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Published: 2009/07/31
by MIke Greenhaus

Multi-Tasking with The Drive-By Truckers

The Truckers recently backed Booker T on his first album in over a decade, Potato Hole. Shonna, can you let us know how that collaboration came about?

ST: Our good friend Andy from Anti-Records, it was his idea. He came up with the idea for us to do the Bettye LaVette project 2 years ago and Booker and Bettye are both on Anti-Records, so it came about that way. We got to be friends when we made the Bettye LaVette record and it just has continued from there. They are great, they are a great label. We are not on that label but they are fantastic and they have been fantastic to us and they’re big fans and we are fans of theirs too.

Had you met Booker before you went into the studio or was it more of a blind date?

ST: We made the record in 4 days in Athens Georgia with Booker. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We had no agenda going into it and we finished the records. We all come from Muscle Shoals and, of course, he is one of the founders of sweet soul music and all. The way it all worked out, you know, he moved from Memphis to California when he was young and we’re all a little bit younger than him so we missed each other and all that but it’s the most natural thing I’ve ever done. He is an incredible person.

Neil Young is featured on most of the album’s tracks. Did he record his parts during the sessions with you and Booker?

ST: No. You know, we never saw each other face to face. And then, a couple of days later actually, Neil got the record and did his part in one, I think it was a 12 hour session at his studio in his house. After we finished recording, Neil laid down his parts out West. From what I hear Booker was there and they’re friends. And he said that Neil was all about the project as soon as he heard it. He saw him glaze over and go into mode like “OK, I’m going to be the guitar player on this record,” you know? It was an interesting experience for everyone making an instrumental record, first of all. None of us had ever done anything like that. I’m sure Neil has done that before, but I guess it has been a while. I love his guitar playing. He’s very, very happy with the record and rumor has it that he is going to show up out of nowhere without us knowing and sit in with us.

Patterson can you give us some insight into how your working relationship with your father, David Hood, has developed? He worked on the Truckers recent Betty LaVette project and appears on your solo album?

PH: Pretty funny. Growing up, he was extremely hands off. We never played together; I don’t think he ever so much showed me a guitar chord. He certainly never encouraged me in fact he discouraged me at about every turn. I don’t think he thought I was particularly very good for starters and I think he probably wanted to spare me some of the agony of the music business he’d gotten to know so well. And of course growing up I didn’t view all that so philosophically. I was kind of mad at some of that. In retrospect, looking back on it, I can see where he was coming from on that. It’s all fine. As we’ve gotten older, we both have really wanted to do some kind of project together. I usually play in a band so if he was a guitar player it’s easy to have someone just jump up on stage and just sit in but with a bass player it doesn’t really work out that way.

So, it was finding the right time and the right kind of project and the right kind of song and all of that. This was kind of a start on all of that. The three songs we recorded together for this solo project were kind of the start of our working relationship. I was thinking of something a little more democratic. It was definitely my record and he came in more as a session guy playing on my record, which was cool. He’s a session guy for a living so that was fine. At some point in the future I want to do something where he actually creates some pieces of music from scratch in a more democratic, band format. We kind of have a game plan for that but we haven’t had time to execute it yet.

Finally, shifting from the studio to the live show, can you talk a little bit about your recent gigs with Booker? How have you been able to balance your material with his catalogue?

ST: Yeah, most everything that we’ve done actually has been two different sets, complete different sets. We’ll do a Booker T and the DBTs set and then we’ll do a Drive By Truckers featuring Booker T playing our songs. So it has been going great doing both and we didn’t know how it was going to work but it was natural.

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