12 QUESTIONS WITH JOHN NEFF

Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?
I started playing guitar at 13, and didn’t have anything resembling a career in music, till I moved to Athens, GA and picked up pedal steel. Athens, at the time had a scene that generally frowned upon slick musicianship, so I fit right in. It was there that I met Patterson Hood, and began playing with him in the original Drive-by Truckers lineup. I’ve also played with many other bands over the years.

What inspired you to start playing guitar?
I’ve wanted to play guitar for almost as long as I can remember. Early favorites are Queen, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix.

What was your first electric guitar?
My 1st electric was a double cutaway les paul jr. It has been broken and repaired several times, and I still own it.

What are your top 5 favorite records?
I’m not crazy about “top lists” but here are some favorites.
Up on the Sun – The Meat Puppets
Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
My Aim is True – Elvis Costello
Key Lime Pie – Camper Van Beethoven
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – Neko Case

What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?
Maybe playing Conan O’brien, or the Grammy nomination for the Bettye Lavette record I played on. I’m also plenty proud of “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark” – the latest DBT record.

How did you hear about Reverend?
I heard about Reverend several years ago from a friend who had purchased a Reverend bass, which I understand aren’t being made anymore.

What Reverend guitar(s) are you using?
A Metallic Red Warhawk II 390 with Les Trem.

What do you like about your Reverend guitar?
The quality and playability. I like the feel of the neck. There’s not a single buzzy spot on it. I love the Les Trem – it stays in tune perfectly. I like the way the guitar looks. I’m a little conservative when it comes to how a guitar should look. The Warhawk has a classic look while being an original design.

What amps and pedals do you currently use?
I’ve been playing through a 70’s Fender Deluxe Reverb, mainly. For pedals, a Line 6 DL4 Delay, an Xotics BB Preamp, and a Rat pedal. I’m working on relying on the overdrive/distortion pedals less, and using the guitar’s volume knob instead.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?
I enjoy playing ping-pong when I’m home.

Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
Do your own thing, and don’t be difficult to be around.

Please tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc. we should know about:
Drive-by Truckers are about to do a fall tour co-headlining with The Hold Steady. This December Japancakes – an instrumental band I play in will record its eighth record. Also, The Wydelles, a band fronted by Bo Bedingfield will make a record. Early next year DBT will go into the studio for their 9th.