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A brief trip into the mind of Joe Buck
Edited slightly for space and the PG-13 reader.
Joe Buck Yourself is one hardcore (expletive deleted).
A down-to-earth, foul-mouthed, angry old hillbilly punk from the woods of Western Kentucky out on the road with a vengeance, an RV and a guitar, stirring things up through music.
You might’ve known him as the crazy, villainous, upright bass-wielding sidekick to Hank Williams III or former guitarist from Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. Perhaps you saw him as the bona fide, evil one-man band last spring in Bremerton.
With two new EPs out this year — “Gory, Gory Hallelujah” and “Buck & Wheeler” (with Captain Sean Doe from Throwrag) — Buck returns for two shows in Bremerton, Nov. 8, amidst yet another nationwide tour.
What’s Up caught up with him by cell phone from the road to pick his brain on the stigma of the one-man band, playing in Bremerton and the quagmire of the country.
Here’s a tiny taste:
WU: WHAT POSSESSES ONE TO, SORT-OF, SWEAR OFF BEING IN A BAND AND TOUR THE COUNTRY SOLO?
JB: “I don’t know man ... I just need a job. (Silence). I’ve been able to, somehow, eek out a living for the past 20 years.”
WU: IS THAT WHERE THE NAME, JOE BUCK YOURSELF, COMES FROM?
JB: “It was my nickname in Nashville forever and I was stupid enough to call a band that. Nobody got it, I just became Joe Buck ... and I just stopped correcting people after a while.”
WU: I READ IN AN ARTICLE SOMEWHERE, SOMETHING LIKE “HE PERFORMS ALONE, BUT DON’T CALL HIM A ONE-MAN-BAND,” IS THAT ONE-MAN BAND STIGMA A PAIN?
JB: “Not really. I just don’t fit in anywhere, you know, and it’s like, I love Great American Music. I’m not being histriotic, trying to replicate some old blues guy or something, not to say that there’s anything wrong with that ... but now there’s just a billion one-man bands, and that’s why, I’m just a guy who plays by himself. It’s not a band ... I mean it’s punk rock and it’s loud, and whatever it is and the kids do their thing, but it’s just not singer/songwriter, so people don’t know what to call it.
WU: THANKS FOR COMING BACK TO BREMERTON, BY THE WAY, FOR TWO SHOWS IN ONE NIGHT NONETHELESS.
“Oh, man, really?”
WU: YEAH, THAT’S WHAT IT SAYS HERE — AN EARLY SHOW AT THE CHARLESTON, THEN A LATE SHOW THAT NIGHT AT WINTERLAND.
JB: “That place is awesome. Those people are awesome. And Bremerton is awesome. It’s one of those places, man ... It’s amazing because I don’t have any expectations really about this thing. It’s all amazing that anyone gives a (expletive) now, so it’s like right on.”
WU: IS THERE ANYTHING THAT SETS THIS TOUR APART FROM THE HUNDREDS OF OTHERS YOU’VE TRAVELED?
JB: “Ah man, (silence). I’ve lived out my rock dreams, you know. I know what the realities of this thing is. It’s an endless series of going ... so no, I guess not. You would think I would have some sort of gratification after doing 87 shows in 90 days, or something like that, but when it’s over, I just kind of go ‘huh.’ Yeah, this is my life, and I think that’s different from a lot of people out there. ... We go from gig to gig, we play, we drive out of town a little ways, pull into a Wal-Mart parking lot or someplace and then we’re home, our house is right there. ... Or like right now, sitting in the mountains in Montana.”
WU: SOUNDS LIKE QUITE THE LIFE...
JB: “But I wouldn’t recommend this for anybody really, because I’m lucky enough to have my family with me, but that’s not usually the case. To do this job right, you have to turn your back on everything you love, to do it right. You can’t really have anything because if you do, you have to take care of that (expletive).”
WU: KIND OF A WIERD QUESTION, BUT SINCE IT IS THE SEASON, WHO’D YOU VOTE FOR?
JB: “I don’t get too much into that. I’m not a person that screams from the top, or pulls for the top. I could give a (expletive) less about those people. I’m trying to affect the people that are right in my sight, daily. It never works screaming from the top. It has to start at the bottom. And anything true or pure will filter through to the top.”
WU: DO YOU FEEL LIKE MUSICIANS, TRUE TOURING MUSICIANS LIKE YOURSELF, HAVE AN IMPORTANT PLACE IN THAT PROCESS?
JB: “No. I don’t put any self-importance on it. If there’s anything that I’m good at for what it is, I’m a conduit of energy. (Expletive) flows through me. I’m there to — I don’t want to get to (expletive) or sappy or hippie or whatever — my (expletive’s) about standing up for your (expletive) self.”