Patterson Hood's new solo album is the direct result of his band, Drive-By Truckers, being a little too busy.
Hood started work -- on a book, actually -- while the group was in the midst of the one-two punch of its last two albums, 2010's "The Big To-Do" and 2011's "Go-Go Boots." "I was burned out...and I thought a good escape would be if I had a project where I could just write in the back of the bus," recalls Hood, 48. "I wanted to write something that wasn't musical, 'cause it's too noisy and there's to much music playing on the busy to write songs successfully. So I started writing this book."
Since the main character was a songwriter, Hood included songs as part of the project and even recorded some demo tapes. He put the book aside (and plans to return to it), but when he listened to the material he realized, "I think I have an album here" -- given birth to "Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance," which came out in September. "I can live with unfinished books if I get a bunch of songs I like out of them," Hood cracks.
Meanwhile, he's just transitioned from touring to promote "Heat Lightning..." to Drive-By Truckers, with a few days in between for laundry and "to convince my family that I still remember who they are." He's been writing new material for the band as well, but Hood says he's mostly waiting for Mike Cooley to come up with his contributions.
"I write all the time, whereas he might write one song a year, two songs a year, maybe more if he gets on a roll," Hood explains. "I kind of dominated the last two records song-wise more than I probably wanted to, so I'm pretty intent to see what he's got and work off that.
"I love going into the studio and making records, so I'd be thrilled if we were starting something tomorrow. At the same time waiting is probably a good thing to do on a lot of levels, just to be sure it's the album we really want to make."
Drive-By Truckers perform Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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