Raelyn Nelson (Granddaughter of Willie Nelson) is Out To Make Her Own Mark On The Country Scene -Interview By: Rob Smittix

Written by on September 3, 2022

RRX: How’s it going?

RN: It’s going okay. I’m in the band van riding to Wisconsin, we have a show there tomorrow.

RRX: Wisconsin, never been, I hear they have great cheese.

RN: Did you say shoes or cheese? 

RRX: Choose.

RN: Choose, okay. I’ll have to get back to you on the shoes.

RRX: I’m sorry I had to cancel the first time I had a toothache, and I couldn’t even talk. So, I went to the hospital to get antibiotics and then I caught Covid, which I still currently have. It really sucks but last night, I decided because I can’t go anywhere and I can’t do anything, I’m just going to get wasted and when I woke up, I felt pretty good. 

RN: That’s the cure then.

RRX: I’m a city boy, I didn’t really listen to country growing up, I wasn’t brought up with it. For years I didn’t even realize how much I love ‘real’ country music. You make ‘real’ country music and I really enjoy it. 

RN: Thank you. I think with real country music, the songwriter experiences what they are writing about. It comes from something that has really happened and that’s what makes it a good country song. 

RRX: I’m a punk rocker at heart. I don’t know if you realize that you have that element in your music or not, but I hear punk rock.

RN: That’s all JB (Jonathan Bright, guitar/vocals). Same kind of sorta thing with me, I grew up with all country influences, Christian and gospel tunes as well. Old country is all I grew up with, so I didn’t really get to experience much rock music until I met JB. His background is all rock. We met through a mutual friend. I was looking for a place to record some demos, he said he had a studio. So, I went over there and recorded little pieces of songs that I had. He said we should put a combo together. I always wanted to try a country thing. We started getting together, finishing the songs. The very first couple of songs we did were super country. Then we figured we should all just do what we’re good at. JB grabbed his rock band to play with us. Then we started leaning into his rock influences. Then we started writing. I would start out by writing a country tune and he would change some things and rock it up. We play with a rock band so that’s why you’re hearing all of that because it’s all there. 

RRX: Well, I can certainly appreciate it. And oh my God, you had me cracking up. On YouTube the video for “Jam in the Van”, you opened up by saying “My Grandpa (Willie Nelson) is one of the most famous singer/songwriters of our time, so nobody really cares about my songs. I can’t even go the regular route and sleep my way to the top because eventually I’m going to get to my Grandpa and I don’t want to f**k my Grandpa.” You’re hilarious but I can imagine your grandfather is one of the most legendary musical talents in the history of the world, so no pressure there, right?

RN: I’m very proud of him and it is just making light of the industry and where I am in it. My Grandpa is the coolest and he always will be, there’s no way any of us are ever going to top him but I still wanna be just like him. He always told us to use humor to get through life. I don’t know if he’s even heard that joke, but I know he would laugh at it. It’s about having fun with life and not taking everything so seriously. 

RRX: I definitely get that vibe from you. You seem like you’re a whole lot of fun to hang out with. 

RN: I am a whole lot of fun to hang out with. Aren’t I guys? They did not respond at all. 

(Both laugh)

RN: We’re just always trying to bring the party. We have so much to celebrate, we’re not dead yet. There’s a lot to be sad about, but why? You know? Let’s have fun, be happy and not dwell on the sad things. Because if we do, we’re just going to make ourselves sick. That’s what I do, I’ll end up just laying in bed and making myself sick if I just dwell on the sad things. I don’t want to be sick!

RRX: Yeah, I hear that! 

RN: I guess that’s insensitive to say to someone that has Covid. 

RRX: Just piggy backing on what you said, we’re still alive so let’s celebrate. You know?

RN: Yeah, I think that’s where it all came from anyway. Celebrate the end of the day when you made it through. 

RRX: Absolutely. There’s something else I see you following in your grandpa’s footsteps besides music and that’s cannabis. 

RN: Yes, technically on the board of The Tennessee Cannabis Coalition in Nashville. There’s not a whole lot that we’ve been doing right now because cannabis became federally legal and it’s just running rampant in Tennessee. It’s just a magic plant. Yes, I’m an activist for marijuana/cannabis and I’m super hopeful.

RRX: Alright. Well, I’m all for it. You’re right it is a miracle plant. What else is going on in your life?

RN: JB and I do a podcast called “Music is Funny”. Over the pandemic we started a podcast talking to comedians. When we’re on the road we only listen to stand-up comedy or comedy podcasts because we won’t agree on music. So, we were like maybe we can get them to talk to us since they’re not doing anything. We reached out to Doug Stanhope and he said yes. Once you get Doug Stanhope to say yes and do it a couple of times it’s pretty easy to get the other ones. We weren’t planning on doing it once things got going again but we like doing it so much we’re going to keep doing it as long as people want to hear it and as long as comedians keep saying yes. 

So, we’re doing that and we just put out a new single “Free,” put out a video and now we’re working on doing a cover tune of Poppa Willy and Waylon’s “I Can Get Off on You” and we actually got comedian Joe Derosa to come do the drums on it. 

Here’s the thing I’m doing now. I think I’ll do an original song and then a cover an original song and a cover and keep putting singles out. Maybe group them together at some point as an album but people want something so quickly and to put out quality songs in my opinion takes time and I want each song to get a lot of life. Plus, the one time we put out an album was November of 2019 and then the pandemic hit and I feel a lot of those songs didn’t get as much life as they could have. Couldn’t tour to support it. Anyway so, I want to do singles. I think I’ve got Doug Stanhope talked into “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. 

RRX: Nice. Anything else you’d like to say to people out there? 

RN: Enjoy your groceries and don’t be an assh****! And thanks for letting me ruin your Covid day and talk about sh*t.

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