Will these tracks on "Born Free" be on iTunes?
Nope, no iTunes. I was almost going to e-mail Steve Jobs the other day because I heard somewhere that anybody can e-mail him. But I guess I can say this in Billboard: Hey Steve, I f*cking respect the hell out of you, because you built a great company. I have a lot of stock in it, I think it's one of the greatest American companies going, now that Budweiser sold out. He runs it the way he wants to run it, doesn't make any apologies, and if you don't like it, f*ck you. And, guess what, I can really relate to that. It's my music and I can sell it the way I want to sell it and have it heard the way I want it to be heard. I'm sure he can respect that, too. It's a choice for me.
It was opened up when the record companies had an opportunity to make this deal with iTunes they could have really leveled the playing field. All that horror sh*t that happened with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino and all those great artists back in the day, this is a chance to say "we can really make this right, let's just figure out the right amount of money to where it's cheaper for the fans but still we can cut in everybody evenly." So what do they do, they use the same system, where they still say 'let's f*ck the artists," and then they're f*cking themselves. Then they come to the artist and say, "hey we need you to stand up for this," I'm like, "stand up for it? I'm glad you're getting f*cked. You've been f*ckin' us for years." But I think the world of Apple, I have a lot of their products, but I have troubles with the record companies, I have trouble with the way iTunes says everybody's music's worth the same price. I don't think that's right, there's music it out there that's not worth a penny. They should be giving it away, or they should be making the artist pay people to listen to it. There's other stuff that's worth a little more. That's the great thing about America , we're not scared to pay what something's worth.
Concerts are the same way, a tour is worth more in some markets than it is in others.
Playing Madison Square Garden and playing Johnson City, Tenn. is two different prices. It's just the economy and what people make in those markets. I always try to be very careful about that.
How much did you tour this year?
Not a ton. I got that little bit in with Bon Jovi, a few shows in London, we played some stadiums here, made a little bit of money, kept the band happy, didn't have to worry about the rigs, the lights, just show up and play and jet out of there. It was really about gearing up for this record, making sure I don't get rusty.
Well, if there was ever a year to sit one out, this might have been it.
That's what I thought, too. I had a great summer. This record was very easy to do. Just working on it not under the gun, not working on it 15 hours a day like I used to in my studio, gave me more time with my family and friends to enjoy.
How is the partnership with Jim Beam going?
Awesome. That's been a gift from God. I love Jim Beam, I've been singing about Jim Beam since the early '90s on my records. A lot of that I got from Hank [Williams, Jr.], listening to his records. I took a liking to Jim Beam. I don't endorse things that I don't use. I endorse beer and whiskey, and I know a lot about 'em. They approached me and it's been great for both of us. The Red Stag stuff is awesome. I'm the spokesperson, we're looking at international. It's a cherry-flavored bourbon. I love it. I'll sip a Stag and have a couple beers and I'll get to feeling right. We did a thing with Red Stag where you can download these exclusive live tracks with a bottle. The great thing about that is the liquor control won't let them raise prices on this stuff, so it's basically you buy a bottle of Beam for the same price it's always been, and if you're a Kid Rock fan you can download some of our Comerica Stadium stuff. [The Jim Beam people are] really innovative, they're out with us on the road taking care of the fans. They wrap their own bus, have people come on there, contest winners, Grade A all the way. It was a no-brainer, with me loving their bourbon, all their work with the military and me sharing in that.
What are your plans for touring next year?
We're starting in January in arenas. The last few years with "Rock N Roll Jesus" we stripped it down and went out with a flag and video screen and that was it, "let me see if the merit of my music can stand up." But now I'm gonna take it back and have some fun. I want to make it as good as I can and still give them a fair ticket price.
Are you going to blow sh*t up again?
Maybe. That's always fun. I'm going to make the show like stadium rock on "Bawitdaba" and "So Hot" and some of those big songs, and then strip it down on "Flying High" with a couple of guitars, kind of a bluegrass setting, make it a journey like I do on the record.
How much attention do you pay to the business side of things?
I care about my fans. Just like today somebody sent me an e-mail saying, "Hey, I just pre-ordered the record," and I looked at the receipt and I was like why the f*ck is it $5 to ship a CD? I said to "[manager] Ken [Levitan], get on this, because I guarantee you the record company has some sort of back door deal where they're just f*cking you again. I don't mind everybody making money, it's fine. But why the f*ck are you ripping people off? That just makes me look bad. Those are the things I worry about. If Ticketmaster wants to charge $80 for a service charge-exaggerating-go ahead, but don't put it under my ticket price. My ticket price is $45, I want it to say "Kid Rock, $45," and then say "Ticketmaster, $80 service fee" or whatever your bullsh*t is.
You've always been pretty accessible to the media and radio, are you still?
I don't really do morning shows any more. People want you to be a rock 'n roller and I am. And rock 'n rollers don't get up at 7 a.m. and go on the radio. Sorry. If you want me to be Kid Rock, and you have fun talking about it all day long and all this wild stuff, well, wild stuff doesn't go on at 9 in the morning. Unless you're still up.
Do you play the game and go out and meet with radio and all that?
I play it halfway. On this record, we have to see all these radio stations and I'm like, "hey, before we do that, let's invite all these programmers to my place for a Halloween party, for a Devil's Night party, play a half hour for them." I don't care what format it is, I want the people there first to be the ones that have supported us, gone out of their way for us. The people that have been cool, not the people that say "if he doesn't do this we're not playing his music," leave those people at home.
Any thoughts on the way this whole Waffle House thing shook out.
It got reported correctly but it wasn't the whole truth. The whole truth was these people wanted $2.9 million. They got $40,000 and the attorneys ate that up, so at the end of the day there was nothing left. And I'm happy to be in a country where I can be judged by my peers.
[laughs] Well, there were 12 people and they looked to be hard-working people to me. It was six black, six white, in the middle of Dekalb County , Georgia . People said "you're going down South, they're gonna look at this Yankee and blah, blah, blah," there wasn't none of that, man. They heard the facts and they determined who was lying and who wasn't, and I feel like I came out OK. The people that won were the f*ckin' attorneys.
Reports made it sound like you lost.
I did lose! They said I lost because they say they wanted $6,000 and they got $40,0000. Bullsh*t! You think they had me sitting in court for six grand? Hell no, they wanted $2.9 million.