After fifteen years of work, the second solo album from the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, “Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs),” will finally see the light of day this summer.
“It’s very much a labor of love,” said the jet-lagged but ever-gregarious Hood from his Athens home, where he’d just returned from a series of Australian dates with Booker T. Jones in support of the soul man’s “Potato Hole,” on which the Truckers serve as house band (they’re billed live as “Booker T. and the DBTs”). “And it’s been a source of great anguish,” Hood added with a laugh.
The 12-track set, due June 23 on Hood’s Ruth St. Records, comes with plenty of history: It’s grounded in tracks that predate even the Truckers, home recordings he made upon first moving to Athens, Ga., in 1994 and passed around town on cassettes. “That dates how long ago this was,” he said.
Indeed, soon after writing the first batch of “Oscar” tracks — the darker ones, Hood says, like the menacing title track and “Heavy and Hanging,” written the day Kurt Cobain’s body was found — DBT took over. Hood didn’t see a chance to revisit the material until 2004, when he started penning new tracks to finish up the album in the weeks before the birth of his daughter. “I wrote those first songs from a running-away-from-family point of view,” Hood said, “And I was going in to record them right before having a baby, so I kind of wrote songs that were a counterpoint to all of them.” Those new songs include the ten-kinds-of-sweet lullaby “Grandaddy” and the bright “I Understand Now.”
The plan was to put the record out that spring, but “the music business reared its ugly head,” he said. But there’s a fine bit of genealogical synchronicity to the release after all. “My daughter’s 4 now, and it’s gonna come out right before the next one’s born,” he said.
There are more family ties, too: “Oscar” marks the first time Hood has recorded with his father, Muscle Shoals session bassist David Hood. “He’s played on a gazillion records and done some of my favorite stuff in the world,” he said, “So I kind of lured him into town to record.”
As is customary, it will be tough to track Hood and the Truckers this summer without a scorecard. Though the Australia swing in the books (“Crowds there are really supportive,” Hood said, “You can see why AC/DC came from there”), there are a number of festival and headlining dates with Jones coming up this summer, some with the Truckers backing Jones and some with Jones sitting in with the DBTs.
“That’s gonna be kinda tricky,” Hood said. “It’s two very different mindsets. When we do the Booker T. tour, we all dress up,” he laughed. Meanwhile, Hood’s also taking his own band, the Screwtopians, which includes DBT and “Oscar” producer David Barbe as well as DBT drummer Brad Morgan and guitarist John Neff, out in support of “Oscar.”
As for the Truckers, there are two projects in the works: a collection of outtakes and oddities from the band’s tenure with New West Records, and a new Truckers record for which Hood says the band has already stockpiled more than a dozen songs.
And he’s got one more thing in mind, too: “I’m trying to collect as many of my dad’s records as I can get my hands on,” he said, “Even the really bad ones,” he said with a laugh.