Exclusive Interview: Jelly Roll

Jelly Roll and Struggle Jennings are no strangers to outlaw culture. In their new video for “Fall In The Fall” they’re trying to make changes in a life they’ve grown tired of.

The duo teamed together for a new album titled Waylon & Willie II, inspired by the classic Outlaw Country of Waylon and Willie Nelson. The themes on the album explore “drug addiction, survival, betrayal and the heartbreak of tragedy.”

Rock Confidential caught up with Jelly Roll to talk about the new Waylon & Willie II album, the video for “Fall In The Fall” and what he wants people to take away from his music.

Thank you for taking time out for this! How are things going?

Absolutely incredible. I honestly couldn’t have planned it any better myself! Been blessing after blessing.

Please tell us about your new album Waylon & Willie II. Just hearing those two names evokes a certain sound but you’ve made it more about the attitude. How would you describe your music to someone not familiar?

It’s southern rock with a hip-hop spirit. It’s about big haunting 808s with eerie guitars and strings. But if I could use one word to describe our music it would be “therapeutic.”

When you first started working on Waylon & Willie II did you approach songwriting or planning out the tunes differently than previous records?

We definitely put more emphasis on the production and really brought in a lot of players to play on the record and make it feel huge. We wanted something sonically that we couldn’t be more proud of and share with the big dogs.

You just premiered the video for “Fall In The Fall.” What can you tell us about that track?

It’s a haunting tale about how scandalous life can get. It’s based on the emotion of emptiness and seeking love in our darkest moments. But most importantly it’s encouraging in reminding us that leaves do only fall in the fall. Life is seasonal, not just in the weather but also on obstacles and successes.

You’ve managed to secure a very loyal fanbase. What part of your lifestyle do you think appeals to your fans the most?

I believe it’s just the genuineness of it. People know when your bullshitting and when you’re giving it to ’em from the soul. You can hear the pain in our songs. We just continue to sing songs that can be delivered with conviction.

What inspires you as an artist?

People. I’m moved by stories and triumphs. I love underdogs and people who have overcame shit.

Who are some of your influences? Was there a particular artist that had more of an impact?

I grew up on old Southern rap and rock. 8Ball and MJG, Haystak, 3-6 Mafia, UGK. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band and outlaw Country.

Roots are important – they help us grow – but they don’t define us. Was it hard to branch out stylistically from Jennings – a name so synonymous with country music?

For me it was easy because I’m just a fat fuck from Antioch. I think for Struggle it was easy because he grew up hearing and knowing the outlaw stories of his grandpa Waylon. Struggle felt he was born to be an outlaw and rebel. I believe it, too. Sonically the music has just evolved with time.

What are your thoughts on how new music is promoted now?

I’m impartial. I’m just so glad to be able to provide for my family and touch so many people’s lives. This shit is all a dream come true from me. I am just completely humbled.

What do you hope people take away from your music and videos?

I hope they feel something and I hope they feel something enough that it inspires them to do something. My wish is for the music to help people above everything else. What a gift it is to be able to change people’s mood for three minutes at time – a gift I don’t take for granted.

What was the first album you bought with your own money growing up?

I believe it was Nirvana’s Nevermind. I was like eight and got my sister to get it for me with my allowance money because she had it.

What’s up next?

Good Night Nashville in June and Waylon And Willie 3 in the winter.

Thank you again! What would you like to say to wrap up?

Thanks to everyone giving this shit a chance. You’re changing my entire family’s life.

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