Editors note: This article was originally published in January 2016 in three parts. At the time of the interview Mr. Krieger had a cold and was taking cold medicine and in talking about his band Bloodline conflated it with another band he was in. At the time I offered Waylon the chance to alter his answer reflecting the Bloodline information, he declined. — JC
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. Fathers 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 or man of 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 The 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 or 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 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 shit 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 shit, 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 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 ass, 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’m 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-fucker” 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 and 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 in 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 fanbase 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 fuck are you guys on the set of the Walking Dead? Are you zombie number three over there? Get you’re asses 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 shit 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 shit or just deaf. Maybe they just didn’t hear when I fucked 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 shit.
I was like, “whoa, whoa, where did all this come from?” How about give the guys some time to get my shit 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 nervewracking, 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 fucking 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.
DE: Those are stories you can only get by living in LA, finding Ursula Andress’ diamond earring.
Waylon: LA is a weird place, I have lived in a few different places. I like Florida a lot, I lived there for a bit. The east coast, actually lived up in Syracuse for a while. Something always drags me back to LA. It is probably my family and roots and stuff, and it’s where all the action is. Now I am trying to do the acting thing and I am actually getting pretty lucky with things sort of falling into my lap.
I did my first movie part/role with actual dialog with the main character. I played this sort of stoner, music studio engineer guy giving this kid advice. These young kids are in a rock band, they are Mexican-American kids. They are rockers and when they ask me if their song is a hit, my character tells them that it’s not really my thing, but it is what Joe Public wants and this and that.
I saw some footage, it hasn’t been edited yet. They are putting together a skeleton for the editor so he can go back and take all of the best takes. I hope he is telling me the truth. I had a chance to see my scene and half of my work isn’t even there. We spent two hours in there with forty people, it was about a hundred and ten degrees, with three different cameras doing scenes and getting it perfect. We basically improv’d about seventy-five percent of what the writer put in there. I actually wrote him an email the next day to apologize that I didn’t mean to step on his boots.
It wasn’t even me leading that thing, it was the main actor, and the guy who plays his uncle. It is about this kid who is half Mexican and half white and so are his bandmates. They have this band and everything and they want to make it big and this and that. It turns into some adventure where they go down to Baja Mexico and retrace their roots. I didn’t actually bother to read the entire script because my scene was in the front, you see me in the first ten minutes of the movie. After that, I just wanted to be surprised. See what it turns into.
The writer actually called me as I was typing my email apologizing and he was like, ‘hey, what’s up man? I just wanted to call you and thank you again.’ I was like, ‘no, thank you guys. You guys de-virginized me. This was the first movie. It is a SAG movie, a real movie with a budget and real actors. I think Paul Rodriquez has a part in it. I think Phil Mickleson’s, the golfer, (his) daughter has her debut performance as the singer’s girlfriend when he is younger, or something like that. It is probably going to be a totally “B” movie, but it is just cool to finally do some acting.
Back when I was wearing my hair similar (to the) way that Eddie Furlong from Terminator 2 people would always come up to me and ask me for my autograph. People would be like, ‘you know who you look like so much?’ I’d say, ‘yes, I do, I am very familiar with who I look like.’ I thought, hey that’s cool, if I looked like an actor, I could be an actor.
That is my other thing, acting. I am trying to get into the acting thing. I am very lazy and don’t want to sit behind a hundred other guys at a cattle call who are going to read a two sentence thing. These other actors are trying it a hundred different ways, and I am sitting there looking at everybody not knowing what to do. In this situation I was lucky because the guy didn’t even know who I was when he first met me.
I told him I was singing with a band right now. He didn’t know I was my dad’s son when he first met me. He said, ‘that’s cool. What’s your name?’ I said, ‘Waylon, Waylon Krieger.’ He was like, ‘wait, Waylon Krieger? Are you Robby’s son?’ I am like, ‘yeah.’ Before that he said that I had a cool vibe and asked me if I was an actor. I said, ‘nah, actually I am trying to break into (it) now.’ It’s a little late for me, but I’ve heard weirder things of people turning into actors during mid-life.
Anyway, so I talked to that guy and he said if this movie even does well, if it does fair, he has already been green-lighted to go on his next script which is called “The Cryer”, it is a dark comedy, and says he will get me a proper part, a really cool part that will fit me now that he can see my acting style. Whatever he saw (in me) that day. He said, ‘dude, everybody is freaking out about that scene you did yesterday. They think it is one of the top five scenes in the whole movie and they have been filming since April.’
I thought, ‘really?’ I thought of it in terms of an editor, they have to keep getting the same take over and over until you get it right. Even if you get it down to one word, you are saying one word five times. You just have to do it and hope they will somehow put it together. It was really fun and I like acting. My neighbor is an up-and-coming director and he has got all his own gear and I’ve done some other stuff with him. We are currently trying to write a script that I think might have a shot. He says he might have a prospective backer who might put up quite a bit of money if we can write this script and show it to her. Between gigs I am trying to work on the acting thing and trying to do as much of that as possible.
DE: What’s the name of the movie that you did?
Waylon: It’s called “Ruta Madre.”
DE: Any idea when it might be coming out?
Waylon: I know that they just started post (production). Oh, sorry, I just remembered what I wanted to say earlier. The guy told me he wasn’t giving me the part because I was Robby’s son. It is because I believe you can be good acting, you’ve got a cool look and you might be cool for this part that I had but never put it in the original script, so I am going to go ahead and write you a part. I was like whoa, really? Alright, cool, I’ll do it. I’ll do it for free. And he wound up doing it.
The next thing you know there is a date, and I am talking to producers. I had to be in San Diego, I had to be there all day. It was interesting, it was fun, it was cool. There is a lot of waiting around for them to reset everything, and make sure everything is running. That part is boring, but is also cool because you begin to bond with the other actors. It is definitely something I can see myself doing in the future. Maybe take a few classes.
My neighbor-director buddy next door says I have a lot of natural acting qualities in me. We did a little thing, if you go on to Youtube you can see a trailer we made. It was supposed to be a short, but we ran out of money and we had to cut the script. So we just turned it into a trailer that is a minute and a half or two minutes.
DE: Is that the one where you are in a car and bleeding?
Waylon: Yeah, yeah, exactly. We are trying to steal the ATM machine and we are getting shot at. Yes, that is that one. That was a real cool idea Chowdaheads. We developed that a little further into a series, but now I think the way to go would be to just do a feature. I think we could definitely do a very fun feature. We have Tom Sizemore ready to go on whatever and he wanted to do a recurring role if it was a series, or just a role if it was a movie. He said he would do it for free. A couple of other people too.
DE: You alluded to Bloodline earlier. Can you tell me more about that?
Waylon: Bloodline, I was eighteen, I thought do I want to go to college right now and blow off this opportunity? It sounded kind of stupid to me because they were going to get this kid who was fourteen (Joe Bonamassa) who was this great guitar player. I had just started playing guitar at sixteen, so even at that age I wasn’t very good. I could barely cut it as a rhythm guitar player. I passed the tryouts, barely, by the skin on my neck. That is probably how the kid wanted it too so that he could be out there doing all the solos. Little did he know I am a fast learner and once I started picking it up I improved very quickly, and I had a natural thing. Like I said, I am a much better guitar player than I am a singer. To this day I can still shred pretty good. I am not saying I am the best in the world, but I can definitely make it sing and get people’s attention and make them feel things with the guitar which is awesome. I kind of miss playing guitar a little bit. I also tried other things. I had a little three-piece thing going and my drummer/co-singer he would sing the songs that he wrote and play the drums at the same time, which to me is like a miracle. The only other guy I know is Neil Pert from Rush that can do that, and a couple others, but he did it well. I would obviously help with the harmonies. On the songs that I would write I would sing lead and he would back me up. It was cool. Then the bass player, if there needed to be a three-way harmony which started to happen more and more because he wanted to get in there on the backing vocals. He didn’t have the best voice, it turned into sort of a mess in the end and we ended up firing him because the very first show we did he totally blew it. He was hitting wrong notes while he was trying to sing. We sounded great at rehearsal the night before. I could understand him being nervous because it was our first show. We got to a certain point to where we had about forty-five minutes to an hour of material and we could always make it longer if we wanted to throw in a couple of cover songs. I was basically the front man being that I was the guy out in front doing all the singing, but I was bound to my guitar and mic while I was playing guitar so I couldn’t move around. That was a safety thing for me. I was happy to stand in one place, shut my eyes, or look off into the distance and do my job. I didn’t really have to put on any kind of performance. It was kind of cool for me because I had so many things going on, am I singing on key? There are a lot of things to think about. When you are a three-piece if someone messes up, you know who messes it up. It really keeps you on your toes and you really want to get it right. I strive for perfection, and I want to do it right, and I want to do it as best as I can. At that time I was stoked, this guy came to one of our shows and just sat down, he had glasses on, he was just sitting on the side at one of the tables with a notebook writing stuff down after every song. I was thinking that I bet you that is the drummer’s (Graham Beers) sponsor because they had a deal. Before Graham and I had even met and started this project up he had this guy for a sponsor for about a year and a half before he met me. He was always trying to get him to listen to his material because he was the right hand man for a very famous producer. He was just very hooked up in the business. He had just had several bands signed, had a lot of connections, and was like the gatekeeper. Graham told me this guy (the sponsor) will helps us if he likes it. I thought I might throw a few contacts in too if we can get our shit together, so let’s get our shit together right. Get some really good songs so that we can hit them one after another. I hate bands that come out with one great song and the rest of it is shit. I don’t want to be a band like that. I want to be a band like, I hate to say it but it happened more with The Beatles, the older stuff, every song had something cool to it. Nirvana and the Seattle grunge thing was it for me. After that there wasn’t much. I love Muse and Radiohead and those kinds of bands. Coldplay I am sort of on the fence about. I do like a few of their songs. I wanted to be a band like Incubus. I could listen through a whole record and there would be one or two songs I would leave out. Otherwise, I would listen to the whole record and get a certain amount of satisfaction out of every song. It just seems like nowadays, all you have to do is come up with one hit whether it is Rap, R&B, or Rock, you need one good song on the radio. I’m sure people are well-aware of the record industry failing because of pirating. In the last five or ten years everything has come crumbling down for the music industry. The only way for us to make money now is to do gigs live, go on tours, get groups of bands to do festivals. That’s the only way we can survive doing what we love to do.
Everything was going great with Bloodline (at that time we called ourselves Darkroom) all of the sudden Brendon (the right-hand man of the huge producer, Graham’s sponsor) told us I like you guys, I see potential in some of your material and I want to see what you guys can do, but you guys need to write a lot more songs. Eight songs isn’t going to do it, you need one hundred songs. We were well-aware of that and he was willing to work with us if we were willing to do what he told us to do. He said he would work with us and do whatever he could to help us out. To me, that sounded like I had to accept, let’s do it. Then he started giving us these weird homework assignments. On a Friday he would tell us by Monday he wanted us to have songs written. He told me to write a Radiohead-style song. I thought, first of all, how do you even do that? I couldn’t ever imitate them, they are so out there and great and crazy. But I like them a lot so I thought I would try to figure something out. What this was doing was causing me to think in a different way than I am used to when I am normally trying to come up with stuff. It’s funny because at the end of the exercise, I thought the piece could have actually worked great on an STP record which I thought was very strange even though it didn’t have any words, I was working on harmonies and music. I don’t know how that happened or why that happened because those two bands couldn’t be further apart. Whatever it was there was definitely a method to his madness. So stuff was going really cool with him, unfortunately when Graham was celebrating one day because his divorce was final, he got his kids back, he got a new job as a Teamster. All of the sudden he is getting paid twice as much cash, and he is thinking I want to move closer to you so we can turn my new garage into our permanent new rehearsal studio. We were talking and talking, then boom I don’t hear from the guy for weeks; a text here, or a hello there. There were no rehearsals, although we were in transition because we hadn’t found a new bass player yet. We still hadn’t fired the old one yet because we still needed him to practice. I wanted to give him a chance to make it up and see if he could do better with a little more practice. Graham was just like fuck it, he’s gone. I did agree with Graham at that time, but what if in six months this guy turns it all around and he’s great. He’s a good player, he’s got an alright voice, and everything was working out great at rehearsals. So I don’t know what happened at the gig. Maybe he was nervous? In a three-piece band it is nerve-wrecking because it feels like everyone is looking at you. Like I said before when somebody fucks up, everyone knows who it is that fucked up and you’ve got to own up to it. One thing leads to another and I get a phone call at five in the morning couple months down the line. I had suspected that he (Graham) had been drinking a little bit. He went out one time and he called me and said ‘hey, if my girlfriend calls and asks about me, just say I spent the night at your pad and I am crashed out. He said don’t worry I am at this bar, it’s stand up night and I have been playing drums all night; don’t worry I am not drinking or anything.’ I was like, ‘I never asked you if you were.’ I don’t care if you drink, it’s your thing, do what you want to do.
Anyway, Graham died from an overdose. We hadn’t spoken for two weeks before that and I felt bad about that. Luckily, he read my email and answered me and said that everything was going to be great, everything was going to be fine, we are on our way, and we are going to do this. He sounded so excited and ready. I think he must have died three or four hours after he read that and replied to me. That is when somebody called me at five or five-thirty in the morning and told me that Graham OD’d. I asked what hospital is he at, and they told me no, he is gone. I was like he is dead? Are you kidding, what the hell? They found him in his work truck a few hours ago with the needle still sticking out of his arm. I suspected he was drinking, but I didn’t think he was doing that shit. That was a while ago, five or six years ago. From that point on, I crawled into a little bubble of my own and I didn’t want to do anything. I thought it is pointless, life is pointless. I was looking for something to fit in to. I went to (sound) engineering school and got my pro tools degree. I don’t want to be an engineer, I just did it so I would be better at recording my own stuff and I would know the software better. That’s why I was able to graduate without getting an internship. I told the guy straight-up and he told me not to worry about it.
So I was wondering if I was going to go to college and then thought, no I am going to be a rock star, let’s do that instead. I thought that would be easier. I have had it with school. I never really liked school. The further into my education, I found myself ditching a lot more in middle school and high school. That was my rite of passage, my experimental days listening to Zeppelin with Pablo Manzarek when we should be in school. We would have the sound system turned up so loud it would be shaking the whole block. We were listening to The Wall, and U2 Joshua Tree, and having experiences that I think were rite of passage. It seems like that is still rite of passage.
DE: You mention hanging out with Pablo Manzarek. Were you and the other Doors families close?
Waylon: About the same time as I was a kid, between the ages of maybe 4-8 give or take, I was also friends with John Densmore’s daughter Kelly – I would sleep over at their place occasionally as she would my place… Then after we got into junior high or even a few years earlier, we sort of fell out of touch. I met her again at what I believe was The Doors getting into the (Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame. I remember Eddie Vedder being there, as well as Jason Priestley – very black tie type thing at the Beverly Hilton Hotel… (Got to hang out with Eddie Vedder during his peak when I was about 16 or so – I won’t go into details but it was a pretty wild night LOL!). As far as Pablo goes – I’d say we were best buddies for quite some time in our early teens and of course our parents would always either drop me off at their house or vice versa and sometimes we would all go out to Griffith Park Observatory or lunch or whatever
DE: A lot of Doors fans know the origins of “Touch Me” or “Love Her Madly”. They know they are about your mother. Do you find that a weird situation singing about that or fans knowing that?
Waylon: Well my dad usually tells that story about them getting into those arguments before I was born, that he wrote “Love Her Madly”. Me and my dad do some kind of schtick like, ‘well I’m lucky she came back to the door or I wouldn’t be here.’ We got a pretty good back and forth going on stage and it is usually different every night. When I am up there on stage I have already sung some songs and already committed to get a connection going. We can only play so well unless the audience gives us the energy we need to get our shit going. We give it right back to the audience and that is a rock and roll show. It’s worked really great. Every night is different. Do I find it weird at that point? No because it is just an open book. I love my mom. My parents are still together, which is very crazy for rock and roll. And they need each other, I can’t see them with anyone else. They’re in it to the end for sure. That’s great because I would love to find that perfect girl for myself and I often thought I have, but I was wrong or I was doing bad stuff at the time. It hasn’t happened yet for me. I really hope that I can in some way mimic my parents’ relationship and find someone who can put up with me until the end of days. If it has to be Millie, so be it. The thing I love about animals is that they can tell about auras of people. They sense good people from bad people, if there is such a thing. I think everybody wants to be good, but there are some people out there that are pure evil. This dog, at least my dog knows right off the bat. If not by the second or third visit she is not loving and licking you, there has to be something wrong or there has to be ulterior motives. I trust my dog over my own senses any day of the week.
I really enjoy playing with this band and everything gets better every time. The singing thing gets better and better every time we do more gigs I get more compliments. People come to all the shows every time we come into town. They have seen the show once or twice. I am always getting compliments from them saying that I am finding my sound. There are times when I am feeling it and I can sit there and bend down and bend into the crowd and let people touch my hair, arms, and legs. Then I’ll jump back, or I’ll sit on the monitor and they will touch my shoes. In the middle of a song like “When the Music’s Over”, that hypnotic bass line thing, I like to stretch those out and make them special every night so it doesn’t matter if they have already seen us, it is always going to be different. I want to let the audience feel special. It is sort of like being in a dream you have some percentage of control of, I can’t quite explain. I definitely like it and know enough songs now that we can do a two hour set with no problem. We could do a two and a half hour set if we wanted to, no problem. We have always tried to learn two or three new songs every time we go out and that helped with me and my vocabulary of songs that I know. “Texas Radio and the Big Beat” is the only one that I have trouble getting at this point. I have a couple like that. My cheat sheet used to have about six or seven songs on it, but now I am down to two or three songs on the cheat sheet. I am enjoying it.
I am glad that we are doing more shows. I am glad we are doing the Paramount again because that is the show I got my first bad review and I flipped out. He was lying, he was lying that I fucked up a little bit. I was mad, I wasn’t mad at people, I was mad because my monitors were messed up. It sounded like they were feeding back at me. It sounded like, at best, that they were in a fish tank under water. I literally could not hear myself. I would have rather have them just turn them off completely and just listen to myself through the venue. I got one bad review from this guy. To this day I don’t even know why because only four or five people have even looked at the article. It was like me and my dad, a couple guys in the band, and other people. I don’t know what it is up to now. People were writing nasty messages to this guy, like what show did you go to? There was another article written about the same show and how great it was and how when he closed his eyes he could really picture he was at a Doors show. Nobody got up and left, and that guy said people were leaving and that Waylon stormed off the stage for a really long time. I did because I was trying to get someone to notice the monitor board. That was unprofessional. I asked them to put the spotlight on my dad or something. I have to wear sunglasses for most of the shows because I don’t know what kind of lights they are using nowadays, but they will fry your corneas. If they are shined right in your face, it is really tough on your eyes. I have sensitive eyes. It is part of the image now. In fact, we played the Stone Pony and that was the show that my dad was sick, he kind of slipped out immediately. We didn’t do an encore, and everybody thought there was going to be an encore, but then they started playing the house music and the audience started booing. The hotel was within walking distance, so I guess he walked back to the hotel. He was so sick, I think he had some kind of stomach thing. I thought we were going to do an encore and I was out there talking to this cute chick. I thought we were going to go back in and I hear all this booing. I had to find out what was going on. I’m sure we will play the Stone Pony again, we’ve played there twice. I hung around. I guess I am the next best thing when the old man takes off for the hotel because I literally took pictures and signed autographs for at least three hundred people who were willing to wait around. I don’t normally do that every night. I might do that for two or three people. It’s more of my dad’s thing. They have the history with my dad and they don’t care if I am in the picture or not. I’ve stopped reading reviews and going on YouTube to look at recordings of the shows because I know what I am capable of and I know what I do up there. I am not really interested in one person’s opinion of the show. I am more interested in what the majority says because that is who I am trying to impress. I have learned that lesson from that one bad article. I am such a perfectionist that I took it as such a blow. Then I found out who this guy is. He doesn’t get paid by a magazine or a website, he is just some guy who writes reviews. His favorite artist is Dolly Parton. There is nothing wrong with that, but if that is your favorite artist what are you doing reviewing The Doors? Another guy wrote an article about the show and gave me a beating, but he gave it to me fairly. He said that Waylon was not on one hundred percent that night and he was willing to admit it on stage, and he was humble about it. That is how I view it when I write one of these articles. I write it like I see it. There were times I closed my eyes and I felt like I was back there in 1960-whatever at a Doors show. At the same time you can give constructive criticism and say nice things too. There is nothing wrong with that. That guy’s article I thought was really good even though I hit a few flat notes, a few sharp notes, and I jumbled a verse here and there. I think that is what he said. He said the show for the most part was pretty good, nobody got up and left. I definitely have to learn who the promoter is who sold the tickets for ten times the normal price because then I have to be more careful. I have the ability to get the crowd off their asses however old they are, even if they are in their eighties. I have seen a few eighty year old guys come down and I thought that was cool. You guys are all sitting, why don’t you come down listen to the music and sing the lyrics and get into the sweet spot? It’s right here, right in front of the stage. People seem to get into it.
If you want to end this on a note on how is it to fill Jim’s shoes or touring with my dad, I can give you (my) wisdom on that.
DE: That was actually a question I had prepared.
Waylon: When I go up there I have my own thing going which is completely different, but it works. On some songs I happen to sound a lot like Jim on like “Five to One”. Pretty much all the songs in “A” I can do vocally and match him, so we sound a lot alike on the songs in the key of A. On the other songs, by default, it just happens that I have to do it my own way and I remember at this one show a girl called it “Jim-prov”. I am not trying to go out there and be a Dave Brock kind of guy, who is trying to imitate Jim Morrison. That is not my job. My job is to go up there as me and be me and sing these songs to the best of my ability. That is what I try to do. I am not trying to fill anybody’s shoes, I am not trying to imitate anybody, I am just trying to go up there and do it to the best of my ability. Bathroom talk doesn’t lie. We were doing a show near Pittsburgh, my cousin came with her boyfriend and her boyfriend came to me after the show and told me that I was awesome. He told me I didn’t know what the people were saying in the bathroom. And you know in the men’s room there is no bullshit. From one guy to another, in the men’s room is where the real shit that people thought about the show goes down. Nobody is afraid to offend anybody else. People are going to say what they thought about it. I thought it was a pretty good show. It could have been better. I thought the sound was a little, I thought there was a weird little vortex sucking it up, but I was still able to do my job pretty well. I wouldn’t say it was one of the best shows or anything, by far, but it was a good show. He (my cousin’s boyfriend) was just saying that people were saying they couldn’t believe it was Krieger’s son singing those songs; I was closing my eyes and swearing it was Jim Morrison sometimes. On other songs it didn’t sound like Jim, but I hate to say it, it sounded even better. Maybe not better but different, he had his own way of using his voice and it worked with The Doors music and he’s Robby’s son. To hear that, that is the kind of stuff I love to hear. I wish I could be a fly on the wall listening to random conversations.
I hear that a lot too from random people after the show – they like how I have my own thing and I don’t try to fill Jim’s shoes. If I went up there as a guitar player and we have someone else up there singing, then I am going to be up there trying to fill my dad’s shoes. That’s hard, I don’t want to do that. That is why I like going up there and singing because I get judged for the vocals. Whether my dad has a great night or a horrible night people are going to go easy on him and give him a great review and they are going to give him love. They just want to see him. He is like a living treasure to them. He is cool either way. For me, it is relatively new, it is still only the first year. Me not really not being a singer and not having experience with this, every time we go out is a learning experience. When we come back from tour I have new tips, I have met other bands and they give me tips for warming up, vocals, whatever. People say they like the fact that I am up there just being me, don’t change that. I tell them I am not going to because I would feel stupid for one reason, and I am not going up there trying to any kind of tribute because I am up there with one of The Doors, who happens to be my father. The difference is you couldn’t get my dad up there at the microphone and have him sing any of those songs and sound like Jim. I am not saying it is a good or a bad thing at all; it is what it is. I sometimes trip out when sometimes it happened to work out the way it did. I could have been singing when Ray was still alive. I remember they actually wanted me to audition, but I couldn’t because I had already blown my voice out with my other band and I asked if they could wait a couple of days. They told me no, and they picked somebody – they picked the guy from Fuel, Brett Scallions. I didn’t think he was that special. I am not saying that I am better than him in any way. He has way more experience than I. I am just saying that every time I go out there it gets better and I am hoping the reviews are getting better. It’s just being a lead singer is a new thing to me. I would like to hope that Jim is looking down on me when I am on stage and thinking I am doing a good job by him.
There is some super-natural stuff that happened on stage, and it could be that maybe the super-natural exists. It makes me think that he is up there watching us on stage. Sometimes when I am up there and it feels like my body is a car and I am not in the driver’s seat anymore, I am in the passenger seat, but I still have control. Or, maybe he is in the passenger seat and he is shouting shit in my ear. It’s just weird, I can’t explain it, this shared feeling and it is telling me to do things that I would never normally do and I go ahead and do them and people freak out. It’s just cool, very cool. I believe there is some kind of thing out there.
I am not trying to be compared to Jim at all. I am just trying to do the best job possible for this gig. My dad likes it and everybody in the band likes it. We are real to each other. For instance, if I mess up everyone in the band will let me have it. Including the crew. There is transparency within the band. It’s a gig for me, it is way of having a paid hang out/vacation and make a few extra bucks, and spend some time with the guys in the band. The last time we went to Florida I thought I was on vacation. We did the gigs and the rest of the time was spent by swimming in the ocean and eating good food. It was cool. I hope to continue that and I know my dad wants to continue that. I know that it is difficult for him. I am trying not to be an asshole to him and trying to push him into playing more. The guys in the band need to make their money. My dad is like, “well, I don’t need any more money.” It’s like “no shit! You’re not in need of money, but we all need money. We have bills, and rent and shit to pay.” It’s not his responsibility. It doesn’t matter. If we got paid half as much we would still do it because it is a good time. It is a lot of fun to do.
DE: It was announced last year that your father signed on as a producer of a feature film version of “The Poet in Exile”, any new information on that?
Waylon: Now, as far as this “Poet in Exile” deal goes, there is supposedly going to be some possible opportunity for me to do some acting if it were to become a movie – we are talking about Ray‘s final book, correct? Well either way they were going to make his last book into a movie about a year ago, I’m not sure if that is still in the works or if it’s been decided to not happen – I really just don’t have the information… But there was talk of me in one of the scenes where Jim and Ray are talking and having drinks. I was supposed to be like a major fan who recognizes Ray and asks him for his autograph, then slowly realizes who Jim is and basically has a brain aneurysm LOL – I think that would’ve been a really cool part! But like I said, the last I heard about anything being done with that stuff was well over a year ago now.
DE: Thank you Waylon for talking with me!