Country Music’s Raunchiest Bad Boy Wheeler Walker Jr. Shoots Straight From The Hip
WARNING: This interview contains inappropriate language
Back in March the country music establishment did a collective double take when a mysterious name suddenly showed up on the Billboard Top 10 Country Charts. Sitting right between the pop-country garbage of Luke Bryan and Little Big Town at a comfy #9 was a fella by the name of Wheeler Walker Jr. and his debut album Redneck Shit. Posing suggestively with one leg bent at the knee, Wheeler looked like he was taunting all of Nashville with a look that said, “y’all can go ahead and suck my dick”. This was exactly the point.
With song titles like “Beer, Weed, Cooches”, “Can’t Fuck You Off My Mind”, “Eatin’ Pussy Kickin’ Ass”, “Better Off Beatin’ Off” and “Which One O’ You Queers Is Gonna Suck My Dick”, this is country music aimed at getting a rise out of the Nashville establishment. But perhaps more shocking than the in-your-face raunchiness of the lyrics is the fact that Redneck Shit was produced by Dave Cobb, the Grammy-winning producer best known for his work with artists like Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell. On top of that, once you stop laughing at the absurd profanity of the lyrics you can come to terms with the fact that Wheeler Walker Jr. actually put out an album of damn fine outlaw country music using top notch Nashville players. Based on its high ranking on the Billboard and iTunes country charts, it was clear people couldn’t resist the catchiness of lines like “Sit on my face cuz I ain’t too picky/ride my mouth ‘till your puss gets sticky and all” (“Sit On My Face”), among others.
All signs point to the fact that Wheeler Walker Jr. is actually the alter ego of comedian Benjamin Hoffman, known for The Ben Show, which ran for one season on Comedy Central in 2013. That may be why some are quick to dismiss Redneck Shit as just another joke record, or that it has upset at least a few people in our politically correct, everything-offends-me society (including Wynonna Judd, but more on that later). Obviously, someone singing country tunes about fucking your way up the family tree or fightin’, fuckin’ and fartin’ is going to piss off a few people, including snobby music critics (also more on that later). The beauty of Wheeler Walker Jr. is that, whether through his music or his ongoing Twitter feuds with every pop country douchebag, his primary goal is pissing people off. Right behind that is the more noble goal of proving that you don’t need to follow Nashville’s rules to win the ears of country music fans. Now Wheeler Walker Jr. is getting ready to kick up some dust and hit the road for his first tour, which kicks off in Lawrence, Kansas on May 31st. Recently he took the time to shoot the shit about the tour, his music, and pissing off as many people along the way as he possibly can.
You seem to lead a pretty over the top lifestyle. What are you up to on this Saturday afternoon?
Yeah, a lot of it's just fuckin' talk. I'm out in LA doing press, then and I gotta go back to Nashville, and then we're leaving for the first tour. It's all this fuckin' bullshit of the shit I'm not used to, which is like, I gotta buy extra underwear and shirts because I don't want to wear the same fucking shirt onstage every night in case I'm sweatin'. And figuring out how to get all these fuckers in the van, like you know, all the shit you never wanted to think about when you started playing music is happening right now. I didn't make an album so I could figure out how big of a cooler we need to buy for the van, that's not where my expertise is.
So this is your first real tour. Is there anything special you're doing to get yourself ready?
My main thing is I'm trying to take nights off drinkin' because I don't think I can drink every night. Some of these [tour stops] it's like five nights in a row of singing and I wanna put on a fuckin' killer show. I can sing great when I'm fuckin' drinkin', the problem is the next night. To answer your question about preparation, I don't fuckin' know. I don't want the person on night five to have less of a show than the person on night one, but also, you heard the record. Is that something you want to play sober? So I don't know what the fuck to do. My guess is I'll just fuckin' drink anyway
A few beers won't hurt.
Yeah, well the problem is, I don't know about you but a few beers doesn't cut it for me. If I have three beers - it's like you're a kid and [you say you'll] just have two cookies - shit don't work.
How should people act at a Wheeler Walker show? Are fightin’ and fuckin’ all right?
Yeah, I mean, save some for me! My thing is, I have kind of a broader view of it, which is when the album came out it was #9 on the Billboard country charts and that kind of shocked everyone. A lot of the press was saying, how is this fucking dirty shit on the country charts? My answer is, I'm the only country music on that fuckin' chart! No offense if you're a fan of Sam Hunt or something, but to me real country music is just a dying art form. I think, crazy lyrics and all, [my stuff] is gonna be the most legit country music of all. That's the fun of it. It drives me crazy going to see a show with sampling and people are pretending to play guitar. I wanna go see great players sing great songs, especially with country music. Even in Nashville it's hard to find great country music being played. So my hope is that people just want to see and hear some great fucking music. I'd rather they not fight until after the show because if they smash shit my insurance ain't gonna pay for it. But also, bring some fucking ladies man, I'm worried it's gonna be a sausage fest.
I take it you're not going to be wearing tight jeans and a headset mike?
No, I'm not wearing a headset microphone, but I'm trying to wear the tightest jeans in all of country music just to show these fuckers up, like who can wear the tightest fuckin' jeans? So there might be tight jeans, but that's just so I can show off my fuckin' nut sack.
Can you share a little bit of your background – how did you find your way to Nashville and start tearing shit up there?
Unfortunately, I didn't start tearing shit up there for a long time. I'm from Kentucky and I moved to Nashville about 2000, so it was really just 15 years of record deals gone bad, listening to what people were telling me I should be doing, which was trying to make the albums that they thought I should be making. After 15 years of ups and downs, I had basically just kind of given up. Then I decided I was just gonna empty out my bank account, make the album I always wanted to make. So I was like, I'm just gonna make this album of real country music without censoring any of the words and my buddy Sturgill Simpson introduced me to his producer Dave Cobb. He said [he was] down, so I emptied out my bank account, gave him the money, made this record, and then I was like, obviously when people hear this record my career's over anyways.
My career was over in the first place but it's definitely gonna be over when this record comes out. I was just fixin' to move back to Kentucky and give it up, and then I get a call that the album took off. How's this happen? I don't wanna guess why people are diggin' it or whatever, but I think 99% of country music is such fucking bullshit - it sounds like Milli Vanilli with a twang, like bad hip-hop with some white boys kind of rapping in Southern accents - I think people were clamoring for real country music. Country radio is so bad, I mean, I ain't in the studio thinking about how am I gonna get this on the radio, I think that's pretty obvious from the record. I basically did everything you could possibly do to make sure this album was not a success, and then next thing you know people are fuckin' listening to it. It kinda took me by surprise because the whole point of this project was for me to give a giant FUCK YOU to Nashville and move back to Kentucky, and now I'm stuck!
What’s you relationship like with Sturgill Simpson – you’re both from Kentucky?
Yeah, we go back a ways. I don't know if he's happy that I keep mentioning him in the press, but he's been good to me. I said some shit about him on the Joe Rogan podcast I probably shouldn't have, but he introduced me to Dave [Cobb] and kind of got it started, so I definitely owe him one for that. I will say he was one of the first guys to hear the record and he said he loved it, so that meant a lot to me. All jokes aside, to me he's the best guy out there doing it right now, so for him to like the record is just awesome. You know, there's him, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton.
As much as I make fun of Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt and all that shit, I don't even know that world. I'm only now researching it to make fun of them. It was more of the idea of it that was pissing me off. Now I'm being forced to look into it because I'm on the charts with these fuckin' dudes, so I go and listen to it and I actually can't believe how awful this shit is. Some of it's just pure rap, and here's the thing, I don't want people taking this the wrong way, I fuckin' love hip-hop. I was listening to Too Short last night, I love NWA, Dr. Dre and Snoop, old school Run DMC, Public Enemy, Geto Boys. Like if I want to listen to it, I listen to real hip-hop! I don't need some fuckin' white boy doing an imitation of a rapper singing about his fuckin' truck. When I listen to country music I want to listen to it because I like country, and when I want to listen to hip-hop I do that. It'd be one thing if these guys were pushing - Sturgill's new record is a good example - he's pushing country music forward and doing something new with it. The other fuckers ain't doing that. It's not like they're pushing the boundaries, they're just doing shit other people in pop music did 20 years ago. It's electronic beats from the 80's and shitty rap, it's just fuckin' dog shit.
Listen, my shit's not for everyone. I ain't gonna be outselling Adele anytime soon - or Sturgill or Chris Stapleton - but the fact that I'm in the game. I'm from Kentucky, and when my album comes out the same week as Wynonna Judd's new album and I get a call that my album debuted higher - nothing against Wynonna - but where I grew the the Judd's were everywhere. When you call me and tell me that my album - the first song is called "Fuck You Bitch" - outsold Wynonna Judd, I'm a little taken aback to say the least. And if I'm taken aback, I can only imagine what she's thinking.
I'm sure she got a chuckle out of that one.
Eh, I don't think so because we kind of got into it on Twitter, honestly. She told me that [my] language isn't meant for the studio. I was very respectful to her. She was telling me when she wants to use language like that she goes outside and gets it out of her system before she records. But I wanna hear the real fuckin' shit on the record - I wanna hear the pain and the pissed-offedness. That's what I like to listen to, I don't wanna listen to anybody's record who got there anger out of their system before they recorded, I want to hear it.
You seem to take an all or nothing approach to sexuality. What kind of experiences led up to this?
I just get so fucking pissed about this narrow world [of things that] you're allowed to talk about in country music. Let me explain it this way: sometimes you get drunk, go to the wrong bar, shit happens. What do you need me to say? But I don't understand why sexuality's gotta be such a taboo subject in fuckin' country music when everyone else is talkin' about it all the time. It's just stupid. What happens is the record company people come in and say you can't talk about that because if you talk about that you're not gonna get played on the radio. You ain't on the radio, you ain't gonna make money, you can't afford your private plane, you can't afford your publicist or your motorbike or Mercedes or whatever. But if you don't give a fuck about the money like me, then who gives a fuck, you just say whatever the fuck you want. So what you're listening to [on the radio] is music made by people hoping they can keep paying their assistants. While it's good for them, it ain't good for the listener. When I listen to music I wanna hear a great song that's about something, not a song that was manufactured to sell records to keep the machine going. That's a weird way to end a question asking about me singing about gay shit, but that is kind of the longwinded answer.
That was a good politically correct answer.
Well yeah, that's the thing! I love women - I got a song about titties - but I also want to be an equal opportunity singer. When you're singing about the crazy shit I'm doing, you want everyone involved.
Yeah, your music all fits into one bathroom.
Yeah, exactly! Eatin' pussy, kickin' ass, and then at the end it's like...maybe suckin' a little dick. Whatever you wanna do man, Wheeler Walker Jr. don't judge unless you make shitty music.
You tweeted recently that Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza thought you were too controversial. Is there a story behind that?
The thing that drives me up the fuckin' wall, I'm like it's 20-fuckin'-16! None of the talk shows will have me, none of the festivals, and I'm like what are these words that people haven't heard? By the way, I could give two fucks if I'm on these shows or at these festivals, but if I'm seeing a bunch of people at festivals who are behind me on the charts and they won't have me, we know what the answer is. Just to go back to hip-hop, those guys probably talk dirtier than me, but I guess they've sold more records. I think, with the exception of someone like David Allan Coe, the shock value is in hearing this kind of music. With all due respect to David Allan Coe, who I love, he wasn't on the charts with those X-rated records. So I think people are gettin' scared because [my] shit's selling, but it's like I was saying, it's 2016 and it's just a click away. It's not like the 70's where you had to order it out of the back of a biker magazine, which is what you had to do with David Allan Coe. Nowadays it's there for everyone.
If I'm scaring people, then fuckin' great. When I was growing up the music I liked to listen to was the music that scared people, but that's not why I did it. When I'm in the studio and I'm making the record, and it's just me and Dave [Cobb] and a few buddies - we had a fuckin' blast and you can hear it on the record. I mean, no one sings shit like this without having fun making it. There are a couple songs where you can almost hear Chris the drummer stop playing because he's laughing too hard. Even the musicians on the record were like, we love this record, but it's like you just made it for us. That's where all the good stuff comes from, it was only made for me and my friends, that's all I give a shit about. But the more people that come to the party, the better.
Back in February the Houston Press gave you a not so favorable review and then they wrote a follow-up piece claiming you “chickened out” of an interview (LINK). What do say to that claim, does Wheeler Walker Jr. really do that?
Well, here's what happened. Somebody wrote an article saying that my album sucked when my album hadn't even come out yet. The person who wrote the article said I hadn't achieved what I meant to achieve with the record. I was like, how the fuck? You gotta ask me first what I meant to achieve, and I hadn't done an interview. This is where journalism is nowadays, and that's why it's cool talking to people like you. The Houston Press just starts tweetin' at me, and I sent them a tweet because I thought their Twitter got hacked, because it was like, "you're a piece of shit", I don't remember what they said. They were just mocking me and tweeting at me, like you're a pussy you know, and this ain't the New York Times. I don't need to be bothered by some fuckin' Houston Press Twitter. Then they called me up to do an interview and my people - which by the way my people is just like one dude who's a fuckin' dumb fuck - and I was like, I want to talk to them and let them know what's up. He said, they wrote a shitty article about you, people dig the record, and we know what the interview is gonna be which is it's just gonna say you suck more. This was me trying to be nice, because I if I got on the phone to do the interview I was just gonna fuckin' yell at them. It's a no-win situation. Listen, I'm happy to talk to the Houston Press, I don't give a shit, but after seeing those tweets I honestly prefer to have them do their version of the story without talking to me. And by the way, the whole point was, at the end of the day they printed an article about me being too much of a pussy to be in their shit rag and that got way more press attention than anything I've ever done.
They seemed to have missed that whole ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ part.
My whole thing is about whatever's pissing people off the most. It's like, if you want an interview that bad, I don't want to give it to you. If someone doesn't wanna interview me, then I'm gonna call them out. If Coachella called me, I'd probably tell them to fuck off, but because they didn't call me I call them pussies. So if you're that desperate for a fuckin' interview, my first answer is, I ain't giving you one, and the only reasoning is because I like fuckin' botherin' people! Again, to be quite honest with you, after I tweeted back and forth with [the Houston Press], they sent me a sales chart and my biggest city was Houston! So let's keep this going! I'll never do an interview in Houston, just keep talking shit about me and people will love the record. Basically, the option was do an interview with an idiot, or don't do the interview and you'll get more press! Which one are you gonna pick?
Now you're playing Houston in June.
Yeah, how the fuck am I gonna sell tickets without the Houston Press?! Listen, I'll talk to them, I don't give a fuck, but it was fun to watch them flip out. I don't even know what the Houston Press is!
It's a hipster rag.
Well, that's all I need to know, I don't wanna talk to them anyways. They just didn't get the record, and my whole thing is, if you don't get the record I don't give a fuck. I didn't walk out of the studio like, this is for everyone, you know?
I'm not dumb enough to listen to a playback of a song called "Which One Of You Queers Is Gonna Suck My Dick" and go, yep, this is gonna be the big one, no one's gonna misunderstand this. But, pissing off fuckin' hipster rags is half the fuckin' point! The more hipster rags I can piss off the better, and if the best way to piss them off is to get in a Twitter battle and have them write articles about me being a pussy, if you told me I could do that in every city I'd do it right now.
If it's cool with you I'd like to do some name association. So if I say a name, you say the first thing that pops into your head.
Alright, these have gotten me in trouble in the past but I'll do it, because my first thought is never a good one, but go ahead…
We have the same agent. No comment.
Motherfucker. Fuck him and fuck every song he's ever played. I know that's more than a word, they wrote an article in the fuckin' New York Times about how comedy is making it's way back into country music. The picture is of Bobby Bones! You heard his record? It's fuckin' pop! Get that shit off the country charts! If you're the biggest country radio DJ out there and you can't even get people to buy your own country record, you must suck.
I'm gonna surprise you with this one because I talked shit about him the other day and he responded. So, anytime that happens - I talk shit about everyone in country music - and what pisses me off the most is when people can't get the joke. I said I'd rather blow my brains out than listen to his new record, which is probably true, and he wrote back that he was gonna kick my ass. I thought that was fuckin' funny, so I gotta give him props! That's a cool fuckin' answer! More than callin' a publicist to tell me to back off or some shit.
He showed a touch of outlaw right there, maybe.
Yeah! It's like, play along motherfucker, that's what I like! There's this other band called Old Dominion, I was watching them on the CMA's and I tweeted out, "at least I know they ain't jackin' each other off right now." And they fuckin' retweeted it, and I'm like well, kudos to them! They can have some fun. I realize most of these people fuckin' suck but it's cool if you can have fun with it. So I usually give someone a pass if they respond in a way that makes me laugh. It's a very easy game to win, you just gotta have fun! If you don't wanna have fun you don't have to, but I'm just gonna keep layin' it on thicker!
Oh man. How many fuckin' hours have I spent listening to Willie? I don't even know what to say with one word. He's just the best. He's one of those other ones that don't give a fuck, and I love it.
Florida Georgia Line - I know they're a favorite of yours.
I want to get a good word for them. Something I said before is, I don't know what goes on at that Florida Georgia border but I want no part of it.
Best out there right now, present company excluded.
I'm trying to think of a funny one but the real answer is, shit's changed! It used to be a town where people played and wanted to make music. It's now this fuckin' hipster...I gotta stay in my house! If you're talking about Nashville as an industry, that's easy, fuck ‘em! If you're talking about the city itself, my great grandparents moved to Nashville in 1901, so it's home, I love it. But the industry? Fuck ‘em all up their fuckin' asses with a big fuckin' black dildo.
This article originally appeared on Glide Magazine.