Switching from punk to country was a surprisingly natural transition. “It was almost like going backwards,” Jaret explains. “All the Bowling For Soup songs that I write in general all start out on acoustic guitar. So when you first hear them just as I’m messing around with them, they all sound country anyway.” It makes a lot of sense, then, that Just Woke Up includes countrified versions of two of Bowling For Soup’s biggest tracks, Ohio (Come Back To Texas) and The Bitch Song, perhaps the closest it’s possible to get to hearing those songs in their earlier drafts – or their “original form”, as Jaret describes.
One of the things Jaret says he loves most about country is its realness, inspiring him to show a different side of himself within his songwriting, as well as a different side of his musical identity. “I write from the heart in Bowling For Soup, but when I do, I’ll usually take it and spin it. I’ll show my feelings but then tell a funny joke so that my heart isn’t exposed,” he reveals. “That’s almost been a wall that I’ve hidden behind. In country, though, you can’t do that, unless you want to be a novelty. And I didn’t want to be a novelty.”
Jaret even shares things in these songs that he had never previously spoken about – particularly on Royal Family, which is more deeply personal than its sweet family-first sentiment implies on the surface. The singer had grown up never knowing his biological father, but had another parental figure in his life who he still calls his dad nonetheless. He discovered he had two sisters he’d never known about, and only met them when he was 46 years old.