Maybe you know Matt Patton from his days manning the low end for The Dexateens, maybe you’re familiar with his work as the frontman for his own band Model Citizen. Maybe you’ve heard there’s a new guy playing bass these days with The Drive-By Truckers. Matt Patton does lots of stuff and we here at Nine Bullets are thankful that he took a few minutes to answer a few questions.
9B: It seems like a stupid and obvious first question but how does it feel to be playing bass with the Drive-By Truckers? I saw John Frusciante talking about jumping up the wall when he got the call from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Did you do anything to celebrate? Has anything surprised you about them now that you’re playing with them?
MP: It’s a great feeling to be playing with Drive-By Truckers. They were patron saints to the Dexateens when we were making a go of it. They believed in us from the time we met. I have often said that if faith, tears and goodwill could’ve made us more successful the DBT folks and the folks who run the 40 Watt in Athens would’ve willed it to happen for us.
I have to make a conscious effort to separate my fandom from the business side of things. There wasn’t much time for celebration when the dialogue started. We spoke briefly about the possibility one day just after the new year. A couple weeks later they offered me a month of dates and I had to commit to learning a hell of a lot of songs. I have been through this before in a few different settings. I have had the chance to play with a few heroes. There is excitement, but you pray you don’t ruin it. In the end it’s all about the moment you get to walk out on the stage with those folks. If you’re prepared it’s going to be so very rewarding and fun. When I feel prepared and relaxed I catch myself being able to focus on those guys and in that moment I become a fan again.
9B: I was at your first show in Denver. Patterson mentioned you were using your vacation days to go out on the road with them. What’s your day job and is anyone there familiar with the Truckers?
MP: I took a job last year working for the State of Mississippi as an Environmental Scientist. I work in their water division. I am one of the folks trying to ensure that state waters stay clean. I have been working in that field in the private and government sectors for five or six years now. It feels good to come off the road and still have a job. I remember my food and bev days. It was a crapshoot as to whether or not you would be on the schedule when you got back to town!
My co-worker Alicia and I were riding around the levies taking samples one day when I first started and I noticed she was listening to the Truckers on her iPod. She told me that our supervisor Michael was a big fan. The next day I noticed the inconspicuous DBT sticker behind the toolbox on his truck. Needless to say everyone at home and at work has been very supportive of this opportunity. All Michael wants is a signed poster. All my wife wants is me to come home safe….and, my check.
9B: I read an article about the benefit show that your old band, the Dexateens, played with the Alabama Shakes and Lee Bains and the Glory Fire. The article said the Dexateens were working on new music and were changing names and maybe getting on the road. Can you fill us in with Dexateens’ news?
MP: Since we took a break a couple summers back we’ve recorded nearly 40 songs. They’re all in varying stages of being complete. It’s not a project about which we’ve been terribly aggressive. We just focus and get a ton done whenever we do get together. I don’t know what the ultimate plan is. Everyone in the band has moved on to some degree. We all stay extremely busy with work and family; not to mention our own musical endeavors.
I’ve already talked with Elliott about how I think the new material should be released. I’m the one who gets all excited. I start to sweat those details way before it’s time and sometimes I miss the actual plan when it goes down. Elliott has proposed that in the future we use the name the ex teens. That’s very clever and very cheesy at the same time. So obviously I love it. I know there will be new music as well as some shows when the time is right. I would look for it all to be still a ways down the road. There’s no rush anymore.
9B: Word on the street is that you’re a serious vinyl collector. Tell us about your collection, numbers, particular genres, etc etc. I’m not asking about favorites because that’s stupid.
MP: Like most collections it tells my musical story. I started collecting around age 10. My dad started taking us to record shows in Birmingham a couple of times a year. He’d give us a few dollars and let my sister and I pick out some records. In a few years he wasn’t as involved in collecting and I had become consumed with it. Early finds included Elvis, Stax and Motown because that reflected my mother’s taste. My mother is not a collector. She expresses her appreciation for music outwardly. She taught me to dance. And, when that music plays he seems to be at her happiest.
My collection really exploded in my teens and early twenties. I had odd jobs and I once worked at the Sound Shop in the mall. I was free to spend a good bit of my earnings on records. This period saw me go from the flowery pop of the 60’s to the hard rock of the 70’s and eventually on to punk and new wave. I added the bulk of my collection at this time. When I got to college in Tuscaloosa we had a wonderful store called Vinyl Solution. I probably stopped in at least twice a day every day for years. I even worked there on weekends for store credit sometimes. Vinyl hauls at this time were all over the map from Zeppelin to The Clash to Gary Numan. I was consuming it all.
After college I was just another broke musician. I got so tired of looking at my collection. I would have parties sometimes just so someone would pick out the records to play. It’s like I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s worth mentioning that Vinyl Solution had shut down by this time. The owner sold me a couple of retail cabinets from the store in which my records sat and collected dust for a few years.
Meeting my wife turned things around for me. I learned how to handle money. I’m happier and I find there is a little money to be spent at the record store. My collection is growing again. The End of All Music in Oxford, MS has a good selection of gospel that I’ve been getting into. I’ll look at everything in the store, but the room where they keep the old soul and gospel usually gets me rifling through my wallet these days. I haven’t counted in years, but I would guess there are more than 2000 records in my music room these days.
9B: A little while ago you moved from Alabama to a little town in Mississippi called Water Valley. I’m a bit familar with Water Valley, it’s a nice town with it’s fair share of odd ball characters and underbelly. If people want to read about the positive things going on in Water Valley they can read this article from the New York Times but tell us a story about the seedy and socially awkward side of Water Valley.
MP: Very funny! I have used the word miraculous to describe my ending up in Water Valley on several occasions. I noticed I had been saying it one day and I started doing a lot of thinking about it. It’s hard to know where to start, but I have to give my wife credit for moving here five years ago and refusing to move to Alabama where I was. She’s an Oxford girl. She has built a reputation as an artist around these parts and is a part owner of a gallery.
A couple of years ago I was living and working in my hometown of Jasper, Alabama. All of a sudden the Dexateens called it quits and I didn’t have a whole lot to look forward to. Those were some trying times for me. In time I learned that Lynn Bridges had moved to Water Valley to work at a studio there called Dial Back Sound. Lynn recorded several Dexateens records as well as a number of other records I have worked on. In addition to that reconnection I was able to cross paths with Bruce Watson once again. Bruce owns the studio. He has a hands on approach. He hired me for some session work. It was the first I had been offered since the economy went south. It was all such a pick me up!
But, Water Valley is full of self-made folks like Bruce, Lynn and my wife. Independent business is thriving here. We have a grocery that focuses on foods produced locally. We have an actual dress maker in a store front on the main street. We have a space lawyer as well as a mother and wife who produces and markets her own grits. When I look at it all it seems like people here are living on a lot of faith and most folks have told them over and over again that they’re crazy. Yet, they are making it work slowly but surely. These folks are my kind. It’s inspiring and I believe, miraculous.
9B: Are you interested in joining the Truckers full time? Is that on the table, up to you or up to them? From the Denver show it looked like the band was enjoying having you there and it sounded great.
MP: As Patterson has said in his memos recently it’s a non issue right now. It’s not on the table. The main thing they want to focus on is getting some rest and catching up with family. I know they want to make a really great record this next time and that requires recharging your batteries. I believe they have earned the right after releasing several albums and embarking on tour after tour the last few years.
They are trying to time all of these things just right. They are trying to have a great time on the last longer run they’re likely to do this year. Nothing would ruin all that right now like trying to fit a new member into the picture. All I know is that I’m having the time of my life and they have expressed to me how grateful they are and that’s enough.
Big thanks Matt.