Hank Williams III is the Master of His Domain
Hank Williams III, or Hank 3 as he's known is a bit of an anomaly. The iconic country legend's grandson and the son of a junior who's been part of America's consciousness whether they know it or not; Hank 3's never been a comfort-fit in them skins. No. On the contrary, he's not only forged ahead on the merits of his own talents, he's also done so without having to rely too heavily on the pedigree of his name.
Equally comfortable on a country drawl as he is fuckstarting some shit up with a metal/punk rock set. Hank 3 is a true performer. Now in his early forties, this enfant terrible of American rock and roll is not slowing down at all. He recognizes that he has fans who are drawn to him for a variety of reasons.
We've all been to many concerts where we have felt jibbed. Not at a Hank 3 gig. Oh no. As we had the pleasure of discussing, Hank goes on stage on time and rocks out for a minimum of four hours each night. That's way more freaking bang for your buck so make sure you shake his hand gently and stay on until the very end.
See also: Happy Birthday, Hank Williams III!
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"Dick in Dixie"
New Times: Let's talk about this tour, you're looking at what, like three hours on stage every night?
Hank Williams III: It depends, if we have curfews or not. The majority of the last tour was about four hours with the longest one going for four hours and 52 minutes. It kinda just depends, some bars are open until two a.m. and some want us out by midnight. I factor in the meet and greet into all that with the fans so all in all, the fans always get two hours worth of a country show and then we go off into the hellbilly sounds, some of the doom, and in the end, it is four different bands for the folks who stick around and watch the whole show.
And you're on stage the whole time.
Four hours, I know I'm not getting any younger, but I've had a history of playing long shows but as far as the energy I'm putting out there and the different types of music, we'll just have to see how long I'll be able to keep doing it. I gotta do it while I can. I've got the rest of my life to only play an hour and a half and to do a different kind of show. Right now, my personal goal is to do these four hour shows with the four different genres and hit every market that we didn't get to hit last year.
Any kind of training you do to keep yourself fluid?
Yeah, I mean there's a lot of stretching and mental preparation for it. You gotta get used to the heat, the fatigue... Some of these bars get hot, up there in the 100, 120 degrees for that long of time, and I'm walking around in a wool or dark mechanic's shirt getting my body used to the heat. Unfortunately, as I'm getting older, some of my injuries are showing up a little more. This I the first time that my right shoulders's acting up when it's usually my left shoulder that gives me trouble. My dominant arm, my main rhythm arm is beginning to show some signs of weakness so I just do what I have to do like acupuncture and massage and some of the tricks the sports guys use so I can keep it going.
I'm shaking a couple of thousand hands and I try using that kung fu shake, I've got pins in there and sometimes people shake like they're trying to rip your hand off but you know man, I just try and keep up with the energy and the injuries and still put on the best show that I can because no matter what, I'll go out there and put it on the line 150% every time. It's like getting into a boxing ring in a different kind of way.
Let's talk about your work in the studio after parting with Curb Records and you've had a flood of productivity like Brothers of the 4x4 and A Fiendish Threat, those both came out last year.
Right, those came out towards the end of last year.
What do you have cooking now?
Right before that we had Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town, 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin', and Attention Deficit Domination in 2011 but you know, I'm working hard to break even off of those two records that I put out there and I also worked on a side project throughout the winter; I can't talk about that too much but I will say that I have been productive. I did make a record that is unlike anything that I've done, it's not for the country fan, it's not for the metal/punk rock fan, it's gonna come out under an alias name so yeah, I kept busy this past winter. I wasn't planning on making a record but once it happens, you can't stop it.
That's what kept me busy and now I'm out on the road just trying to hit everywhere we weren't able to hit before and if I'm lucky, we'll be able to get it up to Canada.
How do you feel about Curb releasing the Ramblin' Man album? And what exactly is happening with those guys?
Well that's basically and unfortunately shady business. More than anything, they never respected me as a person or as an artist while I was on their label and after the fact they're just recycling old material and putting it in a new package and saying it is something new. Which it isn't. It's nothing but old stuff. It doesn't matter if it's me or someone who made them a billion dollars like Tim McGraw or LeeAnn Rimes, most of the people have had the same kinds of issues and problems with Curb and it is nice to work with people now that respect my creativity and I'm a very hands on person, a lot of musicians don't want to be very hands on and could care less.
For me, I like writing my own songs, being involved with the players playing on the records and watching it come to life and you know, I don't have the best sound or the worst sound, I record and mix and master my records, play the drums on them, and I have my group of musicians who keep my country roots in the country records. Unfortunately that is what it is, they waited until I was gone to do it.
You've worked with a lot of different artists and have a varied interest in genres. Is there anyone you'd like to play with and take up a project with that you haven't already?
On that side project that we were talking about, I reached out to a lot of big people and because I'm an independent and because of the way I make records some of those folks might be a little gun shy, not all of them, it just depends on who, you know, and how you've got to get to them. I reached out to David Gilmour, I had a song with him in mind... I tried Blondie and Joan Jett, I was even trying to get someone kinda like a Lady Gaga on it. You know, someone who's very creative and in a different kind of way.
I reached out to Mike Patton and he was unfortunately too busy but I was able to get one special guest and I'm not going to tell you who it is yet until the project comes out but there was a lot of potential. I was even trying Gary Numan or Adam Ant and other people across the musical spectrum, it was one of those things where I don't have a manager and I do a lot of stuff myself, I don't have that "massive book" of contacts to really get me in the door.
I've got 20 years of experience behind me but it's just a by chance thing if I ever get to officially say hello to some of the bigger rock stars.
Okay, now as far as getting that comparison based on looks with your grandpa, I've just been informed that on the upcoming biopic, I Saw the Light they cast Tom Hiddleston, the guy who played Loki in those comic book movies.
He's a bit of a ringer too, isn't he?
Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of. I mean, I've already said what I've had to say about that. The majority of the people I've talked to, understand where I'm coming from. He's a great actor, I'm not knocking him as an actor or how he looks, he just doesn't have the fire, I think, that's needed for that role. And I don't care if it's Tom or anybody else that's going to try to sing and talk like a Southerner, it's just not going to happen. You've got to start with a good foundation first and that's not a racial thing, that's just to have a good root in the music.
I'm sure a Kris Kristofferson or a Harry Dean Stanton, guys like that would bring something interesting to a movie about Hank Williams. I actually lean more to someone like a Matthew McConaughey, I like him for that attitude and arrogance that the Hank senior had and was part of his career. He's also a part of the South and played man Southerners before. Tom hasn't done those types of roles and I'm sure it'll be a challenge but it is what it is. It's just strange to have an English actor that's gonna try to portray the South. As someone who's as iconic and Americana as Hank Williams is, that's where it gets a little shady.
"Teach the Gun (To Love the Bullet)"
Kinda like on the Walking Dead where half the cast is British.
Yeah, only there at least you're dealing with zombies and not Americana icons. Hank Williams is a timeless icon in country music and the Walking Dead, nothing against it mind you, is a fad and a TV show so there's that. Also, it's not like I see any money from the Hank Williams Estate, I don't see a dime from that so it doesn't really matter what I think. That's just my normal gut instinct, my gut reaction for it to be the best possible movie they can make. It's nothing against Tom; I've enjoyed him in different roles. This is just my personal reaction to it.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Yes! If we're coming to your town and it's an eight o'clock show, that means we are on stage at eight o'clock, there's no opening band. If there are any collectors out there who like to collect vinyl before they are out of print, hank3.com is the best place to get the vinyl and hopefully we'll be seeing you sooner than later out there!
An evening with Hank 3 at 7 p.m. at The Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, July 27. Tickets cost $18. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.
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