Gary Floater is not for everyone. He is a brutally honest traveling troubadour who has literally sold dozens of records and stands as the biggest influence of his generation. Why he is not regarded in the realm of Cash and Haggard one will never know. This country survivor has a tale to tell, and we were there to hear him tell it. Dig into this 20 Questions to find out about having Garth Brooks as a neighbor, what the best part of Sunburn Lake is and covering Patsy Cline in drag in Mexico City, as well as some less mundane stories.
Check out Gary’s website and songs after you read the interview:
1. What’s new with the musical empire that we all know as Gary Floater?
I have a lot of paperwork to do, you know just keeping people from stealing my songs. When I write a new song, I mail a copy of the lyrics to myself that serves as a proof that i wrote it on such and such a date, you know I mail it and it gets the mailmans mark and it’s sealed and all.
Then, next day when mail is delivered I get excited and I do accidently open the letters…and I see it’s just one I mailed to myself. So I mail ’em to myself again and mark the envelop “Gary, for godsake don’t open. -Gary”
So, I keep pretty busy with paperwork.
2. How much more unreleased material are you sitting on? Will we see a Tupac scenario where even years after your death there will be new Gary Floater material released?
Johnny Cash is still going strong and I heard he only died a few years ago. I’ve got songs stuffed in the walls and buried in the yard. I’d like to see ’em try to find em all.
Sometimes I whisper my songs to old ladies at the grocery store for safekeeping. The only safe way to write a song is in the steam on the shower door. And in fact, thousands of my songs are unrecorded.
Also…I don’t know what you mean about a two-pack scenario…I usually buy a twelve-pack and when it’s gone it’s gone brother. No tears can bring those beers back to life, and I’ve tried.
3. Name association:
-Toby Keith-I love this star
-John Rich-him and Big Kenny Rogers together…a exciting duo.
-Kenny Chesney-I can’t get him to record “Sunburn Lake”
-Tim McGraw-All my friends call me bearclaw, you can find me in my wigwam, I’ll be beating on my tom-tom…yessir, I’m punching the clown!
-Garth Brooks-Nice guy. He used to live next door to me in Nashville.
-Chris Gaines-He used to live next door to me in Nashville. Total a-hole.
4. Your esteemed producer Flip Dickerson is in the mold of Bruce Dickinson. With that in mind, why wasn’t there more cow bell on this tribute album?
Flip’s probation forbids him from having contact with cows for 18 months so I’d apreciate y’all not taunting him with their bells when you know how hard it is on him…grow up people.
5. Rate the following songwriters on a scale of 1 to 10.
-Miley Cyrus-She’s the straight dope…no imitation. 10. Her old man says it shoulda been me.
-Rascal Flatts-Unstoppable, he’s great, give him a 10.
-Trace Adkins-Got it going on like Donkey Kong, can I have some more please. 10.
-Colt Ford-My first car. I thought it was on safety but wrecked it into a fence and shot myself in the leg. 8
-Jason Aldean-I have not heard of Jason Alderaan.
6. You had a famous incident with Telly Savalas where you accosted him on live television. Did you mend fences with Telly before he passed away?
I mistook him for Herve Villachez. When he came out on The Tonight Show I said “Hey boss, the plane, the plane.” He resented it though it was a honest mistake and they both wore tuxedos.
Then I accidently called him Kujo and he snapped. Without Ed McMahon (pronounced Macman by Floater) as a human shield I might have been seriously injured. For years I had to wear a metal cowboy hat when I ventured in public.
…And no he never forgave me and in fact he cursed me on his deathbed
7. Stories behind the following songs:
-That’s What I’m Gonna Do-I tried to get a truck sponsorship on this one but they wanted me to change the lyrics. But, I do drive without using blinkers or signaling…that’s the truth and I cant take the truth out.
The coolest part about this song was a young man named Prince played guitar on it.
-Coach’s Song-I was wearing tight polyester shorts and I got a special feeling. I felt moved to write a song about winners who are forced to work with losers.
-The Dirty South-Every boy dreams of someday getting a tattoo of their NASCAR hero. Dismiss the assault charges, your honor, on this southern hero.
-Y’all Watch This-Three good buddys of mine had to see the doctorman after their displays of bravery regarding a ditch, a dam, and a donkey…true story.
-That’s When the Eagle Screams-You don’t need a map to win a war Kemosabe.
-It’s High Time This Old Cowboy Quit Getting So Goldanged High-One morning a Dutch policeman told me I hit rock bottom…and I said only I can be the judge of that! Then he said no listen to me, cowboyman, you were so high, you fell into a canal in Amsterdam last night and we had to fish you out…you were on the bottom.
-Stand Back Boys I’m Fixing To Care-One time someone was listening to my lyrics, so I made love to her.
-Sunburn Lake-This song has been rejected by all the Tropical Country stars. I was hoping Kenny would record it and the royalties would enable me to meet my IRS obligations.
-Pull Over I Want To Eat That-When you’re hungry, it’s hard to slow down to read words. I appreciate eateries that put statues of cows, or pictures of chickens, or pigs on their signs so I can make my choice from the highway.
I hoped Sugarland would record this one, but instead they put a restraining order on me. I think it’s because I found out that chick they kicked out of the group is [redacted for legal reasons]…and that’s the last time I’ll eat at that place.
-Americana Me-Growing up, my grandpa always played Americana songs for us kids on our front porch. Americana was his favorite genre…he could wail on the guitar. This one’s for grandpa.
8. You’ve only been married seven times, which is about 5 times less than the average mainstream country radio listener. What are the secrets to a good marriage?
Well, it all comes down to respect. If you dont respect yourself, how can you respect your wife? More importantly, how can you respect your neighbor’s wife when he’s not home?
9. Your episode of Cribs was arguably the best one of all time. Do you still own four General Lee’s and the gold-plated outhouse?
They were taken aback that I actually do sleep in a crib. My childhood was pretty messed up so I am trying to do a “do-over” (Floater does air quotes) or what psycologists call a “mulligan” (again with the air quotes).
I’ll have you know that bed wetting is a natural part of that process.
10. One of your ex-wives once punched Tanya Tucker in the mouth at an awards show. This landed you on the cover of the National Enquirer for quite a while. You’ve also been a recent fixture on TMZ due to your association with Charlie Sheen. Can you describe what it’s like to have the papparazi following your every move?
Some say I’m paranoid but before every show I says to myself:
Gotta play good cause the goverment watching
I gotta play good cause the goverments watching
I gotta play good cause the goverments watching me
11. True or false: you were once in a fierce rap battle with Mel Tillis that lasted 4 days.
Yeah…that’s true…sad story. I can still remember my winning verse:
What, what, what a burger, what?
I’m Gary F so your mouth is shut
Step off Mel cause your tongue is tied
Like a potato chip, your brain is fried
Your consonants limp, your vowels, droop
Marblemouth, like its filled with soup
12. Favorite touring memory of the following towns:
-New York City-I danced on the keys of a piano with a man in a suit and we played chopsticks with our feet while a bunch of people watched and laughed…not a big piano, just a normal size grand piano and it was broken after and I had to pay for it.
-Leakey-I’ll never forget the Cedar Chopper Ball I played on Memorial Day 1979. I have fond memories of a local woman who could sure swing a axe. You bet, I’d get those chiggers all over again.
-Nashville-I was working night shift part time at an east side motel, and I told the devil I needed to take a look in his backpack before he went up to his room. I said, “I’m sorry, D, it’s just our policy. I’m not singling you out,” but he didnt believe me and acted pretty bent out of shape about it. He had a capo in there and a three headed dog.
-Cuero-Has the best whataburger in the lower 48.
-Mexico City-I found a video recording of myself at a karaoke bar in the Buenavista red light district, dressed up as Patsy Cline and singing, “Loco. I’m loco for feeling so lonely. I’m loco. Loco for feeling azul.” I don’t remember doing it but my booking agent said the club owner was happy.
-Toronto-City in Canadiana, where poor syrup drinking moosehumpers can’t even carry guns to shoot at government agents trying to give them free health care.
-Chevy Chase, MI-This town used to be really good…for vacations particularly. But since 1990 its been kind of old, sad and not funny anymore…although I hear they’ve opened up a nice community college.
-New Orleans-Meterologists say this town is like a big bathtub. Okay Einstein, so then why do its streets smell like puke?
-Luling-Pull over I want to eat that city market.
-Los Angeles-My grandpa was a bouncer at the Viper Room during the Great Depression and he said that people from Oklahoma moved west to California to get drugs when their families could no longer get drugs at home. But, by the time the okies got there, most of the drugs were taken so the okies had to eat paint off pencils. Hard times like those make me appreciate these times of plenty.
-Post-All the food I ate here tasted like either a feedlot or rotten egg…but only when you breathed.
-Beijing-I ate so much fried rice, I was full as a tick and I told Premier Hu Jintao that I thought I was going to puke in the limo and he didn’t believe me at first.
The Chinese government forbid me to play any songs that reference fighting, promiscuous lovemaking, or gluttonous eating, so I stood on stage and stared at everybody hard in the eyes, singing lyrics that I broke out one by one from fortune cookies.
They loved me.
-Terlingua-Conceived a child…burned my chili.
13. Many people don’t know this, but you were actually a rodeo clown and an astronaut before you started making music for a living…all before the age of 23. How did those two professions prepare you for a music career?
Astronauts need to laugh too. it cant always be science this science that, all the time. So you see, fart jokes go over really good in a vacuum…actual farts don’t go over well in a vacuum. I only completed one experiment for NASA: if a rodeo clown farts in space, does anyone smell it? The answer: yes, for months.
I made love to a hot blonde cosmonaut in the international space station lavatory, and I got a patch on my space suit for the 100 mile high club. But she caught space dementia and we broke up.
14. I know that you’ve claimed a number of artists have stolen your songs. Most notably, Taylor Swift with “You Belong To Me” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. Your legal proceedings against them hit a snag when you found out Matlock wasn’t an actual lawyer. Can you give us an update on this? And, are there other song thieves we should know about?
If Matlock is not a lawyer, then Barney Fife is not a cop. So, then why’d he confiscate 2 vials of horse from me in the Beverly Hills Hilton in 1985? Only deputy David Bowie knows.
Lady Gadget is über talented and Taylor Swift is plainly the führer of teenage song. Songs of young adulthood, she is marching on you next. The world will stand up and take notice of these young ladies one day, mark my words.
15. You were originally cast as the lead in Crazy Heart, but had a falling out with producers and were replaced by Jeff Bridges. Can you tell us about that experience? How did it make you feel? Also, when they make the movie about your life, who would you like to portray you?
The producers say a washed up country singer doesnt show up drunk to rehearsals..and I say I do. We had creative differences.
People pay 8 dollars to see a fictional washed up country singer at the movies when a real washed up country singer is playing for tips at local bar? Maybe that local washed up country singer is really a actor too.
How can you know? Here’s how. Look in his gig bag and if he has a Oscar in it, you have just saved yourself 8 dollars. If not, you have wasted your evening, and you might have really enjoyed the movie.
16. Train A, traveling 70 mph, leaves Westford heading toward Eastford, 260 miles away. At the same time Train B, traveling 60 mph, leaves Eastford heading toward Westford. When do the two trains meet? How far from each city do they meet?
The trains smash into each other at Middleford, and most of the train debris flies easterly into the Eastford City Limits night club, which is the biggest nightclub in that college town. And if you play any other club in Eastford but Eastford City Limits you wont be asked back to play at Eastford City Limits, even if it is covered with train debris. Luckily there’s a big music festival outside of town near Westford so maybe we should just go out there.
17. Since you were Kinky Friedman’s chief political advisor during his gubernatorial run, I thought it would be interesting for our readers if you shared your chief political and life philosophies. So, what are 3 rules everyone should live by according to Gary Floater?
1. Smite not thy neighbor unless he provoketh you.
2. Failure is just a detour on the road to bigger failure.
3. Coveteth not thy neighbors wife unless she was checking you out.
18. Rapid fire:
-Who’d win in a fight…Mr. Reckless Kelly or Mr. Micky Motorcar? Draw. Reminds me of an epic, old squabble between Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull.
-Favorite spot on Sunburn Lake? Keystone Cove
-More attractive: Wynona or Chewbaca? I’d rather have Wynona at my side in a firefight, and Chewbacca on a cold night.
-How many times have you been arrested? I don’t dwell on the negative. How many days have I not been arrested? Lots…thanks.
19. Despite consistently releasing material that is more critically acclaimed than him, George Strait continues to sell more records than you. How is that possible? And, what is your favorite George Strait song and why?
You get where he is by singing memorable songs. My favorite song of his is “Forever and Ever, Amen”
20. What is country music to Gary Floater?
It’s whatever you want it to be. In modern times the rules of what defines country are changing. If your town has only 1 Starbucks, that’s country. If it has 2 Starbucks, well I’m sorry but your town has crossed over to pop and sold out.
I think country means you want more, and it doesn’t have to be low fat. Some people say low sales can mean you are more real. Some say I am one of the realest songwriters they know.