Today, singer/songwriter/country music ambassador/country royalty/actor/producer/jackass Shooter Jennings sits down with FTM for this incisive, sharp-witted interview. We really cut through the b.s. and get down to some profound answers.
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FTM: Hello Shooter! It was nice of you to take a break from your busy Tweetingschedule to make time for us!
Shooter: No problem. It's hard out there for a pimp. Most of the time I'm keeping up with your love affair with modern country.
FTM: Yeah, I know. Well, I'm gonna skip past formalities and get to some pressing questions. Does musical talent run in your family?
Shooter: Well, you would think it would, but these days I'm not so sure! But love of music definitely runs in my family. From all my brothers and sisters to my aunts and uncles, music and records have been very important in our lives. Obviously we all like Waylon records a lot too!
FTM: Obviously, that was a reader question. I ain't neerly that stupid.
Next question: Do you consider yourself an outlaw? Could you kick Brantley Gilbert's ass?
Shooter: Haha! I certainly think I could give the guy a run for his money. I'm little and I bite. But at the end of the day, the outlaw thing has been so overdone at this point I like to think I'm an outlaw-outlaw. A double outlaw. Because I wanna outlaw outlaws, get it?
FTM: Speaking of outlaws, just what the heck is XXX music? Are you that big into porn?
Shooter: Only the kind that you can get at ammo stores. But seriously, the website we set up last year GiveMeMyXXX.comwas originally a petition to try and get folks to pay attention to what I felt was a very big and very unfair gap in modern music. This contingent of artists don't fit into Nashville or Red Dirt circles really, and they're too hard edged for Country radio, and they're too Country for Rock radio. I always felt I fell in that gap, and artists like Hank 3 did as well. But that gap has grown considerably, and I wanted to create a resource page for people to hear, read about and find more of these bands. Then we started releasing compilations which I think really got people into a lot of artists they'd never heard before. By the end of it all, I felt pretty proud of the work we did last year. Now we're trying to create some more active resources to help people find music, as well as playing shows and working in the studio with them. I just think there's a tidal change about to come with Country. I think we're gonna start seeing more and more of these bands get closer and closer to the mainstream until it cracks. Most people I know love Scott H. Biram and Hellbound Glory. It's like the new rock and roll in a way too. So to answer your question, the XXX moniker isn't something that we're trying to force on anyone, it was just a way of categorizing it… but at the end of the day I think we got some people's attention.
FTM: Who would win in an arm wrestling match: You or Hank 3?
Shooter: Probably Hank 3. He's got really long forearms. But I do hear he's sober now. Maybe I'd have a leg up if I smoked some meth and got all fired up on Mountain Dew.
FTM: I once listed you as one of the 10 worst vocalists in music. Is your friendliness towards me just an attempt to draw me in close and then have your trenchcoat-clad henchmen layeth the smack down on me?
Shooter: No, no, no, man. It's more of a birds of a feather thing man. You're one of the worst writers in music and I'm one of the worst vocalists, and we finally came together. So happy together.
FTM: Touché! Your new album is called Family Man and you are, in fact, a family man. Coincidence?
Shooter: I'm shocked you put that one together. I love being a father so I can proudly say I am a family man. Not to get too serious, but I definitely feel like (the irony of the title aside) I've definitely been changed quite a bit by my family. For the most part, I don't have to sit around and dream up songs about getting high or why new country music sucks all day. Now I write songs about why it's hard to be high and be a good father and why new country music sucks all day.
FTM: You didn't name your kids typical stupid celebrity baby names like Apple or Blisterpack. Why?
Shooter: Blisterpack! Wow. I should have thought about that one. Alabama and Blackjack are pretty normal names where I come from. But fuck man, my name is Shooter. As a kid Shitter, Tooter, anything but fucking Shooter. So at least Blackjack sounds like he's gonna fuckin' rob you if you fuck with him. He acts that way too. He's a little shit hook with a great sense of humor. Alabama runs the show. If you've ever seen True Romance, you know that.
FTM: Be honest. How many Ed Hardy shirts do you own?
Shooter: Zero. That's for sure. In fact, I've ended many a friendship over Ed Hardy shirts. Just last week some guys broke into my house and left three Ed Hardy shirts. We were devastated.
FTM: What is a "double-talkin', chicken-lickin', meaner-than-the-dickens, sick and wicked, hole-diggin' son of a gun?" Licking farm fowl sounds pretty unhygienic.
Shooter: You do what you have to do to survive man.
FTM: I've read a few comments saying that "The Deed and the Dollar" is a wimpy, whipped song. I don't agree, but don't you think that if these people were married to the lovely Drea de Matteo, they'd be pretty whipped too?
Shooter: We ain't married yet! I think that's how she's kept me so whipped all these years, by NOT marrying me. But for god's sake man, I never understood how it was supposed to be cool to "love em and leave em". I mean, don't get me wrong, I like waking up in a house the smells like old beer and dirty pirate socks as much as the next guy, but keeping a woman is a hell of a lot harder than keeping Barney sober enough to drive home in the morning so you can have your "youporn" time.
FTM: Not married yet, huh? Larry Lee would not be pleased. You have another album (The Other Life) coming out this fall and you've said another will follow not too long after that. Are you in competition with Ryan Adams for who can put out the most albums before age 40?
Shooter: I never believed in cramming records down peoples throats, and I am definitely NOT as prolific as a fellow like Ryan. With these two records, we really cut 15 songs in the original batch, so I'm only having to come up with five more. We're almost there… But I do think in this day and age that the two year record cycle doesn't work anymore. People talk too much with social networking and an artist gets lost in the fold. When we finished the record (in 15 song form), i sent it around to a few people and a good friend of mine Jay Frank told me that the move was splitting it up and doing em 6 months apart. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right as rain. So we're putting these two out in 2012. I think album 3 with The Triple Crown will roll thru next fall hopefully, and then after that my plan is to attack another Hierophant album (like it or hate it, bitches).
FTM: Here's another reader submitted question: What is it like to work next to Ted Russell Kamp's pants every night?
Shooter: Hahaha. Profound. Moving. I miss his pants. And his mustache.
FTM: Despite the Colt Ford song on the last tribute, I think you and your mom have done a great job maintaining and respecting Waylon's legacy, much in contrast to a certain other country legacy and family that won't be mentioned here. So, I'm guessing there won't be any Waylon boxer shorts or emo cover albums coming out any time soon?
Shooter: No there won't. In fact I didn't really have much to do with the tribute records. That was really Witt Stewart and her. But even when my dad was alive, he never went down that road. It may have hurt his legacy in the long run, but I've finally gotten to a place where I really feel like taking on his legacy and doing the right thing. We've got some great new shirts and stuff coming from this great company we partnered with Blood is the new Black, and I'm in talks about a Waylon movie, and I've been (slowly) revamping waylon.com. I'm hoping to see a rise in his remembrance over the next few years. And don't worry, the movie will be NOTHING like any biopic before. I'm on it like flies on shit and am heavily involved in the approach and the entire concept was mine… His legacy will be protected for sure in the best way.
FTM: You'll be playing Lucero's Family Picnic in Arkansas in May. What's your favorite picnic food?
FTM: Mine too! Say, who could take down a fifth of Beam faster, you or your mom (Jessi Colter)?
Shooter: My mom's pretty damn badass, but bourbon ain't her thing. She'll crush me in tequila though.
FTM: Your baby mama plays Wendy Case on my favorite show, Sons of Anarchy. How bout some spoilers for the upcoming season?
Shooter: She's coming back. That's all I can say and know. They don't tell us anything.
FTM: Who are some of your influences, besides your dad, Jason Aldean and Danzig?
Shooter: Haha. It's crazy because of course as a kid I loved and listened to my dad's music, and Willie and all those guys because they were around in my life so much, but I was born in '79. I was a MTV kid. The first records I bought were Dire Straits 'Brothers in Arms' and G'N'R 'Use Your Illusion 1 & 2'. When I first heard 'Broken' by Nine Inch Nails, I went nuts. I thought it was the coolest most aggressive music ever. I was also a computer nerd as a kid and I played piano and drums from a young age, so I saw a lot of inspiration in Trent Reznor. Then when 'The Downward Spiral' came out, it was the coolest sounding record I'd ever heard! Truthfully, it was the record that really inspired me to start playing music. Then thru NIN i got into Bowie, and from Bowie the glam scene and then Beatles and Pink Floyd and then it all started snowballing from there. It wasn't until I was about 20 that I really got into country music because I hadn't really related to the lyrics yet. Early Hank Jr was and still is one of my biggest influences. His music really spoke to me at a younger age (more so) than most country artists.
FTM: Okay, after all those stupid questions, it's time for a bunch more! Here's the non-famous Lighting Round!
Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood, and why?
Shooter: Taylor. She writes her own shit and has the edge in height.
FTM: Natty Ice or Steel Reserve?
Shooter: Natty Ice
FTM: What's the last "so bad it's good" movie you saw?
Shooter: Hobo with a Shotgun
FTM: How many times have you been arrested …that you'll admit?
FTM: Do your kids make you watch Caillou? How awful is that show?
Shooter: I quickly got off Sprout and onto Nick. Yo Gabba Gabba is much more my speed. Nice Caillou reference. I do miss the Good Night show with Nina tho.
FTM: Are you ever going to cut your hair and move to Nashville?
Shooter: Yes. Next week.
FTM:"Outlaw You" is one of the better anti-Nashville songs released in recent memory. On a scale of 1 to Chris Brown, how angry does pop-country make you?
Shooter: Adam Lambert mad.
FTM: I don't even know what that means. What's your favorite Tyga song?
Shooter: Who is Tyga?
FTM: Exactly. Have you ever gone chillin' on a dirt road and swerving like you're George Jones?
FTM: Does Drea have any dangerous mob boss relatives who you'd best not cross?
Shooter: Yeah, her whole family.
FTM: Uh, I was kidding with that "baby mama" crack earlier.
Next: Better late-night-drunk food: Waffle House or Krystal (White Castle)?
Shooter: Don't you (White Castle) me you fucker. If I don't know what Krystal is, I shouldn't fucking play country music. Krystal. Close (to) tie tho.
FTM: Language! Okay, one serious question before I let you go. Gimme 2 albums from 2012 that we really need to hear:
Shooter: Here's three: Fifth on the Floor's new one (shameless promotion, I produced it, but it's pretty smoking') Hellbound Glory 'MericA' (which I'm hoping to get in and produce in may) Bob Wayne 'Till The Wheels Fall Off' (Which I didn't have a thing to do with but he played for me and it's fucking amazing) and Jack White 'Blunderbuss' (cuz it's fucking rad)
FTM: Shooter, that was 4. You fail the math portion of this exam. You pass overall though, especially due to the coining of the term "double outlaw." Thanks so much for joining us today for this penetrative interview.