Drive-By Truckers Set New Album for 2014: 'It's Done, It's In the Can, It's Good'
UPDATE: We're told by DBT's label that the band's new album will be released in March, not February, as previously reported.
After the one-two punch of "The Big To-Do" and "Go-Go Boots" in 2010 and 2011, respectively, Drive-By Truckers wanted its next album -- due out in March -- to be a "quick" affair, according to frontman Patterson Hood.
"It's done, it's in the can, it's good. We're really excited about it," Hood tells Billboard about the as-yet untitled set, which was helmed by regular DBT collaborator David Barbie. "We made it quickly. The last time we did a record it was like a two-year process that ended up being two records, and then we spent three years touring behind all of it. That was something I guess we felt like we had to do at the time, but it's definitely not what we wanted to do this time -- pro probably ever again. So earlier this year we said, 'We're gonna go in and just make a record in two weeks,' " and that's what we did."
Hood says that "a lot of" the album is upbeat, "but certainly not all of it. It's pretty diverse. But we recorded it as if it was an uptempo record even though some of it may not be; we just went in and did it and it worked out naturally. It definitely moves, and I think it captures where the band's at right now, which is in a really exceptionally good place."
He adds that for the first time ever he and co-founder Mike Cooley split the songwriting duties equally. "It all came together really happily and quickly, and it was a lot of fun," Hood says. "We more or less pounding it out live in the studio -- actually in a warehouse. It's turned out really good."
Another major and positive change this time was the contribution of new bassist Mike Patton, who replaced Shonna Tucker in 2012.
"He's great in the studio," Hood reports. "He's a really good player, and you see what he brings live with his energy and his smile, and that applied in the studio, too. He grins in the studio just like he does on stage. And he's got good producer instincts; he's done some producing back home in Mississippi and has some bands he works with, so he's got really good instincts about that, which is nice to have in the band."
DBT is previewing some of the new material live, including "Pauline Hawkins," which Hood calls a "pretty raucous" track that offers "a good preview for the record." And speaking of raucous, Hood is enthused about a reissued version of DBT's first live album, 2000's "Alabama Ass Whuppin'," that hails from the recently discovered original half-inch tapes and corrects sound issues that he felt plagued the original release.
"I always thought (the tapes) were lost forever, and the album's been out of print for years and years," Hood says. "I liked the performance on it, but I never really liked the way it sounded; the low-end was all muddy and everything. I heard about people buying it on eBay for a lot of money, and I was like, 'Don't do that. Just burn one. It didn't sound that good.' But when we found the tape we were amazed and how good it sounded, and now it sounds the way it's supposed to. My singing makes me cringe a little bit at times, but it's pretty endearing. It's definitely an era of the band that I look back on fondly, when we spent two years as a four-piece riding around in an Econoline… so it's been a nice kind of revisiting of that and comes at kind of an appropriate time in the band. Camaraderie-wise, it's probably the best right now than it's been since then. So it was a good experience to work on (the live album) just before recording this new one."