Fed up with the country music business and itching for a new start, Shooter Jennings decided to pack up and move from New York to California. Somewhere in the middle—that vague expanse of land his father, Waylon, famously proclaimed his love for in “Too Dumb for New York City, Too Ugly For L.A.”—Shooter saw a world falling apart around him. “The economy crashed and all this stuff was going on, and I was driving right through the middle of it,” he says. Describing the experience as “a perfect storm of emotions,” he says the end result was Black Ribbons.
Described as “Pink Floyd meets Ministry,” it’s a concept album in which dark and foreboding tracks (courtesy of his newly rechristened band, Hierophant) are punctuated by the ranting of a late night DJ called Will O’ the Wisp, voiced by Stephen King, a man who knows a thing or two about bleak futures.
So it’s surprising to find Shooter suspiciously free of dark clouds when discussing the album, his life, and his rather unique upbringing. Engaged to actress Drea de Matteo and a proud papa to 2-year-old Alabama Gypsy Rose, he clearly isn’t about to let his concerns about the future mess up his present. After all, he’s got more pressing concerns—like where, exactly, he’s going to put that “Alabama” tattoo.
INKED: How many tattoos do you have now?
SHOOTER JENNINGS: Six.
What prompted you to get your first one?
I got it on the day of my 18th birthday. It’s on my right arm and it’s this crappy, nonsensical tattoo that looks like there’s an “N” in the center of it. Which my friends always joke was for “Nazareth.” [Laughs.] I have no reasoning behind it except that I turned 18 and was like, “I’m getting a tattoo.”
Did you just select a design randomly off the wall?
It was in one of the books. It was some silly, like, star-looking pattern kind of Superman-looking thing that has absolutely no meaning to it. I had the center of it filled in red later to try and make it look a little better, which didn’t really help. Kick ass! [Laughs.]
How long ago was your last one?
The last one I got was this bullet that I have on my right hand. I got it in Austin. Me and my fiancée, Drea, got matching tattoos with our initials. Mine has her initials and it’s on my right hand. We were doing South by Southwest, so I think it had to have been 2004. That was my last one. My daughter’s name is Alabama, and I’m getting an “Alabama” tattoo but I haven’t figured out where I’m getting it. But I’m getting it somewhere.