Did your father's death in 2002 have an impact on your musical redirection from rock to country?
Yeah, it definitely did. But I was getting older, too, and as I was getting older, as I was hitting 22, 23, 24, I got obsessed with country. Even with Stargunn, we'd cover "Whiskey Bent & Hellbound," "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" and "The Road Goes on Forever." It started as a little seed there. As Stargunn went on, though, I started listening to so much country the Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams Srs. that I realized, "God, we can't play music like this." I knew what our limitations were.
Why did you name your debut Put the O' Back in Country?
Right now, country's saturated with pop acts. It happened with rock, too. You had Led Zeppelin, then, 10 years later, everyone was fucking Whitesnake. The machine just grabs onto something. Unfortunately, Garth Brooks made country music turn into this fucking big explosion onstage, flying around, more about the show than about the music. It lost something along the way. So I'm just saying, come on, where are the Merles, the Waylons, and the Willies? Bring back the energy, the realness, the characters, the people.
How did you land the role of your father in the new Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line?
Billy Ray Cyrus. Believe it or not, he's one of the coolest motherfuckers in the world. The poor guy, he's so down on himself, too, 'cause he thinks he ruined country music, but he's such a sweet guy. He'd auditioned for a part in it, and he was like, "Man, you have to go out for the Waylon part."