Uncle Kracker followed Kid Rock until he found his own groove. Now he must prove that he is ready and worthy. Some say it's really hard to get one top 10 hit, realists say that it's almost impossible to get a second.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata asked Uncle Kracker why he might be different.
Interview by Phil BonyataLivewire: How long have you known Kid Rock?
Uncle Kracker: 15 years.
Livewire: How old are you now?
Uncle Kracker: I'm 28, so actually 15 and some change.
Livewire: So you're both from Detroit?
Uncle Kracker: Yeah, the outskirts of the city.
Livewire: What the hell is all this great talent from Detroit?
Uncle Kracker: I don't know, man. I think there's a lot of talent sittin' around everywhere. It seem like every city has like a rebirth or kinda of an explosion. You know every city gets a couple of days, you know what I'm saying...every city gets a crack at it.
Livewire: It seems like Detroit is the current Seattle?
Uncle Kracker: I wonder where it's going to next?
Livewire: Well, hopefully back to Chicago. We had the Pumpkins and Ministry...
Uncle Kracker: (laughs) Chicago sure has their bands.
Livewire: What did Kid Rock teach you about music and style?
Uncle Kracker: He was older and I always looked up to him. We were both into the same things. That's why we ended up being such good friends. We learned a lot of things from each other. I learned not so much on the music side, but I think I just learned more from him as a person than anything else.
Livewire: Are you guys still good friends?
Uncle Kracker: Oh yeah, we're best friends. Yeah, he taught me a lot and I think the best thing he ever taught me was how to take things a lot less seriously. He taught me how not to give a fuck. I use to care way to much, but he taught me how not to care. If you're gonna take the good, you gotta take the bad or if you believe the good, you gotta believe the bad.
Livewire: I'm paraphrasing now, but Kid Rock says you're not very musical and calls you his Mini-Me. Are these off-color compliments?
Uncle Kracker: I don't know, somebody else mentioned that to me that he said that. In fact, I'm that musical, I'm not much of a musician.
Livewire: Is the Mini-Me like a little brother type thing?
Uncle Kracker: Yeah, totally. I'm not little by any means.
Livewire: How tall are you?
Uncle Kracker: I'm about 5' 10" and weigh in pretty good (laughs).
Livewire: Can't tell from your pictures?
Uncle Kracker: (laughs) Cool.
Livewire: So what was your childhood like?
Uncle Kracker: We had like a good dysfunctional family.We weren't the Bradys, but we were good. I grew up in a gas station, my dad owned a gas station forever and I ran around pullin' weeds, pumpin' gas and fixin' engines which led me into the music thing (laughs). I used to sleep on dad's gas soaked coat at the station and I always reeked of gas. As a kid I associated grease with my dad.
Livewire: Has Double Wide going double platinum made you financially secure?
Uncle Kracker: Um, no. This record was a bonus for me. I already did everything I wanted to do with the Kid Rock project. Then I did it again with my thing. I didn't have my sights set too high. If you wanna be proud of me lower your expectations, but for me I didn't have much going into the thing, so it was huge for us.
Livewire: Getting that next "hit" is everything for new artists..
Uncle Kracker: Right, I'm happy with the overall record, I said a few of things I needed to say and, you know if I don't make another record ever I won't be sad.
Livewire: Your new album No Stranger to Shame has eclectic musical blendings. Describe your intent on this record.
Uncle Kracker: My thing going into this record was I just wanted to go song for song like they used to do in the Motown days, just take it pound for pound and song for song and it was pretty much the only goal I had going in. No game plan, no plan of attack. There was a few things I wanted to say. I wanted to write that letter to my daughters. I wanted that to get done. A couple of other little things and that was it. I've always said I wanted to write a record like a book, you know from front to back...I don't know who the hell has time for that. Maybe one day I will. I'll probably do it when nobody cares. That's when I'll have time.
Livewire: What were your early musical influences?
Uncle Kracker: Totally, all Motown stuff, that was the only thing on my radio. I was only four, five or six years old, that was all my old man listened to. He was into all that George Jones and Patsy Cline thing. When I was a kid I hated all of it.
Livewire: But, now?
Uncle Kracker: But, now I look at it and realize they were some pretty good written songs. It's kinda cool.
Livewire: Do you think your sophomore effort will equal or surpass your debut?
Uncle Kracker: Um, I'm not willing to put money on it either way, but we both know this business, but we'll see. If I'm lucky, it will surpass it and if not, you know, better luck next time (laughs).
Livewire: Unlike Double Wide Kid Rock is nowhere to be found as the role as distant producer.
Uncle Kracker: He just gave me the ball. He didn't have time.
Livewire: Too busy with Pamela, right?
Uncle Kracker: Too busy period.
Livewire: Well, women will keep you busy all the time.
Uncle Kracker: (laughs) I know, man.
Livewire: What does producer Mike Bradford bring to the table that other producers can't?
Uncle Kracker: He makes it too easy for me. He sits down and helps writes the songs with me and all that stuff, know what I'm sayin'? ('Hi Skylar, Hi Madison'...Kracker's kids come running through the door yelling at daddy for some food).
Livewire: I take it you're home now.
Uncle Kracker: Yeah, I'm home doing some radio interviews and seeing my family.
Livewire: The life of a rock star dad.
Uncle Kracker: (laughs) Pretty normal stuff.
Livewire: Is "In A Little While" doing good right now?
Uncle Kracker: Yeah, it's doing good.
Livewire: "Keep It Comin' " hit me right away?
Uncle Kracker: Yeah, I would love to do more stuff like "Keep It Comin' " but people won't play it for me. That kinda fell into that whole Kid Rock groove. They say that doesn't sound like "Follow Me" so, 'we can't play that'.
Livewire: Were you happy to get Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath to help out on some lyrics?
Uncle Kracker: I had a hard time to get him to come in and sing that song.
Livewire: Pretty busy is he?
Uncle Kracker: He pretends like he is.
Livewire: Not a slacker is he?
Uncle Kracker: I think he has a Brian Wilson thing happenin'.
Livewire: Is it all groupies, drugs and booze on the road?
Uncle Kracker: NEVER (laughs loudly).
Livewire: So, what are your vices?
Uncle Kracker: The good ones or the bad ones?
Livewire: People don't care about good ones, so let's hear about your bad ones.
Uncle Kracker: Actually, it's probably whiskey.
Livewire: I actually like scotch now and again
Uncle Kracker: I can't do the scotch. I like straight Beam.
Livewire: Scotch is actually an acquired taste.
Uncle Kracker: Good taste can't be acquired.
Livewire: What do you see as today's white hot artists?
Uncle Kracker: The punk rock stuff going on with the White Stripes and the Hives isn't new. Punk rock isn't new.
Livewire: Tell me where Uncle Kracker is 10 years from now?
Uncle Kracker: Uncle Kracker will probably be fishin'. I don't know, I'll probably be lookin' after the kids, you know pickin' them up and taking them to school.
More Uncle Kracker
Live Review - Rosemont Theatre, Sept. 8, 2001