Drivin N Cryin is a Southern Rock band who have rocked the South for 32 years. Starting out in the famous Atlanta 688 club in 1985, they have since left a legacy in cities across the South. I was lucky to have the opportunity to speak with the lead singer Kevn Kinney and learn about what has kept this group driving for over three decades.
Having spent decades on the road, Drivin N Cryin has had a lot of awesome adventures. When asked about his favorite memory of the road Kevn responded, “We opened for The Who when they did Quadrophenia. That was a good time. They paid us very well and then they gave us six tickets every night. That was part of our deal. We wanted to see the show every night because The Who is like our big band. That was pretty cool to watch Pete Townshend every night and it was fun because when we started in Montreal nobody knew who we were, and we were opening. It was kind of interesting. Then we went to the Northeast and New York kind of area — Philly, DC, Richmond. Then when we started hitting Richmond the crowds knew who we were. It was fun by the time we got to Atlanta — Pete Townshend was like “who are you guys? I heard you on the radio today like three times!” Not many bands can say Pete Townshend asked them “Who are you?”
Drivin N Cryin prides themselves on being a Southeast regional band. They view each city they visit as something special and value having strong roots in the South. “We kind of like having our music down here. There are a lot of great music lovers in the South.”
Being a regional band has allowed them to have a dynamic and personal connection with their audience. Playing the major southern cities twice a year allows the band to feel comfortable experimenting and improvising on stage. “The songs are different every night and the way we do the songs are a little bit different every night. It’s more fun for me that way.” Kevn shared how the connection the band has formed with these cities has allowed the fans to see them grow over their careers. He commented, “If I played Portland right now — it’s a big deal for me because I haven’t played Portland with Drivin N Cryin in 15-20 years. So, there is a lot of pressure on us to do well. I don’t get to show them the arc of my career because I am not coming back every six months. This is it! It’s a little bit harder for me to show who we are.”
As a longtime respected name in Southern music, Kevn shared some powerful advice for both young and new bands in the scene. He emphasized the importance of focusing on building a name at home and then expanding: “If I was looking to get a record deal it doesn’t matter what city you’re in. You could be in Hershey, PA or Lexington, KY or whatever. I would try to be the biggest band in that town. I would try to get everyone in that town come see me eventually. I would do everything possible. I would make posters. I would do everything to get 400 people to come see me play. Then you invite someone from a record company to come see you. The record company walks in and goes ‘How the hell did you get 400 people to come see you in Hershey, PA?’ Then you go can tell them your band is huge in town and the record company will want to find a way to expand that.”
For those who have been in the scene for awhile he said, “The advice I have for old bands is stop calling yourself an old band. Stop saying you’ve been there and done it. I never say I’ve been there, done it. I say I did and I can’t wait to do some more. Listen to the young musicians. Don’t be a know it all. Nobody cares. People are not impressed by people who just think they have nothing to offer.”
Having had such a full and dynamic career, he spoke a great deal on keeping things in perspective and allowing your perspective to mature. When it comes to his music he states, “If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it. Obviously when you start you do it for girls and beer. That’s ok. but somewhere along the line you’ve got to realize there are other reasons to do it. I use the music that we play as a form of self-help. I use the music to help myself heal.”
The legacy of Drivin N Cryin is nowhere close to fading. Kevn has plans to keep the band moving forward and using their music to reach the next generation of Southern music lovers. “After 32 years we have built a base, we have some people here in the south who know who we are, but we have a lot of people who have never heard of us still because they weren’t born when we had a hit record out last. So, I’m like let’s just build on this. Let’s try to build this every year, a little bit bigger a little bit bigger.” Keep your eyes on the lookout for more big things from Drivin N Cryin as they will be recording a new album this month and continuing to hit the road for years to come.