"I've Lived Through Enough Dark Times": Patterson Hood on Storytelling, Solo Show

After more than two decades of living in Athens, Georgia, Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood moved to Portland, Oregon. Since moving last summer, Hood says he's written more there than he’s written in the last fifteen years – both songs and otherwise.

“I think any time you go through a huge life change, it’s going to probably be good for your creativity unless it’s something that’s so terrible that it keeps you from being able to do anything with it,” Hood says. “I think that’s definitely part of it. And also I think I’ve just been kind of moving in that direction.”

While the 51-year-old Hood, who’s playing a solo show at Soiled Dove Underground on Friday, December 18, says he’s kind of stressed out, a little too busy, and there are certainly things that could be improved on, he’s in a pretty good place now. It’s much different than the turbulent period in his life when he was 27, when he’d gotten divorced, his car had been stolen, he had fallen out with his family and he actually pondered killing himself. He started writing a book called Slam Dancing in the Pews and lyrics about that time, but while the book stalled out, the songs kept coming and eventually became his outstanding 2011 solo album, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance.

Hood says he’s not sure about finishing that book but he definitely wants to write a book and he’s recently had a short story and some essays published.

“I don’t know about that particular book,” he says of Slam Dancing in the Pews. “I don’t know if it was meant to be. There are probably aspects of it that might show up somewhere, if I do a thing of essays or short stories. But the book itself…I don’t know. I kind of lost interest, but the best parts of it became songs, and it kind of became what it was.”

Whether writing songs or short stories, Hood says he usually gravitates toward the darker material but at the same time prefers for his life not to be dark.

“I’m not one of those people who’s going to intentionally self-destruct my life so that I have something to write about,” Hood adds. “I think I’ve lived through enough dark times and there’s just enough shit in the world to write about, for that matter, that I don’t really have to do that.”

Hood also says the next Drive-By Truckers album is written and adds that most of it is already recorded as well, slated for release next fall. As far another Hood solo album goes, he says he wants to do another one but the emphasis right now is on the band. For his solo tour this month, Hood says he’s revisiting songs from his three solo albums as well as playing some brand-new material.

When Hood plays with the Drive-By Truckers, it’s a big rock show, but he says his solo shows are very different things.

“When I’m playing solo it’s little more intimate – a lot quieter,” he says. “There’s more of an emphasis on talking and storytelling aspects of it all.” 
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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