Shooter Jennings: Dark Side of the Tune
Originally published in Guitar World, April 2010
Shooting Jennings returns and chats with Guitar World about his latest album, Black Ribbons.
Shooter Jennings' debut, 2005’s Put the O Back in Country, was a ripsnorting fusion of hard-rocking guitars and country swagger, just what was expected from the son of country outlaw Waylon Jennings. It stayed on the country charts for more than a year, but over the course of three more albums Jennings began to chafe against the Nashville musical establishment and decided to make a break.
“We had a little success and the country industry tried to put their claws in and say, ‘You have to do it our way,’ ” he says. “That left me with a sour taste and showed me who my friends were. I’m very proud of those records, but I also wanted to show all the colors to my personality, so I left town and I didn’t look back. I got out of my label and my manager, and went home with nothing, broke and in debt, because that whole game is not who I am.”
Jennings began to branch out to more rock fans on last summer’s Warped Tour and has now made a sharp left turn with Black Ribbons, a sprawling Pink Floyd–esque concept album sparked by grinding industrial guitars and held together by a monologue co-written and read by novelist Stephen King, playing the part of a libertarian DJ about to be taken off the air by a totalitarian regime. Jennings is clearly blazing his own trails.
“With this record, I think I relieved myself of any expectations I’ve built up over the years,” he says. “I had moments of doubt and had to remind myself that I couldn’t think about the fans, because what brought me fans in the first place was making records for me, not what I thought someone wanted to hear. Recording this album was stepping out on a limb, but I feel comfortable there.”