English Oceans

English Oceans

Release Date: Oct. 30, 2015 - ATO Records


“Once in a while there’s a spectacle”

English Oceans, the 12th release by Athens, Georgia's Drive-By Truckers, is an elegantly balanced and deeply engaged new effort that finds the group refreshed and firing on all cylinders.

All but one of the collection's 13 new songs, written by singer-guitarists and co-founding members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, were recorded during 13 days of sessions in August 2013 with longtime producer David Barbe.

Six of the songs were the result of a burst of writing activity by Cooley.

"I had time to write," Cooley says. "After we came off the road last time, we decided we were going to let it rest for a while. So I had time to really focus. I kind of had to re-learn how to write, because I didn't write as many songs as I'd wanted on the last couple of records. I was happy with these songs, and thrilled to go in and record so many that I felt real strongly about."

Hood notes, "I don't think we've ever had a record where Cooley was as deeply involved in every aspect of the making of it as he was this time. With Cooley's writing, there's almost no precedent for it in our catalog. He came in with this stunning bunch of songs, full of this beautiful imagery."

Writing independently, Cooley and Hood penned songs that dovetailed brilliantly with each other. Hood says, "Every song on this record connects with another song. I noticed Cooley's got a line in 'Primer Coat' about 'apron strings,' and I have the exact same image in one of my songs, 'Hanging On.' It goes on and on and on like that on this record, and that's a pretty good sign for things, particularly given how different our temperaments are and our styles of writing are."

Cooley and Hood's brace of character-based songs depict a neatly interlocking gallery of relationships, often in dissolution and discord. The last song written and recorded for the album, Hood's rave-up "Pauline Hawkins," was based on a new novel by Willy Vlautin and penned after another of his compositions was scrapped.

Hood says, "There was such a balance between Cooley's songs and my songs that taking a song off the record would upset the balance a little bit. I liked the back-and-forth flow, like our shows tend to do. I got an advance copy of Willy's latest book, The Free. I've been a fan of his writing for a while. I read it in about three days. I finished it on Saturday, I wrote the song on Sunday, and then we cut it on Thursday and mastered the record on the following Monday. It sure makes it a better record."

DBT's ever-keen political edge can be seen in two songs on the release. Cooley's "Made Up English Oceans" derives from his interest in the career of Lee Atwater, the Republican operative who was active in the Reagan and Bush campaigns of the '80s. "He was the guy that Karl Rove and all of the modern dirty tricksters looked to – he was one of the granddaddies of it all. That song is from his point of view, fictionally of course. It's him making his pitch, telling what he understands about young, Southern men."

Hood says "The Part of Him" was inspired by the procession of scandals that plague the political world year after year. "It's about political assholery -- there's someone new playing that role every few months," he says. "As soon as we get rid of one of them, someone comes up and starts playing that part again."

Reflecting the renewed high level of collaboration between the band's two principals, English Oceans marks an unprecedented event: the recording of a Hood song, "Til He's Dead or Rises," with Cooley assuming the lead vocal.

Cooley says, "I remember Patterson was getting frustrated trying to sing it. He was doing fine, but it seemed like there was something he wanted to do that wasn't coming. I was in the control room thinking, 'I could probably sing this' -- though it wasn't like I was saying, 'Oh, I can sing this a lot better than that.' I was thinking, 'This sounds like something I could sing.' Right after that, he walks into the control room and says, 'You want to trying singing this? It sounds more like you than me.' I said, 'Yeah, I was just thinking that.'"

"Grand Canyon," the final song on the album, is an emotionally overwhelming elegy for Craig Lieske, a longtime member of DBT's touring family. The former manager of Athens' 40 Watt Club and a key player in the city's experimental music scene, Lieske died suddenly of a heart attack in January 2013 following the first night of the band's three-night homecoming stand in Athens. English Oceans is dedicated to him.

"I probably wrote it in 15 minutes," Hood says. "It wasn't any kind of a conscious thing. It's the most important song of mine on the record. I wrote new songs to go with it. It recalibrated something. It became a totally different record for me than the record I thought we were going to make."

The album was recorded with a compact, retooled lineup. Jay Gonzalez, who joined the band in 2008 as keyboardist, stepped into an expanded role by adding guitar to his duties, while bassist Matt Patton was drafted from the Tuscaloosa group The Dexateens. The unit was road-tested during dates in 2013.

Cooley says, "This lineup is so direct. It can go from this chainsaw rock 'n' roll to very delicate, pretty-sounding stuff. We wrote a lot of those kinds of songs, and this lineup got all of that well."

Hood agrees: "We recorded with a stripped-down lineup that gave things a more primal and immediate feel. It's a more turn-on-a-dime kind of thing, which suits these songs, and us as a band. It's a very tasteful group, and when it needs to be it can be a very big, powerful, over-the-top band, too, and it can go from one to the other seamlessly."

Looking at the accomplishments of English Oceans from the perspective of DBT's nearly three-decade history, both Cooley and Hood decline to hedge their bets on the quality of their latest work.

"You're always hesitant to say, 'Oh, this is the best record we've ever made,'" Cooley says, "because you always want to. And sometimes you say it, and sometimes you're right, and sometimes you think, 'Well, maybe I jumped the gun on that a little bit, I got excited.' But I think this just might be the best record we've ever made."

Hood concurs enthusiastically: "It's my favorite thing that we've ever done. I'm proud of our catalog – we always try to make as good a record as we can make. Sometimes things just work. This time, we made kind of a magical record. I've always felt that Decoration Day was our best record, and this is the first one that I think is a better record than that was. Every piece of the puzzle fit."


1. Shit Shots Count
2. When He's Gone
3. Primer Coat
4. Pauline Hawkins
5. Made up of English Oceans
6. The Part of Him
7. Hearing Jimmy Loud
8. Til He's Dead or Rises
9. Hanging On
10. Natural Light
11. When Walter Went Crazy
12. First Air of Autumn
13. Grand Canyon



Put your cigarette out get your hat back on,
Don’t mix up which is which
They don’t pay you enough to work,
They don’t pay me enough to bitch
The boss ain’t smart as he’d like to be,
but he ain’t nearly as dumb as you think
He just wants evolution on a budget, with a schedule to keep

Suburban four lanes move like blood through an old mans dying heart
Enough at a time to keep hope alive at the speed of a stream of tar
He bought in young and I’ve no doubt,
he’s gonna cash out with a winning deal
Trophy tail wives taking boner pill rides for the price of a happy meal

Shit shots count if the table’s tilted
Just pay the man who levels the floor
Prides what you charge a proud man for having
Shame is what you sell to a whore
Meats just meat and it’s all born dying,
some is tender and some is tough
Somebody’s gotta mop up the A-1
somebody’s gotta mop up the blood

High ground ain’t high enough to kill you quick if you fall
Idealistically speaking it sounds like you ain’t listening at all
Friday night rich is all you’re ever gonna be
until the fight in you on Monday’s gone
One more drag, tuck your hair in your hat
don’t act so surprised, and try not to look so lost

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt
George Davidson - tenor sax / Adam Courson- trumpet /
Jay Gonzalez - horn arrangement

When He’s Gone

She sits alone and stares out the window, the thoughts pour out
the morning sun pours in
She paints a smile on her lips and looks at herself in the mirror
As her day begins
She scrubs in basins never clean, it won’t wash off
the smell of compromise
He opens the door for her, there’s kindness in his smile
but she loathes the need in his eyes

She can’t stand to have him around
but she always misses him when he’s gone

She burns like an effigy when he’s gone it makes her mad
how attached she’s become
and if it were up to me, I’d prove her wrong, but it’s too bad
it’s someone else’s song
He might come home, after she’s sleeping and quietly admire
the smile on her lips
He crawls up beside her, she presses it all up against him
and dreams

She can’t stand to have him around
but she always misses him when he’s gone...

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Primer Coat

The old man’s out by the swimming pool
He goes there to think
He talks on the phone sometimes
Hardly mentions a thing
Said he needed it for his knees
He used to swim back in school
Graduated in 84, quit drinking in 92

He used to call her a basket case for hanging on like she did
The only girl of a foreman’s wife She’d never let him forget
It comes to women and they survive but when the same comes to men
Someone comes for their babies something dies there and then

Slinging gravel in parking lots and looking tough on the hood
A girl as plain as a primer coat leaves nothing misunderstood
Her mother and I through trembling lips, a steady hand on his own
The future of every rebel cause, when all the fight in him is gone

My sister’s marrying in the spring and everything will be fine
Mama’s planning the wedding, Daddy’s planning on crying
She’s slipping out of her apron strings
You best leave him be
He’s staring through his own taillights and gathering speed

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Pauline Hawkins

Don’t call me your baby I won’t answer
Love is like cancer and I am immune
to all that your bringing the tune that you’re singing
outside of a locked room
outside a locked room

Safe’s an illusion, before the collision
Immune to decision

Don’t tell me your secrets I’d rather not listen
or know what I’m missing it’s always too soon
It’s always too soon to be called for comfort
to belong to someone inside a locked room

Fate always happens when nobody’s looking
Nobody’s looking

I really don’t care what’s inside you
I won’t stand beside you or answer your call
I don’t want to fight now I’m only here right now
This moment is all. This moment is all

Don’t call me your baby, I’m nobody’s baby
I won’t let you cage me or lock me away
I’m not yours to keep, don’t want you to save me
You’re just a vacation, a one night way-station
to keep me awake until I’m ready to sleep

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt
inspired by a character in Willy Vlautin’s book: The Free

Made Up English Oceans

6x9 and counting down in one after the other
they’ll go running up and down the road, angry as their mothers
over senseless acts of selfishness on made up English oceans
and made up English stomach contents tied to senseless notions

Once you grab them by the pride their hearts are bound to follow,
their natural fear of anything less manly or less natural,
like gunless sheriffs caught on lonesome roads and live to tell it
How hard it is for meaner men without the lead to sell it

Only simple men can see the logic in whatever
smarter men can whittle down till you can fit it on a sticker
Get it stuck like mud and bugs to names that set the standard,
They’ll live it like it’s gospel and they’ll quote it like it’s scripture

Its no matter if they dress real nice and sit up straight and stupid
and say their prayers in quiet ancient tongues
They’re no different that the ones who close their eyes
and fall down to the ground
and twitch just like their nerves have come undone

So be it if they come to find out feeling good’s
as easy as denying that there’s day or night at all
til what it takes to feel a thing seems so far out of reach
they just claw their skin and grind their teeth and bawl

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

The Part of Him

He was elected, wingnut raised and corn fed
Teabags dragging on the chamber floor
He did what he had to do to get southern boys to vote for you
To grease the wheels to get you in the door
But he must of said some things
that made them think that he was strange
and made them wonder if he was one of them
So they had to call him in but he wouldn’t make amends
so they had to reel the poor boy in

He was an absolute piece of shit to tell the truth
But he never told the truth to me
He never told the truth to you don’t think he ever set out to
He was indifferent to honesty
His positions were pre-ordained to help conceal his vast disdain
for anything that lessened his appeal
His integrity was phoning in, totally Nixonian
honing in the art of making deals

He was a piece of work, more or less a total jerk
His own mama called him an SOB
He never worked an honest day, just kissed up to a better way
to sell the cow you could get for free
When he got out of line, they snatched him up from behind
and put him in a box with fancy trim
Rolled him out for all to see his rendezvous with destiny
Now someone else will play the part of him

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Hearing Jimmy Loud

Trapped in a truck with Jimmy, listening to his band
Jimmy’s out of place same as ashtrays and column shifts
Said his last old lady nearly run him in the ground
Half a gram later I was hearing Jimmy loud

She had a tanning habit,
She’s like a talking leather couch
Warm between the cushions where she hid whatever treasure fell out
Said she only hollered when she’d stood as much as she could stand,
Jimmy’s ego can take it baby go on and fake it loud as you can

She’s my baby and she knows it I get reminded now and then
your either someone’s or your nothing,
God must be a lonely man

Them kids ain’t never listened, ain’t no use in trying now
All were doings’ getting older and our
welcome and our warnings wearing out
Jimmy’s babies mama’s got him lawyered up one side and down
That earful cost me nothing,
poor old Jimmy’s paying for it by the pound

Everybody loves a baby everybody loves a child
Nobody wants to see them damaged
Nobody wants them running wild

The moral lessons of a charmed life
Only get through guilty ears
Thanks to learning luck and half sense
I’m hearing Jimmy loud and clear

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Til He’s Dead or Rises

When she met him they was teenagers
He was no more than seventeen
She was a little less than all that
but held the bit between her teeth
He was tall and strong and lanky
the fear of Jesus was on her side
He asked her, if she weren’t too busy
might come out for a ride

She’ll ride him until he’s dead or rises to the occasion

They ran off the great embankment
They flew through the air so far
They landed with a mighty crash
then got crushed by the falling star.

She’ll ride him until he’s dead or rises to the occasion
She’ll ride him until he’s dead or rises to the occasion

That small crossroads became a city
she was the bell of every ball
Boys would line up to try to ring her
she’s let them line up down her hall
She ran up a life so lavish
somehow those bills would all get paid
Your Daddy worked and never faltered
never forgot the things she said

She’ll ride him until he’s dead or rises to the occasion

Times change but I still see her disapproval pouring out
She said I ain’t got the gumption to make it
and you ain’t scary enough to turn me around
But I’m hoping you might be game to ride my dream aground
We’ll ride it until it’s dead or makes your mama proud

She’ll ride him until he’s dead or rises to the occasion

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt
(Boulderado Hotel, Rm. 300. Apr. 12, 2013)

Hanging On

Your momma can’t stand the way you lay around all day
and lean on her to help you on your way
You use her credit cards, complain cause it’s so hard
to live with all the whiteness you’ve obtained

So you pack up all your things and cut those apron strings
and set out for a drastic change of scene
You hump it town to town and never let them down
or take the time to ponder what it means

You climb up to the roof to smoke a few
and calm down from your day and soak the view
and you wonder what the hell you’re gonna do
to hang on

It isn’t any wonder when the darkness pulls you under
from the weight of all your wonderment
and the price you have to pay
leaves you feeling kinda sickly and it all comes due so quickly
it’s hard to get out from under it

The night it grows so long but you put it in a song
that suddenly the whole world wants to sing
So you move to higher ground and set some deep roots down
and try to keep your grip on everything

Sometimes in the silence of the night
that voice might try to tell you it’s not right
you close your eyes and try with all your might
to hang on

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Natural Light

If it weren’t for the glow of the screen my dear,
I’d think you were someone I used to know
But its your natural light I need to guide me home
I’ll bring it about if you’ll just let it show

Once in a while there’s a spectacle
A big deal to some, but too long for most
to be stuck between blasts while the colors fall
stuck with yourself while it reloads

Sometimes it’s as cold as a loveless embrace
or hot like a low seething rage
It ends where it ends, when it does it begins
It cries when it wants, it wants when it needs and it bleeds

When the countdown is up, you will wake up my love
and shine with your own light again
From the neck up and down
It’s the down that I’m out to light up in you once again

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

When Walter Went Crazy

When Walter went crazy she was sitting on the couch
Painting her toenails and drinking a Tab
He walked out of the bedroom with a cigarette in his mouth
and he poured gasoline in a circle all around the house

When Walter went crazy he had rattlesnake in his eyes
blended whisky in his veins and murder in his heart
She watched him walk out the door and knew he was gone
Matlock on the TV and her mama on the phone

When Walter went crazy, they say he just snapped
It had gone on for so long and she wasn’t coming back
She hadn’t been off the couch in at least a dozen years
Deafened by silence and the grinding of the gears

Their friends could see it coming like yellow piss on snow
Like a house fire in the distance like a car crash in slow mo
Their friends could see it coming but what could someone do
When it’s speeding down the runway
and the brake line’s torn in two

When Walter went crazy and the house went up in flames
You could see his hands shaking from the bourbon and the shame
He never planned the ending he just rolled the credit names
When the lights came up we all went home but never quite the same

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt
July 2013 (kitchen - Athens GA. / hotel room Santa Monica CA.)

First Air of Autumn

First air of autumn up your nose
popcorn, heavy hairspray, nylon pantyhose
please stand and bow your heads and pray you don’t get old

The nurture and the admonition of your kind
the rules of only strong survive
Cross shaped swimming pools,
down in the blood and lifted up
forever seeking favor from the light

Schoolhouse hallway like a prairie highway sprawls
the drop off spins away the sun
The getting there just proves it’s nothing but a ball
Pray the horizon never comes

The hearts of the daughters of the men,
Won by the softness of the sons of women’s hands
To leave it up to love would leave it left to chance

Memory only shows the promise beauty broke
of beauty ageless in it’s time
Light attracts the same, you glance away and the glory fades
and being on your arm has lost it’s shine

School house hallway like a prairie highway sprawls
The drop off spins away the sun
Like eyes that once could cut through
candle power on autumn nights
First air of autumn leaves me numb

Mike Cooley / DBT-12
© Rabbit Gear (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt

Grand Canyon

We went to Grand Canyon and we stood at the expanse
and we watched the rocks change colors
and we watched the shadows dance
We probably didn’t say anything til the sunset turned to night
We let the spirits do the talking with cascades of faded light

We drove across the desert, saw the mountain range at dawn
Heard the thunder rumbles echo
against the rocks that Gods were made from
We drove across the wastelands until we finally reached the sea
and I wonder how a life so sturdy could just one day cease to be

I’m never one to wonder about the things beyond control
I stare off in the distance as I feel the highway roll

We roll on in the darkness to some city far away
Lug our sorrows, pains and angers and turn them into play
There’s no time to dwell upon it, it’s this life that we chose
that made it all worth living through the horrors that life throws

If the recently departed make the sunsets
to say farewell to the ones they leave behind
There were technicolor hues to see our sadness through
as the sun over Athens said goodbye

There’s a white owl out my window soft-lit in fading light
He’ll go soaring through the clouds and hunting through the night
and in my dreams I’ll still see him flying through a western sky
I’ll think about Grand Canyon, and i’ll lift my glass and smile

Patterson Hood / DBT-12
© Pottery Town Songs (BMI) - Administered by Kobalt
(Back Lounge, Ft. Worth to New Orleans - Jan. 26-27 2013)
Looping at end courtesy of Professor David Barbe
We Lovingly Dedicate this song and album to Craig Lieske.


We Lovingly Dedicate album to Craig Lieske.

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by David Barbe
at Chase Park Transduction Studios, Athens, GA
Except ‘”Shit Shots Count” Mixed by Drew Vandenberg and David Barbe

Assistant Engineer - Drew Vandenberg

Additional Assistance - Wyatt Pless and Henry Barbe
Chase Park Interns - Kaitlyn Eddy, Ryan O’Keefe and Lewys Evans

Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound


Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Brad Morgan, Jay Gonzalez and Matt Patton

Guest Horns:

George Davidson - tenor sax / Adam Courson- trumpet
Jay Gonzalez - horn arrangement

Art Direction - Lilla Hood - www.hoodcreate.com
Artwork and Paintings - Wes Freed - www.wesfreed.com
Photography - David McClister - www.davidmcclister.com
Management - Kevin Morris and Christine Stauder at Red Light Management
Agent USA - Frank Riley and Matt Hickey at High Road Touring
Agent World - James Alderman at Free Trade Agency
Publicity - Traci Thomas at Thirty Tigers
Legal - J. Reid Hunter and David Gold for Serling, Rooks, Ferrara, McKoy & Worob
Web - Jenn Bryant at Knuckle Sammitch
Social Media - Jason Wilson
Business Management - Tom Scott and Robert Bachman at Trinity Accounting Group

ATO Records - Jon Salter and Kirby Lee
PIAS Records - Edwin Schroter, Jason Rackham and Juan Vandhervoort

The Greatest Road Crew / Home Crew in the Biz:

Road Manager and Live Sound Engineer - Matt DeFilippis (The Mattador)
Monitor Engineer and Archiving - Newton Carter
Lighting and Mule Maintenance - T. Cole Taylor
Stage Production, Guitar World and Equipment Management - Dirty Paul McHugh
Merch Development and Officiation - Peter Hill

Scott Baxendale has been building some incredible guitars for us for a few years. They are amazing handcrafted instruments made with love and care (and only the finest of woods). Scott works out of The Baxendale Guitar in Athens, GA, and can be reached at www.baxendaleguitar.com

Brad has pretty much always played Ludwig Drums and would like to thank Kevin Packard and all the folks there for treating him so well. Brad also wants to send special thanks to Chris Brewer and Meinl Cymbals for all they have done on our behalf.

Jay uses Nord and Yamaha Keyboards (as well as vintage Wurlitzer and a 1958 Hammond B-3 with Leslie).

DBT Proudly Uses:
Rapco Cables, Seymore Duncan Pickups, D’Addario Strings, Fender Amps, Sommatone Amps, Pretty Road Cases and Jittery Joes Coffee

DBT Proudly Supports Nuçi’s Space Artist Resource Center.
Please read all about this great organization at www.nuci.org.


Ansley, Ross, Luke and Delilah Cooley; Rebecca, Ava and Emmett Hood; Ruby Morgan and Sibby Morgan; Katey and Billy Gonzalez; Megan Patton; and Kelly DeFilippis.

Jenn Bryant, Wes Freed; David, Amy, Winston and Henry Barbe; Annabelle and Adam Byer; Traci Thomas; Chris, Lilla, Reed and Duncan Smith.

Thanks to our beloved Road Crew for hard labor and handling above and beyond (way beyond) any reasonable call of duty. Matt DeFilippis, Cole Taylor, Dirty Paul, Newton Carter, The Dentist and Dick Cooper (retired, but never forgotten).

Kevin Morris and Christine Stauder; Frank Riley and Matt Hickey; Robert Bachman, Joni Rinke, Kristi Juneau and Tom Scott; Reid Hunter and David Gold; Coran Capshaw, Will Botwin, Jon Salter, Kirby Lee and everyone at Red Light Management and ATO Records. Edwin Schroter, Jason Rackham, Juan Vandhervoort and everyone at [PIAS] Cooperative.

Drew Vandenberg; The Dexateens; Robert and Cynthia Patton; Bill Kingery; Marc Tissenbaum; Chris Grehan; the fine folks at Widespread Panic, Athens GA; Dewitt Burton and the fine folks at REM, Athens GA; Bertis Downs and family; Bennett Moon; Marty Gelhaar and Atlanta Vintage Keyboards; Elliot Colbert; Barr Weissman and Linda Goldman and Family; David and Judy Hood; Jim and Linda Wright; Jan Patterson and Jim Martin; Jay Leavitt and Deep Groove Records; Barrie Buck, Velena and all the fine folks at The Fabulous 40 Watt Club; Linda Phillips, Will, Bob and Laura and all at Nuci’s Space; Jason and Beth Thrasher; Ken Zankel and Anna Vayna; Andy Baker; Andy LeMaster; Greg Calbi and all at Sterling Sound; Jason Wilson; Uncle Josh; Three Dimes Down; Avid Books; Charlie Mustard and Jittery Joes; Willy Vlautin; Tim Facok and Caroline; Billy Reid and his wonderful staff; Wilmot and Scott and The Georgia Theatre; Protect Downtown Athens; The wonderful Athens GA community and of course our beloved families and friends.