Five years after he moved to Portland, Patterson Hood's two-night stints at the Doug Fir have basically become a holiday tradition. But this has been a particularly nostalgic year for the Drive-By Truckers frontman. After finishing a multi-year world tour behind American Band, the Drive-By Truckers' most political and successful album to date, Hood oversaw the reissue of Town Burned Down, the sole record from Adam's House Cat, Hood and fellow Drive-By Trucker Mike Cooley's pre-DBT band. Released in September, the record stands as an intriguing glimpse into the embryonic stage of Hood and Cooley's songwriting partnership—influences like the Replacements and R.E.M. shine through.
Ahead of Hood's adopted hometown shows, WW spoke with the always-outspoken Portland-via-Athens, Ga.-via-Muscle Shoals, Ala., resident about the motivations behind the recent reissue and the origins of Hood's leftist politics.
WW: DBT already has several eras you can divide the band's history into—does it feel like you and the band are entering a new era post-American Band? The "here's what we believe, take us or leave us" era, perhaps?
Patterson Hood: They've all probably been a bit of take it or leave it, as we've always done what we wanted, damn the torpedoes. It's just been perhaps a little more in your face this go-around. There've definitely been several generations of DBT eras, and I'm proud of all of them, but this one has been by far our longest and most satisfying. Following up American Band has been daunting on a lot of levels, but I feel like we're rising to the challenge.
How do you decide whether a song fits DBT or a solo record?
In the old days, it often had a lot to do with how the band was getting along, the solo albums gave me a break from whatever drama was occurring at the time. These days, that's not a factor, as the band is having a blast and I love every minute of it. My next solo album will have more to do with the venues I play solo versus the places that DBT plays. And I want to make a record on the West Coast with my friends out here. It'll be a couple of years before I have the time to pursue it.
What sort of nostalgia has the Adam's House Cat reissue brought forth? Will you be playing any of those tunes in Portland?
I'll surely play a song or two from Town Burned Down. It's been nostalgic as hell, in the best of ways. It's also brought about a couple of new songs.
What went into the decision to reissue that record now?
We reconnected with our old drummer Chuck Tremblay a few years back. We've always loved him dearly. He had a massive heart attack last year, and that was the final inspiration to make it happen. He's doing great, but you can't take it for granted.
Any plans for Adam's House Cat shows outside of the annual Athens DBT homecoming shindig?
No plans as of yet, but I know we'd like to if the right thing comes along that we can make happen. It'd be fun to do something on the West Coast.
Speaking of the past, have you always been fully left, politically speaking?
Other than a little misguided year or two while I was in college during the early Reagan years, I've always been a lefty. Even Neil Young fucked up on that one for a bit, and I was a lot younger than he was. I grew up hating George Wallace, and my first-ever vote was for the guy running against his final term in office, who, in retrospect, was far worse. I learned a lot from that experience.
Anything in particular inform that choice?
I grew up raised by both sides of the generational divide that occurred during the '60s and '70s. My grandparents and great uncle were from the Roosevelt generation and were Kennedy liberals. My dad supported Jesse Jackson in '88 and was always pretty outspoken about all of that. I grew up hating Nixon and watching the Watergate hearings on TV after school.
Forgive me if you're tired of speaking on this, but have there been any pro-Trump hecklers on this run?
It doesn't happen very often at all anymore. I don't have time or patience for that shit.
SEE IT: Patterson Hood plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., dougfirlounge.com. 9 pm Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 15-16. $20-$25. 21+.