Things to Do in Miami: Drive-By Truckers at Culture Room April 21, 2023 | Miami New Times


Patterson Hood on Drive-By Truckers' Lockdown Album, Welcome 2 Club XIII

Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers are known for their descriptive storytelling.
Drive-By Truckers stop at Culture Room on Friday, April 21.
Drive-By Truckers stop at Culture Room on Friday, April 21. Photo by Brantley Guitierrez
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Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers are known for their descriptive storytelling. Singer and guitarist Patterson Hood, one of the band's chief architects, says he was a bit of a prodigy when it came to songwriting.

"I started buying records and writing songs when I was 8 years old," he tells New Times from his Portland, Oregon, home. "Dad always had music in the house. Dad played bass guitar which I started playing at 12. At 14, I bought my first guitar. My dad said I had to buy it myself or else I wouldn't stick with it, which was probably good advice. So I cut grass to save money and bought one."

His dad knew what he was talking about — not just because his son ended up mixing country and punk rock to cut 14 records since Drive-By Truckers' founding in 1996, but also because dad was David Hood, an esteemed session bassist at Muscle Shoals, the studio in Alabama where plenty of legendary music was recorded in the 1960s and '70s.

"Kids weren't welcome in the studio, but I got to meet a few [musicians] here and there," Hood says. "The studio chartered a bus for us to see Bob Seger. I met Linda Ronstadt, the Staple Singers, Cat Stevens."

But growing up in Alabama, a young Hood couldn't brag about his proximity to musical celebrity.

"Muscle Shoals was like a secret society. They didn't want people in town to know what they were doing, or they'd get shut down," he explains. "They were playing on soul records during the civil rights era. So I picked up to keep quiet on it in school."

Whether through genetics or osmosis, Hood is now able to brag about his musical success. Drive-By Truckers emerged seemingly fully formed with the band's first album, Gangstabilly, in 1998. From the album cover with a good-ol' boy feeling up his girl to song titles like "Wife Beater," "Why Henry Drinks," "Late for Church," and "18 Wheels of Love," it wasn't obvious if they were embracing Southern working-class culture or mocking it. But Hood still stands by many of those early songs, especially "The Living Bubba."

"That's my favorite song I ever wrote," Hood says. "When I wrote it, I knew I had something special. That's why I still play it. If I play a song, I can still relate to it. That's an advantage of us not having hits — there's no song we're required to play every night."
Hood is especially proud of the band's newest record, Welcome 2 Club XIII, which came out just last year on a lark.

"We wrote the songs in the last days of the lockdown. The five of us hadn't been in a room together for a year in a half since we got pulled off stage in the middle of a soundcheck in March 2020 and were told our tour got canceled," Hood remembers. "We booked some studio space to demo some new songs and make a game plan for a new record. But at the end of the third day, [guitarist and singer Mike] Cooley was like, 'I think we made our record.'"

"A majority of it is a look back at the early days of this band and the bands Cooley and I played in before," he adds. "We both have kids now the ages we were when we started playing together. How do we deal with this? We want them to have a good time but not get hurt. That was the mindset of these songs. There's darkness and sadness, but there's also a feeling of celebration after not playing together for so long."

These new songs will be the basis of Drive-By Truckers' set at Culture Room on Friday, April 21. Two things stood out when the band performed at the same venue nearly a decade ago: the three-hour marathon set and the sharp dichotomy between its two singers as they alternated songs. Hood was light and jovial, cracking a joke between every song, while Cooley was stoic and all business.

"We try to play a two-hour show most nights now," Hood says. "We used to play longer, but it's not sustainable at this point. We think two hours with nonstop, high energy is better than a longer night with lulls. And Cooley is really funny. Even in his serious songs, there's always something funny. He's not gregarious where I certainly am, but the differences between us are what makes us a strong band. Five different personalities make for good music — if it doesn't kill you first."   

Drive-By Truckers. With Lydia Loveless. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; Tickets cost $48.50 via
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