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Wheeler Walker Jr.: Bringing raw emotion back into country music (Includes interview)

The state of Kentucky has always produced great country acts (Keith Whitley, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam, etc.), but none like Wheeler Walker Jr.

With song titles like “Sit on My Face,” “F**k You B***h” and “Can’t F**k You off My Mind,” the brutally honest singer/songwriter, who resembles a young Hank Jr., is fully aware of what some people might say, though he believes that his traditional country sound will find an audience.

“It’s funny, my sister-in-law was saying it’s not the kind of lyrics she usually listens to, but she goes, ‘It’s so pretty, I kinda forgot how dirty it was’ – I thought that was a compliment,” says the early contender for New Artist of the Year, if not at the CMAs then hopefully somewhere else.

“You hear lyrics like this in hip-hop all the time and in some rock. You don’t hear them in country music, which makes no sense to me because country music’s supposed to be all about honesty and saying how you feel. This is how I felt when I did it, so why hold back? Country radio ain’t gonna play it anyway… The stuff I’m doing is closer to the roots of country than what anyone else out there is doing.”

I would say the first single, “F**k You B***h,” is an example of country music at its most intense, with the singer unashamedly laying his innermost feelings on the line.

Wheeler Walker Jr.

Wheeler Walker Jr.
Robyn Von Swank

“Very much so,” agrees Wheeler, who wrote all of the tracks on the album by himself. “It ain’t ‘quit your bitchin’ and get back in the kitchen,’ it’s just this one particular girl p****d me off and that’s how I felt. I’m actually in some ways not proud to say ‘f**k you b***h’ but it was so raw and emotional, that’s how I wrote it at the time.

“If you put your real heart and emotion into the song, there’s anger and frustration but it wasn’t meant to p**s off any group of people – it was that girl. And guess what? She should have dumped me; I was acting like an a**hole.”

There are statements on YouTube calling Wheeler Walker Jr. the “Steel Panther of Country,” implying that his music is a parody of his chosen genre. I asked for a response to this allegation and although I can’t print the artist’s initial riposte, he went on to say:

“You’ve heard the songs – there’s so much emotion in them. Nothing against Steel Panther – I like them too – but why can’t music be fun, first of all? Secondly, why can’t I sing what I’m feeling? Why’s that a joke?

“When you hear lyrics this obscene with such a traditional country sound, your first reaction is to smile or to laugh because you ain’t heard it like this before… But for people who kinda go deeper into it, they know there’s real s**t deep down inside it.

“I wasn’t listening to the playback of ‘Drop ‘Em Out’ thinking, ‘Oh s**t, this is gonna be played on CMT’ – I’m not stupid. I thought it sounded cool and I thought it’d be fun to do a song like that with an Oak Ridge Boys sound.”

“Oh man, we really knocked it out fast,” notes the straight talking thirty-something, revealing how long the whole recording process took. “We probably did the whole thing in five or six days because we wanted to record it live. We did a few overdubs on some of the harmonies, but for the most part what you hear is what you get live.

“Why linger over it? Those great Hank records, they didn’t take months to make; he just went into the studio with his guitar and did them. I’m not saying I’m Hank, don’t get me wrong, but good country you just go in the studio and record it.

“A lot of music today is so overproduced. There’s no humanity left in it – it’s like robots – and that’s the exact opposite of what country music’s supposed to be about.”

Redneck S**t, 11 tracks of pure, no holds barred country will be available from February 12. Tracks from the album can be downloaded from iTunes.

For more information on Wheeler Walker Jr., visit his official website.

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