I had the chance to talk with founder and a 33-year member of Drivin N Cryin, Kevn Kinney. We talked about the band’s new and upcoming album, what’s on his current playlist and what Kevn likes to do when he gets home from traveling.
Started in the mid-’80s in Atlanta, GA Drivin N Cryin has been dubbed the band’s band. With never quite hitting the mainstream market the band still has a loyal and dedicated cult following filled with well known and inspiring musicians. They blazed the trail for the bands that don’t fit into a certain genre and being hard to market. The band loves to say that their music is for the misfits of society because the band is created from misfits.
How do you think 2018 turned out for the band?
“Every year it gets a little better, we have a new guitar player his name is Laur Joamets.” and “we’ve been working together in Nashville on a new album that will come out in June”
What can people expect from the new album, especially with a new guitar player in the mix?
“The title of the record is “Live To Love Beautiful” there’s a song on there called “Free ain’t Free” it’s sorta my favorite, its an anthem.” “It’s a story about a woman who’s all paid up, living in a neighborhood and her husband died. So she’s living in this house paying her taxes and the guy next door builds a house and then the whole neighborhood starts building houses and all of a sudden her taxes quadrupled and she has to move. Free ain’t free ya know?” “It’s an eclectic mix of Drivin N Cryin, just like all of our records. Just a little bit of everything, we have always created our own little universe and we’re still living in our own world….It sounds like that.”
What are some memorable stories/gigs in NC?
“We use to play at Ziggy’s a lot, that was one of our favorite venues. I drove up there once to see the Ramones play there.” “Chapel Hill was also one of our favorite places to play back in the 80s.” “Mitch Easter is from Winston-Salem, he was big on the early R.E.M productions. A lot of great bands come out of NC too, like a band out of Charlotte called Fetchin Bones that we opened up for in the 80s.”
How do you think you being from Milwaukee has affected the bands sound?
“Well, There are a couple of answers to that.” “Sometimes as a writer, it’s easier to write about something when you get away from it. When I was living there it was hard to write about my feelings growing up there because I was in it. When I moved down south I had this southern tinged filter over things and I saw it a little clearer or less clear.” “How I was lucky to get out.” “In the south, I saw things with a little different perspective, because things were slower here. One of our most famous songs Honeysuckle Blue sounds like a southern rock song but it was written about NYC and a homeless kid I saw on the streets. I felt like if I could take this kid and bring him down south he would have a different perspective as I did.”
I watched an interview a while back and you said one of Drivin N Cryin goals was to sound like a mixtape, so what would be on a good mixtape for you?
“Well, I would have some rockabilly, and some bubblegum music, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Patti Smith. The Clash and The Cramps, Rock Pile, Elvis Costello, and Chuck Berry. The list could just go on but, my favorite playlist I have on my phone is called “VooDoo Bubblegum” It’s The Boxtops, The Archies, Ohio Express and then it has a lot of really weird psychedelic rockabilly stuff. There’s a bunch of stuff on there that I don’t even know the name of or who they are.” “I love all sorts of music and I’ve always made records that reflected that.” I also love “Call Me Maybe”, that’s on my playlist and “Feel It Still” my granddaughter also got me loving Ed Sheeran, that song “Supermarket Flowers” is one of my favorite songs.
So, talking about more recent artist’s who are some of your favorites?
“Well, ya know Ed Sheeran, I’m influenced a lot by my friends. Elizabeth Cook, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, Jason Isbell and Sadler Vaden. All of my friends also have some pretty eclectic records out. Elizabeth, one of my favorites shes never afraid to take a chance. She’s my Rock n Roll sister.” “Aaron produced our new album and Elizabeth actually sings on it”
The band toured all through 2018 and Y’all are gearing up to start touring this year. Any recent road stories?
“The cool thing with what we do, we’re kinda like journalists, we get to see a lot of the America we hear and see on the tv. We get to go through it and see it first hand.” “I’ll tell you something that was eye-opening. The hurricane that went through Florida, and came up from North Georgia while we were driving from Florida to Mobile, Alabama up to Macon, Georgia. We saw all that devastation in the Georgia part.” “It was stunning, there would be a driveway and at the end of it would be a huge pile of garbage bags and wood and that was the house. It was gone and the trees were gone and debris was everywhere.” “We have a song on the new record that’s called “Step by Step” and that’s what they had to do. People just had to do it bit by bit and step by step, one day at a time.”
What do you do when you get home from touring?
“I like to write in the mornings I’ll sit down at the table and write a little but not very often. My passion is cooking, I love to cook, I love trying new recipes.” “That’s my hobby, what I like to do is try going to a farmers market and look for things I’ve never done before. Like, I made tamales a couple of weeks ago. I had never made tamales before and it was fantastic, I was so pleased. It looked just like a tamale and I was like, ‘Wow, I made this!”. “I collect cookbooks and see what not to do and see what to do and come up with my own thing. I don’t follow recipes too closely like a standard stock is celery, carrots, and onions but for me, I use jalapenos and onions, fennel.” “ After 30 years of traveling I’m so sick of ordering off a menu and the closest thing to making dinner is going to subway and picking out what they put on your sandwich.” “So, the first thing I do when I come home is go to the grocery store and grab a few things and put together a stock.”
Why do you think “Straight To Hell” was such a success?
“First off the chorus is very catchy but, I also think it’s a love story and something we can all identify with” “We’ve all felt misunderstood and the song itself is misunderstood. People are screaming straight to hell like its a beer drinking song, but it’s not its a song about Romeo and Juliet if they grew up in the south.” “I think people can also add their own story to it. You can fill in a lot of the empty spaces.” But at the end, it’s always a sing-along song. I don’t really know why it’s such a success all I really know is when I don’t play it people get angry.”