After fighting writer’s block for four years, Drive-By Truckers singer/guitarist Mike Cooley is now back to work. English Oceans (ATO) is Cooley’s return to full-on songwriting—splitting the tracklist right down the middle after letting bandmate Patterson Hood steer the ship for the two albums prior—and is a return to form for the group as a whole. While DBT has never been a band to slack on the road or in the studio, English Oceans has the vigor and exuberance that made it one of America’s best rock groups. Cooley, Hood, bassist Matt Patton and multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Drive-By Truckers feature.
Patton: Let me tell you about a first world problem. The band recently played a gig inside an old Masonic Lodge inside Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Instead of heading to the venue, Jay and I decided to spend the afternoon swimming at a friend’s place. By the time we arrive, sound check was upon us. Some of the guys had gone out into the cemetery earlier in the day to see where some celebrities were buried. I looked at the list of names on the cemetery map and saw that both Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone were buried fairly close to one another. The Ramones had played a very key role in my musical development. I have a dumb haircut and a beat up old P bass. I could start a tribute band with that getup. Anyway, I knew my window was burning. I bolted downstairs and out into the cemetery. Before I got too far, a guard drove up in a golf cart and told me to turn back. I explained the situation, and he let me go on. Now I was walking with purpose. I was going to get my photos, security and sound check be damned. It took me a minute to find Dee Dee, but there he was just like they said he’d be, all covered in kisses, small trinkets and a PBR tallboy. Snap! Got that one! I bolted over the other side of the lagoon. There was a groundskeeper in his truck looking like he was getting ready to do something as I approached Johnny’s place of rest. But, he sat in his truck watching me and didn’t get out or say anything. I aimed my phone to make sure I got the best light. Snap. Got that one, too! Now I’m power walking back toward the venue, texting furiously to the crew that I think I might be locked out, but I’m on my way. I uploaded the photos to social media and tagged my buddy who is the biggest Ramones fan in the world. And then it hit to me. I might as well have ran out there and took a picture of some dog shit on the lawn. It would have meant about as much. So it is my vow to return to Hollywood Forever when I go back to L.A. in a few weeks and give Dee Dee and Johnny the moment of reverence and gratitude that they deserve from me.