After a year and just shy of 150 shows since we last saw them, the band is bringing the rock show back to our hometown Norfolk, VA tomorrow night.   We had the chance to have a few words with the ever eloquent Patterson Hood about life on the road, the band’s connection to VA, and their historic performance on Letterman last night.


MOR: I did the math and it looks like you guys have played 148 shows since your last one in Norfolk about this time last year. What’s it like playing and touring that much? I’m sure it takes it’s toll.
Patterson Hood: WOW. Glad someone did the math. We do tour too much and it does take a toll. I love my job and I still look forward to each and every Rock Show. The only time I don’t have fun on stage is when something is going wrong, I’m sick, the sound has an issue (room or gear related, as Mattador is pretty spot one at the board) or someone is the audience is acting like a douche, which we don’t cotton to. I love playing and this band is in the top of its form so that’s all really fun. I do, however, get really tired of being away from my family all of the time and living on a bus with eleven other people might sound like fun if you’re 23 but at my age it gets pretty old fast. 148 shows, Jezz, no wonder I’m so blurry. That was barely a year ago.

Drive-By Truckers – Norfolk, VA 4.15.10

MOR: We’ve seen quite a few of your shows over the years and energy is a big part of what you do. How do you guys keep it up with such a crazy schedule?
PH: A combination of the anger from being a southern liberal, adrenaline from the Big Loud Rock and fear of having to go back to working in a kitchen and trying to figure out how to support all our kids and wives on a High School education.

MOR: The Truckers seem to have one of the most diverse audiences of any band I’ve ever seen. To me that just screams cliches aside, your fans are all about the music. How do you see it?
PH: That’s pretty accurate. I think we have the most diverse audience since Willie Nelson circa 1981. It cuts across all party lines and age demographics and socio-economic boundaries. I’m very proud of that. As a bonus, since they started playing “Everybody Needs Love” on the radio we’re even starting to see a few more ladies in the audience and that’s nice too.

MOR: You guys have been really good to Richmond and VA in general over the years, what is it about this area that keeps you coming back?
PH: We have very deep roots in Richmond. It was the second town (after Atlanta) where we broke and got a following, Wes Freed, the artist who does all of our art work lives there, and one of my closest friends runs a record store in town (Deep Groove Records). It’s a really cool and beautiful town. I’d like to film a movie there someday.

MOR: Letterman last night was great. He’s seen quite a few bands come through that stage, yet he seemed genuinly excited to see you guys play. He even called you back for an encore. How did that feel?
PH: It has to be the one of the coolest things that has ever happened to us. We were told that it was only the second time in 17 years that he asked the band to keep playing. We feel very honored. We played at his request in the first place, which was also a huge honor.

MOR: We love Go Go Boots.  What’s been your favorite tune from the new record to play live?
PH: I really enjoy playing those songs. The title cut is really fun, “Pulaski” is really fun to play. I’m extra proud of “Mercy Buckets” and “Used To Be A Cop”. As a writer and player, I’m extra proud of this new album.

MOR:You are obviously a storytelling dude, and I know a lot of the tales are true. Where do the tales come from?
PH: I consider them all to be based on some sort of truth, but I’d stop short of calling them true stories. They’re probably more true in the emotional sense than in nuts and bolts facts and figures. I sometimes refer to what we do as “The Movie

John Neff – Gettin' It

Version”. Sometimes truth is stranger and better than fiction but I’m first and foremost a story teller and will gladly enhance to make for a better story.


MOR:You guys recently hit the 15 year mark as a band. What keeps you going as a songwriter and as a band?
PH: The songs drive it more than anything. If I quit writing song, I’d probably quit playing in a band. I can’t imagine going out and playing oldies or covers all night, as it was always the songs that motivated me in the first place and it continues to be the songs. As for the band, it’s never been better. Again, my measure of that comes from the songs, as I respond to how the band plays the songs I’ve written. The more it hits me like it initially dreamed it, the happier I am with it. This band plays like a much better version of the band in my head. I never thought I’d have a band that played as good as the band in my head.

MOR:When are you and Cooley going to write a song together? I’m thinking “A Day in the Life” style mashup……….ehhhh?
PH: “Girls Who Smoke” is probably as close to that as the world will ever see. He has absolutely no desire to ever write with me or anyone else. I’m much more open to the idea of collaboration, as I kind of get off on thoes things (although I very rarely do it). He hates the idea, as he’s kind of a loner and writing is something he considers a solitary thing and as he’s said “I would hate to give that up”. I wrote the lyrics to “GWS” based on some things he said that was really funny one afternoon while we were stuck at a festival, drinking and watching a huge crowd walk down a muddy road in the pouring rain one freezing afternoon in England. He liked it but I don’t think would do it again.

MOR: With all these miles on the road, what’s getting the airplay? Anything new?
PH: It varies between the front and back of the bus. The front has a lot of TV, 80′s country and 70′s R&B. The back (where I congregate) has almost non-stop music of all kinds and genres. A huge amount of Big Star, Outkast, and The

Drive-By Truckers – Norfolk, VA 4.15.10

Glands. As for newer music, I’m loving Kurt Vile’s new album, The Low Anthem (Smart Flesh) and PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake” album. I just read Willy Vlautin’s “Lean On Pete” which is fantastic and I’m now reading “Master of the Senate” by Robert Caro. It’s Part 3 of his four part Years of Lyndon B. Johnson Series.



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Curt is the Editor of Merchants of Rock. He also hates mayonnaise.

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