“F— no, I’m not running for Senate!” Rock told Stern when the radio host asked him directly if he’d be mounting a campaign to challenge Michigan’s incumbent, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. “Are you f—ing kidding me? Like who f—ing couldn’t figure that out?”
Rock went on to explain that his faux Senate campaign — which dates back to a July announcement and involved an elaborate campaign website and merchandise — was a complex rouse to promote his forthcoming tour and new album, Sweet Southern Sugar, which he said is due Nov. 3 on Stern’s show.
“Someone said I was going to run for Senate in Michigan and I’m like, ‘F— it, let’s get some signs made,’” Rock elaborated. “We start going, everyone gets their panties in a bunch! I have people that work for me, they’re in the in, I’m like, ‘F— no, we’re not doing it, but let’s roll with it for a little while.’ I’m like, ‘This is awesome!’ And I have one of them call me, he goes, ‘Dude is this really happening?’ I’m like, ‘You’re in the in! What the f— are you talking about!’”
Rock told Stern that he enjoyed the backlash that emerged from declaring his candidacy. “As soon as I said like, ‘Maybe,’ everyone goes, ‘He’s the Klan wizard! He’s homophobic! He’s Islamophobic!’” Rock said. “I’m like, ‘This is kind of fun… might as well be [running].’”
He went on to tout the support “from the White House” and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, adding that he thinks “Trump is the f—ing sh–.” When Stern inquired about Rock’s April visit to the White House, the musician took a matter-of-fact tack. “Who the f— wouldn’t” accept such an offer, he said. “I went to the White House. Everyone’s like, ‘Dude, you’re the Klan wizard. You’re horrible now.’ I’m like, ‘By the way, I played Barack Obama’s f—ing inauguration!’”
Rock did, however, make more incendiary comments surrounding Colin Kaepernick and the American and Confederate flags. “This is probably going to get me in a sh–ton of trouble,” he began. “Colin Kaepernick, right? I understand the narrative. I’ve talked to my friends — my black friends. I get the narrative. ‘Hey, it’s for oppression. We’re not kneeling because we don’t like our soldiers, our country.’”
The musician said he “tried” a similar thing when he used the Confederate flag as a stage prop at his concerts. “My narrative was like, ‘Hey, I like Southern rock music, I’m against the p.c. culture and I’m a rebel, woo!’” he explained. “It was no problem. I get an NAACP award from the whole deal, with 10,000 black people in Detroit!” According to Rock, the organization accepted he wasn’t racist, “just dumb,” but then eventually turned on him.
Rock announced his senatorial plans in July and, when questioned about their legitimacy, he doubled down, emphasizing that it was “not a hoax.” His concerts soon became politically infused; the musician delivered a buzzy tirade against Nazis, the KKK, and the Black Lives Matter movement at a September concert in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He even used his website to share elaborate political manifestos.
Looking back on it, how does Rock see his decision to get political as a musician? When Stern posed that question to Rock, the musician responded directly. “It’s the worst advice that I ever gave myself,” he began, “but it’s been the most creative thing I’ve ever done — and I’ve gotten to see everyone’s true colors.”