To celebrate their 25th anniversary, J.D. Wilkes & the Legendary Shack Shakers stage a little “family reunion” with their forthcoming album, Cockadoodledeux, featuring the current lineup of musicians, as well as the original ’90s players, including multi-instrumentalist Chris Scruggs and bassist Morgan Jahnig. The record, their first for Alternative Tentacles, also contains contributions from such Kentucky staples as Sun Studio guitarist Stanley Walker, dobroist Jack Martin, and renowned Cajun fiddler ‘Hillbilly’ Bob Prather.
Alongside the album announcement, J.D. Wilkes reveals the first single “RAWHIDE!,” a collaboration with label founder and punk/rock titan Jello Biafra, who sings background vocals and makes a special appearance in the Nathan Brown-directed music video. Helmed by frequent collaborators and animators Tara Billinger and Zac Bellissimo, the visual embraces a western theme, mixing animation lifted from Long Gone Gulch to public domain footage from Terror of Tiny Town.
“Everybody knows the tune from that old Clint Eastwood show or the saloon scene in ‘The Blues Brothers.’ However, if you’re really cool, you know Jello Biafra sang it with the Dead Kennedys,” Wilkes shares. “One would’ve assumed I’d known that too, as I chose it for Track #1 on our new album…on Jello’s record label! Nope. Turns out, I’m not that cool.
“Nonetheless, he said he actually appreciates that I didn’t grow up listening to his band. Perhaps our gift for being charismatic frontmen comes less from rock, punk, or any other ‘scene,’ and more from a place within,” he continues. “A source of pain perhaps…or a warped mind, in my case. Jello was happy to sing along on ‘Rawhide,’ and he never embarrassed me by telling me it’s one of his trademark tunes. I found out later, of course, and kicked myself. Still, it impressed me he kept it cool. Jello is probably the only rock star out there who isn’t some kinda jerk!”
Originally, Wilkes intended to pursue a singular country music style with his 2018 solo studio album, Fire Dream—but his creativity sent him down an entirely different path. “Our older albums jump around all over the place, genre to genre, styles that are almost diametrically-opposed even,” he says. “But this record jumps only within country music itself. It’s a big-tent genre, really. It has all these little subgenres within it providing endless variety. From Western swing and rockabilly to spaghetti Western and bluegrass—and even Tex Mex.
“Suddenly, I had all these unused country tunes, and I thought, ‘Hey, that could be the new Shack Shakers record,’” adds Wilkes. “And it made sense to me because family reunions and country music seem to go hand in hand.”
Cockadoodledeux arrives October 8. Pre-order the exclusive midnight blue vinyl and other merch here. A limited oxblood red vinyl will go on sale at select indie record stores on October 8.