Being a rock legend isn’t easy. Being the offspring of a rock legend is even harder. Expectations may be projected on you, and for your part you may wonder about people’s motives, do they like you for you? Or because of your famous parent? Waylon Krieger, son of Doors guitarist Robby Krieger has lived with this all his life. He’s been in his own band, Bloodline, has taken an interest in acting and for the last year has been singing lead vocals with his father’s band. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Waylon about growing up in the shadow of The Doors, working with his father, and his own projects.
DE: Here’s a question I kind of ripped off from another interview I saw with you. Father’s are usually seen as heroes, outsiders see your father as a hero. How did you become aware of the public’s perception of your father as a hero/status in the rock world?
Waylon: It is a two way question. I can’t remember if was from school or if it was a conversation he had with me. But I do remember a direct conversation that he had with me out at the house one day. He had an old Beatles box set, vinyl. We were listening to Beatles and I really liked it and he started talking about his band and stuff. I wasn’t understanding what that implied, on the Geiger counter/whatever measures earthquakes and he was like, ‘no, no, you don’t get it. You have the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Doors, man. We were one of the top bands.’ This was when I was really young, so that was maybe ten to fifteen years after they broke up. He was definitely trying to put that in my head that he was in one of the biggest bands. This was my dad, so I didn’t know how you get totally impressed with that. You take me out, we play golf, you take me fishing, we craft model airplanes, and surfing, skiing, and do all this other stuff, so what do I care. Thank you for the fact that you are introducing me to all these cool new bands and stuff. Obviously I knew he was in a band way back when I was a kid. I remember him having people over and them listening to Doors s**t downstairs. I remember hearing Jim (Morrison) doing one of his crazy screams and I would get freaked out, I’d run upstairs and slam my door shut. It was kind of scary at times. I was definitely aware at a young age that something was different about when I would go visit friends and have a play date at school and you go to your typical American household and your father has a regular nine to five job, they have a house, a brother and sister. I am an only child, so I never had the pleasure of having a sibling. I definitely knew there was something different at an early age.
The second part of that question was in school, I think it was in third or fourth grade. I think it was fourth grade that I started getting extra attention. I went to public schools and never had a certain clique of friends. I would hang out with the Mexican kids, black kids, the white kids. Whoever, you know. I would kind of bounce around from group to group. There were one or two guys we would always hang around with. Around third grade people would start coming up to me and ask, ‘was your dad in The Doors?’ I was like, ‘yeah, yeah, that is the name of his band. He’s the guitar player.’ They’d ask, ‘the original guitar player?’ I’d respond, ‘dude, there was only one, the one and only ever, yeah he was the guitar player for The Doors; the original, and the one and only. Yes.’ Then they would be like, ‘holy s**t, what is that like?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. What’s it like growing up with your dad?’ I didn’t know what to say, or really how to answer that question for a very long time because I just thought growing up was growing up and everybody was having at least a similar experience to me. I didn’t ever realize that it was quite a different experience than most people. Probably around then and that is when I had to start to figuring out stuff like that this guy John I’ve known for a month and we were friends the whole time and he finds out who my dad is and he is treating me differently; he is kissing my a**, or every time we are in a group of people he brings that up about me. I had to learn at a pretty early age, it’s just human curiosity. (Krieger’s dog Millie comes in). I am not the kind of person who goes around bragging at all. In fact, I am the opposite, I won’t mention it. It is not because I am embarrassed about it at all, I’m totally astounded. The first song my dad ever wrote was “Light My Fire”. It doesn’t get much more interesting than that. As a self-defense mechanism as a person having friends growing up, having a crew, a best buddy, a girlfriend, or whatever, I definitely kept it on the DL. I would judge who I would be friends with in that way. Did they meet me already knowing who my dad was because if that is the case they are usually going to be what they call a “star-f**ker” or that type of person who can’t help but look at you in that way. It’s not even me, I wasn’t in the band. I had nothing to do with that. It was all over with before I was born. I was born within a year. I never met Jim Morrison, he was passed away two years before I was born, I never met him. Yet people think just because I come from all that I am part of it. I guess in a way I am, but still my dad is not a demigod, I’m not the son of a demigod and there is nothing special going on here. He just does what he loves to do and he happens to be good at it and he happened to hook up with the right people and get lucky at a good time when music was changing for some reason. Their lead singer was an amazing guy who you could just never fill his shoes ever in a million years. They lucked out and did well for themselves, I think, and they definitely created a legacy. I think they will be played forever on the airwaves. It’ll be like they played Bach and Beethoven hundreds of years later.
There will be a station for this and a station for that. It’s almost like a rite of passage, at least when I grew up when I was age 13 to 17 or 18, going to your first Grateful Dead concert and dropping mushrooms, or something like that and maybe listening to The Doors, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and those guys, just doing that whole thing. For a lot of the people I know, I never want to put anybody in a pigeon hole, but there is definitely is a pretty big group that does take that passage that I have noticed through my travels through life. The Doors are definitely one of the big bands that need to be heard and experienced. They had such a big impact on people and I am seeing that now too, lately going on tour. Talking with the fans, I noticed the fans are getting older. It seems like our fan-base is a lot older. It seems like we are missing a generation in there. I don’t know where all the twenty to thirty year old people have gone to. I don’t know what is going on with that. It is just like they are not there anymore and it is just kind of strange. Or maybe it is because we don’t tour that much anymore. They go to festivals. They are not going to pay thirty dollars a ticket to go see us in an auditorium or a theater. I am becoming notorious. I didn’t realize it at first, but the people in the front row paid three, four, five hundred dollars a ticket and I am telling everybody, ‘what the f**k are you guys on the set of the Walking Dead? Are you zombie number three over there? Get you’re a**es up here, get to the front of the stage.’ That’s trying to find myself as the front man. My dad is pretty humble and quiet up there. He’ll tell a little story about a song now and then, or say something about Ray or Jim, but I am the one up there talking. I am getting better at it, which is because I don’t give a s**t about what anybody thinks anymore because I know when I have done a good job and done my best. The only thing that makes me really super angry is that it seems every time I do a show that is rated the lowest in my eyes, I always get the most compliments. It makes me think either people are full of s**t or just deaf. Maybe they just didn’t hear when I f**ked up. When I played a perfect show and there were no mess ups and I did everything perfect and right and no one talks to me at all. I would expect a lot more. Lesson to be learned there is don’t have any expectations.
I have always played with my dad whether it was second guitar or whatever. Lately I have just been doing the vocals this last year. This is the first time I have ever been a singer only with no guitar. I am definitely a much better guitar player than I am a singer. Singing stuff is brand new to me. It is just something you either have in you and you can do it, or you don’t. I think, personally, almost anybody can do it, just about. I think about ninety percent of the population could get up there and sing a Doors song and sound pretty close to Jim, if they tried. Maybe for some it would come a lot easier than others, He had this way of singing. I am not going to say that it was an everyday man’s voice because it is not like that at all. But at the same time it had this blue collar quality about it that made it just like everybody wants to join in and sing because it is not about having a Pavarotti type voice that needs to be singled out and heard in some way, or an R&B singer where all the tracks are set real low and he is way up out in front and he is the star. I mean he did have a great voice.
DE: Since you brought up that you have been singing, doing the vocals with your dad’s band how has it been? Have you been liking it?
Waylon: Yeah, definitely. I was very nervous because we had two weeks to get one set, well we were playing two shows in Florida and the one Dickey Betts was supposed to be playing with Derrick Trucks. Derrick Trucks had this thing going and Dickey’s band was going to play. I guess Dickey’s brother has cancer and was getting real bad so he had to cancel out on that. It sort of slipped in there, so all of the sudden we also have another gig after that too. You guys have two weeks to rehearse for all this s**t. I was like, “whoa, whoa, where did all this come from?” How about give the guys some time to get my s**t together so that I can start rehearsing. I crammed as much as I could and sat there with the set and every song I would play over and over on the radio in the car, at home, wherever I was and I would just sing. I got up to par because I used to do a little singing here and there back when I was in some other of dad’s bands. Sometimes I would sing one or two songs like “Break on Through” or something like that. I would never sing more than two songs. But here I am I have to sing this whole set and I am up there and I am not going to be playing back-up guitar and we are just going to go out there and do it. Besides adding Phil Chen on the bass, it is going to be just like it was. It was pretty nerve wrecking, but I think we got three rehearsals in within two or four weeks. The first couple of times I got really sketched out and was freaking out because they weren’t perfect. I am a perfectionist when it comes to this kind of stuff. I want to do at least the best job that I know that I can do. If I do any less than that then I am really hard on myself. It’s because I am a Virgo. A lot of people tell me that. I would just assume everybody thinks that way. If you are going to go up and perform in front of people who paid to see you play, you better do it f**king right. Here I am learning all these songs that I never even tried to sing before. That’s why the first couple of rehearsals I was just blown away. I didn’t have much trouble singing the two or three songs I used to sing, those came back really fast. All of the sudden I am having to memorize all these other songs. We were lucky we only had to do an hour and fifteen minutes or so. The one song that I couldn’t do, that I physically couldn’t hit the notes on was “Roadhouse”, but we were lucky because an old friend of mine out there, actually was in one of my bands, Barry Oakley, Jr. he was there. I hadn’t seen this guy in fifteen years, he is married now and has got all these kids. It was a reunion type thing. I was like, “dude, guess what? I know you want to get up there and play so you are going to get up there and sing ‘Roadhouse‘. How does that sound?” He is like, ‘yeah, totally, totally.’ So that was cool that he got to do that and I think I did a pretty okay job for finding out two weeks, maybe a little less, before the shows. Some people put some stuff up on Youtube and stuff. I can hear a couple places where it’s a little sharp or a little flat, or maybe I think I may have bungled a verse here and there like “Love Me Two Times”.
There is so much information and I think their songs have a certain formula to them. I have been noticing. There is a lot first verse, second verse, at least the pop songs. A lot of the songs my dad wrote had a certain thing, including “Light My Fire” which was first verse, second verse, solo, then second verse again back to back with the last second verse and then ending it with the first verse. Somehow that always seemed to work. It works on “Love Me Two Times”, it works on “Light My Fire” and a bunch of other songs. It is so weird why does it always work like that? But it’s not as easy as it sounds to do when you are up there. It’s a singer type thing, but a singer under a tremendous amount of pressure to get a style going and get all this stuff happening in a very short amount of time. Nine or ten months ago were the Florida shows. That was sort of my try-out and I never even knew it. I didn’t think we were ever going to do anymore shows again, I thought it was a one-time thing. My dad said, ‘okay, I got a proposition for you. Do you want to do this?’ I was like, ‘what do you mean do this?’ He said, ‘so and so wants to book us for gigs.’ I asked, ‘how often? Like go on tour, tour?’ He said, ‘no, go out every month. We’ll do a week every month.’ I had a good time and it was fun. Between then and now I have probably learned thirty-five songs. I never thought in a million years. Well, maybe not thirty-five, let’s say thirty to be safe, that I can pretty much recite from memory perfectly. Although we have not gone out for a while now, so my memory is probably a little foggy and I need to start practicing pretty soon actually. I just found out we are going to be going out in March and April (2016) and possibly before then too. I heard something about Mexico City too possibly. We are going to one in Missouri, we are going to play the Paramount again, we are going to play somewhere in New Jersey, I forget the name of the place.
DE: Any Chicago plans?
Waylon: Chicago? We did do Chicago this year, I am not sure if we are doing that this time. I am not sure we are going to Illinois, but there still are hopes that we are going to grab a couple more gigs. If we are going to take the trouble to get the band together and do an itinerary and do the whole thing, we want to at least get seven or eight gigs if possible. That will make it worth everyone’s while. To get up and fly here and fly there for three gigs, I don’t want to say it’s not worth it, it’s never not worth it because I always have an adventure or a cool thing happen every time I go out. It’s more time to spend with the old man. I know as we both get older, it is an important thing that we try to spend as much time as we can together. I mean this guy has got so much life and energy. He is out every day. He’ll kick off in the morning and either go play golf all day, or go record. I don’t know if you heard, but the house that I grew up in they discovered has black mold. They had to gut the entire house and basically redo it. They are not even half way done yet. This started six months ago so they had to get a temporary house which only, luckily, a couple miles down the street so they can still keep an eye on the building and construction. It is actually Ursula Andress’ house she lived in for a long time. There was a clog in the master bathroom, my dad took a crescent wrench and opened the trap and found a diamond earring, about a carat. I guarantee you that is Ursula’s. She misplaced, or thought she lost it, or thought it went down the drain or something and that was it – bye-bye. To her it was probably nothing, but my mom was sitting there holding it, looking at it. She said, ‘oh, my god, it is so beautiful! How do you tell if is a diamond or not for real?’ I’m like well, ‘if you have a mirror you don’t care about you see if it will scratch the glass, but probably would be better if you take it in to a jeweler and they can tell you in about ten seconds.’ But it is pretty cool.
Go to Part Two
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