Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
When Club LA announced that Drivin’ N Cryin would bring the house down on Saturday March 9th; it was one of the most interesting and diverse reactions I’ve seen for a show. From my metalhead friends to southern rock aficionados to a few folk fans, they all voiced their enthusiasm about this show. And with good reason.
The band formed in 1985, but they aren’t resting comfortably on their laurels. Instead they are revisiting how they release music, focusing on short EPs over full-length albums.
“I kind of had the idea just from every time I go out to a bar, or see an opening band, they always give me their CDs. And I never listen to past the first two, three, four, or five songs. I think people do that with my stuff too. I thought, you know what? I’m just going to give them five songs,” Kinney says of the EP format.
Two have already been released (Songs from the Laundromat and Songs about Cars, Space, and The Ramones) a third is scheduled for release April 16th (Songs from the Psychedelic Time Clock) and recording just wrapped on a fourth (Love is the World).
When asked if Love is the World is love themed, Nielsen replied, “I don’t think so. There is one song called Love is the World’s Morning Dew, which is kind of like love related. There is a song on there called Jesus Christ, which is kind of like our – make amends for singing Straight to Hell all these years.”
When it comes to live shows, Kinney is opposed to set lists, stating, “We are not rigid. We are the other side of rigid.”
“Being in Drivin’ N Cryin’ means you have to know over a hundred songs. You have to know every song on every record, because you just never know when we are going to do it. If someone shouts it out it is okay.”
Who would have thought a band of Drivin’ N Cryin’s status would be open to song requests? “You always have an opportunity, if you come to our show and shout it out, but you can’t shout it out after I’m done,” Kinney says with a laugh. “Just a little hint: You mean all the gear is in the van? Man I really want to hear The Innocent. I’m like I can’t play The Innocent right now, all my gear is up. If you had told me that or wrote it on a napkin during the first song I probably could have fit it in somewhere. Tell the merch person, the band, or the soundman what your request is and we can do it probably 80 percent of the time.”
That led to Kinney telling one of the coolest stories I’ve had the pleasure of typing out. “I saw Thin Lizzy one time, and nobody came to see them. It was cold in Wisconsin it was probably 200 people in this 3000 seat theatre. They came out and after a couple of their opening songs and they notice that no one is there, and it just kind of turned into a jam session. What do you want to hear? And some dude would shout out some song. And then they would do it. I thought that was really cool, and if I ever start a band I would want to do that. In the end people really talked about it, how their show in Milwaukee was really good.”
Both Kinney and Nielsen aren’t completely comfortable with the southern rock label that has been bestowed upon the band. “We have always made all kinds of music,” explains Nielsen. “I don’t know how to label us. I know that Kevn and I have a similar musical background as far as playing in punk bands and then being both from up north and coming down south – and being influenced by REM and The Allman Brothers and the bands that were down there.”
“It is kind of weird. I look back now on our career and I think of the hard rock, long haired, MTV days is just a little snapshot in time of our whole career.”
Nielsen has seen the trailer, and didn’t seem too rattled by the documentary, “I’m a little nervous about it. It is two hours of sound bites of people talking about us with the band playing live in between. Who knows what they are going to stay or what kind of stupid stuff we used to do when we were young.”
He also was nothing like the abrupt persona that the teaser led me to believe I’d need to brace myself for during our phone interview.
Although Kinney is supportive of the project, he stated that he has no immediate plans to see the documentary, “I’m not planning on seeing it this year. But I hear it is great, my friend made it. I hear he got great interviews. I’m not going to watch it because I’m doing the EPs right now, and I’m writing constantly, and I don’t want to get someone in my head. Some of the old drummers they may say something. I don’t know. I don’t want to be surprised.”