Drive-By Truckers Theft Inspires Fan Response

Life’s never easy for a band on the road, and as a small Georgia band found out a couple of weeks ago, a van break-in doesn’t make matters much better. The power of the Internet does, however.

Alt-country rockers The Drive-By Truckers were in the midst of a gig at the Lizard Lounge in Chatanooga, TN when the crime took place. While none of their equipment was taken, the thieves did toss a brick through one of the windows to get to other important items, including the radio, a cell phone, receipts, checkbooks, an electronic phone book, and, according to the band’s publicist, “ten years’ worth of incredible mix tapes.”

In a March 18 e-mail sent out to approximately 150 people, publicist Sara Kelly Jones described the collection as “epic to say the least. They were almost all homemade, so they’re worthless. But there’s hundreds of them, all sorts of stuff, country, soul, rock, most of them have hand-scrawled labels.”

The e-mail included a plea to fans and
friends of the band to keep their eyes open, re-send contact information, and to help out by sending music for the band to jam to on the road. “We leave in 17 days for a two-month-solid tour,” Jones wrote, “and now [we] have not a single thing to listen to.”

Reminiscent of the Sonic Youth situation July last year, when all of the band’s gear was stolen and one e-mail made a powerful impact online (see “Sonic Youth In Search Of Stolen Gear” ), the response to Jones’ message has been overwhelming.

“It was devastating to me to hear about what happened to Sonic Youth all those months ago,” Jones told MTV. “I must have been sent that e-mail by someone different, three times a day, for weeks.

“Obviously, we didn’t have it nearly as bad as they did,” she continued, “but never did it occur to me, when I sent that e-mail to our list and a few others, that it would make the rounds like it did. By the time the band got back to town,
less than a week after the break-in, we had been sent well over 100 tapes, most of which came from folks we don’t even know.”

Word even got around at one major label out in L.A., and a label executive (who wishes to remain anonymous) donated a new radio for the band’s van.

Over 200 tapes have now come in from friends and strangers, and Jones has received several leads from people in the Chattanooga area. The damage continues to grow, though, as thousands of dollars’ worth of checks have been written on the band’s account.

In the meantime, the Drive-By Truckers’ second release, “Pizza Deliverance,” was recently released in Europe and the U.K. on Zane Records. The disc has currently sold over 3,000 copies through grassroots promotion and has attracted serious attention from major media outlets, receiving write-ups in such publications as “Playboy,” the “Village Voice,” and “The New York Times,” with “Times” critic Ann Powers naming the album her number two indie release
of 1999.

The band expects to release a live record, “Alabama Ass Whuppin’,” by early summer and has just finished the first of several recording sessions for “Betamax Guillotine,” a “Redneck Rock Opera” that’s due for release early in 2001.

DBT also just kicked off a two-month tour with fellow underground club act the Glenmont Popes. More shows are anticipated to be scheduled, as the band plans to tour the West Coast and possibly the UK in June. Check the DBT Web site at www.drivebytruckers.com for the most current info. In the meantime, here’s where the band’s heading:

  • 4/11 – Pensacola, FL @ Sluggo’s
  • 4/12 – New Orleans, LA @ Howlin Wolf
  • 4/13 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgeralds
  • 4/14 – Austin, TX @ Red Eye Fly
  • 4/15 – Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room
  • 4/16 – Ft. Worth, TX @ Wreck Room
  • 4/17 – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Bar
  • 4/19 – Little Rock, AR @ Vino’s
  • 4/20 – Memphis,
    TN @ Young Ave. Deli
  • 4/21 – St. Louis, MO @ The Galaxy
  • 4/23 – Kansas City, MO @ Hurricane’s
  • 4/26 – Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s Oasis
  • 4/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
  • 4/28 – Madison, WI @ University Of WI – Rathskeller
  • 4/30 – Chicago, IL @ Fireside Bowl
  • 5/4 – Dayton, OH @ Night Owl
  • 5/5 – Cincinnati, OH @ Top Cats
  • 5/6 – Toledo, OH @ Citi Lounge
  • 5/10 – New York, NY @ Continental Club
  • 5/11 – Arlington, VA @ Iota
  • 5/12 – Baltimore, MD @ The Vault
  • 5/27 – Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
  • 5/28 – Atlanta, GA @ BUBBAPALOOZA at the Star Bar