20 Questions With Andy Griggs

He Talks About John Wayne, Waylon Jennings and Hells Angels

Andy Griggs is back on the radio with “She Thinks She Still Needs Me.” Apparently, country fans still need Griggs, as well, because his new album, This I Gotta See, recently debuted in the Top 10. Here, the Louisiana native answers fans’ questions about a rhinestone-studded guitar strap, deer heads on the wall and getting a high from Willie Nelson.

1. It seems like most of the songs that you release off of your CD are slower, romantic songs. Is that what you prefer to sing? Don’t get me wrong, we love them.

No, not necessarily. It just happens to be that’s what my singles were. I think I sing more up-tempo and more the edgier kind of rockin’ country than I do the ballads, and we will be releasing some like that on this brand new album.

2. Is there any song that makes you emotional every time you hear it?

Yeah, actually, I still get emotional when I hear the song “If Heaven.” Because it’s a song about heaven, and man, I have a lot of people that I love up there. It makes me grieve, but at the same time, it makes me grieve with hope and grieve with faith. That’s one we just recorded for the brand new album, and it’ll be the next single, right after “She Thinks She Still Needs Me.”

3. If you could sing a duet with any country star, who would it be? You have a very great voice, and I think it would match with a lot of different people.

I already have. Waylon Jennings, and that made my dream come true.

4. Do you have any deer heads hanging on the walls of your home from your hunting trips like a lot of hunters do?

Yeah, let me go in here and count ’em. I’ve got some in Louisiana also, but I’ve got three at my house here in Tennessee.

5. Tell me something about your hunting trips with your blue tick hounds. I understand you go ’coon hunting a lot. It brings back memories of when I was young and my brothers and cousins would go hunting like you.

Yeah man, I went last night. Every night is a brand new experience to listen to the dogs. I heard probably the prettiest race last night that I’ve ever heard. The dogs, way off, sounded like a distant midnight train. And finally the race ended with the dogs at the tree, and I enjoyed it so much. I walked up there, shined on the ’coon, said hello, leashed the dogs up and went back to the truck. That’s definitely my getaway.

6. Where are your favorite places to go hunting and fishing?

You know, everywhere really. I don’t have a particular favorite place. I hunt Louisiana a lot and Alabama a lot. Mississippi. Tennessee. Every year I go to Colorado. And Kansas has become a new great place for me to hunt. Really, all over the country.

7. Your fans know what an avid sportsman that you are. What is your favorite fishing lure?

Man, it depends on the color of the water and the time of year. Or if I’m fishing big lakes or on my pond that I’ve been stocking right below my house. I’ve always been a worm fisherman. To me, there’s nothing more fun than catching a bass off an artificial worm. But also, I love throwing a rattletrap a hundred yards and reeling it in. Like I say, I think it varies.

8. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

Alaska is my favorite place on the planet. To me, that’s the only place I’ve ever been where you get the sense that you’re where no man has been. You still feel like a pilgrim. You feel like a mountain man when you get outside of Anchorage. Ever since childhood, that’s been my dream to go beyond.

9. What ever happened to that rhinestone guitar strap you used to wear with the initials G.C. on the back? I loved how the light would hit it when you moved around.

That was my brother’s, and G.C. stood for God’s Country. Yeah, it was rhinestones on it, and then some of the rhinestones started falling out. That thing is way too valuable, that thing is priceless to me, so I retired it. You may see it on a special show here and there, but my brother’s guitar strap is retired with his guitars.

10. What was your most memorable moment of your career so far?

There’s several of them. The first time you play the Grand Ole Opry. The first time you hear your song on the radio. Again, singing with Waylon Jennings. I’d have to say, all of those times are when you say, “Man, I could die tomorrow.” I’d have to say the biggest would be opening up for Willie Nelson, who is one of my heroes, and at that show, I’m introducing another of my heroes to the crowd, which is Waylon Jennings. You want to get a high? Go to a Willie Nelson show and introduce Waylon Jennings to the crowd. It don’t get a whole lot better.

11. What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

Playing music. Man, nothing else. I don’t know how big of a stage. I don’t know where or who I’ll be playing music to. But even if it’s on my front porch, I’ll be playing music.

12. What’s your biggest pet peeve about the music business?

The music business can make you forget why you came. There’s a whole lot of worry. They pull you sideways and before you know it, if you let the music business take over, they squeeze the fun of the music out. And you can’t let them do that.

13. Artists have their own set of goals they want to accomplish in their career to consider themselves a success. What is your definition of success for yourself?

My success is me looking back and being proud of my music. I came to Nashville to record songs, and I have done that. Success isn’t necessarily album sales or radio charts. Success is me looking back and saying, “Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s how I wanted to do it.”

14. What is the one thing that you have to take out on the road with you?

Good question. What do I always take on the road? Probably, I’d have to say the Bible and also a sack full of DVDs, whether it’s John Wayne or old war movies. That’s usually pretty steady. My favorite John Wayne would probably be Green Beret.

15. Are there any special rituals you perform before a performance, like eating something special for dinner or wearing certain socks?

Actually, I turn music up really loud in the back of the bus. It may be anywhere from the Rolling Stones to Sheryl Crow to Hank. And we pray. I never get on stage without praying with the band, so we all hold hands and pray before each show.

16. What was the wildest place that you have ever performed at?

(laughs) Man, we’ve played some wild ones. We played a club one time in Chattanooga and Hells Angels showed up. As we got through singing and as I was coming off the stage, several of the guys backed their motorcycles into the club and started revving them up. That’s when I looked around and said, “Guys, I believe it’s time we hit the road.”

17. What’s the coolest (or strangest) thing someone has ever given you?

One time, a lady gave me a toilet seat to sign. You see this from time to time. Other artists will sign them. But this one was a used toilet seat — and no other signatures. And after I signed it, she said she was going to put it back on her commode. I don’t mean the top lid, I mean the seat itself! Go figure.

18. Do you like to cook?

I love to cook. Obviously, wild game is what I cook more than anything else, whether it’s steaks bought at the store or deer steaks or fish. I cook a lot of seafood, etouffĂ©e and gumbo, things like that.

19. Do you have any fitness routines?

Fitness? Yeah, here’s how I stay healthy. I go to bed about 4 a.m. and wake up at about 1 p.m. (laughs)

20. What’s one thing about you your fans would be surprised to know?

That I’m still a fan. And I’m more of a fan than I am an artist. And, yes, I do bust my speakers out of my truck from playing music too loud. I do come home and sit down, close my eyes and listen to country music radio and old time radio. And I hope that never changes.