“We’re a different kind of band,” Kevn Kinney said of Drivin’ & Cryin’.
“The singer sounds funny. We’re not the sexiest band. We don’t jump around. But if you just give us a chance, we’ll show you a kind of music that’s about a little garage rock, a little hard rock, some Bob Dylan, some John Denver,” Kinney said.
In 2019, Drivin’ & Cryin’ released its 10th album, “Live the Love Beautiful.” It’s the first full-length project by the Atlanta band since its working-class rock opera, 2009’s “Whatever Happened to the Great American Bubble Factory?”
Drivin’ & Cryin’ — featuring co-founders Kinney and Tim Nielsen, drummer Dave V. Johnson and Estonian guitar wizard Laur Joamets — couldn’t promote “Live the Love Beautiful” to the extent the great album deserved.
“We canceled a lot of tours, right as we were trying to ramp it up,” Kinney said of the band’s pandemic-impacted 2020 itinerary. “We were supposed to go to the West Coast and the East Coast. Boston, New York, Seattle. Yeah, we lost momentum.”
Despite the disappointment surrounding “Live the Love Beautiful,” Kinney looks on the bright side.
“We’re just going to write another album, eventually, so, it’ll be fine,” he said a few weeks prior to Drivin’ & Cryin’s concert on Friday at the Manship Theatre’s Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre.
Kinney didn’t even mention that 2020, the coronavirus pandemic’s most disruptive year, was the 35th anniversary year of Drivin’ & Cryin’s founding. In October 1985, the band took the stage at Atlanta’s 688 Club for its first performance.
Progressing from its regional popularity in the Southeast in the 1980s, Drivin’ & Cryin’ signed with Island Records, toured with R.E.M. and recorded such future classics as “Straight to Hell,” “Honeysuckle Blue” and “Fly Me Courageous.” The band now has 10 albums and five EPs of material to choose from for its concerts, not to mention Kinney’s solo work.
“We don’t rehearse,” Kinney said. “We just keep doing shows, practicing on stage. We can play 75 percent of everything we’ve recorded. Of the 180 songs, we can probably do 120 of them.”
Following Drivin’ & Cryin’s commercial peak in the early ’90s, Kinney contentedly sustains a career that’s less lofty than the “Fly Me Courageous” years. In doing so, he follows the examples of such friends and inspirations as Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Lenny Kaye (the Patti Smith Group) and Dan Baird (the Georgia Satellites).
The British keyboardist Ian McLagan is another one of Kinney’s role models. Decades after the fame McLagan experienced with the Faces, Small Faces, Ron Wood and Rod Stewart, he moved to Austin, Texas, carrying on as a working musician until his death in 2014. “Someday,” a song on the “Live the Love Beautiful” album, captures the wild sound and spirit of McLagan and the Small Faces.
“Ian McLagan moved to Austin and played with just about every local band,” Kinney said. “He was still recording, still being part of the musical family. ‘Someday’ mentions him, but the song is really about those of us who keep doing — writers, doctors, insurance agents, whatever. They keep on going.
“I’m years behind my idols, but I’m following in their footsteps. People like Lenny Kaye, Dan Baird, Peter Buck, those guys are older than me, but they’re still driving the van. You don’t quit because you’re not as big you were.”
Regardless of not being as big as they once were, Kinney and Nielsen are the band’s constant members through the past 37 years.
“We respect each other,” Kinney said of the enduring partnership. “We keep it simple. It’s all about the band and the business. We try to find universal themes within the politics of the world, like do unto others and respect your brothers and sisters. Be a good citizen. It’s not always me first. You don’t always have to hurry up and be first. And we don’t want to be your favorite band. If you go see 50 bands this year, we just want to be one of them.”
Drivin’ & Cryin’/Katy Guillen & The Drive
7:30 p.m. Friday
Manship Theatre’s Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.