11th Hour Interview With Kevn Kinney

Drivin N Cryin, lead by Kevn Kinney will be releasing their first new album in 12 years on September 29th. With the “Great American Bubble Factory” comes a southeastern tour, and a new fanbase for the band that’s been playing and touring for almost twenty years. Publisher Brad Evans caught up with Kevn on a short break from the road at his home in New York. Kinney talks of life in the Big Apple and how it compares to the South, listening to Jason Isbell and the evolution of the band. Drivin N Cryin plays the Stay & Play Concert Series at the Capitol on Saturday, August 22. When did you first start playing music and how did that come about.

I came of age in the 60’s. I was six or seven. The world was changing from black and white to color back then which was a magical thing to be watching. Then the psychedelic world was kickin. Music was like Candy back then you know, cool guys with long hair that looked like Jesus playing the guitar. That’s how I fell in love with making music. Just by watching music get made. It was a slippery slope from that point on.

How did Drivin and Cryin form? How did you guys meet? We met at the DietCruzen show. They were an early punk band from Milwaukee. I did a show with them in Atlanta, and Tim saw me and said he needed to find me a band. In the process of looking for people to play with me, he started playing with me and we formed Drivin’ and Cryin’.

How was 1989 different from where you are today? Well, it’s a lot more fun now. We’re not in competition. Back when you are young and successful, you are constantly trying to get more press, more attention from you label, all that weird politics stuff. After you’ve been around 20 years, you are doing it because you love it. Or you wouldn’t be doing it. It’s sort of like a brotherhood now. We’re all out here because we enjoy being out here.

Where do you find inspiration for your songs? What is your writing process like? I just sort of let everything settle. For this record it was like let’s just go in a

practice room, and get a couple of beers. Let’s just sit in a basement and see what comes out. I watch a lot of TV. I read a lot of books, newspapers, I eavesdrop. I keep my eyes open to the world, and fill my head up. So when it comes time to make a record, it sort of just pours out.

What is it about the South that has inspires so many artists? I think Southerners are very optimistic. The glass is always full. I live in New York, and people always complain. It’s rare to see someone smile at you, they are always suspicious. I was telling someone the other day that if someone looked at me like that in the South, I would think that I’d dated his daughter, or something really bad. There is a poet called Deacon Lunchbox. I asked him what the difference was between the south and the north once and he said “Underbrush,” I thought, brilliant.

How does a Drivin’ N Cryin’ show differ from a Kevn Kinney show? Well we play all our hits with Drivin and Cryin, “fly me courageous,” we play them all. It’s more aggressive, more of a show. When you see my solo band, I don’t play a lot of our hits. Drivin and Cryin is more eclectic. My other project is more of a hippie jam band kind of thing.

Who are you listening to these days? There is a band up here, The Madison Square Gardeners that I love. The new Seven Mary three record is great. I love Jason Isbel, Patterson Hood, Sun Volt, Wilco, REM. Most of the music I consume, I see live. I always listen to the Beatles, Allman Brothers, Stones, Bob Dylan, all the regulars.

What’s the favorite song you’ve ever written? “Straight to Hell.” It’s simple. It tells a story and people like it. Today, I really like “Let me Down”, co-written with Mack on our new record.

Last time I saw you play, you had your son with you. Does he come out with you on a regular basis? Yeah. He’s a little bit too old these days. If he’s in town he’ll come out. He’s eighteen now and taller than me so…

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