As a member of Foo Fighters, Chris Shiflett is among the most respected lead guitarists in rock music, and one of the hardest working. He also fronts Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants, a group that in 2013 released All Hat and No Cattle, an LP populated by covers of such country classics as "Pop a Top," "Playboy," "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" and "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way."
Another of Shiflett's projects is a podcast called Walking the Floor, during which he talks shop with fellow musicians. Past guests on the program have included Robbie Fulks, John Doe, Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle. The recent relaunch of Walking the Floor includes a new episode with country superstar Brad Paisley, making its premiere today. (Listen to a portion of the podcast below, and download the entire chat on iTunes here.)
"I met Brad at a Dead Peasants gig last year and asked him if he'd be on my podcast," Shiflett tells Rolling Stone Country, noting that the pair spent more than 90 minutes chatting about a variety of music-related topics. "It was like a master class in guitar playing, honky-tonk influences, and the music business. Plus, when we were done, he came up and jammed on a song with Dead Peasants later that night in a bar. Epic!"
Here's some of what we learned from eavesdropping on Shiflett and Paisley's "epic" conversation that runs the gamut from guitars and sharks to President Obama and Kiss.
1. Unlike passengers on commercial airline flights, where regulations require you to be seated (and buckled up) during takeoff and landing, Paisley was standing when his flight to Afghanistan on Air Force One took off. "We know these pilots really well," the singer was told when he asked if he should stay in his seat. "For me it's so beyond any of the politics," Paisley says of his decision to accept President Obama's invitation. "It's about patriotism and saying thank you to these guys that fight [when] the rest of us surf."
2. Paisley says his children are as "obsessed" with stories as he has always been, which is why he has a son named after Huckleberry Finn. "That's the great American novel," he says. "What's amazing is it's a total dissertation on the evils of slavery, disguised as the adventures of an incredibly free-spirited boy. The thing to remember when you read [it] is he wrote this book at a time when the world had never seen anything like it, where he writes it in the complete and total jargon of this boy."
3. Although he's had his share of uptempo singles throughout his career, Paisley was the only guitar player on his debut album. (He would also eventually release an instrumental album.) His label decided that his first singles should mainly be ballads, because they were "much more palatable" for the radio audience. "One of my record label presidents at the time said, 'Let's not talk about the fact that you play all the guitars. . . let's just talk about you as a songwriter-singer. People will figure out that you're a guitar player the first time they see you live."
4. The majority of the songs on Paisley's 2001 sophomore album, Part II, were written before his first album was released, so he was amused by reviews that praised him for honing his songwriting craft on the second album. When it came to the guitar work on his first two albums, however, the musician says his philosophy was WWBOD: "What would Buck Owens do?" By his third LP, 2003's Mud on the Tires, Paisley reveals he was thinking, "What can I get away with?"
5. Speaking of Buck Owens, Paisley recalls that as a child his first memory was running around in circles in his living room while listening to Owens' legendary hit, "Tiger by the Tail." He also recounts a phone call he received in 1999 from Jerry Hufford, the late country icon's right-hand man at the Crystal Palace nightclub in Bakersfield, California, after sending Owens a copy of his debut album. "He said, 'Buck listened to your record, he loves it. . . He wanted to know if you really played all those guitar parts yourself.' I said, 'I did. That's all me.' He said, 'Buck says 'bullshit' and he'd like for you to fly out here and prove it."