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Kid Rock puckers up for his 'First Kiss'

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

'I like clean living,' Kid Rock says.

Why doubt the man?

It's 11 a.m. on the nose when the Detroit rocker rings our office, calling earlier this week from his northern Oakland County home. He was deep in rehearsals with his Twisted Brown Trucker band, gearing up for a series of performances surrounding his new album, the heavily country- and classic rock-influenced "First Kiss." The album, Rock's 10th full-length studio set, hits stores on Tuesday.

The clean-living Kid Rock is in a good place these days. This summer on tour he'll reprise his successful $20 ticketing strategy, which netted him his biggest crowds in years when he launched it during 2013's "Best Night Ever!" tour. He's got six shows lined up at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Aug. 7, 8, 11, 12, 14 and 15, which very well could become a venue-record nine or 10 shows by the time summer's finished. (Rock's eight concerts at DTE in 2013 tied Bob Seger's record of eight shows at the then-Pine Knob in 1977, though the Seger shows came in nonconsecutive bursts.)

Rock is also a grandfather now. His son, Bobby Jr., welcomed a baby girl on Christmas Day, three weeks before Rock's 44th birthday. Kid Rock is now Grandpa Rock, a title he wears proudly.

"It was the best Christmas gift ever," he says. "It keeps my hillbilly street cred in order, being a grandpa at 44."

Still, Grandpa's not slowing down anytime soon. He's in the midst of a full court press promo blitz for "First Kiss," his first album since 2012's "Rebel Soul." He'll perform the set's nostalgic title track and first single prior to the Daytona 500 on Sunday, and has visits scheduled with "The Tonight Show" on Monday, "Today" on Tuesday and Howard Stern on Wednesday.

Though famously reluctant to embrace social media, Rock took over an iTunes' Twitter account on Thursday, talking to fans and heckling back at hecklers. He made several "your mom" jokes, lest you think Grandpa doesn't still have a pronounced juvenile streak.

It's all in service of "First Kiss," which he's already happier with than he was with "Rebel Soul." He says the "Rebel Soul" recording process was labored, and he jokes now about how successful the "Best Night Ever!" tour was in spite of its source material. "We're sitting around going, 'Can you imagine if we had a decent record and we go out and do this?'

"We edited the (expletive) out of that record, and you shouldn't have to do that when you have good-feelin' music, when everything's flowing right," Rock says. "We also weren't in our studio, we were in our rehearsal hall, because I was redoing the studio. There were challenges there that, at the time, I looked at as great things. Like, 'this is going to take us in a different spot! This is going to be a lot more raw!' But it ended up being a lot more editing."

"First Kiss" was more relaxed, more smooth, more enjoyable, Rock says. The process started when Rock and his guitarist and co-writer, Marlon Young, worked up a few songs and invited Austin rockers Band of Heathens into his studio to work on them.

"We just said we'd try it for two weeks, just have some fun in the studio, and we ended up using a lot of it," Rock says.

The first song Rock came up with for the album was "FOAD;" the title is an acronym whose last three letters stand for "Off and Die." (You can figure out the first.) Rock had an acoustic version of the kiss-off ready to roll, but when he played it for his pal, Bob Seger, Seger heard something different lyrically in the tune.

"He took it home, rewrote it and brought it back the next day," Rock says.

Seger's version was a gentle ballad called "Say Goodbye," which used the same melody and same groove, but took the sting out of Rock's lyrics and gave the song a completely different feel.

"Then we sat around for three months wondering, 'what version do we use?' " Rock says.

The compromise was both: "FOAD" closes out the explicit version of the album, and "Say Goodbye" is on the edited edition.

"The beauty is when we do it live, we mash them up," Rock says, and the song ventures from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Another track, "Drinking Beer With Dad," is a homespun yarn about back porches in the summertime and discussing life with one's old man.

"Best education I ever had, was out there on the back porch drinking beer with dad," Rock sings, showing he's come a long way in the 25 years since his randy ode to oral sex, "Yo-Da-Lin in the Valley."

"There's so much craziness going on in the world," Rock says, "and I think some of that can be alleviated by having a relationship with your father, or somebody important in your life, and spending time with them, drinking beers and hashing out the world's problems. Talking about politics, where you're going in life, what's going on. I think there's a lot to be said for that right now."

The title track, meanwhile, touches on many of the Kid Rock tropes — the good ol' days, classic rock, small towns, the benefits of fresh air — that made "All Summer Long" a smash in 2008. The song came late in the recording process of the album, but instantly felt special to Rock.

"If anything, it reminds me of what's going on in country radio," he says. "They're basically doing classic rock songs, and I wanted to do that with a little heavier twist, with a great melody and a great country lyric, and use a little bit of that hip-hop world that I'm engulfed in. Just trying to do the best of all worlds."

As for Jenny Clayton, whom he name-checks in the song as his first crush, "There is no Jenny Clayton, I'm sorry to report," Rock says. "It's just a good rhyme scheme. I remember waitin' on the school bus, Jenny Clayton was my first crush — that's my hip-hop (side)." (Rock's actual first kiss was a schoolyard encounter, he recalls, though the girl's name doesn't stand out.)

Following this week's press run, Rock hits the high seas on his 6th annual Chillin' the Most Cruise, which sets sail March 4-6. Then his summer tour launches in late June and lasts through September.

When it comes to tacking on more dates to his DTE run, "We'll see how (the shows) sell," Rock says. "There is room there of course, everyone can see that, but make no mistake, I would not mind having 10 days off — go up to Northern Michigan, go tubing, hang out for a few days. Because we've got a pretty grueling schedule."

Either way, there will be plenty of Kid Rock to go around this summer, and Grandpa is up to the task.

Clean living has its benefits.

agraham@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/grahamorama

Kid Rock

'First Kiss'

Warner Bros./Top Dog

Available Tuesday

Palace to use random number system to sell tickets

The Palace box office will use a random number system when tickets for Kid Rock's run of summer shows go on sale Tuesday morning, venue officials announced Friday.

Along with select Wal-Mart locations, the Palace box office will sell tickets for the shows — Aug. 7, 8, 11, 12, 14 and 15 at DTE Energy Music Theatre — for $20. Tickets sold through other outlets, including online, will carry additional service fees.

Fans in line for tickets at the Palace box office Tuesday will be given a numbered ticket, and one ticket will be drawn to become the first person in line. The line will then form behind that person, according to ticket numbers; if ticket 326 is called, for example, 326 becomes the first person in line, followed by 327 and so on. The person with ticket 325 becomes the last person in line.

The venue parking lot will open at 7:30 a.m.; fans can begin lining up at 8 a.m. Only those in line by 9:30 a.m. will be given a numbered ticket; those without numbered tickets will line up behind those who have them. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.

Fans will be able to purchase tickets to one of the six shows in one seating location. Tickets are limited to 10 for lawn seats, six for pavilion and two for Platinum seating. Paperless ticketing will be used for some seats.

The six shows are likely just a starting point for Rock, who sold out a venue-record eight shows at DTE in 2013.

A list of participating Wal-Mart locations can be found at ticketmaster.com/walmartlocations, and more information on the Kid Rock on-sale can be found at palacenet.com/ticket-special-offers/special-offers/kid-rock-onsale-information.