SPOTLIGHT: Drive-By Truckers on Meeting Mick Jagger — And Getting Back to Work
Drive-By Truckers with Mick Jagger (photo via Twitter)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Drive-By Truckers are No Depression‘s Spotlight band for January 2020. Read our feature about the Truckers and their new album, The Unraveling, here.
“I think we clocked in 85 hours in the studio that week making the record,” says Patterson Hood, reflecting on the recording of Drive-By Truckers’ latest LP, The Unraveling, the bulk of which took place at the Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis. The album is a nine-track treatise on the state of the country following the 2016 presidential election, which means it’s heavy, poignant, and rarely lighthearted.
The recording process, though, featured a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will forever be etched into the making of The Unraveling.
“It’s a small studio, it isn’t a big, sprawling building or anything like that,” Truckers co-founder Mike Cooley says. “I was in the reception area just hanging out, looking out the front window, and I saw maybe four black vehicles — it looked like a small motorcade pulling up.”
Tourists stop by the famed studio all the time hoping to get a tour, but since it’s an active recording business, the best they can do is get a photo outside and maybe poke their head in the lobby to say hello.
“I figured this was some type of VIP situation,” Cooley says of the SUVs and sedans he saw pull up to the studio. “It could be anybody, so I just walked back into the control room. A few seconds later, Patterson walks in and says, ‘Mick Jagger is in the hallway.’”
There’s a sense of excitement in Cooley’s voice as he tells this story, but he admits he didn’t believe Hood at first: “I told him to fuck off.”
Mick Jagger and Leonardo DiCaprio own the movie rights to the Peter Guralnick book Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Rolling Stones frontman was in town with the author, along with their screenwriter and production designer, and wanted to get a peek inside the studio.
“They had spent the earlier part of the day at Sun Studios,” Hood explains. “We had heard Peter was coming over, but that’s it. He walks in and he introduces himself, we all sit down, and then Mick Jagger walks in. Holy shit!”
Hood adds, “He was very much the old-school British gentleman. Super polite.”
“Oh yeah, he was pretty cool,” Cooley agrees, with a chuckle in his voice. “I’m glad he was nice, because it was our session that he interrupted.”
Aside from his English manners, Cooley remembers Jagger walking around with his signature onstage swagger. “Even in that setting,” he says, “he moved around with that energetic sense of movement. He’s always been over the top with his movements, constantly in motion, real physical. He seems to always move around with that same sense of purpose, even at 76 years old. He’s a ball of energy. It’s pretty amazing.”
The thing that stood out to Hood was not just how Jagger acted, but how his Truckers brothers reacted.
“I got to see my bandmates shaking in their boots like they were teenagers or something,” he says. “That was awesome. I tend to be that way naturally, and I don’t necessarily see that side of Cooley or Matt Patton that often. They both keep a surly and cool demeanor. It was cool to see them as excited as I was.”
Hood takes a break from the story to have a laugh about Cooley and Patton meeting Jagger.
“It was a fun day. And then when they left, we got back to work. That was probably the biggest break we took in seven days.”