Johnny Van Zandt Says Lynyrd Skynyrd, Happy, Sober, And Looking Forward
Lynyrd Skynyrd is back with their latest studio album, Last Of A Dyin' Breed, the followup to 2009's critically acclaimed Gods & Guns collection. Frontman Johnny Van Zant told Ultimate Classic Rock that the pre-production for the set started just after Skynyrd wrapped the last album: "We started right after God & Guns, we started writing and we had a ton of songs. When we finally decided to do it, we actually started in February of this year and ended up doing it in March really, pretty much. . . Because the last album that we did, we had lost Billy (Powell) and Ean (Evans) during the making of that record. This album man, we said 'Okay, let's go have some fun and let's knock this thing out like the old days and have a good time doing it. And we really did, man. Hey, the proof's in the pudding. . . That's your end goal anyway, is to make the fans happy."
Van Zant, who along with the band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Skynyrd's reunion tour -- which originally was only intended to serve as a 10th anniversary tribute to it's fallen members who died in a plane crash on October 20th, 1977 -- Johny's older brother Ronnie Van Zant; guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines; manager Dean Kilpatrick, as well as the plane's two pilots.
Van Zant shed some light on where Lynyrd Skynyrd finds itself in 2012: "We're at an age where we've been through so much and this band's been through tragedy, heartache and triumphs. Great things have happened to this band along with a lot of bad things and we're at an age where we're looking at it and going 'You know what, we're sober and we're not doing drugs,' were going out and we're playing music and having fun doing it. We're writing songs and having fun doing it again and hey, who knows what the Lord's going to bring us? Who knows how long we're going to be able to do this and while we're doing it, we're going to have as much fun as we can and hopefully our fans stick with us and we'll have many, many more years doing this."
Johnny Van Zant told us that the best of Lynyrd Skynyrd's music has always seemed to defy genres: "They gave us a tag years ago of 'Southern Rock,' and to me I always thought that must mean it's 'Country Rock,' which is the truth, and around our house we were listening to Merle Haggard and George Jones, but we also watched Ed Sullivan and saw Elvis Presley and the Beatles, too, and loved all that stuff too, so there's no boundaries in music these days."
Lynyrd Skynyrd tour dates (subject to change):
August 24 - Bossier City, LA - CenturyLink Center
August 25 - Orange Beach, AL - Amphitheater At The Wharf
August 30 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theatre
August 31 - Memphis, TN - Memphis Botanic Garden
September 1 - Atlanta, GA - Turner Field
September 7 - Scarborough, ME - Scarborough Downs (with ZZ Top)
September 8 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center
September 9 - Big Flats, NY - Tags Outdoor Amphitheater
September 13 - Pikeville, KY - Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center
September 14 - Cincinnati, OH - Riverbend Music Center (with ZZ Top)
September 15 - Maryland Heights, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater St. Louis (with ZZ Top)
September 16 - Sevierville, TN - Smokies Stadium (with ZZ Top)
September 21 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre
September 22 - Mitchellville, MD - Six Flags America
September 26 - Wenatchee, WA - Town Toyota Center
September 27 - Kent, WA - ShoWare Center
September 28 - Nampa, ID - Idaho Center Amphitheater
September 29 - Reno, NV - Reno Events Center
October 4 - Fresno, CA - The Big Fresno Fair at Paul Paul Theatre
October 5 - Stockton, CA - Stockton Arena
October 6 - Saratoga, CA - The Mountain Winery
October 7 - Valley Center, CA - Open Sky Theater at Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort
October 24 - Clearwater, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall
October 25 - Hollywood, FL - Seminole Casino Hollywood
October 26 - Orlando, FL - UCF Arena