First thoughts that Shooter Jennings might be calling country music quits surfaced when Shooter’s label, Universal South announced that they were releasing a Greatest Hits album, Bad Magick: The Best of Shooter Jennings & 357’s. Since it hasn’t been even five years that Shooter has been doing the country thing, this release seemed a little odd. Then small bits of information started surfacing from people like Shooter’s bass player Ted Russell Kamp that Shooter’s new album was mostly rock and had very few country influences, and that he was shopping it around to new labels.
If you go to shooterjennings.com or even his MySpace site, you can see a clock radio with the word “Heirophant” on it. Heirophant is the name of Shooter’s new band, and the clock radio is very indicative of when radio stations exercise a format change, and hint of it for some time to build interest before the actual change occurs. And similar to a radio station format change, there has been a virtual media freeze in regards to information coming out from the Shooter camp about the direction of the new album, which is apparently in the can, possibly looking for a label.
In fact the lack of information is astounding for such a big name artist. I’ve seen from a couple of sources that Shooter’s new sound is “John Lennon meets Radiohead,” but I cannot verify that this information is from anyone who has intimate knowledge of where Shooter is headed.
What is for sure is that Shooter started as a rock n’ roller, before he decided to make the change to country, and his albums have been going further in the direction of rock since his debut album, Put the O Back in Country. Shooter at times has been openly frustrated and critical of the lack of success and radio play his music has received, going as far as to write about it in his lyrics. So given his history and the direction he appears to be heading, a format change would make sense.
Shooter is also playing on the “Warped” tour this summer, a tour that has rarely if ever catered to country artists. Jennings was also asked twice to be the singer of the “Guns & Roses” spinoff “Velvet Revolver” and declined. For more on this click here.
If all the rumors about Shooter abandoning country are not true, he certainly is not doing much to distance from them. I guess we will know soon enough.
I have never been a big fan of Shooter, but I’ve tried to stay clear of being critical of his music as well. There is much more worse stuff out there without question, and at times he has been critical of the Nashville establishment, which I appreciate.
If country music just isn’t in his heart, then I support him in making the change. Nobody should be anything that they don’t want to be. But this also plays right into the hands on Shooter’s critics, who say he only changed to country in the first place for the money and exposure that he could get because of his name.
If all of this turns out to be true, then I feel bad for the Shooter Jennings fans out there. The country fans. Not that him flipping genres takes away anything from his previous music, but it certainly looks like Shooter had only one foot in the whole time, and in my opinion, you can hear that as you progress through his discography.
Long story short, I guess Shooter is asking:
Apparently Shooter doesn’t have the same appreciation for Bob Wills or old school Willie Nelson that a lot of his country fans do, or that his father did.
On a side note, I think this also brings to conclusion the Shooter vs. Shelton Hank III battle. Hank III previously said: “If you wanna go down that road and rip us off, mutherfucker, I’ll see you in ten years and five thousand shows down the road.” It looks like Shooter will not make it, at least playing country.
Ironically, though we do not have an album or even a single, Shooter is going to be out touring into the summer. It will be interesting to hear about what the sound is as Shooter makes whatever transition he is making.