Drive-By Truckers have always been outspoken, telling a distinctly American story via craft, character, and concept, all backed by sonic ambition and social conscience. Founded in 1996 by singer/songwriter/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, the band have long held a progressive fire in their belly but with American Band, they have made the most explicitly political album in their extraordinary canon. A powerful and legitimately provocative work, hard edged and finely honed, the album is the sound of a truly American Band – a Southern American band – speaking on matters that matter. Drive-By Truckers made the choice to direct the way we live now head on, employing realism rather than subtext or symbolism to purge its makers’ own anger, discontent, and frustration with societal disintegration and the urban/rural divide that has partitioned the country for close to a half-century. Master songwriters both, Hood and Cooley wisely avoid overt polemics to explore such pressing issues as race, income inequality, the NRA, deregulation, police brutality, Islamophobia, and the plague of suicides and opioid abuse. As a result, songs like “What It Means” and the tub-thumping “Kinky Hypocrites” are intensely human music from a rock ‘n’ roll band yearning for community and collective action. Fueled by a just spirit of moral indignation and righteous rage, American Band is protest music fit for the stadiums, designed to raise issues and ire as the nation careens towards its most momentous election in a generation.
American Band’s considerable force can in part be credited to the sheer musical strength of the current Drive-By Truckers line-up, with Hood and Cooley joined by bassist Matt Patton, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez, and drummer Brad Morgan – together, the longest-lasting iteration in the band’s two-decade history. American Band follows English Oceans and 2015’s It’s Great to be Alive!, marking the first time the Drive-By Truckers have made three consecutive LPs with the same hard-traveling crew. “This is the longest period of stability in our band’s history,” says Hood. “I think we finally hit the magic formula. It’s made everything more fun than it’s ever been, making records and playing shows.”
Speed was of the essence, as the Drive-By Truckers were determined to get their record out at the height of the 2016 election season. By their very nature, Drive-By Truckers has always been an inherently political act, “but this is the first time it’s been out there on the surface,” Cooley says, “No bones about it.”
American Band (released September 30, 2016) has received a slew of critical accolades, and made the Top Albums of 2016 lists for Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, Rough Trade and the Chicago Tribune.