One common complaint of music journalists is the amount of bureaucracy that stands between them and the artists they cover. Particularly with musicians who have reached a certain level of fame, there are many handlers (managers, agents, publicists) involved in negotiating and scheduling interviews, that the resulting conversations (typically 10-minute phone calls) can feel forced, lacking the raw, human moments that make for the most interesting stories.

One common complaint of music journalists is the amount of bureaucracy that stands between them and the artists they cover. Particularly with musicians who have reached a certain level of fame, there are many handlers (managers, agents, publicists) involved in negotiating and scheduling interviews, that the resulting conversations (typically 10-minute phone calls) can feel forced, lacking the raw, human moments that make for the most interesting stories.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I dialed the number provided for an interview with folk-hero-turned-jam band musician Todd Snider, of the Hard Working Americans, and it turned out to be his personal phone. And when Snider answered, in his Nashville area home, sounding like he had just woken up from a nap, he wasted little time in launching into diatribes against "The Man," America's prison industrial complex and even football.

Yep. An interview with Snider can be an unnerving experience. Everything about the man is real and raw. Snider has had a hard go in life (and lived hard), and he makes no secret of the fact that he has battled addictions, enjoys taking acid, has been treated for mental health issues and doesn't particularly care what people think about him.

"I was really young when I realized that going out of your way to be liked was a useless endeavor," he explained. "I don't have any desire whatsoever to be liked by anybody, and I don't see any good coming from it. All I want to do is tell my truth and then deal with what happens after that."

But people do like him and his band, the Hard Working Americans. A supergroup of sorts that was formed by Snider in 2013, the band includes Widespread Panic's Dave Schools (bass guitar), Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood (guitar and vocals), Great American Taxi's Chad Staely (keys), Duane Trucks (drums) and Jesse Aycock (guitar and lapsteel) as members.

The Hard Working Americans' self-titled first album, which came out in 2014, consisted entirely of lesser-known cover songs by artists like Randy Newman and Frankie Miller. This past October, the band released "The First Waltz," a live album and concert rockumentary about the making of that album.

They are currently finishing up a new album of original songs, due out in early 2016 (through Melvin Records), and they released the first single from that album, "Dope is Dope," in July. If the song's chorus ("Dope is dope, and you're high up on it") is any indication, the album will be a hit amongst the jam band's base. The songs on it were inspired by the band's anti-establishment political views, and ... well ... drugs.

"The thing is, this album isn't an album," he said. "It's a game - I made it up. My manager, the first time he tried to play it, said that it was a hoax and it couldn't be played. But he's not really an acid guy. And so, when I play it for some Widespread Panic fans, they save the world. The game saves the world." Winning the game - and saving the world - is accomplished by sticking it to the man, one song and one step at a time.

"The album is not for kids," Snider added. "It's just a genuine look at the life of a lifer."