By Martin Caballero
BOSTON (Reuters) - By his own admission, when Kid Rock gets some free time and no responsibility, he's a dangerous man -- albeit one with a charitable heart.
The Detroit rocker, rapper and country music singer, is riding high off the success of his hit 2010 album "Born Free," and he recently found himself with an open schedule after an extensive tour and sending his son off to college.
Reuters spoke to Kid Rock about his career's direction, and he let loose on several of his new plans: a "Care" tour this fall of small venues to help those in need, a promotion he plans with a new Jim Beam bourbon called Devil's Cut, and his hopes for a "Greatest Hits" album -- one with all new songs.
Q: Looking back on the success of "Born Free," would you say that was a milestone record for you in your career?
A: "I think it kind of solidified where I was heading with 'Rock N Roll Jesus' and kind of all the way back to the self-titled record (2003's 'Kid Rock'). This one I did with (producer) Rick Rubin and really followed his vision through the whole thing and obviously learned a lot. I know we wrote some classic songs, 'Born Free' for instance. I never thought I would beat 'Bawitdaba' as a show closer, but 'Born Free' is such a different sentiment."
Q: Will your next album continue with that or build on different themes?
A: "One thing I know I don't want to do is record in Los Angeles. I had too much fun doing that. My free time was ridiculous, and when I get free time with no responsibility, I'm dangerous (laughs) ... But I really want the next record to sort of be a 'Greatest Hits' with all new songs. The last record was very much in one vein, both sonically and theme wise. I want to do something that's all over the place with everything I love to do. I still love to do rap songs with rock guitars, I like country sounding southern rock stuff, I love to make heavy rock, I love the blues stuff. Every day I feel different about music but what never changes is my love for it. So that's what I want to do, put all that out there because I really enjoy it."
Q: Your fall "Care" tour is both a continuation of your recent charitable work as well as a return to playing small venues and clubs. Why did you decide to do this now?
A: "There were a few things involved. First off all, my son went off to college this year. I raised him as a single father, with a lot of help from family and friends, but nonetheless he was in my space for 18 years, and I was like, 'Now what do I do?' I was just kind of sitting around in an empty house. So I went and talked to the band and we were thinking about ideas for the song 'Care' and the sentiment of the song relates to my foundation (The Kid Rock Foundation) doing well...I thought, 'what if we did that with 'Care'?' pick the towns where I want to play and give away some money.
"Now, we're going in and doing a good thing and giving away close to the amount of money that we're going to generate...really put our hands on the shoulders of a person, a family, someone in need in that town.
Q: Has charity work become more important to you?
A: "It's a win all the way around. It makes you feel good, which is selfish in a little bit of a way. I struggle with whether I should I talk about it or not. There were things I did early on that I would never say anything about...Then I started to realize, if your heart is pure, if you say something about it, it does influence people and make other people feel good too. Whether it's visiting the soldiers, doing things through Jim Beam with Operation Homefront, which has been tremendous in raising a ton of money (for families of military service members) and doing a great thing. That relationship with Jim Beam has been perfect not only for rock and roll and what I really like to do -- drink and play rock and roll -- and then do it with Operation Homefront too."
R: How did that partnership come together?
Q: "It's almost too good to be true. If you look back to my early records, in 1996 I put out a record called 'I Am the Bullgod' where I sing 'I'm hanging tough with my man Jim Beam.' I was wearing the swag in pictures ... So I've been singing about it for years. When they approached me about doing a deal, I was like 'I've been waiting for you guys.' It's perfect.
"I've been approached to sell gum and razors and all this stuff, but I don't care what razor I use or gum I chew. It's not important to me. And that was good money! But that's just not me. But Jim Beam came along. I love Jim Beam. I'm in."
Q: And there's a new promotion with Devil's Cut.
A: "I think it's known that places like parties and clubs are where I really seem to excel. We are going to do this thing where we take a bunch of Tweets from guys and find stuff that they match up with and try to get them off the couch and have a good time on behalf of Devil's Cut. Go out and let loose and unleash the spirit. "Unleash the spirit!" That sounds like a Ted Nugent line. We'll be selecting five people to come down to the show in Atlanta as well."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)