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Shooter Jennings rides the "electric rodeo"

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2006

Page 3...

Ultimately, though, it goes back to the music.

"Music, man, is why we make the records, not for any other reason, not to be stars or whatever. The four of us in the band are all so like minded in that way that we play for ourselves. We want to get better and better and better and keep putting on an amazing show for everybody and keep throwing in, adding new things."

Led Zeppelin "changed their formula so many different ways," he says. "Yet, it's an amazing band. As time went on, they became better and better and branched out and got wilder. We're kind of like that in the way we operate. We switch instruments and do all kinds of instruments and do all kinds of things."

"It's definitely a lot of work," Jennings admits. "Like even today, I have to get three radio shows done (Jennings hosts a show on Sirius satellite radio). I've done five phoners, and I still got until five to get one of my shows mailed off, or I'm going to be in trouble...It's also hard to keep a real balance on your real personal life as well at home too. Personal relationships what not. All those things are really tough. You got to be really good and have a good sense of balance, or it could be easy to get lost in all of that."

Jennings has been going out for a long time with actress Drea DiMatteo.

"It's a challenge, but it's also what it keeps you real," says Jennings of the road and being a musician.

When it comes to his musical influences, Waylon is never too far behind. On "Some Rowdy Woman," Shooter tends to echo his father's vocals, although he is not Waylon Jr. either.

He has that gritty Waylon sound as well on the appropriately title "Little White Lines" (Waylon had a cocaine problem in the '70s).

The song even quotes the words "Lonesome, orn'ry and mean," a song recorded by his father. (This was not the first time that son quoted the father. On the title track of the debut, Shooter sang, "Are you ready for the country?")

"It's always going to happen," Jennings says of references to his father. "They talk about how I'm copying and imitating my dad on that song...I wasn't. I wrote that song. That was me and my voice...That's what I sound like when I write songs that sound like that...That's all right. I'm proud of my dad. If that happens, it happens. I know and I'm confident enough in my own musical ability and my band the way we are, eventually we will outshine that. I'm not angry about it. I'm so proud of where I come from."

So much so apparently that in last fall's popular Johnny Cash biopic, "Walk the Line," Shooter played his father in a small role.

Drugs are referred to in several Shooter Jennings songs. The debut had "Busted in Baylor County," based on a true story of what happened to Jennings and his band.

As for "Little White Lines," which has a spoken part where Jennings makes like he's speaking to a cop, trying to pretend that the drugs are really for a back problem, "cocaine is so passť now. It's not a cool drug any more like it was in the '70s because people didn't know anything about it...I always found it like in the '70s that there was all these blatant cocaine songs...I wanted to write one of those for the hell of it."

As for the spoken part, Jennings says, "I'm a big fan of Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. That's where kind of a lot of the inspiration for where the lines came from...where they have these spoken parts where it was funny."

He then quotes Dr. Hook from a song "Freaking at the Freaker's Ball."

"It's kind of making light of it was what my intention was. Don't everybody be so serious about it all this stuff because it's not that big a deal, you know what I mean."

As for the record label, "they let us do our thing. They don't complain. There have definitively been battles. They don't always understand where we want to go...They were in no way (opposed to the song)."

Jennings intended to release Hank Williams Jr.'s "The Living Proof," but axed that in exchange for "It Ain't Easy," a ballad about what his father meant to him.

"The decision was made at the very last minute, as last minute as you can make it because it was really penned at the very last moment."

"'Livin Proof' is a great song, and I love it, but they're too close sentiment wise. I'm not so much threatened by my father's shadow as he (Hank Jr.) was. It's not such a big issue with me or try to run away from that or try to prove myself outside of that. To me, 'It Ain't Easy" was more how I feel towards my dad and how I feel about my life...I felt it was a better sentiment to me than the other one because it was more appreciative I think of where I come from, but the other track, I love it. At one point, it's going to come out."

"It was written very quickly. It wasn't necessarily easy, but it was an emotion I was going through at the time, which was pretty heavy. There was a lot of self doubt going on. I was fighting a lot with the record label about some issues. The first single was going to be 'Aviators,' but I wanted a video shot for that, but they didn't do that. Radio turned it down...It really started making me feel pretty trapped at the time, and so I just kind of wrote it."

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