Which is you have to admit an amazing name for a band. Have a good weekend dear reader – we leave you with news that Drive-By Truckers have announced the long-awaited arrival of ‘Town Burned Down’, the first-ever official release from singer/songwriter/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood’s original incarnation as Adam’s House Cat. Recorded in 1990, but never-before-released as intended, the album arrives in stores and at all DSPs and streaming services via ATO Records on Friday 21st September. Rolling Stone premiered the album’s first song, ‘Runaway Train’ saying the song “shares a scrappy, twangy punk sensibility with the collegiate rock that was coming out of Minneapolis, MN, in those days, from artists like the Replacements and Husker Du.” You can hear it below.
While Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood may have founded Drive-By Truckers in 1996, the two musicians had in fact first come together more than a decade prior. They met on August 1, 1985, the day Hood moved into a dank basement apartment in North Florence, AL shared by Cooley. The two young musicians took notice of each other’s guitars and became fast friends, drinking cheap beer and singing songs together on the flat’s shabby couch. Among those songs were originals penned by Hood, including one that took its title from the Southern colloquialism, ‘I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s house cat.’ Hood and Cooley worked out a rendition of the song that quickly led to another and then another. That first collaboration eventually gave the band its moniker – Adam’s House Cat was born.
Beginning in 1987, Adam’s House Cat spent three years grinding it out in bars and clubs around their home region, from Birmingham and Huntsville to Nashville, Memphis, and Oxford, MS. Wider attention came when the band’s infectious “Smiling At Girls” was named one of 10 First Place winners (out of over 1,500 entries) in MUSICIAN Magazine’s Best Unsigned Band Contest, judged by an all-star panel that included Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, Mitchell Froom, and Mark Knopfler. The track was featured on a nationally distributed compilation CD, garnering interest from an array of labels and managers across the South.
Despite hard touring around the Southeast, no deals came of Adam’s House Cat’s first success. The band took matters into their own hands, recording a collection of original train songs on four-track cassette dubbed ‘Trains of Thought’. Songs like “6 O’ Clock Train” and “Buttholeville” reflected the band’s frustration with their home region, a profound dissatisfaction that often enraged local audiences, occasionally to the point of incipient violence. Hood and Cooley relocated Memphis in September 1991, and though their live shows that month were thought among the band’s best ever, by month’s end, the band had played its last, quietly breaking up after an uneventful gig in Nashville. ‘Town Burned Down’ not only went unreleased, the original 24-track tapes were lost after Muscle Shoals Sound was sold and liquidated. As if that weren’t bad enough, Melton’s mixes were boxed up and sent to Jackson, MS’s Malaco Studio where they were later destroyed when a devastating tornado struck the historic building in 2011. Then in 2015, three boxes labeled “ADAM’S HOUSE CAT” mysteriously appeared in the tape vault of longtime friend and DBT producer David Barbe’s Athens, GA studio. Contained within were the unmixed 2’’ tape master tapes of ‘Town Burned Down’ along with another reel containing an EP’s worth of songs recorded the previous year.
Partly inspired by Chuck Tremblay’s near-fatal heart attack in the spring of 2017, Hood made a New Year’s resolution to finally complete the album and in February 2018, Barbe baked the fragile tapes and placed them on reels for the first time in more than a quarter century.
“Finally releasing ‘Town Burned Down’ brings a sort of closure to one of the saddest and most important chapters of mine and Cooley’s lives,” writes Hood in the LP’s detailed liner notes. “The years we spent pounding out these songs made us the people and artists that we have later become, but we carried with us a darkness from never having been able to get the album out. The sound of these songs blasting out of the control room after all of these years while Cooley, Chuck and I grinned from ear to ear has truly been one of the most joyous events of my entire life. Songs from literally half of my life ago that somehow still seem vital to me all of these years later.”
Town Burned Down
Down On Me
6 O’ Clock Train
Love Really Sucks
Kiss My Baby
Shot Rang Out
Long Time Ago