Patterson Hood, the curly locked half of the Drive-By Truckers is known for his storytelling so it was no surprised when he sat down to write a book and ended up with his most personal album to date : Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance. Between his consummate touring and busy schedule he graciously took some time to answer some questions.
BLS: Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance is your 3rd solo album. How does it differentiate musically from solo albums you’ve made in the past?
PH: It's the most personal and intimate album I've ever made.
BLS: Your father David Hood played Bass on the album. How did the family connections effect the creation of the album? What were you able to draw on from his years as a Muscle Shoals session ace?
PH: My dad is a consummate musician and a sweetheart of a guy. I'm very lucky in the Dad department. He definitely brought his A game to the studio for his sessions on this album. His playing on the title cut is one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of.
BLS: You have said that this is your most autobiographical album to date, with songs derived from two specific periods of your life. Did you find it was easier or harder to write more personal songs?
PH: I don't know generally. I just write what occurs to me and usually don't realize what it all is about until after the fact. These songs came really fast and easy, probably the fastest I've ever written an album so I must have been inspired, but I have no idea why this album occurred at this moment in time. I'm sure glad it did though.
BLS: I’ve read that this album developed out of a rerouted book writing project. Are there any writers that you admire and have inspired your writing whether in prose and songwriting?
PH: Way too many to list. I'm obsessed with great writing and always reading and listening. Right now I'm really loving the Father John Misty album (Fear Fun). I think his writing is fantastic. What a great wit. I'm reading "Reading My Father" by Alexandria Styron. She is a really fine writer and daughter of William Styron who wrote "Darkness Visible" and "Sophie's Choice".
BLS: On this album you co-wrote a song with Kelly Hogan. How was your experience working with her? What insights did her feminine view point lend to the songwriting process?
PH: Kelly is one of my favorite people and one of the greatest singers in the world today. She is also a very underrated writer. Her lyrics on "Come Back Little Star" are among my favorite lines on my album. I always love and welcome a feminine point of view. I just love smart and funny people, whether they happen to be male or female.
BLS: Like George Jones, you dabbled with a spoken word format for the song (Untitled Pretties). What was it about this song that made you decide to use this format?
PH: That was an accident. It was originally supposed to be an instrumental song but it was inspired by a very short chapter I had written for my aborted book project. At last minute, I had the idea to read the chapter over the music and it synched up like it was always meant to be that way. I guess it was. I always love and welcome the happy accident when making a record.
BLS: You have described DBT as a Noir band. Do you feel that your solo work is as emotionally dark or is it driven by a different emotional battery?
PH: There is obviously always a lot of darkness in my music, but I also consider it to be cathartic in the same way that the blues was considered cathartic to the people who played it, listened to it, danced and fucked to it. I actually think of this album as very uplifting, especially at the end. It may come from and visit some dark places, but I consider it very hopeful. It at least makes peace with it's demons and is a tale of survival and pushing though the darkness and finding joy in the things that are important.
BLS: With touring in support of Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, how does the live experience differ from DBT shows?
PH: This is a very different type of show. I love the DBT show with it's wild abandon and cathartic uplift and big sweaty anthems, but this is a very beautiful and cathartic show, it just achieves it in a very different way. I love this band. The harmonies are beautiful and I love all of the piano and cello. I would very much like to continue doing both shows for a very long time.
BLS: Everyone likes to fantasize about the life of a rock star, but the reality is sure to be a whole different beast. In your experience what is the hardest thing about the day to day grind of being a professional musician?
PH: It's a very hard life and you get tired and homesick, but it's also wonderful. I get to see the world and meet all kinds of people and get to play the show, which I always look forward to and still love as much, all of these years later, as I did when I was a teenager.
BLS: What is the name of 5 bands you love but few people have heard of?
PH: As I mentioned earlier, I'm loving that Father John Misty album (Fear Fun).
The War on Drugs is one of my faves right now.
There'a a great band from Athens called Bloodkin, that has been together for over 25 years. They write great songs.
Centro-matic has long been my favorite band in the world. They should be selling out arenas.
The band I'm touring with right now, Hope For Agoldensummer is fantastic. Page and Claire Campbell sing those incredible sister harmonies, write great songs and have some of the best stage banter ever.