Gadsden Times Interview with Kevn

Get off the couch, the rock show is coming

by Matthew Martin

The band Drivin’ N Cryin’ was synonymous with the Southern college rock scene in the late 1980s and early ’90s, going from college town to college town, playing in bars to packed-out crowds. With songs like “Straight to Hell,” “Honeysuckle Blue” and “Fly Me Courageous,” the band built a large following, eventually breaking through beyond the South and the collegiate circuit to a national following, appearing on David Letterman’s show and playing arenas and concert halls. The Atlanta-based band took an eventual break, as the members went on to other endeavors. Much to the delight of the band and its fans, Kevin Kinney, Tim Nielson, Dave V. Johnson and Mac Carter are back with a new record and a new focus, but with all the attitude and rock that make the band. I would be remiss just to talk about those years and the previously mentioned songs. The guys do have a new record out, “The Great American Bubble Factory,” and are touring behind it. The band originally started the record on Sept. 10, 2001. The following day’s events led to the band ending the demo sessions. The band has always been socially conscious and the songs on “The Great American Bubble Factory,” are no different. With the country in shock and in mourning, the band decided it was not the right time for their blue-collar optimism, so the songs were shelved … until last year. Going back into the studio to record, the band found itself energized by the songs. Twelve years since the last Drivin’ N Cryin’ album, “Bubble Factory” is full of optimism. That has led to the band’s current tour. I caught up with Kinney on the phone as the band traveled through Mobile, going from Pensacola, Fla., heading to Biloxi, Miss. He sounded rejuvenated by the experience, and the new album shows it. The rock the band created — and continues to create, blending Southern elements into heavier guitar-oriented sound — gives the band its usual edge. But whether you are a old-school Drivin’ N Cryin’ fan or someone new to the band, the new album has something for each. Kinney said the band obviously is older, saying they are “big boys,” but “anytime you get something new to play, any new song rejuvenates the band. It’s hard to explain, but after 24 years we are not in competition with other people. We are legends in our own world we created.” Kinney has spent the last decade or so playing solo, with the occasional Drivin’ N Cryin’ record or show peppered in between. He said the band is not like anything else for him, however. “We got really good at being ourselves,” Kinney said. “We are finally ourselves. We had moments being ourselves (before). We are very comfortable that we can be that.” As far as “Bubble Factory,” Kinney added, “It’s a boost. We play it. We are really proud of it, and we really like it. I really dig it.” The shows have been really good so far on the tour. Drivin’ N Cryin’ is a little older, but Kinney said the crowds have been a good blend of younger and older fans. The band is trying to make new fans, as any band needs to continue to thrive, but it also is trying to reach those fans from the band’s early days, too. Kinney shed a little light on what he was going through in those days. The band broke through to a larger crowd than the college scene. Playing late-night shows, along with larger venues, Drivin’ N Cryin’ became a household name across the country. But with that fame, Kinney said he became a little uncomfortable in his own skin. “That’s what you go through,” he said. “I wish I would’ve been a little more comfortable in myself then. Drivin’ N Cryin’ has always been fun, a little reckless. But it’s not just about me. It’s about us. (The rest of the band members) contribute their thing, too. They have their own say-so.” Fans might be older, but Kinney said those folks need to get off the couch and get back into the game. Music is timeless, meaning the older songs in the band’s catalogue will mean as much to younger listeners as they do to older fans and the new songs will have as much relevance to older fans as those new to the band. The only difference in those two age groups is the younger fans come to the shows with the spirit of rock. Kinney said the band has a new mission. Aside from picking up new fans, Drivin’ N Cryin’ has a goal of reaching the older fans and getting them to come out for their rock show. “We are trying to get people to see us,” Kinney said. “I don’t care that you are bored, you are not too old to rock, you’re just too lazy. You don’t have to pretend you are 20. I’m cool like a 49-year-old man. Our new crusade is to get people off the couch. “Once you hit 80, maybe you are too old to rock. Our music makes me feel young.” The band returns March 6 to Brother’s Bar in Jacksonville, giving you a chance to feel young, too.