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Shooter Jennings rides the "electric rodeo"

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to Shooter Jennings releasing his sophomore disc, "Electric Rodeo." In an unusual move, he actually started recording it before his well-received debut, "Put the O Back in Country," was even released in March 2005.

So when it comes to pressure, Jennings did not have to worry about whether he would make a better album than his debut. But he knew it would not be a clone.

"I don't really feel any pressure because we're kind of crazy anyway the way we make our records," says Jennings via telephone during a late April pit stop in Orlando for a concert that night. "To me, it was very purely created and made. I don't feel like there's any pressure. I'm really proud of it. So is the band. Our fans love it, and if it does better or worse than the first record, I don't really care. I'm just glad it's out."

"We recorded the debut like a year and a half before it came out...It took us 10 months really to finish 'Electric Rodeo.' We had definitely gotten pretty deep into it by the time the first record came out. We already had just gone to new places with our music, and I think as a band, we had grown. I knew where I wanted this record to go."

"This one is a more country record, yet we dipped more into rock. We kind of got rid of the Americana flavor a little bit...which is something I kind of wanted to do."

Jennings says he wanted "to invent a sound with this record that was really this electric '70s country record. I like Americana, but it's just the vibe, the darker edgier kind of thing to this record is what I really like about it."

The first two songs Jennings penned for the CD were the title track and "Little White Lines." A band mate wrote "Hair of the Dog."

With those three songs, Jennings says he " knew what the flavor of this record was going to be, and I kind of wanted to keep that intact and bring the humor to it and find a way to make a record I would want to listen to and I think we would want to listen to," says Jennings. "This record to me is more of the aim of where I was trying to show what could be possible for the first record. We had just kind of touched on it."

The "we" is his backing band, The 357s, featuring Leroy Powell on guitar, Ted Russell Kamp on bass and Bryan Keeling on drums.

"It was a very natural (progression), and us playing a lot more together and also us starting to learn each other's instincts. Musically, Leroy the guitar player, he's not all into wanking and playing a lot of notes and showing off how good he is. It's more about creating sonic textures and walls. I love that about him, and I love that about the band. With this, we evolved into a record that wasn't a bunch of guitar solos and unnecessary stuff. At moments psychedelic and moments kind of classic kinds of sounds."

While he has two albums under his belt and not too shabby sales on "Put the O" attracting more than 200,000 record buyers, Waylon Albright Jennings, aka Shooter, may be best known at this point of his young musical career as the son of two very famous country performers, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.

And while some offspring may seek to distance themselves from famous namesakes, that is not the case whatsoever with Shooter Jennings. In fact, he embraces his parents in many ways from recordings to using his father's stylized winged "W" logo to a tattoo on his right arm that says "Jessi Colter."

But for the naysayers out there who figure about the only way Shooter Jennings got a record deal was not through his own talent, he could care less. He's quite happy with the results thus far.

Jennings is not part of the Nashville star making machinery. He may have grown up there, but he's lived in Los Angeles for six years.

He started his musical career at the ripe old age of four where he would hack away on the drums ("Drums, I think I'm the best at. I still play them a lot"). He soon graduated to piano and gave that up for guitar.

Apparently, it's the genes because at a time when most kids are worrying about their pimples, Jennings knew early on that music was his calling.

Of course, he had very good teachers. His father was one of the leaders of the Outlaw movement, doing things his way and eschewing the Nashville establishment big time. He had lots of hits, like "Good Hearted Woman" and "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," while hanging with the likes of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson in The Highwaymen.

'Colter had a career of her own going, best known for her number one single "I'm Not Lisa" in 1975. Interestingly enough, Colter, who sang with her husband on the road, has resurrected her career after Waylon's death four years ago, by releasing a strong album in February.

"I was very lucky, and they were great parents," says Jennings, an only child. "I was very close to my mom and still (am) and my dad. My dad and I never had one fight. I always felt like very lucky and appreciative of that. They loved music, and it was around me so much, and I got to grow up in an environment like that. It nurtured me and freed me to do music I wanted to do."

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