Before I hopped on the phone with Wheeler Walker, Jr., I went on NashvilleGab‘s Twitter account and asked our followers to bet on whether Wheeler would drop the “eff bomb” more or less than twelve times. The answer to that question will come at the end of this article, but as you read you will likely be able to figure out whether the over or under was the way to go!
I was introduced to Wheeler just a few months ago when I was told by another artist that he was an absolute must follow on social media. I will firmly state that his reputation accurately preceded him and he has been hilarious to watch. Even more so, he was hilarious to interview.
However, what I found rather interesting about this artist is that behind the comedy, the swear words, and the edginess lies a profound person with great perspective on music and the industry. In fact, when I hung up with him I felt better educated … and slightly dirty. In other words, it was well worth the time spent talking to this independent singer-songwriter.
Wheeler was born and raised in Kentucky and made the decision to move to Nashville when he decided he was going to become the next Garth Brooks. While he scored some major label deals, those deals always came to an end, possibly because Wheeler often fought with the powers that be.
"Everyone in the music business is a piece of f***ing s***. So, I had these major label deals and they always went to s***. They wouldn’t put the music out . . . well, some stuff got out here and there, but it’s mainly because I wouldn’t compromise . . . whatever the f***ing rules are of their dumb f***ing record label. So, finally this last year, I was like “f*** it! I’m gonna take the rest of our money, I’m gonna go f***ing broke, and I’m gonna make the record I wanna make."
Going into it, Wheeler knew the record he wanted to make wouldn’t quite fit into the mold that is Nashville country music radio. And he was perfectly okay with that.
"I could sing about, you know, flowers and lace and they still ain’t gonna place my s***, so I may as well not censor myself. And, so the first time in my life I was free to sing my songs the way I wanted to sing ’em. If they ain’t gonna play it anyway, it ain’t gonna be on CMT, or whatever, f***ing Bobby Bones and whatever this other dogs**** is, I’ll just do it the f***ing way I want to do it. I think when you’re an artist and you’re true to who you are and don’t give a f*** about what anyone else thinks, sometimes you make f***ing magic. And G** damnit! My album is magic!"
The magic Wheeler is referring to is his forthcoming album, Redneck S*** — due out in February. He currently has a three-song EP available for download, entitled F*** You B****, the title track of which is receiving spins on Sirius XM. Though Wheeler made his music unassumingly, not expecting anybody to ever hear it, Outlaw Country and its listeners have been extremely supportive.
"The people who listen to that stuff, I don’t think they pass judgment. I haven’t gotten a lot of negativity yet. I think when the album’s released and it gets a little bigger, because I’m gonna be the biggest f***ing s*** in country music, I think the negativity’s gonna start. But, right now, the only people who are hearing it are fans. I haven’t heard too much negativity, but, to be quite honest, it worries me because it means it ain’t getting out there enough. If people aren’t being pissed, I need to start pissing people off, man. You gotta download ’em to delete ’em. We don’t do record burnings anymore; we just gotta light up those f***ing files. . . . I think people are just begging for some honesty in music, especially in country music. We’re so f***ing, just sugarcoated dogs***. I think someone needs to shake things up."
While it wasn’t necessarily Wheeler’s intention to be the one to cause the stir in the genre, he is happy to take on the role of that person; especially after listening to some mainstream radio for a very rare change.
"I’ve never heard so much f***ing garbage in my f***ing life. I mean, there’s some guy Sam Hunt. I mean, handsome looking f***er, but, I mean, I don’t know, is that f***ing music? Sounds like a f***ing commercial for like a battery or something. There’s some song, who’s the f***ing a**hole who sings “Buy Me a Boat”?! . . . If you ever talk to him, tell him Wheeler has a message, “suck my f***ing d***.” That’s not a song, man. You don’t write a song called “Buy Me a Boat”. Go by yourself a f***ing boat. There’s s*** going on in the world. I’m writing about love and loss! The real s***! And this a**hole’s singing about buying a f***ing boat! . . . Yeah, it’s awesome. Guess what. You got the money. Go buy yourself a boat and shut the f*** up."
The real s*** Wheeler referred to also includes his latest single “Drop ‘Em Out”, the video for which includes “animated boobs and stuff”. The two songs Wheeler has now released to the public, as well as the third on the EP, will all claim spots on his full-length February release, as well.
So, what else can fans expect on Redneck S***? Wheeler promises:
"All killer, no f***ing filler! Every song, I don’t know if you like the EP or not, but the rest of the songs are, I think, even better."
Wheeler also guarantees the album will be:
"REAL. “Real” in all caps. It’s REAL country music with hard core f***ing lyrics. HONEST. “Honest” all caps. Also “BIASED”, all caps. Am I allowed to tell a writer what to capitalize like that?"
With the mentality that nobody would hear his music anyway, Wheeler set out to “make the most honest country album of all time.” Admitting to himself, and very candidly to me, that he doesn’t believe he would ever see a day on country radio, so he chose to not censor himself and be exactly who he is, and is doing so unapologetically. This is why he thinks he may have one of the best country records of all time on his hands.
"I ain’t better than Hank. I ain’t better than Waylon. I ain’t better than Willie. But, holy s***, I’m closer than you guys think."
One thing Wheeler does want to clear up to avoid any misconceptions in regard to his album, mainly because of the title of his EP, is that his music is not meant to degrade women in any way. In fact, the song “F*** You B****” was written about someone who broke his heart, and since the first words out of his mouth were those three, he ran with them. However, he very sincerely explained that she is not a b**** and the breakup was ultimately his fault.
"If people are too dumb and they think the word b**** means, I mean, there are no songs on my record that are like “quit your b****in’, get back in the kitchen.” There’s none of that s***. It’s a feminist record. If you ask me, there’s nothing offensive, except it’s got bad words. I think people are maybe used to it in hip hop, but when you play it in country with N.W.A. style lyrics, I think it’s almost, I’ve described it like watching porn in HD. You can hear the bad stuff cleaner and clearer. I mean, I sing it so f***ing pretty. You’ve never heard pretty music with bad words in it."
Wheeler certainly prides himself on his talent, but what he also takes an extreme amount of pride in, and should, is his ability to express himself creatively and artistically, without anybody telling him when and how to do it. In fact, Wheeler described the intricacies of gearing songs toward radio as being akin to manufacturing software, rather than making music.
And, when it comes to his open, honest, and authentic music, he wants to make sure fans take away how important it is to remember that music isn’t just what you hear on radio, but is what artists are creating from their hearts.
"These f***ing corporations, and these f***ing radio and all this dogs***, and all this horses***, and what your friends are listening to in school, and what your coworkers are listening to at work, don’t let them tell you what to listen to. Listen to what you like. Be open-minded for all kinds of music. I mean, just because something’s got f*** or s*** or c*** or d***, it doesn’t mean it’s not as legit as anything else. I’m just trying to make the music I love to make. I think I gave you a longer answer. Want the short version? The short version is “buy my f***ing album, you f***s!”
You can buy Wheeler Walker Jr.’s “f***ing album” in February 2016, but until then you can curb your appetite with his three-track EP by clicking here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, he dropped an impressive (and likely unprecedented) 101 eff bombs during our interview.
Thank you so much to Wheeler Walker, Jr. for a hilarious and incredibly educational conversation. I absolutely loved getting to know Wheeler on a personal level, especially the articulate and experienced artist behind the colorful vocabulary. Now, go follow him on Twitter and Facebook to get your daily