Haggard Discusses Next CD For Punk Label

Last month we reported Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard signed a one-album deal with punk label Epitaph Records. Hag talks about his decision to go with the California-based indie label in a recent press release issued by Epitaph. “I’m working with a rock and roll label on purpose,” he says, “in hopes that they have the knowledge to sell records, because the people in the circle I’ve been around don’t seem to have the ability or the desire. I feel, in judging my own music, that I’d be much more comfortable performing on the same show with Eric Clapton or Bonnie Raitt than pretty much any of the artists being billed as country today.” Haggard is currently mixing the new record at his studio in Northern California. The self-produced album features his longtime band, The Strangers, and will be released this fall on Epitaph imprint Anti Inc. “This record is a continuation of my life story in music,” the singer says. “Its songs are about real events, with real people playing the music. I’ve made an effort on this album not to over-refine, but to give it to you as raw as possible, because that’s the way I like it. I’m giving it a higher score than any album I’ve made to date — but what the hell do I know?”

Primarily known for releasing punk albums by acts such as Rancid, Offspring, Bad Religion, Joe Strummer and the Descendents, Epitaph released Tom Waits’ latest album, Mule Variations, on Anti Inc. The project won a Grammy this year for Best Contemporary Folk Album and, according to Epitaph, has sold a million copies worldwide. “Anti Inc.’s mission is to provide successful recording artists who are disillusioned with the corporate music establishment a new way of doing business that makes sense artistically and economically,” says Epitaph Records owner Brett Gurewitz. “It’s an honor to work with Merle Haggard, who is a true artist and a maverick. It’s a real privilege to provide him with the type of working environment that he deserves.”