Patterson Hood apparently stumbled into his vocation as a rocker around the time he first started walking. As he explains it to LEO, “My career in music is a 40-year ongoing experiment — most of which has gone unnoticed and undocumented. I started playing around with words as a very small child, and as soon as I had big enough hands to make chords, I began playing instruments. There’s never been anything else that I wanted to do, so I’ve continued to do it.”
While still a young man, Hood found a kindred spirit and musical ally in Mike Cooley. The two met 20-some years ago in the fabled town of Athens, Ga., and first played together in the rock band Adam’s House Cat. As Hood remembers, “With our characteristic knack for timing, we just missed the peak of the Athens scene … a lot of the coolest stuff was still happening while we were coming of age … it’s just that the rest of the world had already moved their attention to Seattle or wherever. But it was still a great place to develop artistically, which is why we stuck around.”
Though their original group did not survive, the Hood/Cooley partnership did endure and eventually formed the basis of the Drive-By Truckers, the much-celebrated Southern-pop-Brit-rock hybrid band that they have now co-fronted for more than a decade. And the present incarnation of this rabble-rousing outfit appears to be the culmination of their shared vision.
Hood attributes the survival of his partnership with Cooley to their unique dynamic musically and their ability to make light of any situation on a personal level. “Our relationship is definitely more comparable to Felix and Oscar
than Mick and Keith
,” he reveals. “We used to scrap quite often, but over the years we’ve learned to live with, laugh with and truly enjoy one another. Life in this band is one long ‘Spinal Tap’ moment, so you’ve gotta keep a good sense of humor. Luckily, we’ve discovered that there’s nothing as funny to us as ourselves.”
The Drive-By Truckers, if nothing else, are decidedly original. Though they appear to channel the ghosts of Flannery O’Connor, Brian Jones and other such wandering spirits, they are like nothing that has come along before. And after seven respectably selling albums, they certainly don’t have to apologize for what they are or what they refuse to become.
As Hood tells it, simple longevity allows for a bit of freedom. “Like anything else, there are bumpy times and smooth times. But at least now we’ve proven that we can handle the bumps, so we mostly get to do what we want, both as a band and independently of the band, which is a nice position to be in.”
Hood will exhibit his ongoing musical experiment when he appears with Cooley and the rest of Drive-By Truckers Saturday at the Brown Theatre. Our minimum working hypothesis is that this show will rock.
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