INTERVIEW WITH JOHN SCHNEIDER
OMNI HOTEL, NASHVILLE, TN
FEBRUARY 5, 2018
Here we have our CRS 2018 interview with the one and only John Schneider, most well-known as “Bo Duke” from the classic TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard”, but he’s also a Country singer/songwriter. To set the scene, chaos abounded. Media people and artists alike were crawling and when John Schneider was ANYWHERE nearby, you knew it. People gravitated toward him. He could barely walk two steps without someone wanting to chat or take a photo with him, but eventually, he emerged through our little curtained off cubicle with more charisma than I think HE even realized. This guy is bigger than life, but he’s remarkably down to earth. Here we go…
Think Country (Annette): So, we’re Think Country. I’m basically UK, as you can tell by my funny accent.
John Schneider: I can tell.
TC (Annette continuing): Bill and Patti are part of the Nashville side of me and they were at “The Dukes of Hazzard” re-recording.
TC (Patti): We were in the crazy studio.
JS: I saw you in there!
TC (Patti): It was so much fun.
JS: Yes it was. A lot of fun.
TC (Annette): We had video of that on the website and it went crazy.
JS: We’re going to put it back up. We had interest (so it was taken down from his site). When somebody from Rolling Stone says, “Hey, you know we’re interested in that, would you pull the video because we want to do something with it?” It was a month ago and nothing’s happened, so we’re gonna put it back on. Yeah, because the song is there, the artist studio access, the documentary we shot is there and the music video is there, and we’ve done that. We’ve just released our sixth one of those. Sixth song, sixth video, sixth music documentary today. We’re crazy, we are crazy.
TC (Patti): Then you fit right in with us.
JS: My God!
TC (Patti): We are all united in craziness.
JS: United in crazy.
TC (Annette): I have to apologize. I very rarely fangirl over anyone, and I’m just sitting here going, “Oh my God!”
(I can attest to the fact that Annette does NOT often fangirl. Actually, almost never. This was an exceedingly rare situation.)
JS: Was it “Dukes of Hazzard” or was it “Smallville” for you?
TC (Annette): “Dukes of Hazzard”.
TC (Patti): I must tell him my story! I have to tell you. I was probably like 14 years old and babysitting crazy devilish children on Saturday nights, “Dukes of Hazzard” night. Well, these kids had a curfew that they could watch “Dukes of Hazzard” and then they had to go to bed.
TC (Patti): I couldn’t wait until “Dukes of Hazzard” was over…
JS: (In his best evil monster voice) So the kids would go to bed…
TC (Patti): So, I watched “Dukes of Hazzard” religiously because the kids could watch it, and then they had to go to bed.
JS: She watched the car, me and her watch. Please God. (Laughing)
TC (Patti): The car, you… No. You, the car… No. You, you, you, my watch.
JS: Oh, bless your heart.
TC (Annette): Did you realize it was such a big hit in the UK as it was here?
JS: You know, when we were number one, when we were doing so well, there were only three networks, and it seemed like we were more aware of what was on television then, and it actually seemed like there was more to watch on television when there were only three networks. I’m not sure how that could be, but because of that, we would get numbers. We would get overnight ratings. It was far easier to see what was going on. So, people told us, “Did you know that your show is on in France, and it’s called ‘Shérif, fais-moi peuf’?” I said, “No, what does that even mean?” Make me scared, I think, and “It’s big in the UK, it’s wonderful!”, they would tell us that, but it’s so good to hear someone else say it.
TC (Annette): This is just my childhood, and I’m just going to phone my Dad in a minute, and he is just going to be so jealous.
(You might imagine we were having quite a bit of fun with this, and you would be right. We were.)
JS: You know, I was in Manchester back in ’84 or ’85 and I saw a bus stop with a “Dukes of Hazzard” billboard poster on it, and I thought that was really cool. That was one of the things that made me know I had made it. My name was an answer to a TV Guide Crossword Puzzle question and I was on a bus stop, or a lorry stop, or whatever in the world you call it out there in Manchester.
TC (Annette): So, what are you doing now? You just seem to be very busy. I’m seeing you a lot more on social media.
TC (Patti): You have your own production company and everything.
JS: Yeah. Alicia and I have a film studio in Louisiana. I met Alicia when she came to Atlanta and hired me to do a movie she was doing. I did that, and then she rescued a movie I had done where a producer kind of dropped the ball. It’s a delightful, actually, horror comedy called “Smothered”. If you’re at all into horror, you’ll love “Smothered”. It’s got a bunch of stars from that genre in it. So, she resurrected that deal and made a distribution deal and it was great. Since then, we’ve made six other films together and we’ve now done one album. So, 10 songs there, 22 songs in October of last year, and we’re going to do 32 more songs this year, to release one every week. You met her when you were at “The Dukes” event (the re-recording of the “Dukes of Hazzard” theme song “Good Ol’ Boys”).
TC (Patti): Yes!
TC (Annette): One of those times when I’m going, “Damn, why am I in England?!”
JS: It was so great! Bobby Bare was there. TG Sheppard and Mark Wills…
TC (Patti): Everybody was there.
JS: Everybody WAS there!
TC (Annette): She was doing the Facebook Live and I was like, “I know them! I know them!”
JS: It was great and they were all there, not because of me at all. They were there to support Waylon Jennings, Waylon Jennings and the Diabetes Charity, so it was fantastic. Sound Stage donated the studio. It’s really proof that Nashville is what people think it is, or parts of Nashville still are what Nashville should be. So, it was great, and it’s where I recorded all of my songs back in the 80’s there at Sound Stage, “At the Sound of the Tone”, “Country Girls”, “Love, You Ain’t Seen the Last of Me” and all those things.
TC (Annette): You’re not slowing down at all then, are you?
JS: I’m actually speeding up, but in many regards, I feel that since Alicia and I met, I’m truly just starting.
TC (Annette): That’s great.
JS: Yeah, I’m 57 years old and I feel like finally the seven-year-old or the eight-year-old in me, who wanted a movie studio or wanted to make movies and be a cowboy is doing it.
TC (Patti): That’s cool. So, now you’re living in Louisiana?
JS: Yep. Been there for five years now.
TC (Patti): That’s cool. Most people don’t think of doing movies and music… I guess Louisiana… you know, you think L.A., Nashville, you think anywhere but Louisiana.
JS: Louisiana is so beautiful!
TC (Annette): I’m going there this summer.
JS: Oh good! Well, go somewhere other than just New Orleans. French Quarter you’ve got to do.
TC (Annette): Well, we will go there, but yeah, we’ll travel around.
JS: Find somebody to take you on an airboat ride.
TC (Annette): Oh?
JS: Yeah, gotta do that. You gotta see an alligator. You’ve just got to.
TC (Patti): Like an alligator not in a zoo.
JS: Not in a zoo, no, no. An alligator out there where alligators live. Do enjoy the food. Don’t go to the normal places. Find someone who… ask a police officer, “Where should we go to eat? Not some place that the tourists go.” They’ll tell you. So, we’ve got the swamps. We’ve got the rivers, we’ve got the lakes. It’s a sportsman’s paradise, but also beautiful old architecture and wonderfully cooperative people, which is one of the most important parts of making a film. We would spend more in Los Angeles in two days on permits and traffic enforcement than we spend in a week of filming (in Louisiana), well, probably the whole darned movie. They’ll spend more for craft service and coffee on a moderately budgeted studio film than we spend on our whole movie. Louisiana is very open to filmmakers, musicians, street art, street musicians, people doing chalk art on the sidewalk. It’s just a delightful place, totally unlike any other state in the United States.
TC (Annette): We were going there anyway, but you just sold it.
JS: Oh gosh. Yep. The only touristy thing you need to do is Café Du Monde. Get a beignet and some chicory coffee, but the rest of it, no touristy things, okay?
TC (Annette): We’ll have our 17-year-old daughter with us as well, so we’ll have to be careful about evenings I suppose.
JS: Well, no, no. Another great thing about Louisiana, as long as she’s with you, she can go anywhere you can go.
TC (Annette): Well, that’s cool.
JS: Yeah, in fact, in Louisiana, if you allow it, she can have a drink with you.
TC (Annette): Yeah, she can in England.
JS: Yeah, same thing. Louisiana operates under Napoleonic Code, so the laws are entirely different too, which I’ve gotten used to, and it gets a little strange. Now I think it’s strange when I’m in a restaurant and I can’t get a “Go” cup for my drink.
TC (Annette): You can do that in Savannah as well.
TC (Annette): For these young people that have never seen “The Dukes of Hazzard”, how would you describe yourself now? Are you an actor, a musician, a film director? What are you?
JS: I’m a storyteller. Whether it’s through music, or whether it’s through the television shows, I’ve spent decades helping other people tell their stories. I grew up as an eight-year-old, Until “Dukes of Hazzard” I did quite a bit of theater, but I also wrote plays and I did little movies with my Super 8 Camera, and I felt very much like a storyteller then. It wasn’t until after “Dukes of Hazzard”, after “Smallville”, after “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, after “Nip/Tuck”, after, after, after, and during “The Haves and The Have Nots”, the show I’m on now. It wasn’t until I moved to Louisiana and did this movie called “Smothered” that I really felt like I had gotten in touch again with my eight-year-old John’s design and that storyteller.
TC (Annette): You know, you seem so happy!
JS: I have never been so happy.
TC (Patti): Not only that, but you just seem so, like, one of us. You’re just very approachable.
JS: Well, good! I hope so.
TC (Annette): You give out this positive vibe. It’s a good way to be.
JS: Love what you do. I’ve had a number of people pass away in the last year and there’s nothing more tragic than someone passing away, which is an appointment we all keep, doing something they don’t like, and I’m delighted to say, the last friend of mine who passed away a week and a half ago, she was engaged almost every moment of her life, doing what she loved to do, not only with people that she loved and appreciated, but people who loved and appreciated her, and that’s Lari White Cannon. The example that Chuck and Lari and their family are, and Lari still is, through Chuck and her family, to everybody out there, I hope people realize how quickly it can all stop. Alicia and I heard a bunch of Chuck’s songs, but the one that sticks to my mind is called “Heaven Help Me” that we recorded. We found “Heaven Help Me”, “Boyfriend in Your Bedroom”, great song, “I’m In Love With Her” and “We All Give God the Blues”. All four Chuck Cannon songs we recorded. I found those on a Wednesday, Chuck and I were supposed to write on Saturday, Lari went to the doctor on a Thursday or Friday, that was, I believe, in October or November, and was given that news. So, if you are doing something you do not like, STOP. STOP. It can’t eat you. It’s better to die engaged in that which you love, with those whom you love, than it is to live another ten years miserably.
TC (Annette): I hear you. I travel out here just to talk about country music because I love it so much.
JS: Excellent, excellent! It’s obvious.
TC (Annette): I get to work with fabulous people I’ve met just through social media and country music. Well, thank you, it’s been a pleasure!
JOHN SCHNEIDER can be found: