If you’re familiar with Drivin N’ Cryin and songs like “Honeysuckle Blue,” “Straight To Hell” and “Fly Me Courageous,” you know the southern rock/alternative band that got its start in Atlanta nearly 28 years ago has been rockin and rollin for a long time. If you’re not familiar with the group, you’ve got a new opportunity to discover what they’re all about. The band, that has been a major part of the Atlanta music scene for decades and has toured over the years with bands like R.E.M and The Who, has a burst of new energy and lots of new music.
“It was about a year and a half, almost two years ago,” recalls bass player Tim Nielsen,” we got a new guitar player, this young guy named Sadler Vaden from South Carolina. He’s really fantastic and just having him in the band has kind of rejuvenated us, I guess.”
The group, which has turned out a string of albums since its very first in the mid 80’s called Scarred But Smarter, recorded the last full-length record four years ago. Nielsen says the album took many years to make, required an extensive amount of work, and ended up taking almost six months to record. Last year, lead singer Kevn Kinney came up with a different approach to recording new music that has motivated band members and created quite a bit of momentum.
“Kevn had this crazy idea that we’re going to start putting out EP’s every three months and it’s kind of working out because you can go and record an EP in a handful of days and there’s not a lot of pressure to do a whole full-length album.”
Besides, Nielsen notes, people just don’t seem to respond to albums like they used to.
“Especially nowadays, everyone’s attention span is so short. It’s that MP3 download kind of mentality where you’d just rather be playing with a gadget and just putting in the next song rather than putting in a record and listening to it. With an EP, you can at least try to hold their attention for four or five songs.”
Drivin N Cryin has been holding the attention of its core fan base for nearly three decades, but the band that some say is one of the best in its genre, has never become as successful nationally as many thought it should be. The question as to why or why not has become such an issue for some, like Atlanta’s Rock 100.5 DJ Eric Von Haessler, he decided to make a documentary about it. He followed Drivin N Cryin around for nearly three years for a project called “Scarred But Smarter.” The documentary recently debuted in Atlanta with plans to be shown in other major U.S. cities in the months ahead, and possibly later on cable TV.
“The question the movie’s asking is, did they ever achieve success or didn’t they? The director comes out and says, ‘Yes, I think they were a success,’” explains Nielsen.
For Nielson, and perhaps others in the band, success lies not necessarily in terms of fame or money, but in the ability to keep making music.
“The longevity and the fact that we’re still doing it, the fact that we still enjoy doing it, that’s a gift to me. “
And hopefully, there’s still time for new fans to discover a group that continues creating exceptional rock and roll music after so many years.
“I don’t think there’s any magic trick that we can do that is suddenly going to make up for lost time or suddenly make us famous or rich or whatever overnight, but if we just make music from our hearts, from our soul, some folks will eventually catch on, you know?”
You can see Drivin N Cryin at Headliners this Thursday night, May 16th. For more information on tickets - call Headliners at (502) 584-8088.
Photo: Courtesy of Drivin N Cryin