Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Work continues on the first issue of Dodo Bird. We have interviews coming up with Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire, Gaza, Sender/Receiver and potentially a few others. I'm working on doing write ups on a few other bands, a bunch of reviews of music and movies, plus I have some short fiction sort of pieces from some artist friends as well as various artwork that has been contributed. I'm also working on a couple non-fiction pieces on some various current topics. So keep your eyes on this blog for any and all updates regarding the upcoming issue and the above mentioned articles/interviews/etc.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Hank III Interview
ME: First couple things you got a new album out, a new label, you split from Curb. How did all that come about?
HANK III: Well Henry Rollins back in the day said Man all you need is Distribution. You got your fans under ya, you got a good work ethic, and ya know you tour, so all you need is good distribution. I kept that real close to me. And finally found a distribution company that believed in me, came out and met me. You know they’re more small roots and they knew I would be respectful and want to make em proud.
ME: I like the new album a lot; I think it’s a great record. Did you set out with the intent of doing the double album with the first disc being more of your traditional songs and the second disc being more experimental?
HANK III: Yeah well I always like keeping it fun man, ya know one session is serious and the other one is mole foot stomping, don’t worry about tuning, don’t worry about pitch., just get in there and have fun. And ya know making it a little more of a journey ya know for some people who might want to experiment of trip or whatever man. Just a lot of different moods and a lot of different feelings. Since I had some outside people on it, I wanted to make it a little more strange than normal.
ME: Right yeah, I was really surprised but interested in the zydeco influence and the Cajun feel to a lot of it.
HANK III: All that stuff, Cajun music and honkey tonk have a lot of history and people have forgotten how important how important they were to each other back in the day. So that’s always been a huge influence and my grandfather, my dad was born in Louisiana, and I work in bands out of New Orleans it's just been one of those things.
ME: Yeah I guess when I first heard it that was my first thought was the connection was with jambalaya and your grandfather.
HANK III: Yeah, but it goes way beyond that. My main reason for recording that kind of music is I’ve always, it’s always made me feel comfortable in my most comfortable times. It’s really soulful deep, powerful music. And that was a lot of inspiration behind it, that and the honky tonk. And it’s something I don’t think anyone would have expected to hear on a new Hank III record.
ME: Yeah, definitely. So how was it working with people like Tom Waits and Ray Lawrence Jr. and how did that come about?
HANK III: Well Ray Lawrence has always just been a fan and a friend. And I’ve noticed how he was a songwriter throughout the years, and just a love of what he did and I’ve known him through his hard times and through his good times. He would always just ask me questions about music and pick my brain a little bit. He was basically in a really tough spot when we recorded that song with him. He’s been through a lot and he’s still around to talk about it. We’ve been friends, and he’s followed me around coming out to shows for maybe 8 or 9 years. I was glad that he pulled through and he’s got really deep words. Hopefully, someday someone might call him up and say man we’d love to see your catalog of songs. Ya know someone who came some money. I can get him a little bit of exposure, but I’m not gonna be making him really money, just getting his name out there.
ME: So basically with Ray, it began with just him as a fan and built from there?
HANK III: Well yeah, cause I say hello. I do my show and I say hello. I talk to all my fans good or bad, whoever is around at the end of the night. And he’s one of those guys that would just say hey to me and ya know, if you come out to more than 10 shows I’m gonna recognize you. And he’s just a fellow musician on top of that.
ME: Right on man, that’s really awesome. So with Tom Waits, did you know him prior to doing the record with him?
HANK III: We have had strange little run ins, just coincidences. Like, I was walking out the very front gate, not the backstage area, but the front entrance of the vans warped tour, and was like oh wow there’s tom waits and his son. I thought that was pretty interesting, and then years later he would come out to a show and kind of just see what I was doing. I think he was starting to notice ok this kid is different. He’s not cashing in on the family name; he’s actually trying to carve his own niche. I think we had some small similarities as far as our work ethic and just being outside the box. So I put the feeler out that I would love to get in touch with him and just say hello. We talked on the phone for a while a couple different times. And About 6 months to a year before we finally got to meet in person and ya know his family was great and just the whole attitude was very laid back, a very nice man, and to do what he did for me just with a handshake is way beyond. Ya know, no lawyers, no bullshit. It was like the old school way of trust and word. And that’s really hard to find nowadays in any business.
ME: Yeah, very much so. That’s really cool of him to do it on a more personal level than to have all the business involved which a lot times can kind of constrict the artist when you’re trying to make legitimate, honest art of any kind.
HANK III: Yeah man, and so I try to be like that with as many people as I can be. Most people know when I’m calling, or when I’m hiring a crew or going on the road, it’s not management calling ya, cause I don’t have management and all that stuff. It’s me putting it all together and it’s always been like that man. It’s just those work ethics come from Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, and Buzz from the Melvins, Reverend Horton Heat. All these people showed me how longevity is the key and it’s not really being a one hit wonder. That’s great for some people, but if you truly love music and you’re more artistic and care about what you do, the longevity is really a key.
ME: That’s great, and I definitely agree. You know with all those artists you mentioned, those are all guys that maybe never had, like you said, that one big hit or that platinum record, but they’re all guys who have been around for decades now. And especially like with Jello and Henry, all the punk/hardcore guys, a lot of people, the mainstream and everyone thought that was gonna be here and gone overnight, like kids being stupid kind of thing and look there still here and now they’re legends and veterans of music that have branched out and done other things whether it was Jello running for office or Henry’s spoken word stuff, ya know all of that.
HANK III: Yeah man, and they have been huge influences in my career and I’ve been very honored to be able to call them friends and to get to know em. So they’ve really give me a lot of inspiration over the years before I knew em and after the fact. Ya know some people you meet, they can let you down. Now everybody has their good or bad days, but both of those guys have really helped me and The Melvins too. They brought me out on the road, back when I was first doing the Jekyll and Hyde sets and ya know we did a country song together and Dale Crover played drums on one of my records. They also really helped out a lot man.
ME: That’s really awesome man. Well we talked about the new country album a little bit. I know also the same day you dropped a lot of stuff on us. We got the double country album, and then we got the 3 bar ranch cattle callin, and the Attention Deficit Domination albums. You wanna talk a little bit about both those records?
HANK III: Of course man, yeah, cause it’s all a special project to me. I’ll probably never in my life again be able to put out in my eyes, what is 4 records at once and take on that much material at one time, as far as playing it, recording it, writing it, mixing it, & mastering it. You know you can get spun out pretty quick doing that stuff. So Attention Deficit Domination, I’ve always loved slow heavy sounds cause I’m kind of a gear nerd. Ya know I collect old pedals and I like new pedals and pushing air was something I just hadn’t gotten to do that much cause Assjack was more fast and some of the other heavier bands were just a lot more high paced. And with A.D.D., I kinda was able to slow it down, take on ya know just a little different singing style with some of the doom. Respects to pentagram and sleep and all kinds of bands, Earthride, all these different sounds I’ve just been into. That was a big thrill for me to finally start playing that stuff live.
ME: Yeah I haven’t gotten to see you play it live yet, but yeah, I really, really like the record.
HANK III: It’s different. It’s the first time, ya know, I have a project involved in it, in the right kind of club. Ya know cause usually by the time we get to A.D.D. we’ve already been on stage for close to 2 hours. And it’s not like I’m doing a bunch of rock moves and jumping around like David Lee Roth. I’m just kinda standing there with my guitar, so we are working with some kinda weird, strange images behind us just to make it a little more doomy and trippy and stuff like that. That’s also been fun for me cause I’ve never really had a back drop or a big lights show over the years. It’s always just been the fans, the pa and my band and that’s it. And it’s kind of fun to let everything get dark and tripped out.
ME: So what about the Cattle Callin’ record, was that just something you wanted to do or how did that come about?
HANK III: All the music responds from a lot of stuff from Immortal to strapping young lad ya know, to maybe Pantera, Superjoint and of course Slayer and all these things. So the foundation is definitely my heroes in the metal world. And the auctioneer part of it, I just thought it would be a good mix, because of the speed of the music and the speed of the auctioneer. I just thought it would go hand in hand. The sad thing about it is that I lost over 60% of the fastest guys that I recorded the music around. They bailed out and said no, because it’s a pretty small world. And a lot of them are just very straight, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was very clear; I’m not making fun of your industry. I’ve worked with cattle, my grandfather owned cattle. I’ve milked em, I’ve branded em, I’ve delivered calves. I’ve done all that stuff so I’m being serious about it, but when you see the cussing and the drinking and the smoking and all that. Ya know some of these guys are like 50 to 70 years old and just don’t agree with what I was doing in general. With the country or just whatever they’d pull up when reading my name.
ME: I can see that. I mean it’s just entirely a different world.
HANK III: Yeah, but to the creative ones, like Kim Dowler out of Canada, he’s been very friendly to the art world with letting people in the film college, students, work with him. Chance, Amits Jordan out of Arizona, Joe Goggins out of Montana, all these guys are very excited and like, “I hope you have fun with it,” and “Sure, that would be interesting.” Everybody got the same deal, 500 dollars, and I just need permission to use your voice. And that’s that. It was a cool thing man, talking to em all and tracking em down was the hardest part, finding them on YouTube and then trying to track em down was definitely a little tricky. Met a lot of interesting folks and already looking forward to doing it all over again.
ME: That was kind of my next question, was that it just going to be a one off record or if you intended on possibly doing more of it in the future?
HANK III: No, I’ll definitely do more of it, because hopefully... the one thing I would say to the older auctioneers is I hope to offer an inspiration to young auctioneers in a different kind of way. I mean, that was my main goal on it so I will definitely keep doing it cause lots fun for me to play that style of music. It was different to me, so I enjoyed it and the next one I do will just have a little different take on it, but it will be close.
ME: What about your upcoming tour, I know you talked about doing some of the ADD stuff live, are you gonna be doing it on this upcoming tour, in March, or what can we expect out of you on that one?
HANK III: Yeah, the next 2 years, I’m trying to deliver all my sounds. The country for at least the first hour and a half, the hillbilly, and then the doom, and then 3 bar ranch. So it’s almost a 3 and a half hour show. Ya know I’ve always done long sets. I’ve had sound guys, 10 years ago, tell me “ you play too long”, I’m like well I’ve got the rest of my live to only play an hour. And I make the bar happy, I’m selling em a bunch of alcohol so that’s why they want me back over the years ya know so…
ME: Yeah I bet, I bet. Yeah I’ve seen you a number of times over the years in different places in Illinois and Indiana. At the canopy club up in Champaign Urbana, in Bloomington at the Bluebird, and different places ya know and also in Super Joint Ritual and stuff like that over the years.
HANK III: Awesome man, well so you know what’s up you’ve seen how different things might change toward the end of the set, but I always pay my respects to my country fans first.
ME: Yeah, definitely. Over the years as you’ve built up a bigger fan base have you noticed any changes in the crowd not necessarily reaction wise, but in the demographic. Cause over the years I’ve seen a wide variety of people at hank 3 shows, I just wondered if you had noticed any difference as you’ve went on throughout the years.
HANK III: The only difference…I mean after my first 5 years of touring the road pretty consistently, people were starting to know what I was doing and that started opening up my doors to the diverse audience cause I’m a diverse person, I’m a very open minded person and that started to bleed through. If you see me play in San Diego, you got the Latino kids, the skater kids, the metal kids, the skin heads, the average every day guy, the corporate person, the pretty people, and just ya know, the cowboys….it’s just really wild to see it in a bigger city, but you know sometimes when I play the smaller areas, it’s a mixture of the county folk and the metal kids, and once in a while there’ll be some grandmas and granddads and I’m proud to have an audience from 18 to 80. It’s been a very energetic audience for a long time, with all the Williams’s. My granddad, my dad, and myself we’ve always just kind of attracted people that like to have fun and try forget about their problems for a couple hours.
ME: Right, yeah man, well we talked about A.D.D. and Cattle Callin’ and the new record, it’s not as new but there is the newer Arson Anthem full length, what’s up with Arson Anthem right now, you guys working on new stuff or possible live shows, anything going on in that camp?
HANK III: We’re playing one gig, in France at Hellfest. So I’ll be playing with AA that day and I’ll be doing my thing later that night. That’s coming up, that will be the first time we’ve ever played Europe. Philip’s got a lot going on with other things and Mike does too and that’s just more of, ya know, you have fun every now and then, kind projects. So far there’s just one show, and that’s June 15 over in France.
ME: I kind of figured for the most part, with all the different projects all you guys have; it would typically be more of just the record and then a few shows here and there. I remember there early on you guys did a few shows there in a row, between maybe New Orleans and Tennessee, somewhere in that region.
HANK III: Uh huh, well that was last year, and all before that it was just strictly in new Orleans or in Nashville basically wherever we were rehearsing or if I would come through town, there have been times where I’ve done my whole show and arson anthem would take the stage after.
ME: Right on, well we talked about Superjoint, do you think we’ll ever see anything else out of Superjoint Ritual or do you think it’s put to bed forever?
HANK III: I would say…I can’t speak for Philip, all I can say is he might have something that might make you forget all about that band. Ya know. There is good things to look forward to from him... so that’s the only thing…it’s really hard for me to speak for him…but I really don’t think so…it’s hard to say ya know, that’s his call, but…if you wait just another year or two, you’ll understand why.
ME: Well that’s intriguing for sure. Is there anything unreleased or left over from the SJR days. I know the first album was largely older material that finally got out, but with A Lethal Dose… was there anything left over that you guys recorded that you never put out or any potential extra live footage, or do you think it’s pretty much forgotten about now for the most part?
HANK III: There’s demo tapes that have a bunch of awesome riffs that never got finished. And when I saw demo tapes, just rehearsals or jam rooms. So some of the heaviest riffs, I thought, that Superjoint had, more so on the second record, never saw the light of day. But ya know those riffs might be converted into things that’s coming up in the future…
ME: Well, that’s definitely something I’ll have to keep my eyes and ears open to then cause SJR was always a band that I really, really loved and was an amazing live band.
HANK III: Yeah, I mean, I just noticed that Philips not talking very much about what I keep beating around the bush about. He keeps dodging the question a little bit, but that’s about all I can say and I can just say it’s really exciting.
ME: Right on man, well that’s really awesome. As far as your albums go, I kind of wanted to ask you, lyrically, do you have any certain writers that are bigger influences on you and also lyrically, a lot of the songs are sort of storytelling but a lot of it also seems very personal and real, like “No.5” and I just wondered how autobiographical a lot of it is?
HANK III: Well a lot of it is autobiographical, I’ve eat, lived, breathed a lot of it. Ya know, I had one interviewer ask me, “What’s something that might have happened to you that a lot of people don’t know about?” and I was like well ya know I basically got molested as a kid. And then if you listen to my song “Candidate For Suicide”, getting raped at 8 years old, that story and that lyric rings true. But a song like “No. 5”, I’ve never shot heroin, I’ve never smoked crack but I have a lot of friends that’s died from it and I’ve been around it a lot and I was putting myself in my friends position on singing that song. I was trying to give em some inspiration to hang on and pull through. And if you look at a song where I’m paying respects to G.G., that’s just painting more of a picture. Ya know, I definitely haven’t lived out a lot of those things that I’m singing in that song. That’s just stepping into the character a little bit and trying to feel it for a second.
ME: Right, yeah GG, I think, was a little more extreme than anyone left, ever…
HANK III: No doubt man, but see he also respected country music and if you look at how many different bands he was in. He was very creative, it’s just a shame that so much of the destructive part took over and he wasn’t able to maintain it, but that’s not what he wanted, ya know, he wanted to go out fast and hard and all that, but he was a very diverse person, very creative person, went through a lot of different moods. And very lyrically talented, man. Ya know so…
ME: Yeah, like a lot of people that don’t know a lot about GG or didn’t listen to him a lot forget or don’t know that he did a lot of the acoustic and more country type stuff like The Troubled Troubadour kind of thing or his cover of Carmelita by Warren Zevon, stuff like that, that wasn’t totally just raging.
HANK III: No doubt, I mean they were listening to a lot of….they just respected music man. He really did do a lot of hard work to do what he did. It wasn’t just getting wasted and showing up and pissing everybody off. There was a little more to it. It’s just that some of it was very intense, but it goes back to a creative destructive process. There was a certain part when he got out of prison where there just a no turning back kind of thing.
ME: Yeah, I can see that. As far as playing on the road, and doing the really long sets, the really diverse sets, do you think you can do it forever, for your entire career? Do you think you’ll have to slow down eventually? Do you have an idea of how long you want to do it?
HANK III: It’s really hard to say, honestly, ya know. I’ve always told myself I would retire the road when I was 50, and I don’t know if that is gonna hold true or not. Now the lengths on how much I’m putting out there and how much energy I’m burning, it’s not normal and if my body can maintain it, I don’t know. But ya know, when I look at some of my heroes…let’s look at Willie Nelson for instance, it’s a more mellow music, but he’s still playing quite a long time. Let's look at Lemmy, he defies the odds on everything, but he’s still doing it. It’s a really hard call, the one thing I always noticed is that I never wanted someone to feel too sorry for me onstage, cause I’ve been around my heroes in their last days, where they can’t even strum a guitar or can barely hold a microphone. I never wanted it to get that bad. I wanted to step out with a little bit of fire still underneath me. Ya know that’s a really tricky one to say man.
ME: I can definitely see what you mean; you want to be remembered as a great performer and a great artist. You don’t want to be pitied.
HANK III: But, ya know, when you sit at home too much and it’s the only thing you live for and it’s all you’ve done most of your life, that’s the flipside to it. Look at Ozzy and Tony Iomi. He just got diagnosed with cancer and still talking about going on the road…I won’t know till I’m hopefully and old man.
ME: Right, right, I guess along those lines of being on the road a lot has it been hard for you to maintain relationships with you being on the road so much?
HANK III: Yeah, no…it takes a lot. A. its personally hard, I don’t care who you are. If you’re on the road a lot, it’s really hard to deal with, and it does take a toll. Bill Ward from Black Sabbath once told me make sure you have your good family life, and a little bit of something that doesn’t have anything to do with music that’s just yours to go home to or you’re gonna get way to spun out. And I’ve heard Adam Ant say the same thing. If he could go back, he would have just slowed the pace down; he wouldn’t have gone out for 8 months at a time. It’s just too much, it’s too much of a toll, it’s too much damage. So, it is hard, ya know I was able to have a girl for about 5 years, I had another one that hung in there for almost 11, but nowadays it’s just me and the dogs and a shitload of music gear all around me. (Laughs) So, yeah it’s just... it’s what I do man. Ya know, maybe one day I’ll find my partner…Sharon had Ozzy, Johnny had June, John had Yoko, and all those… you know I think Johnny Rotten or John Lydon has had a real strong woman in his life. Tom Waits, Kathleen has been a very strong and very creative person in his life. So it’s... ya know…I’m married to the road and I know it’ll always be there for me, but there’s always a lot highs and lows that come with musicians, we were our hearts on our sleeve. And sometimes our highs are highs and our lows are lows and some people that don’t do it, can’t understand what it’s like to go through some of those things.
ME: Yeah, I think for a lot of people, if you haven’t lived that it’s hard to know what it can be like and what comes with the territory.
HANK III: No doubt man.
ME: You Mentioned the dogs, I was gonna ask you about that. I know you’ve been involved with an animal rescue, Happy Tails, doing benefit shows and stuff like that. How did you come to get involved with them and end up doing that?
HANK III: Basically, it was something I always did. If I saw a dog and he would let me get him off the street, I would always try and place when, back when MySpace was big and some of the internet networks. It was a little hobby of mine that basically had nothing to do with music. And as time went on, they kind of heard about what I had been doing with the animals, mainly dogs for me. And they asked if I would be part of a show and then just kind of developed a relationship with em and its gotten ah… I guess this is gonna be maybe my 4th year I’ve been working with em. They respect me as a person and as a musician. They’ve stepped up to the plate for me with places that say “well we don’t him cause he does that rock and roll stuff”, and there like “well ya know ok if you’re gonna be like that toward him then were gonna go somewhere else.” It’s just a good match. I know most the people that work at that organization and I like that it’s a no kill shelter and they’re trying to go the extra mile to place as many animals as they can. It’s just something I’ve always felt natural to. Dogs have been very therapeutic to me. They’ve been like family. And I think there’s a lot of people out there that might be lonely in their life and just need a companion and animals are something out there that can help a lot of folks. I just identify with that. Cause I have been around some farms and I was raised on a farm where things were a lot more tough. Ya know if the dog got ran over well you just threw him in a corner and if he makes it he does and if he doesn’t he doesn’t. Little things like that I never could agree with. That probably has a reason why I have gravitated on a more caring way for the animals. Another prime thing to say is, let’s say police dogs that have served for over 10 years, well when they retire em, they don’t try and set em up with a good place and all that, basically most of those dogs get put down, and I think that’s just wrong for a dog to do that much work and for his retirement plan, they’re just gonna kill it. Racing or the police dogs or any of that stuff. It just doesn’t seem like that’s fair.
ME: Definitely, like you said for all the work that they’ve put in and everything, it just seems like such a waste and just unfair.
HANK III: Yeah, no doubt man.
ME: Well to change direction a little bit, I read “Family Tradition - Three Generations of Hank Williams” a little while back and I was gonna ask you about that. Have you read the book, and if so, what did you think of it and how did that whole thing come about? And how much involvement did you have with it?
HANK III: I never did read the book. I just know how much I gave to the lady that wrote it. That was… I pretty much gave her quite a bit. It is what is, man. I don’t know and reading for me is kind of tough, in general. It’s just the way I am sometimes on a lot of things. It’s like reviews on records, I don’t read reviews. I just know that I do my best to put it out there and some people get it and some people don’t. That’s just how it is. I don’t need someone’s opinion to judge me. I do know that I gave her a lot of personal stuff and what she did with it, it’s hard to say.
ME: I can understand that. I’m sure it would be odd or awkward to read a book about yourself, which I know it’s not all about you, but it would be kind of weird to read a book about yourself I think.
HANK III: No doubt, and there is the history in there with the family ya know. And I do sometimes watch stuff like that the BBC does on Hank Williams and things like that to learn about my great grandparents or that uncle that I might never have known and stuff like that. But yeah, that kind of book is like what you said, it would be a little different.
ME: “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams” album that has recently come out, I’ve got mixed feelings about it, and I didn’t know if you had heard it or not, but I just wondered if you had and what you thought of it. And also a big thing with me is that it seems you should have been asked to be a part of it and I don’t know if you were or weren’t…
HANK III: Officially I wasn’t. They might probably say I was but in reality, I was not. It’s just the way things are around this town. I’m not asked to do a lot of things just because I’ve been that outsider and more independent person. And just for me, if I want to hear a Hank Williams song I’ll listen to Hank Williams. I’m not knocking anybody; I just think that those songs would have been better off displayed at the country music hall of fame. That’s just my personal preference. It seems a little strange to give someone an opportunity to finish an undone song. Ya know, to me there is a reason why it’s not finished. It’s an iffy topic to look at. It’s done and they’re doing what they can with it. I do know on the flipside what they did with the mothers best shows that were argued for so many years on a legal aspect of things cause they never could see the light of the day cause they didn’t know who owned it and they were fighting over the money. Well I had that bootleg years…fans were giving that thing to me 10 years before that thing saw the light of day. Ya know, I’m glad that made it out because it shows the real thing and a lot of people had no idea that “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” goes back that far.
ME: Yeah, I got the 3 disc boxes as they came out and then this past Christmas my mom got me the big complete 15 cd/1 dvd set in the old timey radio and everything…
HANK III: Right man.
ME: I just really liked it and the other thing I really liked about it was including the history behind the songs, where they came from, they original writers or if they were traditional songs and just the circumstances behind them. And it was cool to hear hank do a lot of songs like that that weren’t his known songs or other people’s songs…
HANK III: Yeah, one sec man…one of my dogs just got out…….ok say that again.
ME: It was cool to hear Hank do those songs that were other people’s songs or traditional songs. Stuff that there were no other recordings of him doing and also as good of quality that they were.
HANK III: Yeah, just the jokes and how sharp he was in the morning. Most people don’t realize to be that sharp at 6 am, ya know…if you’re a musician and a singer, you know having your singing voice is not an easy thing to do right when you wake up. It’s like what were they doing? Were they staying up all night? But it doesn’t sound like it, they sound really sharp and intact. I think he cared so much about the music that his job was coming first. That’s something… I just wonder, wow…all of em, all the players seemed on it, not just hank. Everybody in the band and all the energy that they had back then, it’s really special stuff man. I just wish there was a little more moving pictures. Ya know there’s not very many films of hank Williams out there, there’s a few, but for as popular as he was, man, there’s not much.
ME: Yeah, I mean I don’t know about anything that might be unreleased or home videos or anything, but the only videos I’ve seen of him actually performing or playing is maybe a clip of him doing "Cold, Cold Heart" on an old talk show, TV show…
HANK III: Yes, and that just got found in the last 10 years. Ya know, that was stored somehow in a college and they were going through tapes and found it. I hope there is something just laying around in someone’s attic. You never can tell. There was a lot of things being recorded back then but just not much of him.
ME: Yeah, it does seem odd. You would think there would be more than there is and you know like you said maybe there is somewhere, like with the Mother’s Best recordings, like that big find. It would be amazing if there was some more video to be found somewhere, but I guess time will tell.
HANK III: Yeah man.
ME: Another thing I was gonna ask you about, relating to Hank SR. was the new movie that’s coming out called “Last Ride” that’s about his last days and the kid driving him to Ohio.
HANK III: I know when the Williams exhibit at the Hall Of Fame first opened, someone came out that was in the movie business talking about doing something on hank and they came out and watched me sing and all that. It’s hard to say if it’s the same people or not. I haven’t heard about it. I have heard a lot of other stories that differ than just him dying in the back seat of a Cadillac. There’s some people that would come up to say it’s a murder conspiracy. That’s been thrown out there. Some people would say that he got beat to death in a bar and thrown in the back of his car. I mean there’s all kinds of weird stuff, but all in all, most of it points back to a doctor that had a fake license, came in shot him up with too much morphine and od’d him and that’s just it was what it was.
ME: Toby Marshall, maybe.
HANK III: Yeah I think that’s it…..But he was in tune ya know, one thing that Billie Jean his last wife would say, one night hank woke up and he was shadow boxing. And she was like honey what are you doing? He’s like, "I’m fighting because the lords getting ready be taken me here soon." He was dialed in or just when he looked at her, he told her “I just wanna see your face one more time because your probably not gonna be seeing mine no more.” He had a lot of intuition man, and that could have been the real strong Indian blood that was a lot more predominate in him than it is nowadays with the generations past down. But that side of the family is definitely a lot more in tune with the Indians. I know that sounds strange but when you see Hank Williams sister’s daughter, and stuff like that, it’s a night and day difference, man.
ME: That’s really, really interesting. I guess along the lines of Hank Sr., and talking about the upcoming movie and with the recent biopic type Hollywood movies, like Walk The Line on Johnny Cash or Ray, about Ray Charles. If there was ever going to be a movie like that about Hank Sr.'s life, would you any interest in portraying him in a film or doing the soundtrack? I know Hank Jr. did the soundtrack to the movie about him back in the day. And because you’ve been compared to look and sounds like him so much.
HANK III: It’s hard to say. What I would say to anybody that’s talking to me on the actor level is that well I’m soft spoken, I’m nervous, and I’m kind of shy, so it would take a producer to push me to get what you really want. That's what I’ve always told anybody, and I don’t think it would bother me that much, doing it. I have done small acting roles. And some of my people that I look up to like Earl Brown from Dead wood and all these folks just say well Hank, it’s natural for you. It’s really hard to say. It does seem like it would fit, as far as the look and the sound goes. But if it would be done right as far as an actor, it’s tough to answer.
ME: Right on, well also I know for a long time you have had the Reinstate Hank Campaign and songs like “The Grand Ole Opry Aint So Grand Anymore” and stuff like that, has there been any progress made with that and have you heard anything, do you think it will happen eventually for him to be reinstated.
HANK III: Well the sad thing that I do know is they didn’t do it while the Williams Exhibit was happening. That would have been the best time to do it, while all these people are making money off of him in a different way and paying respects to him on coming to see that part of the museum. It could have line up perfect. But Nashville, and the people that run Gaylord definitely are just still not paying respects. It’s not like we’re asking for a 75,000 dollar statue like the one buddy colleen has down on music row. We’re asking for one hour of singing songs and saying yes we are proud to have hank Williams be part of the mother church of country music and we are proud to preserve history in country music. Their loop hole is “well when you die, you’re no longer a member of the grand ole opry.” Well how disrespectful is that? It goes back to those dogs we were talking about. So Jimmy Dickens who has played the Grand Ole Opry for over 50 years, once he’s dead, you’re just gonna outcast him and still talk about him but in reality you’re not gonna preserve his history. That’s not Right. Tom Waits wrote the best piece that I’ve seen on it. It calls out all the big shots and all the loop holes. It’s in the 200th edition of Mojo Magazine. And that’s the best story I’ve seen on it, but as long as people keep talking about it, ya know, it gives it hope. Cause all there doin is exploiting a man that they didn’t really care for as much as they acted like…ya know when he was alive, yeah, they didn’t want him around, but when he’s dead yeah they sure do…as far as with no legal, or just whatever…I don’t know… I don’t get any Hank Williams Money, I’m not part of that estate or nothing, or I would be asking a lot more fucking questions. Ya know, but for some reason, Hank Jr. and Jett Williams and all those people, let it be. If you really look…there not, ya know…when are they gonna step up and try to get involved? If it ever happens. They’re not fighting the fight saying that its wrong, but if they do accept it and do have a ceremony, Ooooh everyone will be there then. But it just goes back to hope and there is a lot of hope out there. The West Memphis Three shows that. It can happen and just never give up and just keep truckin' through it.
ME: Yeah man, I totally forgot about that happening this past year, I never even thought to ask you about that. I know you were involved with the tribute album, the black flag, rise above record and all that. Have you ever had any contact with Damien Nichols or any of them or spoken to any of them or anything?
HANK III: No, I never…I was always very just verbal about it in interviews, talking about the hope and stuff like that. I had never gone as far as to getting to know any of them because I just know Henry Rollins and Eddie Vedder and all these other people, even I think Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks even, got to know em, and they had a lot of people really talking to em, but I always did what I could more on a public level. And ya know, Maybe one day I will get to know em after the fact.
HANK III: One sec…….alright sorry about that.
ME: Ah you’re fine. I guess this is a little bit different but kinda switching gears, I watched the documentary “The Wild and Wonderful World of the Whites of West Virginia” and I know you’ve had the song about D. Ray White and talking about Jesco and Mamie and everybody, and I know you were in the film. I just wondered how you came to be involved in the film and if you had seen the final film and what you thought of it.
HANK III: Yeah, I’ve definitely watched that one and I always tell people to watch the original. Just for me, personally, because it just seemed like there was a little more…it was evened out on the playing field a little more. There was happiness, there was madness, there was sorrow and there just all these different aspects. And it showed D. Ray, I mean he was a serious guy, he would do his thing, he was a very smart man, and he was a very entertaining man when he would start telling his stories and stuff. That and Talking Feet is a very interesting documentary to watch. I just know there is a little more of a creative side, and Mamie and Jesco and all the family knows I not talking against em, at all, but to me…they just focused a lot more on the depression and that side of it. That was the only thing that bothered me a little bit. But all in all, it’s about Jesco and Mamie and the family, but there is a couple scenes in there that’s just a little tough and I wish they would’ve put a few more smiles in instead of so many tears.
ME: I could definitely see that. Are you still in contact, do you still talk to Jesco and Mamie and them?
HANK III: Oh yeah, I mean, I went down and stayed at Jesco’s…Me and my dog went down and lived at Jesco's trailer. I had the pass to go down there and I recorded him dancing on the record and they knew I was there out of respect. And a lot of people were there out of, ya know, just trying to capitalize on…ya know, these people aren’t faking it, they’re being themselves, and it’s hard for some people to imagine that. I went down there and at least got to know the miracle woman while she was still alive and I’ll be connected with that family until the day I die or until they pass on. I just do know it was very powerful. When I first met Jesco, I had to go outside and throw up within 5 seconds of meeting him. I was like man, I’m stone cold sober, don’t freak out on this, but I gotta go outside and get sick. I don’t know what it was, man; it’s just how intense the energy was.
ME: That’s quite the first impression, for it to be that strong to have an impact physically.
HANK III: Uh huh, yeah man, there was a little stream running by his trailer and it was really just intense… I don’t know. I went there in the winter, ya know it was pretty, just a lot of mud and all the trees were bare and it was super cold and all that stuff. But whenever I’m near, Mamie always comes out; I know she just had like a minor heart attack a couple weeks ago so she’s been going through some tough times. But when me and Jesco see each other, he’s all smiles and we talk about some good times and he always tries to show me his good side. More than, ya know, he wants you to have fun when he’s around, he’s not wanting you to be all bummed out and let you see his bad side, ya know…
ME: Right on man, that’s awesome. I’ve just got a couple more things then I’ll let you get back to doing whatever you’re gonna do man.
HANK III: Alright
ME: I was gonna ask you, just in general, with you being involved in both country music and heavy, more extreme music. What’s your thoughts and feelings on the current state of both country and more underground metal, hardcore, extreme music?
HANK III: Well I think YouTube, Sirius radio and college radio are the only thing that really plays the underground music and the more real artists out there. I’m personally a little disconnected cause I’m so busy just, ya know, trying to pull a crew together, trying to remember my songs and all these little things man. I honestly, I’m listening to more old music myself, personally, than I am on what’s on the radio. So I’m pretty out of touch in reality with what bands are up and coming and stuff like that. I know what bands I was raised around. I’m glad to see Lamb of God, Mastodon, and all these dudes that I grew up with finally, ya know, take it to the next level. Matt Pike, High On Fire, Wayne the Train Hancock, Dale Watson, Bob Wayne, with all he’s done, ya know, Jucifer… all these people that’s just really hung in there. But I couldn’t tell you a new country artist or any of that right now. I’m listening to Jimmy Martin and cranking up… I like a lot of compilation kind of cd’s that show me a little bit of everything so…
ME: That’s cool. Well another thing I know a lot of people have wondered about for a long time is a DVD. Do you got any kind of Hank III DVD in the works, live footage, anything like that we’ll ever see?
HANK III: Well I’m sure one day…ya know I let people bootleg every show that I do. I’ve definitely collected…I’ve got a whole room full of bootlegs. The only documentary that was every done, I didn’t like it and sure enough I told everybody don’t buy this, it fucking sucks. Cause I wasn’t involved in the editing and I just didn’t like what they put together, ya know, and since I had a bad experience with that I’ve never gone back. But maybe one day, if I find the right person that feels comfortable with the crew and me, it could maybe be interesting. But man, ya know, if you look at YouTube, “Livin’ Beyond Doom”, what superscum created with that, is one of the best videos that anyone has ever made me. If you look at what the fan did on “Troopers Holler”, it’s an amazing video. If you look at what some of the fans are doing with “Ghost to a Ghost”, and then some of these other songs, those have been some of my best videos and that’s letting the fans be part of what I do and not cutting em out of the…ya know making em feel connected, and those are more special to me but it’s hard to say on a DVD. It should be done and there is a guy that was out of the BBC that came in and done a little bit of something, I don’t know what though. Ya know who knows what it’ll be man. I did bring him into some personal space and stuff like that.
ME: Right on. Well I guess I got one last little thing and it’s just a lineage kind of thing. I know you’re a father, do you think we’ll ever see a Hank IV? Is your son into music, I mean I’m sure he’s into some kind of music but is he inclined to play or anything like that?
HANK III: Well, I keep telling him to go to school while he can, ya know. You got the rest of your life not to do school. While you’re young enough to hang in there and you got the drive, stick with it man. Yeah he has a guitar lying around, he has a machine if he wants to record anything and a pair of headphones and all the tools he needs to do it, but if he really wants to do it, is a totally other thing, ya know. I just don’t know what’ll happen. But he does…he likes a lot of the same music. He’s very open minded. His funniest thing right now, he’s saying “wow, I didn’t know hair could piss people off so bad!” just cause he’s a dread head kind of guy and he’s starting to feel some of the tension that can come with that. Whether its black people or skin heads or just police profiling you, ya know. It’s funny to hear him say stuff like that.
ME: Haha, that’s really funny man…Well thank you so much for taking the time to bullshit with me.
HANK III: Ah you got it, well the good thing is you got so many tools to help put zines out a lot more here nowadays then it was 15 – 20 years ago man, so I hope you have fun with it and ya know the smaller stuff is always… and I’ll let em know, if someone is interested in talking to me, I’ll talk to them and I’m glad we were able to do it, man.
This interview was conducted on 2/15/12
Copyright 2012 Property of Andy Sweitzer & Dodo Bird