The Drive-By Truckers’ 20 best songs, from wicked to freakin’ awesome

By Steve Newton So far I’ve posted these wacky “20 best songs” lists for some of my fave bands from the ’70s, including Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, Robin Trower, Van Halen, AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, and Thin Lizzy. When I decided to compile one for the Drive-By Truckers, who are … Continue reading The Drive-By Truckers’ 20 best songs, from wicked to freakin’ awesome

Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jay Gonzalez steals the show from Patterson and Cooley in Vancouver

  photos by Jeff Sutherland By Steve Newton The Drive-By Truckers, probably my fave band at the moment–unless I’m in a heavy Gov’t Mule mood–played the Imperial in Vancouver last night, and man were they smokin’. Touring behind their latest album, American Band, they played some of the finest tracks from that disc, including the … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jay Gonzalez steals the show from Patterson and Cooley in Vancouver

The Drive-By Truckers wonder what the hell is wrong with some people

By Steve Newton The Drive-By Truckers have always been a politically minded outfit, but on their brand-new album, American Band, they really waste no time in tackling the big issues of their home country. The opening track, “Ramon Casiano”, tells the fact-based (but little-known) story of former NRA leader Harlon Carter’s shotgun murder, in 1931, … Continue reading The Drive-By Truckers wonder what the hell is wrong with some people

The Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley thinks Donald Trump “might be f***in’ crazy”

john gellman photograph By Steve Newton Drive-By Truckers singer, songwriter, and guitarist Mike Cooley has never been one to pull punches when it comes to politicians who he feels deserve a shot to the head–or a knee to the nuts, for that matter. I’ve been a huge fan of Cooley, and the band as a … Continue reading The Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley thinks Donald Trump “might be f***in’ crazy”

Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 7, 2003 By Steve Newton Two years ago the Drive-By Truckers took the music world by surprise with Southern Rock Opera, a sprawling, two-CD concept album about ’70s rock and southern U.S. culture that focused on the legend of doomed Dixie rock act Lynyrd Skynyrd. The independent release … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

Patterson Hood on the Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera and the true meaning of Skynyrd

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 30, 2003 By Steve Newton It doesn’t seem likely in today’s musical climate that any band would record a 90-minute concept album about 1970s rock and southern U.S. culture, focusing on the legend of doomed Dixie rock act Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s even more unlikely that such a CD … Continue reading Patterson Hood on the Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera and the true meaning of Skynyrd

Drive-By Truckers tell of trophy tail wives taking boner-pill rides in Vancouver

photos by the newt By Steve Newton The Drive-By Truckers didn’t play all of my fave DBT tunes at the Vogue last night. For example, there was no “A Ghost to Most”, singer-guitarist Mike Cooley‘s jangley indictment of George Bush’s macho posturing from the sprawling 2008 Brighter than Creation’s Dark album. And neither did I get to hear my … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers tell of trophy tail wives taking boner-pill rides in Vancouver

Drive-By Truckers’ new disc dedicated to loveable merch guy Craig Lieske

Any fan of the Drive-By Truckers is aware of how cool their merchandise is. A lot of it has to do with the southern-goth artistry of Wes Freed, whose work has long been a staple of the band’s album covers, t-shirts, and posters. I’ve got one proudly displayed in my home hallway, as a matter of … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers’ new disc dedicated to loveable merch guy Craig Lieske

Drive-By Truckers captured at its raw and raucous best on Live from Austin TX

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 12, 2009 By Steve Newton Drive-By Truckers fans had cause for concern when long-time guitarist-vocalist Jason Isbell—one of the group’s main songwriters, along with cofounding singer-guitarists Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley—decided to leave the southern rock–influenced alt-country band in 2007. But the group simply responded by recruiting guitarist and pedal-steel … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers captured at its raw and raucous best on Live from Austin TX

The Drive-By Truckers prove that “Shit Shots Count” on Conan

photo by the Newt Just saw one of my fave bands, the Drive-By Truckers, tearing it up on the Conan O’Brien Show. They went to town on a song called “Shit Shots Count”, the opening track from their brand new album English Oceans. The tune is written and sung by Mike Cooley, who I like to … Continue reading The Drive-By Truckers prove that “Shit Shots Count” on Conan

The ghost of Buford Pusser rises on the Drive-By Truckers’ Dirty South

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 21, 2004 By Steve Newton On the back of the booklet that comes with the Drive-By Truckers’ latest CD, The Dirty South, there’s a photo of a bare-chested toddler standing in front of Buford Pusser’s gravestone. For the uninitiated, Pusser was the Tennessee sheriff whose brutal approach to law ‘n’ … Continue reading The ghost of Buford Pusser rises on the Drive-By Truckers’ Dirty South

Drive-By Truckers capture a raw, backwoods vibe

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 25, 2008 By Steve Newton Along with the kind of gritty, triple-guitar southern rock their fans adore, the Drive-By Truckers are known for delivering the goods in the album-art department. For the last seven years, their recordings have featured the southern-gothic work of Virginia-based Wes Freed, whose dark depictions of … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers capture a raw, backwoods vibe

Drive-By Truckers make a departure

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 9, 2011 By Steve Newton Last year the Drive-By Truckers released The Big To-Do, a raucous collection of southern-fried alt-country tunes highlighted by the exuberant single “Birthday Boy”. A totally different vibe typifies the band’s new album, Go-Go Boots, which is surprising since its material was recorded during the same sessions as … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers make a departure

Mike Cooley’s killer songs are back full-bore on Truckers’ latest masterpiece

photo by Tim Bugbee By Steve Newton The Drive-By Truckers are normally described as being based in the musical stronghold of Athens, Georgia, but when the time comes to call guitarist-vocalist Mike Cooley he picks up the phone at his sweet home in Birmingham, Alabama. Cooley has never actually lived in Athens—“It’s kind of a … Continue reading Mike Cooley’s killer songs are back full-bore on Truckers’ latest masterpiece

That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

By Steve Newton We’ve all heard the old joke before: “What do you call somebody who hangs around with musicians? A drummer.” I think it’s fair to say that drummers don’t always get the credit they deserve. I haven’t interviewed that many over the years–for the simple fact that I prefer talking to guitarists–but some … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1990 I did the first of my seven interviews with Joe Satriani. At the time he was touring behind his latest album, Flying in a Blue Dream, and the buzz about him was growing fast. People were learning that he’d spent several years as a guitar instructor, teaching … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

By Steve Newton I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Canadian guitar wizard Jeff Healey three times. Man could that guy wail on the Strat! The first interview took place in June of 1988, when he was just 22, and still three months away from releasing his incredible debut album, See the Light. When I … Continue reading That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

By Steve Newton Bon Jovi may have been hugely popular back in the day, but I actually enjoyed guitarist Richie Sambora’s solo debut album, Stranger in This Town, more than any Bon Jovi band release. I even preferred Sambora’s lead vocals over Jon Bon Jovi’s, especially on solo tunes like “Ballad of Youth”. So it … Continue reading That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Kenny Wayne Shepherd four times, ’cause I’m a sucker for folks who can play the shit out of a Strat. The first time was back in December of 1995, when he was only 18 and touring behind his platinum-selling debut album, Ledbetter Heights. At one point in the conversation I … Continue reading That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

By Steve Newton As April Wine once said, “I Like to Rock”. I like to rock as well, but once in a while a beautiful, gentle ballad is, as Ted Nugent once said, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”. But enough about April Wine and Ted Nugent. This little blog’s about a softer-rockin’, more prog-oriented band … Continue reading That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

By Steve Newton I’ve long felt that John Fogerty was the biggest triple-threat in rock: as a songwriter, singer, and guitarist, few can match him. I’ve also always hated how, for years after the breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty couldn’t even perform the incredible CCR songs he’d written, for legal reasons. The old CCR … Continue reading That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

By Steve Newton I missed out on the MC5 when they were a major musical force on the American counterculture scene in the late ’60s. And it’s not just ’cause I’m Canadian. I was only 11 when their groundbreaking Kick Out the Jams debut album came out, and at that point all I listened to … Continue reading That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage

By Steve Newton Some guitarists learn how to play by ear, and others–like Joe Satriani–learn how to play by the book. Satch knows music theory better than most, so when I did my first interview with him back in 1990–just after the release of Flying in a Blue Dream–I asked him how that relates to … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage

That time Randy Hansen told me about recording his atmospheric, Hendrix-style guitar parts for Apocalypse Now

By Steve Newton Back in August of 2001 I interviewed Jimi Hendrix tribute artist Randy Hansen because he was coming up from Seattle for a gig at a Vancouver club. This was right around the time that Apocalypse Now Redux, an extended version of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 1979 Vietnam war movie, was being released. … Continue reading That time Randy Hansen told me about recording his atmospheric, Hendrix-style guitar parts for Apocalypse Now

That time Bob Rock told me that he just wakes up in the morning and music is what he does

By Steve Newton Being a rock journalist in Vancouver during the ’80s and ’90s meant that I was close to where a lot of the top-selling albums of the time were made. That was mainly down at Little Mountain Sound, where local producers, engineers, and mixers–guys like Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock, and Mike Fraser–were tweaking … Continue reading That time Bob Rock told me that he just wakes up in the morning and music is what he does

That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Steve Vai, just after he’d released Passion and Warfare in 1990, we got to talking about his previous album, Flex-Able. Turns out the success of Passion and Warfare was pushing sales of the six-year-old Flex-Able, even though the music on it was the opposite of … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me about the “cornball arrangements” on his Zappesque debut album Flex-Able

That time Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman told me about creating the riff for “American Woman”

By Steve Newton Canada doesn’t seem to have an overabundance of rock-guitar heroes. Sure, you’ve got your Lenny Breau when it comes to jazz, and your Jeff Healey if you’re talkin’ blues. But when it comes to Canadian rock-guitar heroes, I can’t think of tons. Alex Lifeson, Kim Mitchell… Obviously Neil Young, but isn’t he … Continue reading That time Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman told me about creating the riff for “American Woman”