Kid Rock Consistently Rocks his Brand

The Kid Rock brand {Kid is his name and Rock is his game}… looks pretty simple on the surface, yet, it took him 20 years to own his brand and to be accepted as “that’s what Kid does.”  Kid stopped in the Valley of the Sun last Friday night on his “Born Free” tour with Sheryl Crow.  It was an awesome concert, and I loved the opening with a raw photo slide show documenting the history from being a Kid to being a 40-year old Kid.  I was inspired about his truth to his brand, and always love a great branding example to learn from.

Recently, he hired a new producer, Rick Rubin, which produced fresh thinking and fresh eyes.  Sounds like just what the Kid needed to take his brand to the next level.  Here is part of their interview from the Arizona Republic:

Finding a niche:

Q: What attracted you to the idea of Rick Rubin producing?

A: We’ve been talking about it for years. His conversations with me were kind of like, “I really think with the state of rock music and what’s going on, you’re one of the only people who could have a real shot at making a good blues-based American rock record. It’s not being done.” There hasn’t been a lot that’s made me want to buy a record and go home and listen to it, outside of maybe Zac Brown and Jamey Johnson. I’m sure there’s some obscure things, too. But for the stuff that’s somewhat in the mainstream, there hasn’t been any rock stuff that’s blown me away. I think the Foo Fighters do a good job and . . . I don’t know, there’s not a lot.

Starting a new system produces better results:

Q: What do you feel like Rick brought to the table as producer?

A: He brought a whole new approach to the way I make records. I was used to kind of writing as I go, being in the studio 12-14 hours a day, doing everything myself, bringing in different players and beating the hell out of them to get the performances I wanted. He got a group of musicians together that were A-listers, and we wrote all the songs before we even thought about going into the studio, perfected them, went over each lyric with an acoustic guitar. Then we got into the studio and knocked the album out in two weeks.

Getting out of your comfort zone and evolving the brand:

Q: And you said the idea was to make a blues-based American rock record?

A: He wanted to make a little bit deeper of a record. He said, “We don’t need to hear about how you’re Kid Rock, the American badass anymore. We got it.” (laughs). I thought it was good to step out of my comfort zone, being out in LA with these players and just letting Rick have the wheel. I mean, I screamed at him where to turn all the time and we butted heads here and there, but it was all for the better of the music.

Listening to your audience:

Q: I read that he vetoed the recording of that “(Expletive), I’m 40” song. Was that was the right decision?

A: I don’t think it was the right decision in the sense that I know my fan base loves the song and that’s proven every night when we sing it. It’s one of the biggest reactions we get. I understand his point, that it’s a novelty song. But I told him, “I know it’s a novelty song. I’m not an idiot. But it’s all right to have fun sometimes, too, Rick. It’s not the worst thing in the world. I know people like to have a good time, and they’ll get the sense of humor in it.” At the same time, by not putting it on the record, it causes a bigger reaction than I think it would get when we play it live.

Just make a good product and try to get the word out:

Q: Your album before this, “Rock and Roll Jesus,” was the biggest selling album of 2008. Did you feel any pressure to do it again?

A: My totals are always up there at the top. I never have huge singles. I hit once a while with an “All Summer Long” or a “Picture.” But I’ve sold 25 million records and never had radio hit after radio hit. “Born Free” is platinum. How many rock records are platinum? I just believe you make a good product and try to get the word out.

His name is Kid, as he so memorably screamed it in “Bawitaba,” the rap-rock calling card that introduced him to the masses back in 1999.  But at 40, Kid Rock is a different animal, and his latest effort, “Born Free,” looks like is shaping up to be a great success to fit the evolving Kid Rock brand.

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