“There should be more country artists on your f*cking website, but these people take themselves so goddamn seriously.”
Wheeler Walker Jr. likes to say f*ck. He will toss it around like there is no tomorrow. But he does it as an art form. The most infantile word becomes the most beautiful thing in the world when it comes from his mouth. In the world’s most foul-mouthed baseball game, alongside such “F*ck Hall-of-Famers” George Carlin, Robert DeNiro, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Rock, Wheeler Walker Jr. would be right there with ‘em. Pitching the word f*ck out to every kid in the stands with their gloves in the air, looking to catch hold of a foul “f*ck” ball.
The ultimate secret to Wheeler is that there is nary a secret to be found. Whenever you’re writing an article on someone, there’s always that inevitable trying to dig deep to figure out who this person really is and what they’re all about. You’re searching to find some hidden subtext to analyze within their work. You don’t have to do any of that with Wheeler. It’s all right there.
“F*ck You Bitch,” “Can’t Seem to F*ck You Off Of My Mind,” “Sit on my Face,” “If my Dick is Up, Why am I Down?” These are some of his songs. However, there is nothing funny about the country songs he writes, he will insist. He is serious. He is 100 percent real and as authentic as they come. So real is he that you’d have a hard time believing he could actually exist as a person. If I were to tell you that he was, say, a performer doing a character of a foul mouthed country artist, you’d probably believe me. He’s that good.
“This thing is as serious as a heart attack to me,” Wheeler explains from his Nashville residence. “I don’t think it’s funny. They say just being truthful is funny. I guess I figured that out. When I’m sitting around bullsh*tting with my friends, we’re laughing a lot. You’re always laughing and dicking around and making jokes. I’m like ‘Why don’t you just put this in the songs?’ But the songs are always about serious sh*t.”
Much in the vein of Andy Kaufman, who would also vehemently claim he wasn’t trying to be funny, people still laugh. With every new song that Wheeler writes, people laugh. Maybe it’s because of the language. Maybe it’s because of how he delivers it. Or maybe because, as unintentional as it may be, he is just naturally funny.
Another reason why Wheeler Walker Jr. is constantly labeled (much to his dismay) as a comedian could be due to his first national exposure. He first popped up on our radar on comedian Ben Hoffman’s T.V. show The Ben Show, which was on Comedy Central back in 2013. Additionally, as of this month, his podcast The Wheeler Walker Jr. Podcast has come back on Bill Burr’s podcast network, All Things Comedy.
“Bill Burr’s got a podcast company in L.A. and I’m going to start doing my podcast for his company. It’s just a company that he set up. It’s art for artists, which is what I like. So I’m going to do it for them with their help. It’s called All Things Comedy. Even though I’m not a comedian, it fits into what I do.”
And that’s the thing that is so fascinating about Wheeler. His work transcends beyond country music fans. And that’s not because it’s not authentic country music. On the contrary, it’s way more country than any artist you can probably name off the top of your head. So many people who despise country music fuckin’ love them some Wheeler Walker Jr.
“I would say my most popular comment in person or on social media is ‘Man, I never liked country music until Wheeler Walker Jr.’ And I always want to tell those people ‘Man, you’re going to have a lot of fun the next year listening to Waylon, Willie. There’s 8 million people you can listen to that are so f*ckin’ great. I still wish I could hear Waylon for the first time. There’s so much sh*t that’s better than mine but they’ve just never been exposed to it. So on the one hand I get happy that they’re listening. On the other hand I get pissed that they think I’m the only guy out there speaking to truth or making good country music.”
Making “good country music” is something that Wheeler holds very dear to his heart, so quick is he to rightfully lambast those who make the “fake country music.”
“One of the things that I used to love as a kid when I’d go to shows is I’d love to see great playing,” he laments. “And nowadays they’re just playing the track. It’s like ‘What am I looking at? The guitarist miming the song or playing over a drum beat?’ I’ve had drummers in my band before say ‘You’re the first guy I’ve played with that doesn’t use a click-track.’ So you’re basically just watching live karaoke. The only difference is the vocals aren’t even real. They’re miming. It’s f*ckin’ stupid.”
This summer, Wheeler will embark on one of two tours. One with himself as the headliner, and one with Kid Rock. You will be getting no click-tracks, no “fake country music” at a Wheeler Walker Jr. show. 100 percent real.
He explains, “How it works is Kid Rock only does weekends. So during the week some weeks, depending on my schedule, we’ll do our own shows. And to be honest, I never really toured until I could headline because literally no one would let me open for them. Because even the bigger artists who are fans of mine, they’ve all got kids or young girls in the audience. You’ve got to change the whole warning on the ticket and shit. I guess Kid Rock has big balls to have me open up.”
“I’m a crazy person,” he continues. “Because when I hear these songs when I get out onstage, to me they sound like they deserve to be in amphitheaters and arenas. So it’s cool to finally have a chance to do that.”
Wheeler doesn’t want to work for anybody. He is a man who maintains his independence as an artist, and goddammit, he wants to keep it that way. Here is a guy who independently made his own album, had it hit big on the charts, and still maintains control over what he wants to do. He has no record contracts of any sort. He has something he wants to say, he says it. And the one time he did have a contract, it reminded him of why he does things the way he does.
“I’m never f*cking dealing with Hollywood again. I had a deal to make a Wheeler concert special with [a premium cable company]. These f*ckers had me, had a contract, had a deal saying they were going to make it, had a budget. Then they just f*cking said “No. We changed our mind.” I’m like “Why the f*ck did I sign the f*cking thing?” And now I’m trying to make it somewhere else and they’re saying they own it and all this sh*t. F*ck it. I learned my lesson, and that is to do it yourself. If I want to make a movie so bad, I’ll raise the money myself and do it myself. I know it’s more expensive than a f*ckin’ album, but I can’t have these f*cking Hollywood perverts keeping me from doing what I want to do.”
For a journalist, Wheeler Walker Jr. is the greatest interview subject you could possibly ask for. He will generate so many brilliantly great quotes for you that there is realistically far too much to choose from. So below are a few standout “Wheelerisms” that had no real context in this piece, but were too good to ditch.
“I love shaking things up. If there’s a question no other country artist will answer, I want to answer it.”
On [not] winning a Grammy
“I may not win a Grammy, but who gives a f*ck. I care about f*cking money. I don’t need a Grammy. A Grammy don’t pay sh*t.”
On a certain “country” music group
“They wouldn’t know good music if it bumped them on their heads while they were f*cking each other.”
On the prospect of fatherhood
“Because I’m so truthful and I’m not going to lie to my audience, I think it would [change the music]. Just because the only release I get from my albums is me letting my truth out. To hide it is not who I am. Which would lose some listeners possibly. But there’s also a lot of people listening who like girls and want to have families. It’s not like some new thing I’m thinkin’ about. Obviously my version of a love song would be a little different than somebody else’s.”
On life in Nashville
“I was going to go take my girlfriend to a diner my grandpa and I used to go to when I was a kid. I named the place and everyone just started fuckin’ laughing at me. ‘That place has been gone 10-15 years. I didn’t even know. Those small little family places don’t really exist anymore. Now you’ve got to go ‘Waffle House’ which no one wants to go to because you could get shot.”
More on Nashville
“I don’t know why I complain about the city when I f*ckin’ leave three times a week. I also don’t know why when I leave three times a week, one of the times is when I’ve got an interview. So at the end of the day, it really has kind of been my whole career. Just bitchin’ about nothin’.”
“I can’t do my job when they’re acting like an asshole. My new thing is I just f*ckin’ kick ‘em out. Some video went viral recently of some woman beating up another woman. I can’t let some woman get beaten up at my show. I’m a business man, too. I’ve got to let people know when you come to my shows, you’re safe. A lot of people like going to shows and not getting into fights.”
On his evolution as an artist
“I think it’s honestly getting more serious and more deeper. Songs like “Summers in Kentucky,” those kind of serious songs that I put my own particularly twist on. I want to do more of that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of serious shit going on with me in my life that I kind of want to get out in some of these records. I just want to grow as a person and as an artist. That’s really what anybody wants to do.”
With his music, he does the same thing that he does with his personality and that’s invite you into his life. While on the surface there’s a certain roughness to him, there’s something more meaningful behind that. There’s this softer and more welcoming feeling. By being so honest and personal, he’s extending his hand and asking you to enter his world. Enter it. And if you don’t like it there, he’ll probably tell you to feel free to f*ckin’ leave.
Tour dates for Wheeler Walker Jr.’s Dragon Energy tour, as well as information on how to buy his first two CD’s and where to find his podcast are on his website.