Jason Isbell Waves “Bye” To Drive-By Truckers

Sad news for Drive-By Trucker lovers, as one-third of the band’s ass-whuppin’ three axe attack has decided to part ways with the band, amicably. Jason Isbell joined the group after the band’s breakthrough Southern Rock Opera and wrote his way into the hearts of Hood, Cooley, and the steady-growing legion of DBT fans. Lest you doubt the amicability of his departure, think about this: Jason’s wife Shonna Tucker remains in the Truckers. So, that’s one good-natured band split. Or a divorce in the making. The band explained via MySpace:

It’s with a wide range of emotions and feelings that I’m announcing that we have parted ways with Jason. The split, which I consider extremely amicable is the result of a period of personal and artistic growth from all sides which has left us with differing dreams and goals.

Jason joined our band, mid-tour, in the fall of 2001, shortly after the release of our 4th album (Southern Rock Opera). His impact on the band was immediate and profound, bringing an awe-inspiring combination of vocal range, guitar dexterity, and amazing songwriting and leading us into an era of creativity that has resulted in three albums that I will be proud of for as long as I live.

Life in a band is always a delicate balancing act of personal and musical chemistries. Having been in bands for most of my life, I still marvel that any band stays together for longer than a year. Especially if the band in question spends anywhere from 150-220 days a year on the road, as our band has done since 1998. That said, I have also likened this band to a family. A big, messy, sometimes dysfunctional one, but a family full of love all the same. It is in this spirit that I plan on Jason continuing to be a part of our lives wherever our roads and dreams take us in the immediate future.

Jason is about to embark on a tour (including a leg of dates with Son Volt) with his stellar band and will be releasing (finally) his amazing solo album “Sirens of the Ditch” < July 10 from New West Records > . We all are wishing him nothing but the absolute best on every step that plays before him.

Cooley and I will have played together for 22 years this summer and DBT is about to begin it’s 12th year of existence on the very day that we will be going into the studio to begin recording our 8th album. Cooley recently sent me a demo of five new songs and yesterday I demoed nine new ones for consideration. In addition to Shonna and Brad (who is coming up on ten years in the band) John Neff will be playing with us full time, playing both guitar and pedal steel. John was a founding member of the band in 96 and has already played on four of our albums and has been on the road with us, full time for going on two years.

It is my sincere and and adamant hope that everyone will support all of us, and by that I mean our band and Jason’s, as we deal with this transition. Jason’s tenure in this band has been one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me on a personal and musical level and our love for him and his music is in no way changed or endangered by our collective decision to move into different directions.

In addition to the upcoming THE DIRT UNDERNEATH tour and the recording of our next album, we will also be playing some special ROCK SHOW dates this summer and hope to do another leg or two of THE DIRT UNDERNEATH in the fall.

As always, the bond that we have with each other, as well as with the folks that come to our shows and listen to our records has always been one of the things that has set this band apart. We plan to continue on in that tradition and spirit and hope you will come with us as we attempt to tell another tale and Rock the nights away a little while

Sincerely Yours,
Patterson Hood
Drive-By Truckers
April 6, 2007

Throwing a dent in the “amicability theory,” however, is this blunt message on Jason’s MySpace:

I am not in the Drive By Truckers anymore. Go figure. I wish them luck. I will not answer questions about it.

Hmm. Anyway, head over there to hear some of Jason’s solo stuff and check some of his tour dates. Just make sure not to ask him any questions about it.