An Interview with Jonny Fritz: Songwriter, Truck Driver, “Dad Country” Scholar (Part 2)

Jonny Fritz Sticker

If you missed Part 1 of our awesome interview with Jonny Fritz, check it out here. In a way, Jonny Fritz is to country music as uShip is to freight: he brings something new to a traditional industry, is a guaranteed source of ideas and innovation in the space— and for lack of a better word, he’s just a bit weird (in the way that fine folks usually are, but rarely want to admit). That’s a good thing, of course.

Both Fritz’s music and his experiences on the road make him a great match with the uShip community that drives this blog— no pun intended. After all, we’re music folks here at uShip. Our SXSW party is approaching legendary status. And take a stroll through the office on any given day and you’re bound to hear a good number of songs you like, and a few you don’t. (Just ask our friend Nick Hermandorfer.)

One thing we can all agree on, however, is Jonny Fritz’s new album Dad Country. Stream the album here. It’s great. Killer guitar, fiddle, organ, and piano arrangements round out Jonny’s one-of-a-kind voice and harmonies throughout the record.

Read on to hear Jonny’s tales of the Wild West, phantom big-rig trucks with x-ray high beams, the true gospel of Chevrolet, and a world where motorcycles never stop running.

uShip:  Since you’ve been on the road, is there a particular city you think is the wildest?

JF:  We went into Juarez like a week ago. That was pretty wild. we were playing in El Paso which was great. Man, El Paso is awesome. The people there are the salt of the earth. It was just an amazing town. We were parked right next to the border, and I was like, “Oh man, I got my passport. Josh, you got your passport?”  And he said, “Yeah, I got my passport.” So I said, “Before we have our show, why don’t we just run over to Juarez and get a taco and get a REAL Mexican Coke and come on back?” And he said, “All right man, let’s do it.” So we went over there and it was fun as hell. We kind of just ran a couple blocks into the city and got a couple tacos and came right back. As we were leaving, night fell and we were like— oh no— we’re in Juarez at night, it’s time to get out of here, let’s get back to the show. We went back the next day and spent a couple hours walking around the market and stuff. It was fun, man. I had such a good time down there. I would have loved to stay. That whole West Texas zone there – El
Paso, Las Cruces, New Mexico— that whole area is just cool. I’ve got a real magnetic pull to that area.

uShip:  The pull of the Wild West, right?

JF:  Hell yeah it is. There ain’t no doubt about that. It is as wild as it ever was out there. But I think El Paso deserves a better wrap than it’s had. El Paso was like— I cannot wait to get back there, San Antonio as well. We played San Antonio and had such a good time. I had no idea. All you ever hear is, “Go to Austin, go to Austin.” And that’s where we would always go because that’s where the shows are, but I was like, “Why don’t we play in San Antonio? It’s like a great city. And damn, I loved it. I kind of prefer playing places like that because they don’t get music as much. So when you do play for them they’re happy as hell that you’re coming to their town.

uShip:  And people forget that they’re both big cities. When you play these shows in San Antonio and El Paso, for example, do you have a feel for the audience is or what they do? Do you see trucks in the parking lot and stuff like that?

Side note: Jonny Fritz has the best swag in the biz. That lighter is also a semi-truck and trailer.

Side note: Jonny Fritz has the best swag in the biz. That lighter is also a semi-truck and trailer.

JF:  So, one time we were playing in Houston. And I can’t remember where it was—some hole-in-the-wall bar— and I had just done an interview
with someone at Sirius XM on Outlaw Country. Man, it was so cool. We were playing there and four burly dudes come in. These gnarled truckers come in
there and they come up to me and point and say, “There he is!” And I was like, “Uhhh, what?” They came up to me and said, “Are you Johnny Corndawg?” And I was
like, “Yeah, I think so. I’m pretty sure that’s who I am.”  “We just heard you. We were on the road and we heard you on Sirius XM. They said you were playing Houston tonight and we found your damn show!” And they said, “When are you playing cause we gotta get back on the road!” So I was like, “Right now then!” So, I put on a show just for those guys. It was a team of flip-seat drivers I guess, and they were like “F this, lets pull over.” That was like the coolest thing. I just thought, “Oh man, this actually worked!” These people are listening to this music and they’re ready for something. I’ve always wanted some way to show that.

uShip:  That’s the best story I could’ve ever hoped for. Okay— I want to know about this album cover for Down On The Bikini Line, your first album. It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever seen and I want to know who drew it. And who decided on this aesthetic with the babe, and you, and the storm?

Down on Bikini Line

JF:  It was an idea I had about a truck that has x-ray vision. The truck headlights can see through women’s clothes. One of my best friends, Mike Gaughan – I recommend you check out everything he’s made because he’s one of the greatest artists I’ve ever seen. It’s a watercolor painting. It’s a huge like 18”x24” painting and it’s just beautiful. He’s incredible. I told him, “Maybe we should do a girl standing in the road and you can see through her clothes.” And he said, “Yeah sure.” He took and nailed it. He popped it right out. I love it so much.

uShip:  I noticed the truck on that cover is actually a Peterbilt. Do you have a favorite truck make or model?

JB:  I like them all. I drove a Freightliner Sprinter (http://www.freightlinersprinterusa.com/) right now so I’ve grown to really see a lot of Freightliners and I love those ones. I have a couple International pickups (http://tinyurl.com/aagtrxj), but no, I really love ‘em all. I really do. It’s rare that I meet a truck I don’t like.

http://youtu.be/KrmeyabJv_I

uShip:  So, pickups. Chevy versus Dodge – what side are you on?

JB:  Chevy/Ford. It’s just an ongoing battle of man isn’t it? You’re either on one side or the other. My next door neighbor growing up was a trash truck man and he runs a trash trailer. He’s one of the first guys that taught me how to drive these trucks. He was such a Chevy man and he has a fleet of 15 30-year-old Chevy pickups. He was
just so funny about it. Everybody up on the hill in Esmont, VA, where I’m from, they’re either on the Ford side or the Chevy side. I decided to write a song about him personifying Chevy as God. I was like, “Here you go, sonny, here’s a little more proof.” It was ammunition for him to use against all these Ford lovers.

uShip:  Tires, Muscle and Pride, baby!

JB:  That’s right!

uShip:  You’re a motorcycle fan as well, right? Do you have any motorcycle tips for the uShip community?

uShip:  Yeah. It’s great. Well, it’s great until it’s not. And then it sucks. I don’t know really any pro tips. The best way to keep a motorcycle running is to not shut it off. I’m pretty clear on that. Like, when I was riding the thing I was always on it. It never sat for more than eight hours, really. It was constantly underneath me and constantly running. It ran really well. And you know, when you’re on the road with something it’s pretty cool. You know exactly when to break and you can feel it because you are physically on it. So you know it kind of breaks my heart when people store motorcycles and don’t ride them.

uShip:  It’s like keeping a dog all penned up or something.

JF:  Yeah, exactly.

uShip:  Who in the band makes you laugh the most? Who is the funniest guy to be on tour with?

JF:  Josh Hedley. He’s the funniest guy that I can think of.

Jonny Fritz latest album Dad Country was released on digital, CD and vinyl formats on April 16. Pick up a copy at a store near you, through Jonny’s website, or online at iTunes or Amazon.

 

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