DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS FACTS:
Members: Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, John Neff, Brad Morgan, Shonna Tucker, Jay Gonzalez
Genre: Rock / Alt-Country
Hometown: Athens, Georgia
Albums: Gangstabilly (1998); Pizza Deliverance (1999); Southern Rock Opera (2001); Decoration Day (2003); The Dirty South (2004); A Blessing and a Curse (2006); Brighter Than Creation's Dark (2008); The Big To-Do (2010); Go-Go Boots (2011)
Hits: “Sounds Better in the Song”
Other: Performed at The Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2005
To the untrained ear, most country music may sound similar, but chances are they haven't heard anything by the Drive-By Truckers. As pioneers of the emerging alternative country genre, the group of six musicians has pushed the envelope when it comes to country, and is among the most innovative groups of the past 15 years.
The band was formed in 1996 by friends Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, who began performing as a duo soon after joining together. During the first several years, the pair performed with a long list of other musicians, eventually releasing Drive-By Truckers’ (curly) first album, 1998's Gangstabilty. Though their debut was met with only a moderate reception, the response to 1999's Pizza Deliverance was more positive.
Their sophomore album was a favorite among critics, and although it did not chart particularly well, the band embarked on a nationwide tour as a result. During the tour, they gained a substantial loyal following of fans that has stayed with them for more than a decade.
With early acclaim, the band released an ambitious double album in 2000, Southern Rock Opera. The record followed a complex story line and earned praise from nearly everyone. Rolling Stone considered it among the best albums of the year, and others placed it with the best of the decade.
After another shift in personnel, The Drive-By Truckers another concept album, 2003's Decoration Day. Much like its predecessor, the album received positive reviews from nearly everyone due to its frank depiction of the rigors of Southern life.
With Hood and Cooley still leading the charge into the middle of the decade, the band released its third straight concept album, The Dirty South. The record was the first of theirs to break onto the Billboard 200, entered the top 20 on the independent album charts, a rarity for a country act. Additionally, the tune "Carl Perkins' Cadillac" gained notoriety for paying homage to legends of the genre.
The Drive-By Truckers continued to tour throughout much of the decade, and managed to release one of their most commercially successful albums in 2010, The Big To-Do. The band’s eighth studio release peaked at number 22 on the Billboard 200, and reached the top of the independent albums chart.
With another record slated for release in 2011 and a sound that hearkens back to classic rock roots, the Drive-By Truckers are certainly here to stay.