By Brian Ives
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there were no rock stars. But the coolest men and women were those who teamed with the rebel alliance to fight the empire. We’re talking Princess Leia (who, apparently, is now “General Leia”), Han Solo, Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker.
But with the impending release of the upcoming Star Wars film—directed by J.J. Abrams, who recently rebooted the Star Trek franchise—we spoke to a couple of well known rock and country stars about how they’re feeling about the next chapter, and the franchise’s future.
Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman and author Corey Taylor, who wore a Star Wars t-shirt to the interview, is looking forward to the movie, big time. “I love the fact that they got the original crew,” he says, noting that Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, among other original cast members. ” I love the fact that J.J. Abrams is doing it ’cause I’m a massive uber-fan. And I love his films. I don’t care if anybody has problems with the Star Trek movies he did; I love those movies. So I’m excited. I’m excited to see what’s gonna happen. And opening right around my birthday, so guess where Daddy’s going?”
Country singer Jerrod Neiman concurs: “I’m very excited. As a kid, you know, I played with Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca and C-3PO and all those. I love how Abrams is doing this one, I’m also a Star Trek fan, so I’m excited for them to bring back the original characters and bring some new ones in. It’s in good hands…I’ll be nerding out with the rest of us out there.”
Little Big Town‘s Jimi Westbrook and Karen Fairchild’s son is a third generation Star Wars fan, as Westbrook recently told us. “We have a 5-year-old that is obsessed with Star Wars. It’s funny, he came to love Star Wars through LEGOS. But now since the new one is coming out, we started at the beginning, he and I, started at the beginning and watched all the way through. We’re getting ready.”
Fairchild adds, “We play a lot of light saber dueling battles in the living room.”
Meanwhile, country star Hunter Hayes is also excited but says he’s not not sure he deserves the title of “fan.” “I feel really guilty calling myself a Star Wars fan in the presence of people who I know are bigger fans than I am, but I am a fan and I’m definitely stoked for it. We never get to see movies right when they come out while we’re on the road so I’ll probably get there the Monday after it all happens and probably get a seat in the theater too [laughs].”
Dierks Bentley — who, by the way, is co-hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards next year — says that he and his family are ready and they have the gear to show for it.
“This Halloween, my family all went as Star Wars characters. So we had Storm Troopers, and one of my kids was Darth Vader and Yoda. Knox was supposed to be C-3PO but the costume never came in. But yeah, I like Stars Wars, I’m not a geek or anything, but I look forward to seeing the next one.” Sure you’re not, Dierks.
Country singer Chris Young is much more straightforward in his anticipation for the film: “I think it’s gonna be great. Everything I’ve seen about this Star Wars movie flies in the face of when they made Phantom Menace and all those prequels. I’m really, really pumped, and I can’t wait to see it.”
He recognizes, however, that some Trek fans didn’t like Abrams’ work on that franchise. How does that bode for Star Wars? “They’re two different properties. And first of all, just look at the fan bases and how divided they are: people normally either like Star Trek or Star Wars. They might appreciate both, but they’ve got one that they’re a favorite of. So I don’t know that you can really compare the two, and I don’t know if you can even compare his work on those two movies, because now you’re looking at basically hitting the reset button and using the same characters, as opposed to creating a brand new story that’s set in that universe. And those are two different things.”
Jesse Carmichael from Maroon 5 has also been counting the days. “I’ve got Star Wars tattoos on my butt,” he jokes. “But I don’t think I can show ‘em.”
“I got tickets for the opening night and the tailer’s looking great. Each one that comes out is better than the last. The soundtrack, the re-scoring of the classic themes… Man, I’m pumped… pumped for that movie.” I follow all the characters intensely, but mostly I’m excited to see what happened with Luke after Return of the Jedi. Did he go to the Dark Side of the Force for a while? Why or why not? Basically, he helped kill his father; it’s a classic mythological experience. And then he had to live with that.”
“So, what happened to Luke? My gut tells me that Luke got dark for a while… But redemption is always a beautiful thing.”
We’ll find out if that happens, and if the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga satisfies everyone, later this week.