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Drive-By Truckers Biography

Home > Music > D > Drive-By Truckers > Biography

Birth Place: Athens, Georgia, United States
Years Active: 1996–present
Genres: Alternative Country, Alternative Rock, Cowpunk, Southern Rock

Drive-By Truckers are an alternative country/Southern rock band based in Athens, Georgia, though three out of six members (Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Shonna Tucker) are originally from The Shoals region of Northern Alabama, and the band more strongly identify as Alabamians. Their music uses three guitars as well as bass, drums, and now keyboards. Drive-By Truckers record in analog (using 2 inch tape) and have consistently pushed their labels to also release the band's records in a vinyl format.

Together with a revolving group of musicians, Drive-By Truckers put out their first two albums, “Gangstabilly” (1998) and “Pizza Deliverance” (1999). Following their second release, the band embarked on a nationwide tour, resulting in a live album called “Alabama Ass Whuppin',” which was released in 2000 by Second Heaven Records and re-released in 2002 by Terminus Records.

After three years on the road, a tight-knit group of musicians emerged and began work on the 2001 double album, “Southern Rock Opera.” “Southern Rock Opera” was originally released independently on Drive-By Truckers' own Soul Dump Records in September 2001, and garnered praise from fans and critics alike.

In order to meet the new demand brought “Southern Rock Opera” was re-issued by Mercury and Lost Highway Records in July 2002. Before Drive-By Truckers went on tour in support of "Southern Rock Opera," the band ran into a problem when they were left with only two guitarists (Cooley and Hood) following the departure of Rob Malone in late 2001. The band added fellow Alabamian guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell (originally from Greenhill, Alabama) to their line-up as the band's third guitarist.

After signing a new deal with Austin-based record label New West, Drive-By Truckers set about recording the follow-up to “Southern Rock Opera.” The result was 2003's “Decoration Day,” which, like its predecessor, received much critical praise.

After years of producing and playing with Drive-By Truckers, bassist Earl Hicks left the band in December 2003. Hicks was immediately replaced by studio bassist Shonna Tucker, then wife of guitarist Jason Isbell. Tucker had previously guested on “Decoration Day” playing upright bass on the Cooley-penned track, "Sounds Better in the Song."

In 2004, Drive-By Truckers released yet another concept album entitled “The Dirty South.” “The Dirty South” further explored the mythology of the South, with songs focusing on Sam Phillips and Sun Records, John Henry, and a three-song suite about Sheriff Buford Pusser.

After touring throughout 2004 and 2005, Drive-By Truckers found their way to the Fidelitorium Recording Studio in Forsyth County, North Carolina during late 2005. These recording sessions, once again produced by David Barbe, resulted in the band's seventh LP, “A Blessing and a Curse.” Released in April 2006, “A Blessing and a Curse” showcased Drive-By Truckers' ability to branch out into new territory, and can be seen as the band's attempt at shaking labeling, particularly the Southern rock label that has followed the band since “Southern Rock Opera.” The album sounds less like Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more closely resembles the bare-bones British rock of the early 1970s.

In 2006, Drive-By Truckers reunited, both on-stage and on-record, with Athens-based pedal steel guitarist, John Neff. Neff first played with the band on their 1998 debut LP, “Gangstabilly,” and played pedal steel on three subsequent albums, 1999's “Pizza Deliverance,” and 2003's “Decoration Day.” Neff was also featured heavily on the 2006 release, “A Blessing and a Curse.” During the next year, Neff began touring with the band as an unofficial sixth member.

In April 2007 Jason Isbell announced that he was no longer a member of the band. Patterson Hood announced that John Neff would become a full-time member playing both guitar and pedal steel.

Shortly after Isbell's departure, Hood announced via the band's website that Spooner Oldham would be joining the band playing keyboard for a string of acoustic performances called “The Dirt Underneath Tour.” This stripped-down tour would set the writing mood and style for the band's next release, 2008's “Brighter Than Creation's Dark,” a far more country record than its predecessor. “Brighter Than Creation's Dark” went to #37 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was billed as a gothic masterpiece by the band. Spooner Oldham contributed to the recording of the album, and also toured with the band in support of the record.

Oldham stopped touring with the band at the end of “Brighter Than Creation's Dark's” "Home Front Tour." With much of the band's new material requiring a keyboard player the group chose to enlist Jay Gonzalez as an official 6th bandmember. Gonzalez would go on to tour with the band and play a pivotal role in crafting the atmosphere and sound of 2010's “The Big To Do.”

In 2009 Drive-By Truckers released a collection of b-sides and rarities entitled “The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities” which were recorded during the “Decoration Day” and “Dirty South” sessions and includes tracks by the departed Isbell.

Throughout periods of 2009, the Drive-By Truckers entered the studio and emerged with two albums worth of material. The songs were divided between March 2010's release “The Big To Do” and “Go-Go Boots” from February 2011. “The Big To-Do” further brought media attention to the band, resulting in their highest chart success, reaching #22 on the Billboard 200 chart.