Spotlight: Drive-By Truckers

Cedar Street, midnight

Spotlight: Drive-By Truckers

It's an oft-repeated tale, the one about how being on a major label isn't all it's cracked up to be. Athens, Ga.'s Drive-By Truckers had their critically hailed opus, Southern Rock Opera, picked up and reissued by Lost Highway last year, but when the band recently delivered its follow-up, Decoration Day, they were dropped.

"It was one of those things, ya know?" says lead Trucker Patterson Hood from his Athens home. "Most of the people we dealt with at the label when we signed had moved on. We were all apprehensive about signing with [a major label] and worried that something would happen and we'd become a statistic."

Not as sprawling as SRO, Decoration Day is nevertheless a heaping Second Helping of gritty Southern rock that mines both the brawling guitars and backwoods drama of Skynyrd. Rearing up like spooked beasts, the clawing "Sink Hole" and shouting "Hell No, I Ain't Happy" are instant DBT classics. But Lost Highway didn't hear a single, so that was that.

After giving some thought to releasing Decoration Day themselves, the band is giving serious thought to making the jump to Austin's New West Records.

"We're pretty good friends with the Slobberbone boys, and they seem to be perfectly happy there," notes Hood. "And they've done a pretty good job by Delbert [McClinton] and Randall [Bramblett], so I've got pretty high hopes for that working out.

"I've become pretty good friends with [New West honcho] Peter Jesperson. He came to our L.A. show a few weeks ago, and I certainly didn't realize that we were about to be shopping, but I was glad to see him because it was always in the back of my head that something like this might happen."

Hood has high hopes that the future may hold a Truckers-Slobberbone tour of Europe, and it's the band's consensus that Decoration Day is its best, most mature Truckers album yet. Maybe a major label deal isn't the be all and end all after all.

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Drive-By Truckers, Lost Highway, Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, New West, Patterson Hood

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