Johnny Van Zant’s Interview was recorded by Johnny Da Piedade
(Radio Producer of The Big Cactus Country Radio Show) www.bigcactuscountry.fr
Questions by: Johnny Da Piedade and John Molet from: www.roadtojacksonville.com
God & Guns album is really terrific, the messages and the sound are both powerful,
it's even more rock as usual and at the same time always with a 100% Lynyrd Skynyrd style.
Can you explain us how you got your inspiration?
We use producer Bob Marlette ‘s great , he’s a great guy, a great musician, for this record we’ve been writing for a while , and we started in November of last year 08, and we kinda
took a break to Christmas went back in a little bit after the first of the year and finished it
off but it was a good record for us to do at the time we actually lost 2 band members billy powell and evan eans, past on and went on the rock and rolling heaven up there and so we had to finish off the record for them and for the fans out there and for ourselves, you know skynyrd is a really big family, anytime anything ‘s happened to us bad we’ve always went back to the music
and to our fans.
On the 2nd God & Guns CD you included 3 great song recorded live..
you pay a tribute to the american troops and families, but is it also
a last tribute to Billy Powell and Ean Evans?
well the songs on the cd god and guns called gifted hands was actually a song written about
Billy and the last song on the single CD but will be the bonus CD we had actually recorded these songs a couple of years ago and we figured what the heck we wanna put them out and let
our fans have those too.
who's playing the piano and bass guitar on god and guns Album ?
on this album billy and Evans on at least half of it and then we use michael rhodes and bob marlette on keyboards, our producer on this album but thank god that billy and ean
were part of this, you know
how is it going with the integration of peter keys and robert kearns ?
Oh wonderful they’ve been just great for us, and we knew we actually met peter from marlin ,
kid rock’s band who actually turned us onto peter keys, he’s from Michigan and peter came in and we kinda felt that he was the right guy to do this he’s been doing such a great job in honor
of billy and Robert is just one heck of a base player , he’s done a great job for ean and leon and you know, I don’t think we could ask better people to come in and pay a tribute to these guys.
JDP: On God & Guns CD, there’s is “Simple Life”, this beautiful song was written by a personal friend of mine, I used to go to his house in Franklin, tennessee everytime I go to Nashville: Mr Jeffrey steele…. He also wrote some songs for you and Donnie, on you Van Zant Country duet
JVZ: Yeah, He wrote “help somebody” which was a big single for me and my brother you know
“Get Right With The Man” album and I’ve known Jeffrey steele for a quite a while and we’ve been writing with jeffrey for years and we just never had the opportunity to put the bunch of stuff on our records so we this time we were looking for a song that could possibly go on the country side and simple life was just the right one for us and we just loved what it said how you take time to smell the roses, spend some time with your family , go fishing , do whatever you like doing and he’s a dear friend of ours and a great writer.
During your last lynyrd skynyrd gigs in America, you have played, only 4 new tracks live from
god and guns CD Skynyrd Nation Simple Life God and Guns | and Still Unbroken,
why don’t you play more new stuff what is your strategy?
Hahaha, we’re probably gonna work in some more stuff you know what, we actually,
were in europe earlier this year and we didn’t play any new stuff so we’re gonna be coming
back towards to europe next year we’re gonna be playing some new stuff and there’ll be
probably be 5 or 6 by that time I’m sure.
will you be back in europe soon?
oh yeah definitely, at the end of february. I might have a schedule, hang on one second, we should be heading france, we love that, we love going to paris, great country , we got a good friend called jean paul who actually took me and ricky to see keb mo I don’t know if you know who he is, lets’ see here, I don’t have the dates but I’m sure we’ll have some french dates definitely,
It would be between the 21st of feb thru the 12th of march something like that.
My listeners really love this “sweet home alabama’s” wink”: “Southern ways”, will you guys choosed that great song to be your next single, this will be THE PERFECT TUNE ?
if not which one will be your next single ?
Yeah you know there’s talk about that it could be our next single, and it’s a story about the band and the music u know has that sweet home feel to it, so definteily, I noticed the last time when were overhtere last time doing some interviews, people really loved that song so that would
be a great thing to come out with.
You really found the recipe to bring us back to good ol’ skynyrd southern sound with
great new songs like this “hobo kind of man”, it reminds me “double trouble ?”
Hahaha oh yeah definitely, hobo kind of man yeah! Well u know what’s going on in the world,
the song says it, there’s a lot people…I was looking at the news here and unemployment is really up in america, and it says “around the time of second world war, a new kind of man came through the door, ain’t looking for trouble , and you know he’s looking for food he’s ready to wrok
so we like doing that.
We have noticed that god and guns were quite politically orientated, and we have seen a
certain number of debate discussions on TV, and internet where Rickey Medlocke was present,
Was is Skynyrd’s goal about that ?
Well for us, we’re not promoting hands guns by no means, myself, I don’t even own a hand gun but I do own a lot of rare shot guns like I have a Winchester like john wayne he used to use in the westerns and stuff like that and I have a lot of friends who are hunters and they go to the woods when it’s hunting season it’s part of their personality, and for us, we cant let them take that away from us, here in America, a lot of people are against anybody having any kinda gun, that’s just part of what we were built on and as far as god goes we believe in Jesus Christ above it’s our right as American citizens to believe that and they’re trying to take that away from us over here in America so we’re just making a statement saying there is some people that are gonna speak their mind and that’s why we live in America where we can speak our mind and say what we believe in and the 2 things we believe in a lot are god and guns
From Europe we can’t really feel it, but according to you, what is the press, media, radio,
reaction about the song “That Ain’t My America”
Well it’s pretty crazy cos there’s a guy called sean hanady that’s overhere he has a radio show and he’s using that as one of his theme songs and the meaning of that is well u know what, we’re real big supporters of our troups, we’re not politicians and neither are our troups they’re just doing their job and LS believe in thanking them for doing what they do and thanking their families, and we believe that kids should pray in school and ..we were in some messy wars that we shouldn’t maybe be in and nobody believes in wars and likes wars but we ‘re In them now and we gotta try to do whatever we can do to get out of them and makes things good and go our separate ways and let them go theirs you know, but for me sometimes the justice overhere takes a long time somebody kills somebody or robs or does something wrong or the sentence jail is too long they should take care of the situation, it’s just making a statement.
Skynyrd’s Nation, what great idea, a perfect singing duet, with You and Rickey
and that killer sound !! Is it a new turn ?
Well you know we’ve been wanting to write a song about our fans for years and that song just came about and we were like hey lets do this and lets say that, that’s a lot of fun we’ve been starting our show off here in America with it, I’m sure we’ll do the same in Europe , it’s just a lot fun and the fans enjoy it and we appreciate our fans so we had to write something about our fans.
JDP: And speaking about this heavy sound will you keep on playing like that?”
JVZ: oh yeah sure, definitely, again we go back to bob marlette a great engineer great producer and just a good friend of ours and we had a great time doing that song me and rickey had a blast singing off of each other.
Johnny you said it several times, to the US press, this new album was supposed to have
a version of cottonmouth country why did you change your mind ?
"This is a single song, "Cottonmouth Country" which is an outtake from the Nuthin Fancy sessions. The song ends with Ronnie Van Zant saying "cut...cut...cut". This song has never been released
JVZ: Well, it wasn’t that we changed our minds, it’s licensed underneath universal MCA and we couldn’t get the licensing for it believe it or not hahah to be able to put it on our records so it just didn’t happen with the red tape and the legalities of it so it wasn’t our fault but we’ll save it for the next record.
As I told you before, on my radio show, The BCC, I promote country music every week on 85 French speaking radio stations. And There is a fact and It’s really funny cause, most of the new acts are really influenced by lynyrd skynyrd !! people, like, Randy Houser, the Parks, Craig Morgan, Gretchen Wilson they scream it !! Out loud, on the lyrics, the music… in fact for all this new country generation there is only Two big icons, Hank Jr and you guys ?
what do thing about this new country southern rock invasion?
Oh well I like it of course, I m a big fan of country music love country music grew up listening
to country music and for us it’s great to have that kinda thing with the country stars, the kind
to be like LS hahaha for us it’s an honor and u know I love a lot of the big country artists
so my hat’s off to ‘em.
More than ever, today’s country music is just Rock or Pop with some drops of country
sure put a little bit of pedal steel in it and it’s country
And Today Lynyrd Skynyrd is also broadcasted in both Country and ROCK RADIO formats,
What do you think about that ?
oh yeah sure, u know we’re very lucky in that sense that we can you know, we’re trying to push simple life here actually on the country stations so we’ll see what the heck happens with it.
Do you plan to record a new Van Zant Country album With Donnie ?
Well , we’re kinda in limbo right now, we ‘re looking for a new record label we were with sony
and we left them and so we’re kinda in limbo but I’m sure we would love to do that again
we had a blast doing that me and my brother love country music, well we love all music
I have to say and we’re just music people and I’m sure that’ll happen again
Among your friends, there's always someone that presents all the positive benefits
of Lynyrd Skynyrd, that's kid rock! but you don’t have the same public though,
what type of relationships are there between kid rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd?
Oh we met bobby, his name’s bobby but, we him years ago in Michigan when we were out there playing, and he came out to a show and so we met him and became friends and be friend with each other and we actually just got thru doing about 30 shows here in America with him this summer and we went out KID ROCK AND Lynyrd Skynyrd so it was good time for all, and u know we may come to Europe to do that, I was quite surprised that his fans are LS fans so yeah and
our fans like his music yeah I was quite surprised about that, so it’s not that far away plus he’s singing about “sweet home Alabama” last summer he had a big hit “all summer long” .
On Next January, I will come to see you guys on the cruise !! with a bunch of friends,
we will have the chance to come to florida to be part of the simple man cruise, we are very
excited about that, I guess, This years there is something like 25 french people coming especially from france to see you !! Simple Man Cruise, it sure looked like a southern rock family reunion; what do you think about that ?
Oh yeah definitely it’s a fun time you know we got my brother’s band on there 38 special
and molly hatchet and blackberry smoke , it’s a good time, if you love Lynyrd Skynyrd, you love music in general , this is music 24/7 and you like being out on a boat in the middle
of the ocean it’s a good time,
So is it for you work or good time?
No I mean I have to work some of course but it’s a fun time, where else can you sit down and probably have diner with us or breakfast, and we’ll be around the boat and walking around
and you l’ll be running into us and that’s a good thing for the fans, we usually do a mini greeting, a photo session, we play a few songs by the pool and we do a couple of shows and so
it’ll be a fun time
Soon we will have the visit of the band Blackberry Smoke in france. My listeners appreciate
their music a lot !! you might know them very well, what's your feeling about them?
Could they be the new generation kind of skynyrd ?
Yeah I mean u know, I don’t know if they party as much as we did when were young, they may, but no, they’re great badn, they’ve been on our cruise with us a bunch, have opened up shows
for us, and u know what they’re the young ones, I hope they can keep this going when
we’re long gone, we wish em the best of luck they’re our buds.
We sure don’t hope you l’ll be gone soon
No I hope not ahahah !!
do you ever ask yourself the question why you ‘re still around today?
You know Skynyrd ‘s been around for a long time and we love what we do, we love our fans,
we thank god every day that we’re still here, some of us have gone but they’re here in spirit
with us and they always will be and the music’s bigger than us, I was kidding a while ago
about they’ll be carrying on after we’re gone, but the music will carry on, music’s
a great thing and it’s forever, when we’re long gone as human beings, it’ll still be here for us.
Thanks for your time Johnny !!
Alright my friend, thank you very much and tell everybody I said hi over there.