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Q&A: Hayes Carll, outlaw country

Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll is a throwback to what country music used to be. An heir to the outlaw style of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Carll tells stories about lovers, soldiers and families that can be laugh-out-loud funny one minute and incredibly tender the next. His latest album is called “KMAG YOYO,” a military acronym for “kiss my a-- guys, you’re on your own.”

amNY spoke with Carll.

You’ve described your music as “degenerate love songs.” What do you mean by that? I write a fair number of love songs, but never happy-ending love songs. They’re usually about drinkers and boozers and brawlers. Those people like to fall in love, too.

Do you live that lifestyle? There was certainly a time in my life when I was that character. I have a family now, and it’s not particularly healthy to a good family life to be drunk all the time. But I still stay close enough to that lifestyle to be able to relate to the characters.

Do your friends or family ever recognize themselves in your songs? I usually change the names of the innocent - or the guilty. My song “Thankful for Christmas” is fairly specific, with the names of cousins, aunts, uncles, parents. My cousins were mad because I said they weren’t good-looking. And my dad didn’t like that I killed him off.

What was it like to perform the song “KMAG YOYO” on Imus’ Fox Business Channel show? I’ve done Imus four times. I once played a song called “She Left Me for Jesus” on there, so I’m used to playing songs Fox wouldn’t embrace. But when I watched the video afterward, it was weird to see the Fox News logo while I was singing about heroin use and war injuries.


If you go: Hayes Carll with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Friday, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St., 9 p.m., $15 advance, $17 day of show

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