Theo Von and Travis Tritt… the combination you didn’t know you needed.
Theo had the country music legend on his podcast a little while back, but posted the conversation recently in conjunction with the release of Travis’ new single,“Smoke In A Bar.”
As always, the conversation ran the gambit of topics, from raising aspiring country singers, to first kisses, and tales from his days coming up in the music world and being labeled an outlaw by industry and media heads.
And that last topic brought out a great story of the first time Travis met Waylon Jennings…
“My fourth single, I released this song called “Put Some Drive in Your Country” that I had written at Duane Allman’s gravesite… and because that song had all these distorted rock guitars on it and it was a throwback to that Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers kinda thing, man, everybody in Nashville that was involved in the music industry and everybody in country radio… just came claws out.
Because I was not following the rules at the time, of country music, which were you can use pedal steel guitar, but we don’t allow that kind of stuff. All these writers and country music magazines, they start trashing me. I turn on the radio and hear some disc jockey talking about ‘Oh well, he’s trying to be a rebel.’ Some actually came out privately and said ‘He’s an asshole.'”
But after a while, it started to get to him. Until Waylon told him something that changed it all:
“It was starting to get to me, and then they hit me with the one that really did the most damage at the time, ‘Well, he’s just an outlaw.’ And it was really starting to get to me, until I met Waylon Jennings. Waylon told me, that first time I met him…
‘Listen Hoss, I’ve been hearing all the stuff they’ve been saying about you in Nashville and these radio stations. Let me just remind you that everything they are saying about you now, is exactly what they said about me, and about Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr. and David Allan Coe.
Let me ask you a question. Are you still selling records? (Yes, I’ve been lucky, everything’s gone platinum or better) Are you still drawing people into your shows? (Yeah man, we’re playing huge arenas and they’re sold out). Listen, those are the people you should care about their opinion. Because all those people in Nashville… they get their music for free.
These people that come out, those are the people who work hard, 40, 50, 60 hours a week to put food on the table. And they’re willing to spend a certain amount of that hard earned money to buy your music… and occasionally they splurge on a concert ticket. Those are the only people who matter and as long as you’re pleasing them, which you obviously are, to hell with all the rest of these people.”
What a first impression… and of course, what great advice the legendary Waylon Jennings. And the picture of them that first night is even better. A bolo tie, cut-off and mullet, how else would you meet your childhood hero?
He went on to say that Waylon was an outlaw through and through and that he didn’t give a shit about anybody’s opinion of him. His “give-a-shitter was totally broken,” as he put it.
Travis also discussed the artists of today that he likes (No huge surprises: Cody Jinks, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Marcus King and Larry Fleet) and how he actually first heard and met Larry Fleet on Real Country a show where he, Shania Twain and Jake Owen were judges.
That wasn’t Travis’ only time in front of a TV or movie camera either. He told Theo about his favorite acting role he ever did on a show called “Tales From The Crypt,” where he was a tomb robber, who stole bodies for a doctor looking for the soul gland, got his head cut off and rose from the dead because his soul gland was still intact… what a wild ride.
Right at the end, Theo asked Travis about a rumor that he got tired of playing “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” because people would throw quarters on stage…
“Actually I didn’t get tired of playing it, I got hit by one… when we first started playing that song, we were playing small clubs, and people would start throwing quarters up on stage, and it’s not going to hurt anybody. But when we start playing theaters, and you’re third row balcony, to throw a quarter hard enough.
So we started getting pelted… I was on stage one night… and I got hit, someone threw it from third row balcony, and I thought I got shot. It was just one of those things when you’re just “WOAH.” I looked down and there’s just blood streaming, I got hit right above my right eye, and it’s just gushing blood… I couldn’t stop the bleeding so it stopped the show.
So we had to start making an announcement to people… I got Larry the Cable Guy to do an intro for me. “Hey y’all, it’s Larry the Cable Guy. Because of the danger involved, please do not throw quarters or any other hard objects at the performers during the program. Otherwise, I’m gonna come over your house, shove a milkbone down your throat and sick a hungry dog up your hind-end.”
Larry the Cable Guy and Travis Tritt… another combo I didn’t know I needed until I heard it.
All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve ever listened too, the dynamic between the two was smooth and neither held back with anything and they just felt like they could cut loose and just have fun. Theo does a great job letting the guests talk and tell their story while throwing in some of the best one-liners in the game.