Guns N' Rodeo

Country, rock and Joaquin Phoenix all converge upon Shooter Jennings

The son of outlaw-country greats Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, 26-year-old Shooter Jennings plays country-fried Southern rock mostly about drinking, drugging and having a good time, even if you'll regret it in the morning. He released his second album, Electric Rodeo, in April, and is spending the summer on the road with Lynyrd Skynyrd and 3 Doors Down. Last week we reached Jennings on the phone the afternoon after the tour's first stop.

Is there a lot of overlap between your audience and Lynyrd Skynyrd's?

I think we're definitely reaching people we hadn't reached before. We're weird, because we get a big crowd in New York and L.A. and Dallas, and then we also do really well in the Southeast and in the Northwest. But it's not like we're getting a Southern rock audience; we're getting a country audience with young people who like rock.

James Minchin III

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Shooter Jennings performs at Smirnoff Music Centre on Sunday, July 9, with Lynyrd Skynyrd and 3 Doors Down.

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Are rock and country audiences becoming less segregated?

You know what it is? The rock audiences who also like country tend to like old country. I don't feel like new country and rock audiences have a lot in common; the new country audience has a lot more in common with the pop audience. Besides my dad, I got turned onto country music through Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. --they showed me that it can be cool to a young guy. I grew up listening to Guns N' Roses and Metallica and Alice in Chains, then came around to country when I got a little bit older.

What is it about old country that resonates with rock fans?

Honesty. During the late '60s and '70s you had Kris Kristofferson and Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash--they were all these honest guys. And in rock it was the same way; you had Zeppelin, the Doors, the Beatles, Joplin, Hendrix. It was this explosion of great music by all these real artists--people that stick by their guns and play their music.

Do you connect with much mainstream country--stuff by your Shania Twains and your Tim McGraws?

They've got their own thing, and they've definitely had success at it. But with a lot of these artists, it's a lot more manufactured. It's not to discredit what they've done. I appreciate a lot of the new country. I love some songs by Tim McGraw. Alan Jackson is one of my favorites, because his stuff is more honest. But right now most of it sounds a little too adult contemporary for me.

You appeared inWalk the Linelast year, playing your dad.

That was awesome. I don't know how to act; I mean, I'm never gonna be an actor. But just being around all that, getting to go down to Memphis, getting to be in a trailer--it was really cool. Joaquin was awesome. I got a friend out of that.

And right now you're working on a project using some of your dad's unreleased vocals, right?

I can't talk too much about it--it's top secret. But it's gonna blow everybody's mind, man.

 
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