God & Guns

1. Still Unbroken
2. Simple Life
3. Little Thing Called You
4. Southern Ways
5. Skynyrd Nation
6. Unwrite That Song
7. Floyd
8. That Ain't My America
9. Comin' Back For More
10. God & Guns
11. Storm
12. Gifted Hands

Beyond the tragedy, the history, the raging guitars and the killer songs, ultimately, Lynyrd Skynyrd is about an indomitable will. About survival of spirit; unbowed, uniquely American, stubbornly resolute.

With their first set of new studio material since 2003fs Vicious Cycle, legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd returns with God & Guns, due out September 29 on Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records. Recorded in Nashville in 2008-2009, the project was interrupted?but, tellingly, not ended?by the deaths of founding member/keyboardist Billy Powell and longtime bassist Ean Evans earlier this year.

Driven by core members Gary Rossington (guitar), Johnny Van Zant (vocals) and Rickey Medlocke (guitar), along with longtime drummer Michael Cartellone, Lynyrd Skynyrd have recorded an album (gunder duress, as usual,h according to Van Zant) that very much lives up to the legacy begun some 35 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida, and halted for a decade by the 1977 plane crash that killed three band members, including Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines. Since then, the band tragically lost Allen Collins, Leon Wilkeson and Huey Thomasson, yet they rock on.

With the passing of Powell and Evans, ga lot of people probably expected us to say enough is enough,h admits Medlocke. But that would not be the way of this Rock & Roll Hall of Fame powerhouse. With a catalog of over 60 albums and sales beyond 30 million, Lynyrd Skynyrd remains a cultural icon that appeals to all generations, and God & Guns is a fitting addition to the canon. The Skynyrd Nation awaits.

gWe wanted to show the people that not only are we doing the old material, keeping the music going, but we still have some new tricks up our sleeves, too,h says founding guitarist Gary Rossington.

Returning to the studio after the death of Powell, whose keyboards can be heard on more than half the songs on God & Guns, was gvery difficult, I ainft gonna lie to you,h says Van Zant. gBut we got through it, as Lynyrd Skynyrd seems to always do. Musicfs a great healer. These songs needed to be out there, this record needed to be made. Gary, Rickey and myself just said eletfs go for it, letfs get this thing done.fh

Unfortunately, coping with loss is familiar to this band. gWe just kind of fell back in,h says Rossington. gWefve been doing this a long time, so you just kind of do what you do. As you get older, you get a little more used to it. You know itfs coming, and itfs coming to you, too. I just thank God for every day and all the time I had with the guys that arenft with us anymore.h

The crying is over and now itfs time to rock. gWefve had some really bad moments this year already, and Ifm glad wefre able to pick ourselves up by our boot straps and just continue to play,h says Medlocke. gFor us to weather through this makes this record even more special. Ifm sure Billy and Ean are looking down upon us with big smiles.h

With noted rock producer Bob Marlette, input from guitarist John 5, and a wealth of material written by the band and a cadre of elite Skynyrd-minded songwriters, a remarkable album emerged. gWe never really worked with producers that well, we kind of always wanted to do it our way,h admits Rossington. gBut Bob Marlette came on and hefs such a great guy; he figured out how to talk to us musically, and we became friends instantly. He had a lot of fresh ideas and ways to do things, and also wanted to capture the old sounds, too.h

Of John 5, Rossington adds, ghefs probably one of the best guitar players Ifve ever played with, and Ifve played with a lot of great ones. He just lives with a guitar on him, and he knows that neck like nobody Ifve ever seen.h

With a backbone of Southern rock and country, passionate Van Zant vocals, and trademark layered guitars, God & Guns manages to maintain the iconic Skynyrd punch while sounding completely contemporary. Sure to attract attention in these politically divided times is the title track, which harbors a sense of menace and unwillingness to back down that hearkens back to Skynyrdfs earliest days. The band knows the song, and others like gThat Ainft My America,h will have their critics, but Medlocke says listeners should get beyond the title.

gItfs not just the words eGod and guns.f you gotta look past that and look at what this country was founded on: freedom,h Medlocke says. gEverybody should be able to make their own decisions and not be led around by a nose ring and told what to do and when to do it.h

And if some critics donft like it, gthatfs called freedom of choice,h says Medlocke, who carries his Native American heritage with pride. gIfm sure some critics will look at it, God & Guns, the rednecks are back.f Well, the guys in this band arenft rednecks, Rickey Medlockefs the only damn redneck in this band ecause I got red skin.h

The title track, along with the unmistakable Skynyrd bite of the first single gStill Unbroken,h form thematic songs for an album laden with attitude, heart and purpose. gSkynyrdfs about tradition,h says Medlocke. gWe are guys that donft go around preaching about our own personal or political beliefs, although Ifm sure you could probably guess mine. In this record is personal tragedy, personal relationships and being on the road, all under that umbrella of real life. Thatfs what we think, thatfs what we believe, and we stand next to that title, God & Guns.h

To portray Skynyrd as a bunch of ggun nutsh would be incorrect, according to Van Zant. gIfm kind of like Ronnie, ehandguns are made for killing,f and Ifve never seen anybody shoot a deer with a .38,h he says. gI do own a bunch of rifles, I live out in the swamp, and youfve got to protect yourself.h

Skynyrd is a band, after all, that has never shied away from standing up and speaking for a segment of the population whose voices are seldom heard. gEverybodyfs so scared to say stuff these days, thatfs not what Ifm about,h says Van Zant. gWe live in America, we can speak our minds. These are our values. That doesnft mean wefre always right in everybodyfs mind. Hopefully, we donft offend a bunch of people. And if we do, well, get a record deal, man, and make your own songs.h

This is a band well aware of the responsibility that comes with putting the name eLynyrd Skynyrdf on anything, be it an album or a concert. gWe feel like we have to keep the standards high,h says Rossington. gI wouldnft put this record out, Ifd fight not to, if I didnft think it was good.h

And so Skynyrd stands, gstill unbroken,h in 2009. gPeople may say, ethey need the money,f well I donft think any of us need the money,h Van Zant says. gItfs just that we love the music, itfs bigger than the money, itfs not even about that any more. We have to make a living, sure, but itfs about the legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and what it stands for, what the fans are all about. Therefs nothing like getting out there playing a great show with Skynyrd and seeing people love this music.h

Adds Rossington, gWefre still standing, still keeping the music going. We wanted to do the guys who arenft with us any more proud, and keep the name proud, too.h

Gary Rossington- Guitar
Johnny Van Zant- Vocals
Rickey Medlocke- Guitar
Mark "Sparky" Matejka- Guitar
Michael Cartellone- Drums
Robert Kearns - Bass
Peter Keys - Keyboards
Dale Krantz Rossington- Backing Vocals
Carol Chase- Backing Vocals