The Drive-By Truckers Fine, New Go-Go Boots
BR: Listening to Go-Go Boots, I’m having a hard time finding the right words to describe the vibe of the album. You tell me; I’m stuck on “country soul.”
MC: Yeah, that’s kind of how I hear it, too. I mean, I haven’t really spent a lot of time with the finished album, honestly. I don’t with any of them. By the time a record’s done, I’m pretty damn familiar with it, you know? By the time it’s in your hand, I’m sick of it. (laughter)
But, yeah – that’s exactly how I’d describe the sound of this record; there’s a lot more of the country elements that were in some of our earlier stuff, but there’s more Tony Joe White than Conway Twitty. (laughs)
BR: And that soul side of things brings us to Eddie Hinton and the two songs of his that you cover on this album: “Where’s Eddie” and “Everybody Needs Love”. It’s sad to know that there are a lot of people who won’t know who Eddie Hinton was – but at least you might inspire them to look into his music a little deeper.
MC: You know, it wasn’t until after he died in ‘95 that a lot of people became big fans of Eddie’s music. Several years after he passed away, one of the UK labels started re-releasing his old records; of course, a lot of those Southern soul guys were better known in Europe and the UK than they were in America.
BR: Just like a lot of the old blues guys that were the inspirations to bands like the Stones.
MC: Exactly, man. I mean, Keith Richards knew who Eddie Hinton was, you know? I remember the story of when Keith met Phil Walden of Capricorn Records years ago. Keith had been carrying a copy of Eddie’s album Very Extremely Dangerous with him at all times, and the first words out of his mouth when he met Phil was, “When are you going to put something else out from this Eddie Hinton guy, man? It’s just incredible.” (laughs)
BR: And it’s just a shame that he wasn’t recognized when he was around.
MC: It’s the nature of the genius. Take Brian Wilson – he’s well known, of course, but probably not for his true genius as much as the rest of it, you know? Eddie was as “out there” as it gets and it would’ve taken an alternate reality or some sort of parallel universe for him to actually achieve what he deserved.
BR: I know he was a friend of Patterson’s family and I’ll ask him about that. But I have to tell you, even though there’s a number of fine original songs on Go-Go Boots, your cover of Eddie’s “Everybody Needs Love” is amazing. It’s a hell of a song.
MC: Oh, man – I would give anything to be able to write a song that’s that simple, yet just fucking brilliant at the same time. That’s Songwriting 101 right there: write it on a gum wrapper and it’s brilliant. (laughs)
BR: David Barbe is behind the board again on Go-Go Boots as your producer and engineer. It strikes me that David is to you what Tom Dowd was to the Allman Brothers … he just plain gets it.
MC: Absolutely. He’s a big Tom Dowd fan – we all are. David’s part of the band. From very early on, it wasn’t a band/producer relationship – he was the member of the band operating the equipment in the control room and offering suggestions, you know? (laughs) David understood and could see the vision just as clearly as any of us.
BR: Right from the opening track, “I Do Believe”, Brad’s drum sound is great on this album. I’ve likened him to Charlie Watts before –
MC: Yeah, you got it.
BR: A big, big sound out of a very basic drum kit. Never overplays; always nails the groove.
MC: Brad’s drum sound is constantly evolving. David always has some more ideas every time we go in there – and Brad’s always thinking about the way his stuff sounds and working on his end of it. Between that and David handling the technical end – trying different microphones and what not – it really is a great sound. And it doesn’t take us very long to get it now. A lot of people go into the studio and might take them a week – or more – to get the sound they’re after. With us, it’s like a day. (laughs)
But, yeah – Brad’s really become one of those guys that’s a drummer’s drummer, you know? He puts a lot of thought into the part – not just the rhythm and the tempo, but a part. Like a soloist.
BR: He and Shonna make a great team. I know she had plenty of experience before she became a Trucker, but it feels like her playing’s still going places, along with her singing and writing.
MC: Oh, yeah – it’s a pleasure to have that kind of talent in the band, man. It really is.
BR: To my ears, Jay Gonzalez’ keyboards are more prominent on Go-Go Boots. I think this album is going to provide listeners with more chances to appreciate his playing.
MC: Jay’s been such a great fit. There’s one way to sum it up: we’ve played with three keyboard players over the years, you know? Spooner Oldham, Booker T Jones, and Jay Gonzalez. (laughter) I think that says it all.
BR: And there’s John Neff, who’s all over the new album with steel guitar, dobro, and regular 6-string. John has a knack for playing these tasteful parts that capture the emotion of each tune.
MC: Absolutely – and he always has. What some people don’t realize is that he was a founding member of the band years ago. We had a good chemistry and could play well together right from the very start. Now that we’ve evolved into this line-up with John back as a full-time member and switching back and forth on his different guitars, it gets better and better every night. We’re able to create a really good tangle without a chaotic mess. (laughter)
BR: And that’s a good thing to go for. (laughter) Oh – I wanted to tell you this before I let you go, because I know you’re a Johnny Cash fan. There’s a new album being released later this month called Bootlegs II that includes some old radio show stuff from the 50s and some demos that Johnny cut at Sun Records.
MC: Oh, awesome – have you heard any of it?
BR: Yeah, I have. It’s great.
MC: Cool. I hope they do an LP – I’d like to have that on vinyl, man.
BR: Hey – here’s an idea: during your idle time –
MC: (laughs) Right, right.
BR: You ought to record an acoustic solo album of old Cash tunes.
MC: Oh, man. (laughs) I don’t know – I’ve thought of doing an album like that, but I’m gonna have to get a lot of time off. (laughter)
BR: I’ll mention that to Patterson when I talk to him later. Anything you want me to pass along to him, by the way?
MC: Naw – I talk to him enough as it is. (laughter)
BR: Good enough. All right – I’m going to let you go, Mike. Take care of yourself out there.
MC: (laughs) I will, man. Thanks.