Van Zant Get Right With The Man Interview
(by RICH MILLER - http://www.powersourcemagazine.com )
Rich Miller, (host of the nationally syndicated "Power Source Top 20" radio show) was asked by Columbia Records to interview two Southern Rock music legends, brothers Johnny Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Donnie Van Zant (.38 Special) to talk about the new Van Zant country album Get Right With The Man. The following is a transcript from the world premiere radio special that was broadcast on over 300 radio stations across the USA.
Rich: Southern Rock Royalty, brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant have collectively sold over thirty five million albums worldwide. Johnny Van Zant is the lead singer for the legendary rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. Donnie Van Zant is one of the lead singers and rhythm guitarist for the popular southern rock band, .38 Special. Van Zant unites two of the most talented southern rockers and a set list of epic proportions.
Im Rich Miller joined by brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant to talk about their Country music collaboration, Get Right With The Man, which was available May 10th.
Rich: Weve got Van Zant in the studio! I am excited!
Johnny: Pleasure sir, How ya doing?
Rich: Great to see yall...takin a little break is Donnie from .38 Special and Johnny from Lynyrd Skynyrd and getting together...yall are brothers, tell me how long it has been since youve been together and actually spent this much time together?
Johnny: (Laughter) We are not only brothers, we are best friends...so...you know what..?
Donnie: We spend as much time as we can together You know thats whats really cool about this project. We get to spend a lot of time...So we spend a lot of time catching up on family issues... and we have a bunch of them! (laughter)
Johnny: Yea, we have solved all of em! We have solved most of Americas problems. (laughter) Mr. Bush if you want to call us! We can help you out.
Rich: Lets talk a little bit about "Things I Miss The Most." I really like this song, its all about home man, and its about when youre out there performing. I love the line where it talks about that last half mile of dirt road and the oak tree on the hill. That is what it is all about!
Donnie: It is
Johnny: Its life on the road, brother. Thats what it is for us and really to be truthful with you, the kids up on the front porch screaming, Mommy, Daddys home, thats us. Our dad was a truck driver and we could see his truck coming down the road with the smoke stack. We would be screaming, Daddys home. Its a true story.
Rich: That was big stuff when Daddy came home!
Donnie: It sure was.
Johnny: Its life on the road man, thats what it is. You know, every time he came home, as a matter of fact, they had another kid! I dont know whats up with that . (laughter)
Rich: This is the world album premiere of Get Right With The Man and we are in the studio with brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant they have teamed up and put together what I think is one of the biggest Country albums of the year. Thats right, I said Country! These boys are country to the core even though they can rock; they are country! They rock a little bit on "Plain Jane." Tell me about that song.
Johnny: We were close to the end of this record and we were like, we really need another fun song. We were just going through some of our songs and we were like, hey what about Plain Jane? So we took it into Sony and they were like, yea man, thats cool. We actually went in and cut it, boom, right then! We stuck two microphones in the studio and neither one of us knew what we were going to do.
Rich: Just went for it?
Johnny: Yea, we just went for it!
Donnie: It was fun! A lot of spontaneity.
Johnny: We actually have a cousin that we call aunt
Rich: I bet that's confusing at family reunions (laughs)
Johnny: Well you know what, she is a little older, so ...(laughs)
Donnie: Hey we are from Jacksonville... what do you expect? (laughs)
Johnny: Her name is Jane so this one goes out to her!
Rich: "Takin Up Space" is the song that kicks off the album. I love it! As soon as I put it on I said, Man! This thing kicks!
Johnny: I know where youre going with this!
Rich: Lets talk about the writers on this song Bobby Pinson and Billy Joe Walker.
Johnny: Yea, Bobby is doing well himself with his new record. This song is about winning and being the under dog. Thats what we have always been!
Donnie: We are from the west side of Jacksonville and most of our friends have either passed on or in Rayford prison down there in Florida. We have actually won!
Donnie: Yea, its about going after your dream and not stopping until you get it.
Johnny: You know people ask us, why have you gone Country? We say you know what? We havent gone Country; we were born Country. Its just us. Were the real deal. Were not trying to be somebody that we are not. You know? This song, (I'm Doin Alright) I think, sums it up.
Donnie: Yeah it does!
Rich: Growing up, how prevalent was music in your house? Was it just playing all the time?
Johnny: Yea, I gotta be truthful with you the reason why Im in the music business is I remember watching my brother Ronnie rehearse in my mother and fathers living room. That particular time Lynyrd Skynyd was called, One Percent. Watching him, he looked like he was having a great time so I was thinking, man... maybe I could do this too!
Donnie: Its just like being in a family with lawyers or doctors. It would be law or medical things and for us, it was music. I think Johnny touched on it a while ago. You know, with the music it really kept us out of trouble, because we were born in the west side of Jacksonville.
Rich: There is so much heart and I can tell there is a lot of honesty in this record. This is the real deal man.
Johnny: Yea, sure its all about truth and integrity, you know? Thats us
Rich: You were looking for songs that not only you wrote but also the ones that were coming to you that really kind of reflected your life werent you?
Johnny: Sure, when we went into this record we were thinking we were going to write every song. Thats just what we have done in the past.
Johnny: (laughter) So if anybody needs one, give us a call at www...(more laughter) No, there are so many great songwriters here in Nashville. Some of these other songs just outshined ours. We were born at night but not last night so if youve got a great song, do it.
Plus, were from the old school, I mean, we want to give people their
Rich: One song on the album you didnt write is called "Lovin You." Tell us about that song.
Johnny: I think for me personally, the way I related to this was that .
Donnie: (Laughter) This guy had it bad!
Johnny: You know, you try everything in life sometimes when sometimes it could be right in front of you but you just dont know it. For me personally, this is my life. I realize that its taken me three marriages to get to this point. To the right women and this is the right one. Thats how I relate to this song.
Rich: Were gonna talk about another song on the album called, "I Cant Help Myself"
Johnny: Oh yea, yea!
Rich: Why did you record that song? What was it about that song?
Johnny: Its the most emotional song on there for us. We actually wrote it with the Warren Brothers.
Donnie: Our guys the Warren Brothers . (laughter): The Warren Girls... Ha ha!
Johnny: Thats the Warren sisters (more laughter) Just kidding fellows, We love you!
Johnny: But this song here really touched us. I mean, this guy was really at the bottom of the pits, and it really took getting on his knees and praying to God to come make him someone else. Its the real deal for us.
Rich: This whole album has a spiritual tone!
Johnny: You know, I think our life in general does. Somebody asked, Why are you wearing a cross? I go well; its not for decoration! Its because I believe in Jesus Christ and God This song, I think just hits home. We have had a lot of friends, not only friends, but for me speaking personally .
Johnny: Yea, ourselves who have hit rock bottom and nowadays its not only the whisky in the bottle but a bottle can mean a lot of things. There can be a lot of other things in the bottle too.
Donnie: Thats right!
Its drug addition. This particular song is alcohol
For everybody out there listening, therapy is great and rehab is great, but if youre down, down, down, just look up!
Rich: I love that. It about redemption!
Rich: Lets talk a little bit about touring... Both you guys have been out on tour for quite a while with your bands.
Johnny: Well, for a couple of years. (laughter)
Rich: You gotta have some good stories on the road. Im not going to ask you about the stories I know you have, but cant tell
Johnny: Tell on Donnie (more laughter)
Rich: You are brothers arent you? (laughs)
Donnie: .38 Special is actually celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.
Rich: Thats unbelievable man!
Donnie: Unbelievable! Time sure flies!
Johnny: Skynyrd is going on... 35 or so. A few years back we celebrated 30 years. Time flies when youre having fun.
Rich: Yall are taking care of yourselves. You look like you're drinking the carrot juice! (Laughter)
Johnny: You know, a lot of people think you just come out on tour and it's just a continual party but you have to learn to pace yourself and the main thing for us is to go out and do a good show for the fans every night, so you gotta take care of yourself.
Rich: Do yall work out? Get on the treadmill? Do any of that stuff?
Donnie: We dont go that far! (more laughter)
Rich: "Been There Done That" What about that song?
Donnie: Actually .38 was opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd and I dont always get to watch the show but this particular night I got to watch the whole Skynyrd show and Johnny introduces "That Smell" and before he did it, there is this little phrase he says right before the song comes in. Been there, done that, and I aint never going back again! I thought, thats pretty cool... so I went back to the hotel and wrote it down in my little title book. Thats how it started.
Rich: The little book every good songwriter keeps.
Johnny: Skynyrd has been there and done that and they aint never going back again. Of course, theres a lot of history there. That song "That Smell" wouldnt have been written if there wasnt some shenanigans going on. (more laughter) Anyway brother, we got a lot of demons in our lives... Thats for sure.
Donnie: I think a lot of people do.
Johnny: You know what? The devil is always after you in some shape or form and for me... I think you have to fight that every day of your life.
Donnie: Every day of your life, for me! There is a line that says Ive seen the devil in the darkest fire and on my darkest nights. Thats the truth!
Rich: I want to talk about the current country hit "Help Somebody:" Man, I just love the message in that song!
Johnny: Thank you! It was handed to us. Clay over at Sony came over and said I want you to hear this song and after the first few words, we were like ok.
Donnie: Actually, the words were, "Yeah Im American" and Johnny loved it.
Johnny: You bet ya!
Johnny: The song is full of great lines. You know? "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans"... thats one of the great lines.
Donnie: Like we have any choice, right?
Johnny: I think its been planned for us.
Rich: Its a great feeling, great message song, and I think its the heartbeat of the album.
Johnny: Obviously, we write our own songs but for us the melody was just fantastic and the words were just great. These days and times if you look at the world in general, I think people have forgotten the values Grandma and Grandpa instilled in us, and for us not only is it our grandmother and grandfather but its also talking about our parents. You know, the cool thing about songs, people put their own version of a song no matter what, of what they are really thinking or feeling in their heart. This song just really hit us. Like Donnie said, "we love writing our own stuff, but this song we thought we could sink our teeth into and capture".
Rich: Its been an honor to have both Johnny from Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Donnie from .38 Special in the studio today. Its been a privilege to meet you. Youre both absolutely legends of the music business and of the whole genre of Southern Rock, Country Rock, and now Country. This album is tremendous.
Johnny: Thank you so much.
Rich: There is a little bit of everything on Get Right With The Man, songs about family values, independence, and lots of love. Brothers, Johnny and Donnie, thank you so much. Its been a pleasure. God bless you both.
Johnny: God Bless you