Music News

Straight Shooter

The only child of country legends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, Waylon Albright Jennings got the nickname "Shooter" for pissing on a nurse in the hospital delivery room. His ill-mannered ways continued in Hollywood as he chased the ghost of Axl Rose, partying 24/7 and fronting the hard-rock band Stargunn from 1998 to 2003. Despite sporting stomach tattoos and driving an Escalade, the 26-year-old (who'll portray his father opposite Joaquin Phoenix's Johnny Cash in the upcoming Walk the Line) embraces an outlaw cowboy aesthetic on his arena-friendly debut, Put the O Back in Country.

Westword: What in the hell does the title of your album mean?

Shooter Jennings: It's a tongue-in-cheek joke, really. If you take the o out of country, it's spelled cunt. It's just kind of poking fun at the industry at the moment, because it's in kind of a cunty place. But the landscape of country is really changing. Artists like Gretchen Wilson and Dierks Bentley are bringing a really good, young vibe to it.

How hard is it to make a name for yourself with such an esteemed genetic legacy?

There's tons of pressure. Right off the bat, it's comparison central. It always felt like I had more behind me than working against anything. A lot of people say I'm not as good as him, and I know that.

What do you say to people who accuse you of exploiting your heritage?

Exploiting? I don't even think I can spell that word. Seriously. I haven't been accused of that yet. I was so close to my dad, it's crazy. I'd probably punch somebody in the face if they said that to me. What gets on my nerves more than anything is people who deny their heritage.

Is there a song that your dad wrote that you wish you had?

"Belle of the Ball." That's my favorite. A lot people think it's about a person, and it's about the music industry. It's addressed to Nashville.

Who's the looser cannon, you or Waylon Sr.?

I'm not no outlaw. He's the real deal. He partied harder than anybody. I don't think Elvis beat him.

Four pot busts in two years ain't nothin' to sneeze at. Any new arrests?

I only got charged with one of 'em. We have to do a benefit concert to get out of it. But that's how "Busted in Baylor County" came about. It's in that new Dukes movie.

That song's like a stoner version of 'Devil Went Down to Georgia.'

Yeah, I guess. Word-for-word true -- except for the part about them dropping the charges for autographs.

Speaking of celebrity justice, did watching your girlfriend [actress Drea de Matteo] get her head blown off in The Sopranos give you any nightmares?

Oh, man! I knew it was gonna happen, of course. But I was still cryin.' I mean I don't like to see her gettin' killed.

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John La Briola