Kid Rock Talks about ‘Rebel Soul’ and Rock
Published on November 26th, 2012 | by The Interview People
Born in Romeo, Michigan, Kid Rock was a rapper and hip hop performer debuting Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast in 1990. Rock’s follow-up records became more rock, country, and blues orientated and were met with mixed reviews. 2007′s album Rock n Roll Jesus featured the song “All Summer Long” which charted at No. 1 in eight countries across Europe and Australia. In 2010, he released Born Free which featured the eponymous song that was the political campaign theme of Mitt Romney.
Rebel Soul was just released November 19, 2012. The lead single, “Let’s Ride”, is dedicated to the United States military.
10 o’clock in the morning – time for your first cigar?
That is my second.
Yeah. (laughs) It’s a problem at this point. I mean, you don’t inhale them. So I quit cigarettes, started this – but you don’t inhale them. You get nicotine through your cheeks. And the way I look at it, you know, a new lung that’s pretty tough to get. But fuck it, I can afford a new lip. (laughs)
Well, we all need something. But how rebellious is number 9?
What’s number 9?
Well, this is your 9th album, isn’t it?
Yeah, shit. It might be more than that, I haven’t counted them. I don’t know, rebellious? I’m not sure. That’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of fun.
Are you on a mission unifying the country?
No, not really. I mean, I think it’s something that needs to happen. Especially now, we just had an election, you know. Everybody comes together and let’s, you know, to the better of this country… But, you know, I’m just trying to do my part. I don’t think all that weight falls on my shoulders, but I can do what I can do.
But take the very first song off the album “Chickens In The Pen”. Aren’t you saying that we are all like headless chickens, running around not knowing what to do?
Yeah, I like that. (laughs) It wasn’t what I was thinking of, but that’s perfect, that’s the beauty of music and lyrics. People can, you know, take that for whatever it means.
And stylistically: Is this a return to more rock?
Yeah, it’s definitely more rock. When we were thinking about the record, I was thinking of just trying to make kind of a greatest hits record with all new songs. You know, all different songs, but all the styles of music I like to do. And just do it the way I know how to make records. Whatever I was feeling that day just put that down. And it’s a much harder approach, because all the bullshit. Whether it’s radio, you know, magazine, television, this and that and the other, you know, everyone’s: “Why don’t you just make these country rock songs? Why don’t you go heavy Rock ’n’ roll? Why don’t you make the hip hop stuff like you used to make? And I just want to make the music I want to make. And that’s what I’ve always done. And I think people know that’s what I’m going to do.
Plus, it works, doesn’t it?
Had a little bit of success. (chuckles)
You must be so happy to be over that rap rock thing though. That would have been like a death nail to your coffin…
I don’t know what to say about hip hop these days. It’s kind of like bad pop music. Everything on the pop radio it’s got something to do with hip hop, you know. Whether they’re singing over something, it’s just… I don’t know. When we were rehearsing the other day it was like, when we started playing “Celebrate” and “Chickens In The Pen” – some of these new songs – and it’s like, you know, I’m a fan of all music. But I don’t give a fuck if it’s pop, hip hop, soul, country music. Nothing will ever transcend in an arena or a stadium like hard driving blues based Rock ’n’ roll – ever. You’ll never beat that live. Now maybe for people’s guilty ear pleasures, they like the pop stuff and this, that and the other. There’s some good music in that, you know. It’s not really my thing but, you know, I understand why kids like it. I’m not knocking it, but just pound for pound, when you go to see a show live, nothing will beat a great band.
Well, Rock ’n’ roll is made to be performed live.
Exactly. Imagine that: “Remember when people used to play live.” (chuckles)
It’s sad, isn’t it? We are forty-something, yet we sound like the elderly ranting about good old times…
It’s sad. Even a lot of my buddies in Nashville, you know, some of the greatest players in the world – country music – like some of these award shows they’re not playing live. Some of the greatest musicians in the world. Because they’re too worried about how it’s going to transcend to TV, you know what I mean. How it’s going to come off. I remember we did a show in Germany, we had to play to a track, you know. It’s the only way they did the show. And we were kind of like joking. Like: “Are you fucking kidding me?” (chuckles) And I understand sometimes people, there are certain situations where you can’t play in halftime for an NFL Game. You can’t put everything on stage in two minutes and play live. But you can sing live, you can do something live. So, whatever.
Unless you do your dance routines. Then you probably can’t sing in tune.
(chuckles) Yeah, that’s how most people rehearse these days. “What time do we meet at the dance studio?” Not the rehearsal hall. (chuckles)
So it’s tough times for rock music?
There’s a lot of good music out there. And, you know, the internet’s made it just more open and easier to dig and search for the type of music you love, and to find the real stuff, to find the good stuff. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t, you know, transcended to the radio. And to, you know, to the big media outlets that people search for everyday. Because, let’s face it: most people have to work. And they’re working 40 or 50 hours a week, and they can’t – like me – sit around all day and look for jams and look for music. They put out this compilation called “Now That’s Music”. It fucking sucks, stupidest thing ever. I’d like to put one out, you know, “Now This Is Real Music” and just take a lot of the bands, you know, Band Of Heathens out of Austin and different bands, you know, around that I’ve seen that are great with great songs, and just put them for people to enjoy, you know. And maybe give them a launching pad. But since I can do that maybe I almost feel a responsibility like I should. Try to put out what I think is really good music by really good players and songwriters. And try to get that recognized.
Top Dog proudly presents?
Something like that. Or Top Dog unproudly presents. (laughs)
Why another cover of a John Eddie song, which is your third one by now, isn’t it? Because the man is like a rebel in itself – if only against the music industry?
Well, kind of. It’s just that he’s somebody who I think is a real genuine songwriter – who I’ve become friends with over the years. I don’t go down in Nashville and write with people a lot.
I never do really. I’ll write with buddies here and there. Because I just don’t think you write a song by making, you know, they make appointments. Like: “Meet me at Sony Studios at 3 in the afternoon and we’ll write some songs.” And there’s some great songs that come out of that. It’s just not how I work. You know, I’m not knocking anybody. But the way I work is: I like to know somebody. I like to be friends with them, I like to write something that you can feel that’s real.
So you’re not into the Nashville session thing?
Nah. (chuckles) I love Nashville, I have a lot of fun down there. Like I said: “You want to see the greatest players in the world in any bar on the corner, hangout in Nashville!”
But you’ve got a condo down there?
I’ve got a condo in Nashville, yeah. My son goes to college down there.
Even though he has started a musical career as well?
He thinks he does. (chuckles) I already told him: “Have fun. You’ll never be better than me.”
Does he take it serious, or do you take it seriously?
No, I take it seriously. I’m trying to, you know, when I’m being a smart ass and say “you’ll never be better than me,” I’m trying to say to him in a roundabout way how hard I worked to get where I’m at. And I’m not sure if you’re prepared to work that hard. And this just doesn’t happen overnight. And I wished it was passed down through the gene pool. But, you know, I haven’t seen it work that way too many times. Maybe with Hank – that’s about it. So, you know, I’m just preparing him. Bill Withers said in a documentary I was watching to his daughter, who is a very talented singer. He said: “Baby, on your way to greatness you’re going to pass through alright. Make sure you take a good look around there. Cause it might be as far as you get.” And, you know, struggling musician as we know is a tough life. And that’s exactly where I’d be if I hadn’t worked hard and had some success.
But you are not going to produce his album or anything like that?
Not at this point. But, you know, I mean, I’m his father. So anytime he asks for advice I’m going to be there for him. If he asks me to help him out, I’m sure I’ll help him out at some level. But he’s got to put in the work himself first. He’s got to go play the shows and get kicked out and be able to get back up. It’s even tougher these days. Cause when I was coming up, you know, there wasn’t the internet and everything. And you went out and played shows. And even if you weren’t that good, it was only to a handful of people. So you were getting better. Nowadays – especially as he’s got to be under my limelight – so as soon ￼￼￼￼￼as he does something, everybody looks at it. And he might not be that great yet, you know. So, as he’s building his way to greatness he’s being judged even harder along the way. But you know what? The good comes with the bad. You also have nice studios to use, and a lot of friends in the business that when you do get something going, you’ll have a lot of great advice that most up and coming bands and musicians don’t get. So it works both ways. You know, I said: “Just don’t bitch, man. Just be thankful for what you got and keep working hard.”
He should have a great time in college being your son, and with everybody knowing that?
I think it’s the same thing: Some days it is and some days it isn’t. Not everybody likes Kid Rock. (chuckles) I mean, hell even I know that. (laughs) Matter of fact I don’t think there’s any in between. It’s not like the Foo Fighters where people they’re just like: “We love them.” Or: “They’re okay.” You know, it’s me like I love him or I fucking hate that Kid. It’s not really any middle ground.
We have been talking about you visiting the troops in Iraq and what you’ve experienced over there. But what made you write a song like “Let’s Ride” that’s like a battle anthem?
Kind of. Yeah, that’s what was going through my head when I heard the music and came up with it, and was writing it. I thought it would be nice that these guys have something that pays them respect but also gets them in the mind space they need to be in when they got to go in and do this dirty work. And drive through those hills of Afghanistan wondering if a roadside bomb is going to go off. And you know, all these things. And I just thought I’d try to give them something to get them… Not to sound corny, but I guess pumped up. But something that’s hard, that’s heavy but still melodic, and it’s not politically correct, but it is the truth of what’s going on. You know, when I say: “No pussy, no dope, this ain’t Saigon, keep your heads up for roadside bombs.” It’s like, that’s basically what they’re doing over there is looking out for roadside bombs. When at least when you’re in Vietnam – as shitty as that war was, too – at least there were girls around. At least you could drink Budweisers and smoke a little dope, if you wanted to. And I’m not saying everybody did that, but it was there. And I got to imagine that at least took a little tension off your mindset, when you’re in a war torn place. Which, you know, I’ve been through, you know, 6 or 7 times all over the world. And it’s fucked up.
Were you never scared for your life? You’ve been to Afghanistan right?
Oh yeah, a bunch of times. I’ve been everywhere. I mean, it’s a little freaky at times. I feel safe. But when you take a couple choppers and you’re flying over the hills of Afghanistan very low knowing someone can take a pot shot at you, and you’re hearing mortars going off and bases and stuff and sirens, it’s a little freaky. But I know that I’m more protected than the average soldier over there. I always try to say to people here in America that are entertainers like me: I do feel safe. I feel okay and for people that our troops want to see: ￼￼￼￼￼you will be taken care of. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very rewarding. And it’s a very good thing to do. And no, you shouldn’t be scared.
Well, you are following a long line of entertainers that used to do that. From Marilyn Monroe to Bob Hope to whoever?
Except they never had a war that lasted over 10 years. (chuckles)
Which most people seem to have forgotten by now…
I think it’s easy for people, yeah, after 10 years to not think about it every day. And to see those soldiers names who have died listed on the third page of the paper or whatever. It’s just, you know, it’s war. It’s not pretty.
But visiting the troops on a regular basis, do you feel like it is an artist’s obligation to give back to the people?
I think it’s anybody’s obligation that lives in a free society to do something to contribute. You know, freedom’s not free. No matter what it is. Whether you serve, whether you write letters or whether you gather things to send over or somebody like me who can use his talents to go play for the troops. Everybody can do something whether you serve, or you’re in politics, you serve the Red Cross, something like that. I think you should do that unselfishly. I think that’s everyone’s duty, who lives in a free society.
You’re also involved in giving them houses when they return. I mean, I read about you handing a house to a badly injured soldier, while in general nobody takes care of them when they return. And there’s 30.000 of them coming back this year.
Yeah, I’m just once again trying to do the little things I can. There’s a great organization out of Texas, Operation Finally Home, where I met the guys. And they get this done. You know, there’s some of these places, you got to really watch these charity things. The Red Cross does great things. But the guy that’s running it is making a million dollars a year. Is that right? I know it’s a huge organization, and it’s a big undertaking, but I think that people who have been successful in business, who have made lots of money, especially in America, you know, through the freedoms and opportunities that are here, that they should go and serve these charities for a year or two for barely any money. Just to give back, you know what I mean? I think this is a way we could all give back. But this place Operation Finally Home they do it very, very with no overhead. And we get the whole community involved. So, when they’re asking me to help them in Texas, I said: “Could you help out some of our soldiers in Michigan that are coming home?” And they said: “Yeah, we can.” So, you know, I feel it’s important to help out your neighbors first. So that’s, you know, always what’s in my head is trying to help out the people I’m closest to.
How does that go along with the social commentary in “3 Catt Boogie”? Like: “Uncle Sam is selling us a one world nation” and “banks hedgin’…”?
Bets for the next generation…
That’s a very critical view on America…
I think it’s very true. It’s just what’s going on right now. That’s what you see going on.
So you’re making a division between the people and those in power?
I mean, I think there’s good on both sides. I don’t think everybody’s bad on one side or the other. As crazy as Wall Street is, I don’t think everybody’s bad on Wall Street. There’s probably some great people there. My brother-in-law is on Wall Street. He’s a great kid. I know what he does, you know, in society and how he raises his family, looks out for his neighbors. He’s a great person. And I know there’s some greedy people, too. There’s a same thing in that, you know. Even when we talk about our troops, there’s some bad ones. There’s mostly great ones. But there are some bad eggs. In anything in life, I think we all know this.
Hence the question: How long do we actually need to fight wars?
Hopefully never. But, you know, I don’t think that’s a reality. It would be nice to get rid of all these things: war and racism and poverty and all this stuff. But there’s always going to be a rich, there’s always going to be a poor. There’s always going to be racism. I hopefully like to think at this point – even though there will always be racism in America – that or anywhere that there’s no systems in place anymore that prevent people from bettering themselves. Like there were in the 60s and the 50s and the 40s, where you had to attend certain schools and couldn’t ride the bus with white people. Those things are all gone. I don’t believe there’s anything in place that hinders people from bettering themselves. There’s always going to be people who are racist in their own right. That’s just, you know, we’re going to have to deal with that in society. But, you know, I think it’s start, time to start thinking positive, everyone working together, and make this world just a better place. You can still have a fucking great time, you know what I mean?
Plus Detroit is the perfect example for a run down city?
Very much so. Shows you what happens when, you know, the city’s down trodden, when it’s corrupt politically, and where there’s no family structure. Which is the biggest thing. The lack of the family structure, you know. Not having a father in the house, you know. Having teenagers having kids, and falling in the Welfare System. It’s just, you know, opportunity is there, it’s not sometimes the best, it’s not bright and shiny like you want it to be. But I believe opportunity is there. The problem is the guidance, you know, from the family ￼structure, and family can be anybody at any time. It doesn’t have to be a mother and a father. But that family structure seems so broken in Detroit, you know, and that’s one of the things I struggle with when I try to help out so many organizations and things down there, is really how do we help the family structure? It’s going to take generations. Hopefully it doesn’t, but that might be the reality of it.