Kid Rock has calmed down just a tiny bit with age. The 40-year-old Rock — born Robert James Ritchie — parties only a few days a week now.
He also has a little pain after jumping around onstage.
But he says his voice and his musicianship are better than ever.
He takes the stage at TD Ameritrade Park this Wednesday as part of the inaugural Red Sky Music Festival.
And as acts for the event were being revealed, he emerged as the biggest featured performer among some pretty big names. That's no surprise if you look at his numbers — five platinum-plus albums, one record selling more than 11 million copies, 23 million albums sold in the U.S.
These days, Rock is still pushing his platinum-selling album, "Born Free," which features less of the rap-rock from "Cocky" and more of the country-blues-rock from "Rock N Roll Jesus."
Over the years, he's been known for his personal life as much as his music, but Rock says he does things the way he wants to and without any regrets.
When he called us from the road last week, he talked about turning 40, still partying, famous friends like Bob Seger and Hank Williams Jr. and having a platinum album that's not sold on iTunes.
Q. You've been known for having big productions with dancers and pyrotechnics. What do you have in store for Omaha?
A. I try to be creative with the music first. That's the most important thing.
But this tour is the biggest we've had. I just said, "You know what, it's summertime. Let's go back to having fun. Let's give people everything. Let's give 'em the lasers and the fire and just things we've toned down."
You know, we used to have girls dancing a lot. Now it's just one or two songs. Now we're doing acoustic stuff. I'll sit at a piano and play a song by myself. New songs, like this song I do about turning 40.
I dig giving people a show. I'd definitely call myself an entertainer first.
Q. Do you still party it up when you're on the road?
A. Yeah. I like to have a good time. I just pick and choose my days a little wiser. It's not fun not sleeping and having to get onstage. It's not fair for the crowd either.
I think I have a night off after Omaha, so I'll probably have a good time.
Q. You were talking about your song, "(Expletive) Forty." Do you feel older or do you still have a "middle finger in the air" kind of attitude?
A. After bouncing up and down to "Bawitdaba" at 40, I can feel it in the lower back the next morning sometimes. I said coming into this whole 40 thing, I have never been one to get into battles that I can't win. That's definitely a losing battle so I'm just gonna embrace it, and I'm looking forward to 50. That's my approach.
Q. Is it good to have friends like Bob Seger, people who have been where you are?
A. It's incredible. He called me last night. He's down in Nashville doing some recording and staying at my place there. We were talking about music and life and kids. I gotta pinch myself every time. I don't take it lightly. I'm not starstruck, but it's still a big deal for me.
Q. You're a pretty versatile musician.
A. A little bit. I'm not a player's player, but an entertainer. I can get around.
Q. How did you learn to play different instruments?
A. I've always noodled on them, but I really started getting good — getting better, I can't say good — as I got successful. Sitting around with Hank Jr. and learning how to play open G is not a bad teacher. And him showing me how Fats Domino showed him how to boogie woogie. Sitting around with Jerry Lee Lewis and playing piano. Sitting around with Billy Gibbons. Singing with Steven Tyler and singing with Stevie Wonder. Playing with Aretha Franklin.
It's all the wonderful people, so many, that I've gotten to jam with. I'm the type of guy who likes to sit around at the end of the night and have some drinks and there's a guitar. We like to play. You always learn something in that setting.
Q. I thought "Born Free" showed off some versatility both in your singing and playing. What do you think?
A. (Rick) Rubin really pushed me. I've been honing my skills as a songwriter and he really, really focused with just an acoustic guitar and my go-to guy — my guitar player, Marlon (Young) — writing all the songs first. Then when we got in the studio, Rubin would raise the key on every single song and just push me until that was my range.
It's made me so strong. I said, "How am I gonna do these live?" Seger even called me and was like, "You might want to lower that key on 'Born Free' just a half step." He was like, "Man, trust me. From someone who's been doing high keys his whole life, it gets tough."
But Rubin was like, "If you just do it and you keep your partying down, your voice is going to get so strong" and it literally has.
Q. "Born Free" is very heavy on rock and blues. Do you ever want to do more of the rap and hard rock like on "Cocky" or "Devil Without a Cause?"
A. Next record. The next record, I want it to be a greatest hits of new songs of everything from "Devil Without a Cause" to "Born Free" that touches on some of the cool elements that really make me feel good and translate to the people. I really want to make a fun record. I do want to get back to that stuff.
Q. Have you been writing already?
A. Yep. We're just noodling around, writing songs and stuff, digging through old material and kinda talking like you and I are now — what we want it to be.
Q. "Born Free" was a platinum album for you and that's really tough to do these days. What's your secret?
A. We have a really loyal fanbase and I think that comes from never ripping them off, not nickel and diming them, giving them a great show for their money and giving them the best I can each album with the music.
They've kinda come along with me whether it's been rapping or a country tune or a rootsy record. I think the honesty has cultivated a good fanbase for me.
Nowadays, having a platinum record is a big feat. To do it without iTunes, they've been telling me "You can't do it. You can't do it." But I've just done it four million times now.
I'm proud of that.
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