood that it will take another 15 years for his next solo album to see daylight.

This is a busy time for you, with the Drive-By Truckers releasing The Fine Print and the Austin City Limits CD/DVD in addition to Murdering Oscar. How important is it to always be working on something?

Patterson Hood: I’m far too obsessive to really have much time off, I’d drive myself and everyone around me crazy. I don’t have any hobbies and don’t really vacation all that well. That said, this year has become a little ridiculous, since this was supposed to be an off year. Some of that was just a convergence of circumstance and crazy timing. Projects that have been on a back burner for a long time all coming to fruition at same time, etc. They’re all things I’m excited and happy about but I didn’t really intend on them all happening at once. In addition to those three things, Booker T.’s album came out in April (we were his backing band on it along with Neil Young) and we’re actually mixing the next “new” DBT album for a late ‘09 or early 2010 release too.

How excited are you to finally release your solo album after sitting on the songs for so long?

Patterson Hood: Very extremely, as they say.

You’ve noted the contrast between the older songs on the album and the newer ones, calling it a bit of a point/counterpoint. I think there’s something similar to that in the darkness that is expressed through some of the tracks. Does that side of the recording come from your time in Athens in the mid-’90s?

PH: Yeah. That was a turbulent but exciting period. I had just moved to Athens, GA and was really loving and embracing the music scene here. I had just come out of a really rough time in my life, but things were really looking up. My writing reflected all of that.

Are there any songs you revisited that you could still strongly identify with?

Patterson Hood: Certainly. Pretty much the ones that made the album, which was actually a fraction of the songs I wrote at that time. I was unbelievably prolific in those days, as I didn’t have anything like a career, much less a family. So other than working my crappy day job and drinking, my whole life revolved around playing guitar and writing songs. I wrote every day. I would go to work, get off, write, play and drink until the bars opened then go see a band. It was pretty idyllic for a while but one can’t spend their whole life that way.

Who joined you in recording the album?

Patterson Hood: David Barbe co-produced, played bass and pretty much partnered with me on it. Brad Morgan (DBT’s drummer) is on all of it. John Neff is on most of it. He wasn’t in DBT at that time, but his work on the album definitely directly led to his rejoining the band. Will Johnson and Scott Danbom from my favorite band, Denton, TX’s Centro-matic play and sing on most of it. Shonna and Cooley from DBT are on part of it and my dad, David Hood, plays bass on three songs. He’s a session player and has played on some amazing albums by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to Traffic, Paul Simon and Bob Seger. Even a Willie Nelson album, but we’ve never played together on a recording before except for a quick Xmas song for a benefit album once upon a time. It was a thrill to get to record with him. I hope we get to do that again at some point.

Family is an important part of this album; it partially being crafted around the birth of your daughter in addition to giving you a chance to record with your dad. How vital was it to you to keep your close friends and family tied into the record?

Patterson Hood: That was a big part of the point on this album, but honestly at this point in my life it’s really all I want to do. DBT members are pretty much family to me. I don’t really have the patience to do it any other way anymore. Life’s too short to deal with a bunch of ass-holery.

Who did the artwork for the CD?

Patterson Hood: Wes Freed, who does the DBT albums did the front and back cover. The rest was photos, old and new. My sister, Lilla Hood, did the layout and put it all together. She’s a graphic artist and has done the last five DBT albums and we always have fun working on those projects together.

The band joining you on tour is the Screwtopians—who makes up the group?

Patterson Hood: Brad Morgan and John Neff from DBT, Will Johnson and Scott Danbom from Centro-matic and David Barbe on bass. He used to be in Sugar with Bob Mould and hasn’t toured since they broke up in late ’94. That’s going to be a blast. It’s a fantastic band.

For better or worse, Murdering Oscar has taken about 15 years to take from conception to commercial release. Are you already thinking ahead to another solo record, or are you worried that it might lead to another 15 year endeavor?

Patterson Hood: I have no plans whatsoever to do another one any time soon. I very well might do some side-project, especially if it involves my dad, but it won’t be a solo album per se as much as some kind of side group thing. DBT at this point is so completely fun to work with that I don’t really have any motivation to work without them unless it’s something I do with my dad. I’m really good friends with Luther and Cody Dickinson and their dad, Jim Dickinson who is really one of my heroes. We have talked about doing a project together with my dad on bass. The five of us would make for a bad-ass band and we want to all do something at some point. Unfortunately (or actually fortunately) Luther is as busy as me, but that’s something I’d love to see happen at some not too distant point. Definitely in way less that 15 years.