Shooter Jennings Gives Late Father an Industrial Makeover
The sound of Waylon Jennings is forever rooted in country music, and on what is being called his final recordings, 'Waylon Forever,' due October 21, it remains that way. But fans of the legend, who passed away in 2002, might have gotten a rather different portrait of the man if the original version of the album, which he began in the mid-nineties with his teenage son Shooter, had been released.
"They're really tripped out," Shooter tells Spinner. "[There are] like screaming guitars and drum machines and [it's] very like industrial-ish, 'cause I was really into all that s--- then."
"That whole time was really exciting," he said. "It was music that I could do because it was music with keyboards and drum machines. I kind of jimmy-rigged a little computer recording station. I did all the tracks there and brought them to the studio, and had my dad do them."
In fact, what Shooter and Waylon originally did to one of the album's tracks, 'Outlaw S---,' was inspired by Nine Inch Nails, long before Johnny Cash covered one of Reznor's numbers.
"I was listening to 'Hurt' when I had the idea to re-arrange 'Outlaw S---,'" Shooter says. "[The song] was influenced by 'Hurt,' and then for Johnny Cash to do it ... it was funny, but a strange parallel."
Though his father loved the change, putting such a dramatic twist on music attached to the name Waylon Jennings, however, had some people scratching their heads. "When we were going out to people, it was so strange, like, 'Where does this fit?'" Shooter explains. "But in retrospect, he was ready and I wasn't. I hadn't grown enough, but I was able to come back and put my second try at it, which was a lot more cultured. I'm not 16."
And in 2006, at the encouraging of his lady, actress Drea De Matteo, as well as producer Dave Cobb, Shooter and his band retackled the tracks. Stripping them of their electronic backgrounds, the men added steady guitars, somber strings and tender pianos in some places, and rugged axe lines and driving drums in others.
So far, a handful o the album's eight cuts have been aired live by Shooter and his band, but a bigger performance to celebrate the record may happen in the future. "We could absolutely play it, but I'm trying to wait for the right thing," he says. "I wanna do something special."