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Long press release:


Drive-By Truckers have always been outspoken, telling a distinctly American story via craft, character, and concept, all backed by sonic ambition and social conscience. Founded in 1996 by singer/songwriter/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, the band have long held a progressive fire in their belly but with AMERICAN BAND, they have made the most explicitly political album in their extraordinary canon. A powerful and legitimately provocative work, hard edged and finely honed, the album is the sound of a truly American Band – a Southern American band – speaking on matters that matter. DBT made the choice to direct the Way We Live Now head on, employing realism rather than subtext or symbolism to purge its makers’ own anger, discontent, and frustration with societal disintegration and the urban/rural divide that has partitioned the country for close to a half-century. Master songwriters both, Hood and Cooley wisely avoid overt polemics to explore such pressing issues as race, income inequality, the NRA, deregulation, police brutality, Islamophobia, and the plague of suicides and opioid abuse. As a result, songs like “What It Means” and the tub-thumping “Kinky Hypocrites” are intensely human music from a rock ‘n’ roll band yearning for community and collective action. Fueled by a just spirit of moral indignation and righteous rage, AMERICAN BAND is protest music fit for the stadiums, designed to raise issues and ire as the nation careens towards its most momentous election in a generation.

“I don’t want there to be any doubt as to which side of this discussion we fall on,” Hood says. “I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding of where we stand. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It’s okay. We’re not trying to be everybody’s favorite band, we’re going to be who we are and do what we do and anyone who’s with us, we’d love to have them join in.”

Mike Cooley is somewhat more direct. “I wanted this to be a no bones about it, in your face political album,” he says. “I wanted to piss off the assholes.”

AMERICAN BAND’s considerable force can in part be credited to the sheer musical strength of the current Drive-By Truckers line-up, with Hood and Cooley joined by bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez, and drummer Brad Morgan – together, the longest-lasting iteration in the band’s two-decade history. AMERICAN BAND follows ENGLISH OCEANS and 2015’s IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE!, marking the first time DBT have made three consecutive LPs with the same hard-traveling crew.

“This is the longest period of stability in our band’s history,” says Hood. “I think we finally hit the magic formula. It’s made everything more fun than it’s ever been, making records and playing shows.”

Drive-By Truckers might have maintained constancy but Hood embraced change by moving his family to Portland, OR in July 2015, a physical shift which he says “opened the floodgates” to a batch of deeply felt, strikingly emotional new songs. Having recorded the bulk of their canon in Athens, GA, the band was also eager to reinvent their own surroundings. Memphis was considered but when DBT’s November 2015 tour wrapped in Nashville, the band decided to spend a few days at the legendary Sound Emporium getting a head start on the new record.

Never ones to dick around in the studio, DBT cranked out nine new songs in just three 14-hour shifts, as ever with producer/engineer David Barbe at the helm. Coming in directly from the road put a head of steam behind the band, allowing them to lay it all out live on the floor, tracking songs like “Imagine” in little more than a single take.

“We realized we had most of the record,” Hood says, “so we went back after the holidays for four more days, but ended up finishing it in three. We tend to usually take about two weeks to make a record so this was really quick.”

“That was a lot of fun,” the Alabama-based Cooley says, “and a shorter drive for me.”

Speed was of the essence, as DBT was determined to get their record out at the height of the 2016 election season. By their very nature, Drive-By Truckers has always been an inherently political act, “but this is the first time it’s been out there on the surface,” Cooley says, “No bones about it.”

“I’ve always considered our band to be political,” Hood says. “I’ve studied and followed politics since I was a small kid. I got in trouble in third grade for a paper I wrote about Watergate – the teacher sent a note home to my parents saying I was voicing opinions about our president that she didn’t appreciate. That’s the one time I got in trouble at school where my parents sided with me.”

“SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA was a pretty political record,” Cooley says. “But we hadn’t had our first black president yet. We hadn’t sat in the bleachers and watched the backlash, which, as acquainted as we are with racism, went beyond what anyone imagined it would be.”

Political matters reared their head on 2014’s ENGLISH OCEANS, most explicitly on Cooley’s “Made Up English Oceans,” detailing the life and crimes of late Republican black ops master Lee Atwater. Hood further sharpened his own skills by penning an op-ed for the New York Times condemning the Confederate Flag and its vile role in Southern culture.

“That was a major learning experience,” he says. “Working with an editor, how to streamline what I’m trying to say, how to find the most powerful part and get rid of some of the excess. It was really grueling but I was eager to take it on and learn as much as I could from it.”

Hood delivered a finished draft to the Old Gray Lady and within moments, wrote the ferocious “Darkened Flags On The Cusp Of Dawn” on a borrowed guitar – his own gear in a moving van on its way to his family’s new home in Portland. The song, like so much of the album, is a direct response to 2014’s police shootings of unarmed African-Americans, a moment both Hood and Cooley see as the catalyst for their blunt new approach. Long haunted by the police shooting of a mentally ill neighbor in his former hometown of Athens, GA, Hood wrote “What It Means” in the heat of Ferguson, Staten Island, and the subsequent emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It was all in my head and just kind of bubbling at the surface,” Hood says. “I think we knew early on that was the direction this record was going to go in.”

Hood’s friend and collaborator for more than half their lives, Cooley was a on similar trip, reading, writing, and pondering the very same issues that rend the country in two.

“We have conversations about all this stuff,” he says, “but not necessarily in terms of planning an album or anything. Then we go home, he writes a song, I write a song, and they’re both basically about the same thing.”

“We tend to come to the same conclusions separately but together,” Hood says. “We don’t really discuss it until we have a bunch of songs. We’ve always been astounded at how much common ground our songs have, record after record. SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA is the only time we discussed a game plan for what we were going to write, the only time. It’s kind of uncanny. Truly a beautiful thing.”

Further creative inspiration came from a pair of American milestone pieces of art, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ National Book Award-winning Between The World and Me and Kendrick Lamar’s TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY, “in my opinion, the greatest musical work of our current time,” says Hood.

“It’s an inspiring album and one that made me question myself,” he says. “I’m a white guy from the South, do I have the right to be singing about this stuff? What can I do? The only conclusion I could come up with was maybe white guys, with Southern accents, who look like rednecks, need to say Black Lives Matter too. It’s a start, a tiny start, but a step in the right direction is better than no step at all.”

“I couldn’t not do it,” says Cooley. “I’ve got to speak about this stuff, somehow or another. And I’m going to speak about it from a middle aged Southern white working class evangelical background male point of view.”

Much like Lamar’s GRAMMY® Award-winning song cycle, AMERICAN BAND serves as a stark, tightly focused snapshot of today’s America, an exemplary illustration of rock ‘n’ roll as a vehicle for social commentary and clear-eyed reportage. “Guns of Umpqua” captures Hood’s reaction to the 2015 shooting at Roseburg, OR’s Umpqua Community College while Cooley’s breakneck “Ramon Casiano” is a topical folk rocker telling the little known tale of former National Rife Association leader Harlon Carter and the murder of 15-year-old Ramon Casiano. Known as “Mr. NRA,” Carter transformed the organization from its original role as a sportsmen and conservationist group into what Cooley correctly declares “a right wing, white supremacist gun cult.” A Southern-rooted band opening their album with such a song makes for a singularly powerful statement, the NRA’s monolithic control of the debate demanding opposing artists to be as overt and vocal on the issue as possible.

“The NRA needs to be turned into a political turd in a swimming pool,” Cooley says, “so all these fuckers will start paddling away.

“What I’m trying to do is point straight to the white supremacist core of gun culture,” Cooley concludes. “That’s what it is and that’s where its roots are. When gun culture thinks about all the threats they need to be armed against, what color are they?”

Of course the personal can also be politic, represented here by Hood’s deeply felt “Baggage.” Penned the night of Robin Williams’ death, the song sees Hood examining his own demons and long bout with depression, “the worst I’ve had as an older adult,” he says. “I was kind of blindsided by it. There had always been a tangible thing that I could point to as to what was wrong, but this time I was grasping for something and not quite finding it.”

AMERICAN BAND is surprisingly optimistic thanks to Hood’s “absolutely” improved mental health as well as Drive-By Truckers’ passion for the issues behind the material. The band intend to hit the road harder than ever in support of AMERICAN BAND, bringing their songs to the people as they have always done, only this time with the country’s very future at stake. Fortunately for America, Drive-By Truckers are, as a Great Man once said, fired up, ready to go.

“I feel like Cooley and I both nailed what were going for on every song on this record,” Hood says. “I don’t think there’s a wasted line or word on this record. There’s nothing I would change, that’s for sure. I think we got this one right.”

“I’m sure there will be people saying ‘I wish they’d keep the politics out of it,’” Cooley says, “but one of the characteristics among the people and institutions we are taking to task in these songs is their self-appointed status as the exclusive authority on what American is. What is American enough and who the real Americans are. Putting AMERICAN BAND right out front is our way of reclaiming the right to define our American identity on our own terms, and show that it's out of love of country that we draw our inspiration.”

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:10 (two years ago) Permalink


The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:25 (two years ago) Permalink

I'm listening to it now, will take a few listens. One of the few bands where the lyrics are more important than the music, though the music helps.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:45 (two years ago) Permalink

Well, it didn't used to be that way; with their recent albums it's like reading alert pulp.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:54 (two years ago) Permalink

Recent stuff is definitely more self-aware/on the nose. Less angry, more sad.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:57 (two years ago) Permalink

Hood's described them as "lyrics-driven," but starting with The Big To Do and English Oceans (not counting Go-Go Boots, cos outtakes from TBTD sessions, though some are fine), I got into the sounds right away, and more than the lyrics, in some cases.

dow, Tuesday, 21 June 2016 22:08 (two years ago) Permalink

patterson & cooley are now trying harder to sing now which i understand ie wanting to be better technically etc but it was part of the charm for me, i kinda liked the sing-talk delivery of the older stuff

Flamenco Drop (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 21 June 2016 23:52 (two years ago) Permalink

I can't wait to hear it. How many bands are still making vital music on the 11th studio album? This is one of the alltime great bands.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 22 June 2016 00:33 (two years ago) Permalink

xpost I never thought of the old stuff as sing-talk, so much as good old fashioned shouting! They're also getting older. Patterson is 52, Cooley is 50. Both are definitely trying harder to sing, because I don't think they could perform as much if they kept blowing out their voices on a regular basis. They drink (at least) less, too. Anyway, I listen to them now as mostly great singer-songwriters and try not to compare them to their past high water marks. They're different people, and a different band.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 22 June 2016 01:46 (two years ago) Permalink

Wow, "Surrender Under Protest" is great, Cooley has a tremendous way of simplifying complicated issues into great songs.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 23 June 2016 14:14 (two years ago) Permalink

Cooley has become the more reliable songwriter, I think. Before English Oceans Cooley would generally only contribute three or four songs per album, but the 50/50 split behooves them. Really liking my advance of the new album, actually, especially for Cooley's songs, but a couple of surefire hreatbreaking Hood tracks like "Guns of Umpqua" help, and his "When the Sun Don't Shine" doesn't sound like anything else he's written.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 23 June 2016 18:10 (two years ago) Permalink

And this one is a keeper:

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 23 June 2016 18:25 (two years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Have loved to Truckers for, wow, maybe 15 years now? More? 16? Anyway, I need to give the new one some more time.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 3 October 2016 01:15 (two years ago) Permalink

Time is passing. Their records do hold up to continued listening. I always thought the multiple singers and songwriters made many bands records more interesting.

I got one sad funny story about the last time I saw The Drive By Truckers live a few years back. I was taking the lady I was dating for a couple months to the show and she had me get a ticket for a friend of her's to go and she would pay me back later. That's cool I figured...we went to the gig had a grand time and then pretty much afterwards I got the ole' never returning your call ever again treatment. For some reason it oddly seemed appropriate, except if it was a DBT song the band in question would have been Blackfoot.

earlnash, Monday, 3 October 2016 03:53 (two years ago) Permalink

The new one is exceptionally good.

kornrulez6969, Monday, 3 October 2016 19:50 (two years ago) Permalink

def their best in a long time, p much no filler

if young slothrop don't trust ya i'm gon' rhyme ya (slothroprhymes), Monday, 3 October 2016 20:04 (two years ago) Permalink

oh my god you guys -- this album is a stone fucking bore. Not a single interesting rhythm: two songwriters strumming to the same backbeat. By the time I got to "What It Means" I couldn't be bothered with listening to the hot takes on racism and America Today.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 3 October 2016 20:21 (two years ago) Permalink

Their last record I cared about was released in 2008.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 3 October 2016 20:22 (two years ago) Permalink

*jordan shrug* idk man

if young slothrop don't trust ya i'm gon' rhyme ya (slothroprhymes), Monday, 3 October 2016 20:44 (two years ago) Permalink

and I like songs on every record since 2010 (I like the opener on this one) but it's all ehhhh

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 3 October 2016 20:45 (two years ago) Permalink

Well, that's what makes horse racing.

kornrulez6969, Monday, 3 October 2016 21:23 (two years ago) Permalink

xp i will say that its def kinda monochromatic, sonically, more so than some of their other records. i just think they happened to pick a sound they do really, really well. an album like Go-Go Boots is way more adventurous musically but there are huge duds on it (fireplace poker, anybody?) same thing's true of english oceans, which starts p good and just kinda peters out, or the big to-do, which has by far one of their best songs ever ("birthday boy") and also real weak tracks like "flying wallendas" and "eyes like glue" (the v rare cooley misfire)

none of these is ever gonna be Dirty South-level again. granted, thats a p high bar.

if young slothrop don't trust ya i'm gon' rhyme ya (slothroprhymes), Monday, 3 October 2016 21:29 (two years ago) Permalink

I do think the arrangements are dull, but especially Cooley's lyrics are better than ever. I think I'd be into it more if I approached it as more of a loud folk record.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 3 October 2016 21:29 (two years ago) Permalink

Their last record I cared about was released in 2008.

I agree with this, and if anything BTCD is underrated

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Monday, 3 October 2016 22:45 (two years ago) Permalink

Their best, which means, yes, better than The Dirty South, Decoration Day, and the Shonda tunes on BTCD.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 3 October 2016 22:52 (two years ago) Permalink

BTCD is their peak, I think. Ever since then it's been just a little too much yet not quite enough. Still love 'em, still great live, etc.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 4 October 2016 03:00 (two years ago) Permalink

OK, listening again, and there are some great, great songs (esp. Cooley's) and performances. But I think the problem may be as simple as sequencing. "Darkened Flags" is just not a terribly good song, and it sort of kills the momentum before it even begins, especially between "Ramon Casiano" and "Surrender Under Protest."

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 5 October 2016 18:00 (two years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

Watching them kill it right now. Right band for the right time.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 21 July 2017 01:09 (one year ago) Permalink

just covered The KKK Took My Baby Away!

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 21 July 2017 01:35 (one year ago) Permalink

Best tracks of their last LP: "Ramon Casiano" (another biting Cooley song), "Surrender Under Protest", "Guns Of Umpqua" and "Ever South".

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 21 July 2017 02:13 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Wow, just heard that awesome brand new song they snuck out. Called The Perilous Night, and it is without question the most political thing they've written to date. Calls out Trump by name, and so on. Hood on point.

Incidentally heard it in tandem with a new Neil Young protest song, Already Great, which sounded pretty awesome too.

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:19 (one year ago) Permalink

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 12 November 2017 19:31 (one year ago) Permalink

Not into the political stuff. Not why I listen to DBT.

calstars, Sunday, 12 November 2017 22:23 (one year ago) Permalink

Weird. They've always been pretty political!

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 12 November 2017 22:53 (one year ago) Permalink

Dad drunk and Amex

calstars, Sunday, 12 November 2017 23:21 (one year ago) Permalink

It's okay. And every song by every act is political. Breathing clean air is a political act.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 12 November 2017 23:27 (one year ago) Permalink

Women Without ILX

calstars, Monday, 13 November 2017 00:04 (one year ago) Permalink

Angels and SNA

calstars, Monday, 13 November 2017 00:08 (one year ago) Permalink

Wow, the enthusiasm is overwhelming.

Seriously, if this is not why you listen to the Drive-By Truckers, then I guess I don't know why any of you listen to the Drive-By Truckers.

And every song by every act is political.

Oh, come on.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 13 November 2017 00:22 (one year ago) Permalink

I think they've always been political, but in the new song they name names.

I love the DBTs even though their work is very disciplined and rarely exciting. I'm seeing them live in Feb and also seeing Cooley and Hood's local solo shows.

Randall Jarrell (dandydonweiner), Monday, 13 November 2017 02:05 (one year ago) Permalink

If you're gay, every love song is political.

This song is topical.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 November 2017 02:11 (one year ago) Permalink

I thought the political songs on the last album were great but this one’s pretty awful. Boring music, super on the nose lyrics.

louise ck (milo z), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 04:17 (one year ago) Permalink

This is fucking awful. I can just sense that my opinion is in some way regressive or rockist or whatever, but so be it. I wouldn't run screaming from a room where this was being played, but who could actually get into this

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:23 (one year ago) Permalink

God knows we need something from music right now, but it's not a cringey, ham fisted explication of a sensible if obvious POV, set to pubrock

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:40 (one year ago) Permalink

truly sorry for the triple dip, but I do want to say I love the exultant defiant The High Road by Isbell, which deals just as directly with this administration. I guess it's because the message is, transcend it instead of griping about it or wallowing in it. TPN's message is more suited to an op-ed or blog post imo

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:48 (one year ago) Permalink

Into the Perilous Night: An Essay by Patterson Hood

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 22:41 (one year ago) Permalink

I mostly like the riff and the faster than usual tempo. I also like Hood in righteous mode.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 23:04 (one year ago) Permalink

xpost that's a great essay, I love his honesty.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 23:16 (one year ago) Permalink

He's a fantastic writer.

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 16 November 2017 02:17 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Something about the wrinkle in your forehead
Tells me there’s a fit about to be thrown
If we get the van out of the ditch before the morning
Ain’t nobody gotta know about what I’ve done

calstars, Saturday, 9 December 2017 04:27 (one year ago) Permalink

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