Shooter Jennings & Adam Sheets - Interview About XXX and Southern Independent Vol. 1 (SOUND IN THE SIGNALS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

We've got a great read for you today. Just a day after the release of the official XXX compilation Southern Independent Volume 1 both Shooter Jennings and Adam Sheets agreed to do a new interview with us to talk about the compilation, XXX, and a few other topics. To read the interview click READ MORE. Make sure to check out Southern Independent Volume 1 out now for free!

On July 4 you released the first official XXX compilation. What went into putting this compilation together and how did you choose the artist for it?

Shooter Jennings: I'm very proud of this compilation. Adam and I have been talking about the compilation since we started this thing back in January and as much as we both wanted to jump on it, we kept biding our time until we really felt like we had the kind of artist support that we needed. Once things felt right, I sent out an email to the XXX master list that I'd been compiling and got an overwhelming response! So much that it was very hard for me to sort through it all. Immediately I knew it was going to have to be at least two volumes. This is where I can depend really well on Adam. As an artist, I often over think a lot of elements when it comes to albums. I LOVE sequencing albums, but in the case of the compilation, I really depended on Adam to help me separate it into two volumes. He turned around with the current list we have (except for one artist that we swapped out for Volume 2). Once I listened to it, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Adam Sheets: Well, I don't remember who came up with the idea for the compilation, but I was really impressed by some of the compilations coming out, like Outlaw Radio and Wreckhouse, etc and how useful they were in discovering new artists, so naturally there needed to be something for XXX in the same vein.

The compilation artwork is really interesting who came up with the concept and I noticed an interesting warning on the insert whose idea was it to include the warning?

Shooter: I'm such a computer geek, I'm always screwing around in photoshop, even when I got nothing to do. So for a while now I been trying to figure out the cover. I cruised the internet for a picture of a moonshine jug and I found this sweet old bottle from way back. I swapped out some of the writing and things and sent it over to Adam. He noticed that there were some stamps along the top and bottom that read something about Arkansas. He asked me if that was of any importance and if not why don't we swap em out with the Confederate States of America stamps. I thought it was a good idea and threw it in. As for the warning, I had done the 'insert' art and sent it over to Adam and said that I thought we should put some kind of mission statement in there. I quickly reeled off this criticism of Adam that an asshole had written on a site one time saying that he had ruined the sanctity of roots music with XXX. I thought it was kinda perfect, but I was kinda joking. Next thing ya know, Adam wrote the warning. I thought it was pretty amazing.

Adam: Shooter is responsible for the artwork. I helped finalize the tracklisting and helped decide what would be on this volume and what would be saved for volume two. As for the warning, Shooter sort of came up with that and I added the last two sentences to it. I think it was a good way to sort of poke fun at XXX's image in some circles.

Who is the one artist on this first volume you felt like had to be on it and why?

Shooter: There were several I thought had to be on volume one. Hellbound Glory and Fifth on the Floor were two that I feel are truly the future of classic country music and really rounded out the sound. But when Adam turned in his list, I thought he'd rounded the scene out pretty damn well, as well as saving some heavy hitters for the second volume (and trust me, there will be some pretty cool surprises on Volume 2). I'm really happy that we started with Robert Earl Reed and ended with Hellbound. Those two tracks really feel like sweet bookends to me.

Adam: Quality-wise, I can't choose between these artists and I think that the absence of any one of them would have made this a drastically different album. The tracks for volume two are just as good as what's here in most cases, but that wasn't the point. The idea was to make a great album. I think we accomplished that and we'll do it again with the next set of songs. But as for the artists that really set this compilation apart, I would have to say Shooter or the Drive-By Truckers. Both of them have been pretty successful and your average music fan who may not know most of the artists on the compilation may give it a chance if they see those names in the track listing.

Over the last week or so a bunch of critics have really been taking shots at the idea, a lot of this is over the name, what I don’t hear many critics talk about is how much this idea and givememyxxx.com have helped the artists you guys put on the XXX site. Do you feel some critics are overlooking the big picture and what you are trying to do with XXX?

Shooter: Absolutely. Without a doubt, I feel like the people that have come forward in criticism of XXX have felt threatened and to some degrees, possibly felt like our existence makes them less relevant. This is all so silly to me, but if you notice, the people that are complaining are critics and promoters. Not one single artist has come out against us. (Actually, there was one major label artist that I reached out to initially to include in our video show we've been working on who put me off to his wife to tell me that he didn't want to be included, but that's it). I think that's because XXX was started by an Artist, myself, and has only had Artists in the number 1 position. We're not selling ads on the site and making money, were not writing critical reviews of albums, mainstream or not, and we're damn sure not selling any of our artists or trying to make money off the albums. XXX will NEVER have any component that we will sell on the artist's back. I think that kind of concept is a little hard for some people to grasp. Another part of it I think is that these folks have been working very hard for a long time in their own personal arenas and I think they think that we're coming in claiming to be something we are not, which is a total lie. I will admit our original approach and mission statement were very bombastic, but hell, I'd been feeling pretty beat up for years and without a home, so every word that I typed on that website meant the world to me. I really wanted a movement. And like I said recently in one of the responses to one of those douchebags, was that I set out to do this for no personal gain, but I have gained something. I've gained the feeling of being a part of something. I'm now in personal contact with all of these bands, and labels, and sites, even the ones who hate us, and I really feel blessed for that. I feel like if nobody followed us or downloaded our compilations or whatever, that I still have about 30 bands that I'm friends with and could tour with or whatever for years. That is priceless and it also really feels like there is something big stirring for all of us. If this is what 5 months can do, I'd love to see where we'll be in 5 years. I don't think we'll still be scraping the bottom of the cage for scraps anymore. But I think all of this stuff will work out. With the exception of one person, anyone with a critical eye is still on the fence and I believe with positive results, we will win em over.

Adam: Yes. Most of the artists I have talked to are totally behind the idea. I talked to an artist yesterday on the phone who told me that XXX and the grid are helping direct traffic to his site and there are other stories like that, but more important than the numbers is the feeling; the feeling that you're really making a difference and helping expose fans to great music, the feeling that you're part of a community of artists, fans, writers, podcasters, etc, all with the same goal in mind.

Shooter the first taste of your new album is on this compilation. Why did you choose the song “Southern Family Anthem” as the first song people would hear from this new record? Can you tell us the background of the song a little and how it represents the new album?

Shooter: Well, besides at face value kind of fitting the feeling among these bands, it's really the most rock-ish song on the album too, which also seems to be a screaming example of the system we're trying to fight with XXX. A song like that speaks to a lot of people, it's very true to my family and is how we've all felt and looked at ourselves. Me and my brothers and cousins will all admit we're pretty white trash but we love each other and would kill for each other, no matter how dark our family history gets. That's also how I think we all feel in XXX. But all that aside, the song itself is more rock and roll sounding and represents the problem a lot of us have been facing. It's too rock for country and it's too country for rock. I felt like that song would never have a life because it fell in between these cracks, so I thought, why not put it on the XXX compilation and really give it it's own life and path. I'm real proud of the song and the album, so I'm excited for folks to hear it.

Adam you are getting a lot of tough criticism and you’ve been called out a bunch since the XXX site launched for not being the “right” guy for Shooter to do this with. From what I’ve seen you are a well educated guy in music and a fair guy when it comes to helping out artist. Why do you think you get the hate and what do you say to those critics?

Adam: I don't pretend to know the answer here. It's a complicated question, but I suspect that at this point, after years of criticism, Shooter is just too easy a target and so they're going after somebody else. Which is not to say that I'm completely blameless. I'm pretty opinionated and I'll speak my mind about things I believe in. But I've also tried my best to tone that down, especially over the past few months. Mainly, I try my best not to let it get to me.
As for me not being the "right" guy, I actually agree. I'm just "a" guy and my voice shouldn't be any more important than your's or the Triggerman's, or Jahshie's or any of the artists. I want to be involved, definitely, and based on what I've heard from a lot of fellow writers, artists, DJs, etc. most people want me to be involved. But I really want them to be involved as well.

Shooter: If I can chime in here. I do think they have been picking on Adam lately because they know they can't get me to get too hot headed and respond to their shit. If you notice, whenever I respond to this stuff they never answer, or they send someone 'official' in to answer. I also quit caring about what they say. I've had several people try and tell me Adam wasn't the right choice or whatever, but again this is all coming from people being worried about what other people will think or how they will react (the people further up the chain, and usually the sources of the negativity). I chose Adam to be my partner for one really good reason. Over the years I've encountered a lot of different critics and people who have written stuff about my music. And Adam will be the first person to say he didn't always have all good shit to say about my music. I respect that, and I respect him for his honesty in those situations. But Adam is a young spirit who is very well educated, very well versed in the world and politics, but most importantly, he listens to ALL kinds of music, and he appreciates ALL kinds of music. I can talk George Jones and Roger Miller with him or talk Rage Against The Machine or Tool, or Metal, or Funk, or Jazz or anything with him. Over time, and seeing how positive he looks at music as a whole, he felt like a very promising person to come into this and work with me. I am a super busy guy, so I knew I needed someone who could catch my errors, teach me about bands and artists I wasn't aware of, and keep his eye on the landscape of music and keep me informed of anything I was missing. On top of that, I trust him. That's the most important part. The first time we ever hung out, we had a blast and from that point on, I knew that he was a good dude at his core. Not jealous, not angry, open and honest, and ready to find the good in all music, and devote his fucking life to it. And I have to say, I couldn't have found a better person. He's improved XXX immensely as well as my radio show and my overall outlook on music. Fuck the haters, they can't bring a better positive result.

Just a minute ago, I shot him an email saying that I couldn't believe the negativity coming from this one guy, and he wrote me this back as a quote from possibly his 'favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt':

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

Anyone who says he's the wrong guy can kiss my ass.

Can you let people know where they can get the compilation at and why you think it is important that people check this out on July 4th?

Shooter: www.Givememyxxx.com and it's important because we're celebrating these artists' independence from the mainstream. The dependency on the mainstream is unhealthy and its time we take it into our own collective hands!

I think the grid and the depository on givememyxxx.com are such great resources. Who came up with the idea of the grid and the depository?

Adam: The grid was Shooter's idea. I think the depository was a joint effort. I had the idea of creating a resource for guys like you and me to stay up to date with the latest XXX music and a resource for the artists letting them know how to get their music to the writers and DJs. Shooter sort of refashioned the idea into its current form as the depository.

Shooter: Adam answered this good. It was a joint effort. The depository is really something that came from Adam's idea, but I think has been an awesome way for people to get their music to us.

The XXX site is growing and becoming this big beacon of hope for a lot of artists and this phenomenal resource for artist and music fans. How does it feel knowing you guys have been able to help so many bands in such a short time?

Shooter: It feels awesome to know that we are all connecting and working together. Like I said, I love all the new friends I've made and I love being in constant contact with these artists. I hope that we can really continue to grow as a foundation, and continue to produce result and result that will continue to gain fans for us all. I think the compilation is the way to go, everyone has to get all 12 artists if they just wanna hear one. And it's free. Nobody does free, but we do free cuz music IS free and we are free as artists to do so. Major label artists wouldn't have this kind of freedom I don't think.

Adam: Well, it's exciting for sure. As a music fan first and foremost, I'm also reaping the benefits of it. I know now that I'll never have to listen to bullshit again, that there's always a great album out there that's just been released.

I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks again guys for taking doing the interview. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Shooter: Just stick to the site, I don't want people to forget that we're adding artists and albums every day and building more and more compilations and features for the site. Thank you for your support of us and continually being a positive light in all of it!

Adam: Thank you for all you do to support great music and be on the lookout for volume two.

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