Shooter Jennings Hints At New Album

Shooter Jennings Hints At New Album

The son of legend Waylon Jennings (whom he portrayed in Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line), Shooter Jennings followed his father onto the country music charts. But a sharp stylistic detour is around the corner. We caught up with him as Warped Tour rolled through NJ, to chat about his forthcoming rock album, the art of busting up instruments, and just what heís doing on the tour in the first place.

- Joe Smith
Photo by Corinne

posted July 27, 2009

How are you?

Doing great!

How does a straight up country star like you land on the Warped Tour?

Oh man. By being very bored with country music, probably. You know, it was kind of a hair-brained scheme on the part of my manager. But we got this new record that we just finished thatís pretty pushing the limits of everything weíve ever done musically, itís pretty modern. So weíre excited to kind of dip our toes in the water here, and Kevin [Lyman, Warped Tour creator] has been very adamant about having us in the bill this year, I think heís launching kind of a more country/alt modern thing next year based on more Southern music.

Well how have the audiences been reacting? Theyíre probably not used to your kind of music.

Yeah. Itís crazy, man. Every townís different. Some towns, like here, we had a great time. You never know whatís gonna happen. Sometimes youíre gonna pick up some fans that are young and have never heard anything like what we do, and sometimes youíre gonna pick up all the people in the reverse day care tent, all the adults. Weíve been flyering that, trying to cash in on the best market we possibly can. Thereís so many people here, man. I can even walk through the crown today, right now, and not have anybody come up to me. But if Iím trying to find a bathroom at seven in the morning, the crews that are setting up the stages are all fans of ours.

You have a pretty interesting sound clip that opens up your set. Can I ask you about that?

Ah! Very interesting that you noticed that, thatís our first time to do that out here. I canít tell you who it is, because thatís part of the new album. A lot of it goes on, and itís kind of a big secret. But Iíll tell you, itís someone that people know, and it kind of it explains a lot of what is going on in the new album. The new albumís kind of this concept record, and this DJ that goes on throughout [the album] has a lot to do with it. Wow, nobodyís ever asked me about it.

Well, from what I picked up from that little clip, it seems like a bit of discontent there.

Well, the whole album is kind of this big concept record about truth, and about the importance of love and two people connecting. Itís masqueraded as this kind of futuristic story that goes on with this guy. As a whole, I believe it is something that is a really cool piece of art; weíre really excited about it. So that is a little leak of a hint to whatís happening when it comes out.

You said the new album is about truth. It sounds like that could mean truth to yourself as well as others.

Yeah, and a lot for me musically and what weíre doing on the record is very true to who I am and where I wanted to go with things. I think I felt really beat down by my whole experience in Nashville and I got out of my label, got away from my management, and kinda cut my ties with the town and went and did something that I was really excited musically about. And now weíre out here introducing it.

And the album is out in October, right?

I donít have a date yet. Iím guessing close to Halloween, though. Which would be an appropriate fit, I think.

Is there anything else you can tell us about it?

Itís called ďBlack Ribbons,Ē and itís a whole record. Itís the longest record weíve ever done by far, itís not ten songs hoping for a radio single. Itís definitely, as a piece, I think it sits the best if you listen to it all at once.

So you went for a total concept, rather than just throw some songs together?

Yeah, definitely. I think for me and the kind of guy that I am, that was the direction I wanted to go next. Because I felt like we had done a lot of experiment with rock and psychedelics and country and mixing them all together so this time around we went with something thatís not retro at all. So the whole thing is pretty out there and progressive. I think itís exciting.

Something else Iím curious about; a lot of these bands here are playing keyboards, but you brought a full-on organ on tour. Youíre not pulling any punches on the live show.

Bobby [Emmett], our keyboard player, played in a band called The Sights. Theyíre from Detroit, and Iíd seen them open up for the Datsuns one time, Iíve probably seen them three or four times total. I met him through our producer Dave Cobb, whoís done all of our records and the new one. We really hit it off. We started playing on the road and Bobbyís, like, moving the organ across the stage and jumping on it, slamming it, breaking it, and then fixing it every night. So he doesnít trust it on the big Warped trucks but at the same time he fixes it. So every day, him and the dudes are hauling it, no matter how far theyíve got to get it, trying to get it on stage.

Very cool. Well is there anything else youíd like to add?

Hey, I really appreciate you asking about that intro, man. That was cool.

Thanks a lot, I appreciate you taking the time.

No problem, man. Thank you.