Welcome Back: Tedeschi Trucks Band

Anything goes in the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

The group’s ethos is implied by the soaring eagle on the sleeve of third album Let Me Get By, and is underlined by the ten new tracks, which dart between soul, blues and gospel. The album also features extended improvisations between the 12-piece line‑up, helmed by Susan Tedeschi (vocals) and Derek Trucks (guitar). “You can’t think about what radio or record companies want,” says the singer. “It’s about what the music wants.”

You don’t seem to have any rules when it comes to genre…

That’s true, and I think that’s because of how many influences there are in the band. There’s twelve of us – but there is common ground. We all like Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. We also love Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Delaney & Bonnie. We’re kinda like a big jambalaya pot of them all.

Lyrically, what themes came up?

There’s a song called Laugh About It, and it’s sorta sarcastic because there’s so much tragedy going on in the world. When we started writing lyrics, it was during the time the States were dealing with the [police] shootings. I’m sure there’s plenty of amazing cops, but that’s a real issue when you have a young kid get shot because he looks like he has a gun, but he has a pack of Skittles. Meanwhile, if it was a white girl, they wouldn’t have shot her.

Do you think the terrorist attacks in Paris will change how people feel about watching live music?

We played Paris the Friday before and tensions were high. There were already cops and bomb dogs around. I think people have every right to be nervous, but you can’t live in fear because then you’re giving in to these people. It’s not even about America, France or England – they just don’t give a shit about life.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is your sole focus right now, isn’t it?

Yeah, which is great, because it’s hard to focus on multiple bands and children. When the kids were two and four, Derek was playing with Clapton, he was also in the Allman Brothers and had his own band – and I had my band. So that’s four bands and two children! I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ And he was like, ‘I’m quitting the Allmans’ – but he couldn’t, because they’re like family. But he started to realise he was spreading himself too thin.

Has the band been good for your marriage?

It’s been great. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. There were times we had a lot of friction, and we were going in two different directions, and I think that was one of the reasons: because we weren’t on the same page, and we weren’t living the same experiences.

The band are famous for improvising live. What’s the appeal?

Because it gets your adrenalin running. Y’know, it makes you feel alive. And it’s freeing, just to be in the moment. People love that too, because they don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re definitely a live, organic band. There’s a lot of bands that have laptops and background tracks. We’re not gonna judge and tell people they can’t do it or whatever – but it is kinda lame.

Classic Rock 219: News & Regulars

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.