For his latest album, the painstakingly autobiographical Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, Waylon Payne recorded his vocals in the same spot where his mother — famed country singer Sammi Smith — sang while pregnant with him decades before. This generational weight and reflection of legacy spans the entirety of Blue Eyes, with Payne cutting the songs alongside a group of musicians spanning genre and generation with production from Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert, Rayland Baxter, Robert Ellis) and Frank Liddell (Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Chris Knight).
To celebrate the recent album, Payne sat down to talk seeing Prince in concert, sleeping in a broom closet, and more for the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Personal, honest and somewhat fun.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
As someone who wrote or sang a great song.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
Haven’t been there yet, but so far they’re all great.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
It’s a tie between Sammi Smith and Shelby Lynne. One was my mamma, the other is my friend. Both are heroes.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
My buddy Edward’s house.
What album do you know every word to?
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
Wrangler Jeans and a Wrangler work shirt – always comfortable and a classic look.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
Trailer Trash Tammy – for obvious reasons.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
Nicolette Larson – “Gonna Take A Lot Of Love.”
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Directions to the hardware store.
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
In a broom closet.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I have a playboy bunny next to my junk … for an old flame.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Jack Ingram, Lee Ann Womack, Shelby Lynne, Willie Nelson, Sammi Smith or Bobbie Gentry.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
AJ Hancock made me a beautiful guitar – just because.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
The only thing you can control is right now. So, as long as you have that under control, you are golden…
What’s the last show you went to?
Myself and Wynonna (Judd).
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
What would you cook if Obama were coming to your house for dinner?
Anything he wanted … <3
Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me is out now. Listen here.