The Drive-By Truckers' music may be labeled rock 'n' roll, southern rock, indie rock, country rock and even just southern music, but their sound has more roots in traditional country than many people realize.

When Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood (whose dad, David Hood, was a session bass player on the Staple Singers' 'I'll Take You There') got together musically they tried on various identities -- the first as a punk band -- before debuting DBT and its distinctive sound in 1998.

"People are always asking me what influenced my sound," Mike tells The Boot. "When I thought about it I realized it started back in the late 1960s or early 1970s where there were a lot of music-oriented variety shows hosted by country artists. Johnny Cash had a show, Glen Campbell had a show, Mac Davis had one -- they were on television several nights a week. It wasn't like 'American Idol.' They had guests on who had actually put out records ... and were pretty up and coming."

Although Mike never copied another artist's musical style, he found himself drawn to the sounds and stylings of many of the traditional country musicians he heard as a youngster. "My dad really enjoyed music. He did have some records and one that he really liked was by Tom T. Hall. I re-discovered Tom T. Hall when we started [DBT] and I remembered my dad specifically liking him a lot. When I was a kid, I kind of turned my nose up at it because it was that old country music. As I got older I said, 'This stuff is amazing. It is great.' I guess I started imitating some of the sounds when we started [DBT]. It works for my specific set of skills and then we add some rock 'n roll."

Although DBT are normally a headlining act, they are now touring as openers for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

"It is totally cool," says Mike of their summer gig, opening for one of their biggest musical influences. "We are big fans. I'm also looking forward to the education of it. They are the best at what all bands like us want to do."

More From TheBoot