The Drive-By Truckers are gearing up for a very busy summer.
The band just released its latest studio album — The Big To-Do, the Truckers’ debut on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records — and it landed at No. 22 on the Billboard album charts.
The Drive-By Truckers are now booked for everything from Lollapalooza to Tom Petty’s summer tour, and the veteran group plans to show off its alternative fusion of rock, country and southern-style music at every stop.
Who: Drive-By Truckers, with Henry Clay People
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St.
Boulder’s always been a stop on the Truckers’ tours, so the band’s playing a special show at the Boulder Theater on Thursday night.
“We’ve been working pretty hard at it recording the new record,” frontman Patterson Hood said. “Each album we do has its own identity, so we never want to repeat ourselves. This is a particularly strong album and it can stand up to anything we’ve released.”
The Drive-By Truckers have taken their fans on some very interesting and historically based musical journeys via their CDs.
The Truckers took their listeners back to the 1970s with Southern Rock Opera and visited the 1980s with The Dirty South. Decoration Day captured the feel of the 1930s.
This time around, the band wanted to stay grounded in the present.
“The stories around our last two or three records have taken place in the present,” Hood said. “These are interesting times and there’s a lot to write about. We also wanted to be lyrically driven and instrumentally challenged with this new record.”
The Drive-By Truckers have gone through lineup changes over the years, but Hood and guitarist Mike Cooley have remained constants in the band. Both players stepped up to the plate to create a solid repertoire of songs for The Big To-Do.
The musicians wrote so many tunes that they had to divide the music between the new CD and an upcoming project.
“The Big To-Do is our most musically adventurous record,” Hood said. “It’s been a very prolific time for the band, so we had two records’ worth of material. We decided the last album was long and sprawling and we didn’t want to repeat that.
“That’s why we made two different records. This first one is more straightforward, and the next record will be more R&B based with some blues and country elements. It was pretty easy to divide the songs into two separate records.”
Hood says that while the music’s different for each record, both projects share crossover themes.
“It’s like looking at two very different sides of the same coin,” Hood said. “We just wanted to make The Big To-Do more rocking, melodic and contemporary.
“‘The Wig He Made Her Wear’ is about a true-life murder that took place in Tennessee, but I wrote the song from the prospective of the townspeople, while ‘This Fucking Job’ is about this so-called economic collapse. This has been going on for a few decades, but it’s reached the tipping point.”
The Drive-By Truckers feel so passionately about the latter song that the band created an online contest called “Working This Job.” Fans can send in videos showing their best or worst jobs, but they have to keep the tapes under a minute.
The grand-prize winner will receive a hometown meet-and-greet with the Truckers, lunch for the office, a Flip video camera and all kinds of band merchandise.
The Drive-By Truckers are just happy that their career is paying off.
“It feels great to debut at No. 22 on Billboard,” Hood said. “A little bit more and we would’ve cracked the Top 20.
“Now we’re going to be slamming with a busy summer. We’re excited to tour with Tom Petty — we’re all big fans and it’s a big deal for us. We’re booked solid until 2011, but we’re really excited to come back to Boulder.”
It’s been awhile since the Truckers played Colorado, but the group’s ready to tackle the larger Boulder Theater.
“We’re touring behind the new record, so we’re going to have a big, fun night in Boulder,” Hood said. “We’re going to play a lot of new songs and it’s going to be a pretty action-packed show.
“Our concerts change up from night to night. We don’t even decide the first song until we walk on stage. Anything goes, but you’ll see a good show in Boulder.”