Drive-By Truckers co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have kept their Southern rock wheels rolling for 30 years. The band’s upcoming three-CD set, “It’s Great To Be Alive!,” documents the duo’s remarkably long partnership.
Drive-By Truckers plays Friday at the Joy Theatre and Wednesday at the Varsity Theatre. Crowds will get a taste of what’s heard on “It’s Great To Be Alive!”. The album was recorded last fall over three nights at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. The legendary music venue is the band’s favorite place to play.
“We have a long history at The Fillmore,” singer-guitarist Hood said recently from the road. “When we were an up-and-coming young band, touring the country in a van, The Fillmore was one of the places we most wanted to play. It’s always been a room that we measure where we are by.”
“Its Great To Be Alive!” features 35 songs, whittled down from 50 good takes recorded at The Fillmore, a legendary venue known as a palace of music in the California city during the psychedelic ’60s.
“We’d been talking about doing a career-spanning project for years,” Hood said. “We figured last year needed to be the year. When we ended up with three nights of shows in San Francisco, it was like, ‘OK, now we see the path.’”
Patterson and Cooley began playing together in 1985 in Athens, Georgia. They formed Drive-By Truckers in 1996.
“It’s crazy, but we’re kind of an old band,” Hood said. “At the same time, we’re in one of the best times in our history right now. We’re thankful that it ended up that way.”
In the beginning, the likelihood of Hood and Cooley working together for 30 years wasn’t promising.
“We fought all the time when we were young, starting this thing,” Hood remembered. “But even when neither one of us were worth a damn at playing, there was a chemistry. People along the way recognized that and pointed it out to us. At some point, we realized it ourselves.”
Nowadays, Hood and Cooley are great friends. They love and respect each other’s contributions to the band.
“When I write a song, I can’t wait to hear what he’s gonna do to it,” Hood said. “And I can’t wait to hear his new songs. I’m honored to play guitar on them.”
Although Hood does some solo work apart from the Truckers, the band remains his top priority.
“My truest love will always be getting up there with a big loud rock show,” he said. “It’s a cathartic experience for me every night. And I guess it is for the people who keep coming to see us.”