Kid Rock

Kid Rock guitarists Marlon Young and Jason Krause have some simple but very true advice for anyone wishing to pursue a career in music: Follow your heart.

“Stay true to what you love, and never go off the path of what you feel is in your heart,” Krause told “Music is in our heart, and we’re blessed to have it our lives. Whether you’re doing it to make a living or entertain your family and friends around a bonfire, it’s something that can never be taken away from you. It’s a great outlet.”

“If it’s truly what you want to do, you won’t have to make yourself do it. You won’t be able to stop,” Young added. “Surround yourself musicians and people that want to do the same thing, and try to get around the best musicians you can.”

Kid Rock just released his latest studio album, First Kiss, and Young and Krause both took to their trusty Gibson guitars for the recording. The two spoke exclusively with about Kid Rock’s famed $20 tour, the new album and why the versatility of Gibson guitars makes them a must-have on the road and in the studio.

Kid Rock is bringing back his $20 ticket tour with the “First Kiss: Cheap Date Tour.” Why is it important for you guys to keep tickets affordable for fans?

Young: Bob (Kid Rock) truly cares about his fans. With the economy the way it was a few years ago, it was a tough time, so we started this. It worked. We had a huge turnout last time. Everybody loved it. Bob is committed to making sure nobody takes advantage of the fans.

Krause: It works for everybody. You lower the price of the tickets, and then you fill the place up. The venue wins, we win and the fans win. You can go see a show for just $20, and everybody is happy.

Kid Rock

What’s it like to back a performer like Kid Rock?

Krause: You watch his work ethic, and it’s so strong. When you get with someone like him who works as hard as he does and see him perform, whether he’s sick or not, you just get that same work ethic. It’s probably the best job in the world! He’s fun on stage, and he makes it fun, night after night after night, after 17 years of touring.

Young: He’s great to work for. He’s a perfectionist. When you step out there, he knows nobody is perfect, but you strive for perfection. When you’re giving 100% effort, that’s what matters to him.

You recorded most of your new album, First Kiss, at Kid Rock’s studio in Clarkston, with two songs, “First Kiss” and “Drinking Beer with Dad,” recorded in Nashville with Dan Huff co-producing. What’s it like recording with Kid Rock?

Young: One thing is that there’s no certain way Kid Rock records a song. Some songs come from Bob’s hip-hop background, where they will start with him programming a groove, and then we’ll add to it. Some come from him strumming an acoustic guitar. For every song, the process has been a bit different. There’s no set way of doing it—it’s about whatever works for the song, and it’s always different.

Krause: Songs will change. The song can start out as a heavy metal song and by the end of the day, it’s a mid-tempo country song. We build it as it goes. At the end of the day, when Bob thinks it’s right and knows it’s right, then we have it.

What Gibsons do you use on the road and in the studio?

Young: On the road, I have a SG ’61 Reissue and three Les Paul Jr. guitars as my main guitars. For the studio, I have a ‘64 ES-335 and a ‘57 Les Paul Jr. as my favorite studio guitars. The two guitars that I predominantly used on the new record were those two.

Krause: My No. 1 guitar is my old triple pickup Les Paul ‘03 from the Gibson Custom Shop. I also use a ‘68 reissue SG, which plays amazing and stays in tune. And I have a Limited Edition Flying V. The Flying V was my thing for a long time. I came up in the metal world, so I was drawn to Flying Vs. It’s pained with gold car paint—they made only 50 them in five colors, so it was a limited run of each color. I have a gold one, and it’s always a beast to play and sounds amazing. I love that guitar. My main acoustic is a J-200. It’s cracked on the top still plays and stays in tune amazingly well. It sounds great mic-ed up in the studio.

What draws you to Gibson guitars?

Young: The first real guitar I ever got was when I was probably around 11 years old, and because of the bands I dug, I wanted a Les Paul. I’ll never forget it. God bless him—my dad worked at General Motors and brought me a brand new Les Paul and spent his entire vacation check on it. I still have that guitar today. I’ve always been a Gibson guy, since I’ve been a kid. I looked up to Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Skynard—those were the guitars I wanted.

Krause: I love them all, and they’re all great for different things. We are a country, rock, hip-hop, blues, jazz, metal band! So, we need many different tones and feels. The variety you can get from Gibsons is great, because they have all the different styles and tones we need to have for performing. Also, the durability. They definitely hold their end when you’re touring. And the tone. I don’t think I’ve ever played a bad sounding Gibson.