NUVO: You've picked up a lot of fans over the years. I heard that Tom Petty once asked you how you got your sound.
Unknown: He did. Yeah, actually, he did and I told him, "Well all I do is just plug in and go." Ain't no rules. No recipe, no nothing. I just plug in and go. He a real nice feller, too.
NUVO: What was your reaction when you found out that Hank3 had your face tattooed on one of his arms?
Unknown: Hank's my buddy. Good friend of mine, and I was quite honored that he'd done that and I still am. Yeah he's a good boy. ... He's the real thing. He sings from his heart. And he don't conform to nothing. He just ... writes what he feels and plays what he feels and sings what he feels. Therefore I recognize him as a fellow country western troubadour. And I say "country western" because there is a difference between "country" and "country western," if that makes any sense.
NUVO: Well, why don't you define that for us?
Unknown: Well, country could be anything from what you call, your - new country? Is that it? New country, that ain't country western. And what you call Americana. And what you call bluegrass. No criticism toward ay of them. I'm just saying that country western is a brand; it is a term used to describe roaming minstrels that serenade the masses and lead a rather glitzy life. It comes through in the sound. Like the ol' singing cowboys; Gene Autry and Roy Rogers - there's some parallels with Unknown Hinson and them. It ain't that I ride horses, but I play the guitar and sing. They shot their guns and the womern loved them, right? They drove the womern wild. And that's kind of my thing. I can't help it.
NUVO: You're not afraid though to venture into playing Hendrix onstage or take on any of those other rock and roll covers, though.
Unknown: Well, Ed, I do it as a disclaimer. Just to show young folks it don't take no talent to play that mess. You can walk into a music store on a Saturday morning and hear young'ns in there doing that mess all day long. I ain't kidding, I'm serious.
NUVO: Are you working with a four-piece or is it a three-piece band on this tour - do you have the steel guitar player along?
Unknown: No. This time it's me and my original drummer and my original bass players; the boys that started with me, when I got out of the joint in '93. We got back together. It's the original lineup.
NUVO: You've played Radio Radio pretty often. I'd imagine it's pretty comfortable for you at this point.
Unknown: It is. It's one of my favorite live music halls I've ever played. It's not huge, but it's got this real cool vibe. And the folks that run it are very very nice, hospitable professionals. And I really enjoy working with them and the fans. Without the fans, I ain't got no job. Every artist, if you don't pay attention to your fans, you're done because if they think enough of you, they'll spend their hard-earned money for a ticket to come and see you. And if you don't stand there till the last person in line at the merchandise stand gets what they want, then you done. 'Cause without them, I ain't got no work. So I stay there till the last person leaves.
NUVO: That's something that's really unique about you. A lot of fans really appreciate that you're willing to put in that time at the end of the show.
Unknown: Well, if somebody drives six hours in their car, you know, and arranges a weekend and buys a hotel room just to come see my show, what kind of son of a bitch would I be if I wouldn't stand and wait to give them an autograph and a picture, right?
[Music] DJs + Dancing