William Shatner’s just-released Christmas album, Shatner Claus, has an extremely eclectic lineup of guests, including Iggy Pop, Brad Paisley, Judy Collins, and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. The collection also finds the Star Trek star tackling “Jingle Bells” alongside punk legend Henry Rollins, with whom he has apparently become good friends.
“We had done a number on another album of mine, Has Been,” Shatner explains to EW. “Over the years, he’s become a buddy. So I approached him about doing this.”
What do these two buddies do together? Fishing? Bowling?
“Henry nor I do any of those things,” Shatner says with a laugh. “Henry takes his camera and a backpack and disappears for months at a time. God knows where he goes. When he comes back, he doesn’t know anybody, except me. He comes to [watch] Monday Night Football here in Los Angeles, and we have a grand time.”
Wow, can EW come and watch Monday Night Football too? “No! You’re not part of the gang!” Shatner says. Read on for more from the actor and crooner.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What inspired you to record a Christmas album?
WILLIAM SHATNER: I don’t know whether Lewis and Clark were told, “Hey, I got a good idea, why don’t you explore?” But that’s exactly what happened here. Cleopatra, the record company, said, “How would you like to do a Christmas album?” And I said, “Christmas album? Okay, I’ll do that.” I’ve worked long and hard on it. I can’t sing, but I understand the musicality of the English language. This is the final result. I’ve worked up to this.
You duet on “Silent Night” with Iggy Pop, whose singing voice is every bit as recognizable as your own spoken-word vocalizing. What was it like the first time you heard the finished track?
[Laughs] Well, he was off-key! It was funny. There were two separate tracks; when we put it together, it was a little off, but they have corrections that are magical. All of a sudden it all swung into view.
Shatner Claus is actually your second album this year, after the country collection Why Not Me? Do you feel people have come around to your unique way with a song?
I’ve got to say that this album is the epitome of what I can do. When I finished it and listened to it, I said, “Is this as good as I think it is?” But until the audience tells you, you don’t know whether it’s any good or not.
What are you doing next?
Well, I’ve been asked to do a blues album. I’ll be doing that!
Hear Shatner and Rollins perform “Jingle Bells” above.