At 32, Kid Rock is no kid anymore. And he's not necessarily rocking all the time, either: The former Bob Ritchie's biggest hit to date, the Sheryl Crow duet ''Picture'' (from 2002's ''Cocky'') is among the mellowest songs he's ever recorded. Expect more country-tinged ballads on his self-titled new album, due Nov. 11, along with rootsy uptempo tracks -- but not much of the rock-rap that made him famous. With the album's first single, a cover of Bad Company's ''Feel Like Making Love,'' hitting radio, Kid Rock tells EW.com about losing interest in rapping, competing with Andrew W.K., and growing older with dignity -- but keeps mum about his relationship with Pamela Anderson.
What did you think about the massive success of ''Picture''?
I knew that song was a smash. The day I made it, I went and laminated the lyrics. I was like, ''I'm keeping these. They're gonna be worth something.'' [laughs] That's the best song I've ever written. When we laid it down -- I'm not all vibey and trippy, but it was kind of magical. Me and Sheryl did a couple of other songs, too, that are really great.
''Cocky'' dived on the chart before ''Picture'''s success sent it back to the top 10. How did you feel about that?
It's kind of funny, we were sitting at 2 million copies [sold], and everybody's going, ''It's flopping.'' I'm like, yeah, it might be flopping for you -- I'm flopping all the way to the bank. [laughs] I don't give a s---. Call it a flop. When I made the record, I based so much around ''Picture.'' Because I knew it was a smash, I did whatever else I wanted on the record. If you listen to the arrangements there's nothing that's standard, nothing that would make sense [commercially].
Besides Sheryl, are there any other possible guest stars for the new album?
Not really. Well, [ZZ Top frontman] Billy Gibbons was up here. He laid down something on a track, this song I got called ''The Hillbilly Stomp.'' I said do the hook for me, and he came in and shouted it. And Hank [Williams] Jr. wants to do this song ''Cadillac Pussy'' with me, which will be fun. He's been showing me this Fats Domino/Jerry Lee Lewis boogie-woogie s--- on the piano. I've been trying to learn that stuff, and I wrote a song [with it] called ''Cadillac Pussy'' -- classic dirty-mouth Kid Rock s---. But it's all tongue-in-cheek.
Can you run through some of the other songs?
Yeah. ''Cold and Empty'' is a ballad, kind of a rock ballad. There's also a song called "I Am" that's very good. Best lyric in the world, great hook: "I am Georgia, I am Memphis, Tennessee/I am everything Hollywood wants to be.'' There's another good one called "Black Bob.'' When I was young all my neighbors, because I was into hip-hop, used to call me Black Bob. So I made the payback song.
There's a good tearjerker called "Single Father'' that David Allan Coe wrote for me that will probably make it. It's so f---ing depressing though, very dark. And ''Hillbilly Stomp'' is funny -- we've had it for awhile. It's a hip-hop redneck country track, all banjos and pedal steel with big beats. We'll see if that makes it -- it might be borderline corny. Everyone needs a little corn with their meal.
Are you less interested in rapping these days?
Kinda. Yeah, a little bit. There hasn't been any hip-hop s--- that's excited me in a long time. I really liked Biggie and Tupac... I don't think there's been anything since some N.W.A. record that's really got me excited and made me wanna, y'know, turn my hat backwards. The influences are always there, even if I'm not rapping. Hip-hop is where I started, and it's always influenced the music. Hip-hop's made my music what it is today. Everything you hear now is hip-hop influenced, at least commercially on the radio. A lot of it's crap, but it's still influenced by it.
Do you mind that Andrew WK seems to be taking your party-rock throne away from you?
Naw, he can have it. I like to have a good time, no doubt about it. But there's more to music than that, and I never wanted to get stereotyped in that vein which I'm sure I probably have. But I was never really looking for the crown. You know what, I'm 32 years old, man. It was all fun and games when I was 19, or 24 or 25 -- running around the world having a good time. I'm 32, my kid's 10 years old, so I want to grow with my audience. I'm not trying to hold onto the kids.
So, you getting married?
[laughs] Nice try. I'm sure your boss made you ask that.
You once said no one cares -- you're probably right.
Exactly, does anyone give a s---? I thought it was hilarious when Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck's movie came out and no one gave a f---. It's like who gives a f---ing s---. [laughs]
But they're in love, man.
Who gives a f---? [laughs] That's how you should end your article.