Category Archives: music

The Thing About Hank3 and Why You Need To Buy His Music

fiendish

Sideways-Swervers, Open-Nervers and Over-turners,

We posted this a while back and it has recently come to our attention that Ole’ Hank is not going to release any more records until you people start buying his others…in particular, the ones we pictured...A Fiendish Threat and Brothers of the 4X4…if you are fans and have been waiting for new tunes from the Hellbilly Joker, then tell your friends to click the Hank 3 Official tab at the top of the page and order it there…DO IT!!!

You should be able to find reviews of both records on this blog…read ’em!

4x4

This one is for those of you who think ahead of the game. What we witnessed in the past few decades as american pop music sunk into a stinking slug-hole of stale stars singing shittilly. Hank3 made that same point as regards the country/western genre of american roots music. It was bad enough getting stuck with Achey-Breaky Heart being even described as country music…but to have to put up with the second generation spawn of talentless twits, the likes of Miley Ray Cyrus, is one indignity we prefer not to suffer. Billy Ray named her Destiny Hope Cyrus. We reckon ‘Miley Ray’ sounded a lot homier.

Just like those other blase’ “celebrities” before her who came through the Disney Mind Control Camp, TV-minded youths adore this young lady. Like the rest, she will likely be more well-known for being hospitalized than for any one song she…kaf, kaf…sang…?

On the other side of the coin ,you have somebody like Hank3 who remains largely unpromoted by the mass media and thrives by playing music and being a hands-on traveling man. He gets ignored by mainstream due to, as they said about Hank Williams, his attitude. Like he says, he doesn’t “do lunch.” Somehow, though, you can’t keep a good man down and a recent experience proved that.

Going for a walk yesterday morning, we saw a van in our parking lot with a “Hank3” sticker plastered prominently on the rear window. When we say the driver approach the van, we asked about the sticker and immediately made friends with ‘Will,’ who we are sure to see at west coast Hank3 concerts when his next record comes out. Will said he wished he could see Hank in the east, where he plays in bars and smaller clubs frequently. That is the only atmosphere we have seen him in, ourselves.

As we talked, Will mentioned Hank’s 2013 record Brothers of the 4X4. We expressed enthusiasm and then he told us about how he has a son, four years old, and when Will drives him someplace in the van, his son always makes him play Lookey Yonder Commin’, a rollicking, happy coon-treeing song and real slice of Americana. Think about that! Hank3 is known for his songs about drugging and boozing, women gone wrong, men gone worse, pills, thrills and his friends who have chilled…permanently. Here we have a four year old child influenced by this happy, tumbling song – which actually contains a lyric in which Hank cuts out the four letters of ‘fuck’ in the name ‘Bumfuck, Idaho!’ He sings, ‘Bum-BEEP, Idaho!’ We asked Will if he saw Hank do the song live and he affirmed to the positive so we asked if the audience yelled ‘fuck’ when Hank sang ‘BEEP’ in that song.

Will said, “No, but from now on, I am going to!”

And so are we! What we wonder, and is very likely, is if children all over the country are listening to Lookey Yonder Commin’? Maybe sharing it at school during music class sing-a-longs or while playing on the recess yard. Will they forget about it and rediscover it twenty years from now?

This is a free blog, if you see any typos live with it!

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Michael Hendrick Looks At Nipples

nipples

Curious Readers,

The title of this post may not come as a surprise to some, yet even Michael Hendrick admits that there are some nipples he does not want to see. Like Chris Christie’s…in the attached photo we see the big lug (Christie, not Hendrick) looking down to see if his nipples have stiffened from the touch of Mitt Romney. Christie will never be a US president unless an assassination occurs when he is a veep.

For many years, whoever was president on the twentieth year died in office. It started in 1820 when Henry Harrison stole more land from the native americans. He defeated Tecumseh at Tippecanoe and made a slogan of the event to run for president…and won. Tecumseh’s half-brother and medicine man, Tenskwatawa, threw a curse at all ‘great chiefs’ of the US, who were chosen every twenty years. Their deaths would be a reminder of what the US did to the Shawnee.

Christie is smart to (try and) run now. No prez had died since G.W. Bush’s buddy’s son screwed up his attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan. It goes largely unreported that John Hinckley Jr. had a scheduled lunch with Neil Bush, son of you know who, the day after the shooting. He did not make it.

It is well-known that the Hinckleys and Bushes have not only been in business together since the early 1960s but that the Bush family and the Hinckleys share a common ancestor – an oilman no less, Samuel Hinckley. Of course, after all that trouble Dubbya Bush, the last president before Obama, managed to kill any respect people had for him – but he lives.

But what about the nipples?

We promised you nipples, you are thinking…

It all started when Hendrick set to work merchandising the books he likes to sell. One of them is this one from 1974. comics

Just about to hang it on the wall of a local merchant who kindly gave him space to sell, he thought he should ask the owner if it was alright to post partial nudity. The store owner is a woman and when describing the cover, he got to the part about the cartoon images covering the nipples. He started to describe the cover but ended up pointing vaguely towards his own chest and saying ‘private parts’.

Damn it – he was embarrassed!

But why?

It does give us pause to ponder, however, why male nipples are legal to show anyplace in public but showing female nipples can result in a fine, sometimes even for breastfeeding in the wrong spot. It has happened.

Back in the 1970s at the start of the punk rock movement, singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan, seen below,  ran into problems with his first musical group…The Nipple Erectors. The record company would not accept his ‘male/female both have them’ logic and so he changed the name of his group to The Nips. Later he formed The Pogues, based on the term Pogue Mahone, which was a derivation of the gaelic phrase meaning ‘kiss my ass’. In this world kissing ass is preferred to mentioning nipples – for some people, anyway.1shane

Even male cats have eight nipples…or six…it is hard to hold the rascal steady enough to count them. Male cats allow tiny kittens to pretend they are nursing on them. They do this when the momma cat is out hunting and it keeps the little ones secure. We wonder if Chris Christie ever tried that but we do not want that image floating around our cerebral cortex…or yours! Sorry for that – blame it on Hendrick.

There are many types of nipples and even more ways to look at them. Instead of listing them all, we turn to Hendrick.

At fifty-seven years of age, he has seen more nipples than the average man (in person, that is). He chose to relate a bit about ‘funny nipples’. Some people, who have little sexual experience, find them funny just as diners who have never eaten a falafel think that sounds funny.

In his now-out-of-print novel (Portrait Of The Artist As A Little Bastard, TumbleWeedBastard Press, 2014) he tells of going to grade school in Upstate New York’s Mohawk Valley.

Sitting next to him, at the back of the classroom in the ‘tall’ section, RandyNiples always flinched at the muffled laugh which arose whenever a nun called his name. He could not do much about it in class but he frequently ran in circles on the recess yard shouting, “It’s Nip-PELS!!!…I tell ya!!!…Nip-PELS!!!”

Our Dear Michael occasionally wonders what happened to Randy. The way he ran in circles would have made him true presidential material!

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Michael Hendrick on The Clash – “I Made Joe Strummer Avoid Drugs!”

clashWorldly Readers,
We miss Joe Strummer. Today we listened to The Clash Live At Shea Stadium and it brought back all those years to the Punk Rock days. Joe’s star still shines bright. He will always be missed by many. He was a good man.
In 1980, the start of the Reagan Era, we bundled up and went to the Sears Store at the mall and stood in line to buy our tickets. That is what you did back then. If you got there early, you got a better seat – it was that simple. We ended up with seats around the seventh row or so…good seats but we must have arrived late since we cannot remember who opened the show.
In the early days of punk, band members made a habit of spitting on the crowd while playing live and the pogoing crowds reciprocated moistly.
Like standing in line, it’s just what you did.
With this in mind and the spirit in our hearts, we set out in the cold last days of February (a crueler month than April, really)to get some drugs for the show. Two things daunted us…Reaganomics and a dry spell, translated ‘no money, no drugs’. As oft happened, we ended up at the door of Crazy Timmy. Crazy Timmy is actually the only person so crazy that we don’t have to change his name here…like Ferd. Timmy had been tossed by the Armed Forces after some schizoid incident involving a stolen tank and a German village.
His Section Eight got him plenty of pills – all the wrong kind. Psyche meds were more primitive in the seventies and eighties. They made you fat and sleepy and depressed. Today we have much-improved meds which give wack-jobs the gumption to initiate a school shooting.
Timmy dispensed a variety of pills that we never saw before. Even Timmy didn’t take them but he had to get the prescriptions filled so he could keep claiming his full GI benefits for being nutzed. So we pocketed the crappy tablets. We went there to see if we could get some pot to smoke before the show, actually, but even Timmy had no reef. He bought an ounce a month with his VA check and then cut it up into thirty bags or thirty one, for each day of the month; then he would smoke his way through them in the first week.
The pills were an afterthought because we thought he may have something abuse-ably fun.
The main thing we recall is the solid front they put up; Strummer out front, writhing around the mic-stand as he sang, Paul Simonon laying down the bass with legs spread in shooting stance, Topper Headon banging away on the skins and Mick Jones up there with Strummer, playing off him.
They launched into the London Calling Tour and they rocked the Casbah. Michael Hendrick, who drove us to the show, launched a handful of lithium, depakote and other odd dopamine blockers directly at Strummer’s head. Strummer clocked them coming from his spot at the edge of the stage. He ducked to stage left without missing a note. Hendrick volleyed a second, smaller batch of meds at Joe, who avoided them by ducking to stage right.
Yes, Dear Friends, he avoided the drugs.
We were there and saw it happen.
A great show!
God Bless Joe Strummer. We are not sure about Michael Hendrick.

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So Where Do People Actually Read This Crap??????

Michael (24)Gentle Readers,

We certainly appreciate your patronage!
We find it gratifying to reach so many places around the world. If you wonder where people read this drivel, er, wonderful blog, then here is a list of countries that your fellow readers have checked in from.
No matter where they are in the world, they are still stuck on one tiny screen…are we all? We shouldn’t even question it, since it brings us traffic…ha…but it is the magnificently humble nature of us to be amazed that you all took the time to look…
and Thanks!
In order of readership, here where others are suffering through this along with you!

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Hank 3 short interview in current Culture Magazine

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Music-Minded Readers,
This is a partial reprint (tease) from the current issue (April 2014) of Culture Magazine. You can buy it or view it on the website at http://www.ireadculture.com
We cannot print the whole thing or else you may not go look at Culture and since they help us pay the bills, we agree with them! (photo credits to Hank 3 who personally prepared the bottom one. He is about ‘hands on’ as it gets in the entertainment business.)

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER, FOLKS, THE ONLY PLACE TO GET REAL MERCHANDISE DIRECTLY FROM HANK3 IN TENNESSEE AT http://www.hank3.com

also you will see the first paragraph twice…the first is how it appeared and the second it how it was submitted…we plead ‘not guilty’…screw it, we just put back the original lead as we wrote it. it is better than the magazine’s version…

By Michael Hendrick/April 3, 2014 03:13
LOUD AND PROUD
The Illustrious Legacy of Hank Williams III

The Williams and Carter/Cash families shaped traditional american music more than any others. The prolific output of Shelton ‘Hank’ Williams 3 may surpass that of grandfather, Hank Williams, who’s songs are standards worldwide. He died at age 29, a victim of his own fame. He played rock and roll for years before it had a name.
Fame and its trappings elude Hank3 as he eludes them. He will not ‘do lunch.’ He feels the hypocrisy of Music Row, as young Bob Dylan felt it in Manhattan’s Tin Pan Alley. The sheer volume of his catalogue will soon eclipse his grandfather’s (owned by Dylan btw. Hank3 doesn’t see a penny of it.)
He hopes not to have to tour into old age to pay for an oxygen tank. Repeatedly releasing multiple LPs of mixed genre on a single day, the experimental and deeply personal songs he creates will undoubtedly be recognized as more masterpieces of Williams genius. Tom Waits grew his avant-garde persona after playing out his ‘beat’ period. Similarly, we saw Hank shuck off the country style he was forced to adapt and go on to fully develop his Hellbilly sound. Waits has helped him along the way.
With two new LPs (three discs) out in 2013, Brothers of the 4×4 and A Fiendish Threat, Hank took a break to speak with Culture. We started with the recent change of marijuana laws in two states.

How do you feel about the evolution of cannabis legalization in Washington and Colorado?

People in Washington are okay but then if you go to Idaho you are being totally examined and could face a lot of jail time.

I myself have met a lot of folks that have gone through the pain of chemotherapy, people that have cancer and are going through chemo treatment and all the people it has helped. There are a million and one positive things going for it. You can get far more products out of hemp versus cutting down a bunch of trees. It used to be standard back in the day for people to grow it.

So many people do not need to be made examples of.

Here in Tennessee, I’ve heard that we’ve at least made movements to go towards legalizing. Over the years…
hankblogapril14

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Attention Spiritual Followers!

Michael (6)Enlightened Readers,

At this juncture in our…kaf…Voyage to Namaste’-Land we hereby adopt the Spirit name Wind Walker based on our expulsion of air, miles traveled, comparative idiotic names, as well as other considerations too lengthy to be spelled out in this Proclamation.

Should any of you naysayers and faithless souls think this is all some off the cuff joke, you are absolutely right. We would never change our name. It is a badge of honor to wear your name. If you faced adversity with your given name and overcame it, then exhault in it. Black Americans who threw off slave names to return to the tribal name, as well as Natives anywhere – that is a whole other story.
This relates to Post New Age Pseudo-Hippie Schizzo-delic Wack-Job (PNAPSW) names only.

So should you address us in the Spiritual, and request our kind assistance, use a first and last name or to Hell with Spirituality.

Obstreperously Yours,
Your Constant Advisors in this Blog,
Your Soul’s Key To Your Own Salvation,
Your Credit Card Number please.

Best,

Wind

Walker

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A Fiendish Threat..Hank III’s latest punk project…reprint from Steel Notes Magazine

fiendishGentle Readers,

This is a reprint. We shared our last interview with Hank with you and this one appears in the recent edition of Steel Notes Magazine, http://www.steelnotesmagazine.com where we also do some writing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like seeing Hank III play live, reviewing his records can be challenging. At the shows, he will play three, sometimes four sets of music, each a different style – ranging from country to hardcore thrash metal to doom metal to his own progeny, ‘hellbilly’ and maybe even back to country again. A mini-festival of his own, he presents concertgoers with four sounds, four feels, four genres and (the most challenging for the audience) four hours or more of playing each night.

While you listen, the songs absorb you and you feel what Hank feels.

It’s the same way with his records. In September 2011, he released four discs in one day, as three different LP packages. Each had its own sound and texture. This time around, He hit us with three discs, two on the country/hellbilly Brothers of the 4X4 and also a new venture – this time into punk with A Fiendish Threat.

On the latter, he uses a different singing voice and the song structures are reminiscent of the original punk of the seventies. A completely different sound is achieved here by using all acoustic instruments like the doghouse bass, played by Zach Shedd, and acoustic guitar (wired for distortion and fuzz added, of course) on the classic three chord compositions. Actually, it sounds like he throws a minor fourth chord in here and there.

A personal favorite is Different From the Rest, a true example of classic punk form led by strong vocals, with Hank singing and playing acoustic at the same time, as he did on the whole project, adding his own fast, furious drumming while mixing it. It’s not just the punk sound that runs throughout but also the attitude as stated in the lyrics and titles, as in There’s Another Road. Kicking off with a nice bit of slide-down-the-string feedback, the galloping drums on it hit like an AK47 and keep strafing the listener into Broke Jaw. Broke Jaw, in itself, is unlike any other punk song before it. It sticks to the standard form but here is where the hellbilly-style instrument line-up really hits home. After nailing the vocals and beat, the vocals end and what almost sounds like a steel guitar on acid fills the lead. No steel guitar is listed so it was either coaxed out of the fiddle, banjo, bass or acoustic, perhaps…but the effect is wild! It evokes Television’s Marquee Moon in the way the notes swirl around each other to a climax. It is an excellent song that would have blown the whole NYC set off its feet in 1977.

Similarly, on Watchin U Suffer we hear what could be gypsy fiddle crossed with police siren during instrumental breaks near the end. This also separates them from the rest of the punk genre because these instrumental forays add time to the standard two minute or three minute formula. Then again, it’s not 1977 anymore and this is a fresh new look at a genre people do not attempt that much anymore. Punk progressed but the original style was purest and this is old-school punk done in a completely new way.

The only problem with the next song, Face Down, is that it has to follow the tremendous instrumental at the end of Breakin Free, which you have to hear to believe.

In some ways, A Fiendish Threat is like a cross between Rocket To Russia and The White Album. There is so much to it, so much diversity. Listen to the opening of New Identity and you wonder if Roy Rogers ever took peyote. If that last line does not make sense, listen to the song. To imagine the first few notes going into what they do…well, it’s an adventure in listening.

It’s one thing to jazz up country by adding hardcore to it but boosting punk with a shot of country can only be a stroke of genius…because it actually works.

Billy Contreras comes on strong with the fiddle throughout but especially on Feel The Sting. He moves in and out of the melody, runs along with the vocal, creates tension and is simply extraordinary.

On Fight My Way – the title says it all. Always keeping lyrics relevant, this covers the angst-filled side of the emotions while packing a punch and even holds it’s own after the tremendous finish on Feel The Sting…but then Full On knocks you out of your seat with the sheer strength of the beat..

Daniel Mason, Hank’s main man banjo, is here but this listener could not place the sound of the banjo. A hellbillied-up banjo is liable to make a lot of noise so maybe he is hidden in the backbeat…we’ll have to listen closer.

Your Floor is more doom than punk. He sounds a lot like Ozzy on the vocals here. He must have snuck those Black Sabbath LPs back in after his mom threw them away. The second from last song, it doesn’t really seem to fit the rest, although it is a great song for the style it is. We return to the old school on the final selection and title track It, too, seems to drift to the Ozzy voice at times, as if he were turning the record in a new direction right at the end. With much highly-experimental music, often we don’t ‘get it’ the first time we listen because of the foreign aspect. It grows on us.

These songs grab you with the beat and then slowly insinuate themselves upon you as you notice new details here and there.

This is one of the most original ‘punk’ records to be released in many years.

To get a copy, buy one directly from Hank at http://www.hank3.com. While you are there check out the videos of his new stuff while you wait. Ours arrived in two days.

Don’t use another service when you can have it sent straight from Hank’s Haunted Ranch in Tennessee!

While you’re there, get a copy of Brothers of the 4X4 – we will be reviewing that one next month!

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Another Interview with Hank III about his recent work…from Steel Notes

hankthanksgiving2012Gentle Readers,

This is a reprint. We shared our last interview with Hank with you and this one appears in the recent edition of Steel Notes Magazine, http://www.steelnotesmagazine.com where we also do some writing.

~
We had the pleasure of meeting Hank III in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning in 2011, after watching him play for four and a half hours in a small club. Hank always plays long shows. He presents it as three or four HANK 3different acts, each playing a different genre. It used to be said that James Brown was the hardest working man in show business but Hank3 is no slouch.

The true depth of his talent is not yet known to most since many prefer only to consider his country side. There is much more to him than that. After fronting metal bands Assjack and 3 Bar Ranch between his country and hellbilly (his own version of hard country), he decided to work on a project which was in the more traditional punk rock mode. In between these he works on various experimental forms of music, as on his 2011 release Ghost To Ghost.

We had the chance to speak with him again recently and started y asking about the new punk project, A Fiendish Threat.

~

~‘A Fiendish Threat’ sounds much more ‘punk’ than your past hardcore and metal bands. The live version I heard sounded like the Ramones.

There is definitely a lot of Minor Threat influence, singing-wise, and of course The Misfits, Jane’s Addiction, Violent Sound and to me, I didn’t notice the Ramones as much until I started playing more live with the band.

When I am doing the record that’s one thing – but officially doing it onstage is another. It depends. Some nights the voice is just fine and some nights it’s a little harder to get to.

There is definitely a lot of influences throughout the recording.

~The drummer in the new videos looks different from the usual player.

I am playing drums all through the new record and my main drummer that I‘ve been with for twelve years (Shawn McWilliams), he basically played the country, the hellbilly and the Attention Deficit Domination parts of the show. He had rotator cuff surgery and he just didn’t come back and he put the surgery off for so long that it’s taking him twice as long to heal from it. So there’s a chance this year he might be coming back but that’s always a real hard position to fill, after you’ve been with a drummer that knows over a hundred and fifty of your songs and not having a set-list every night. But we did it. We pulled it off last year but he was definitely missed and we’re always hoping everyday that he going to be coming back soon.

Right now I’ve got a pretty good solid crew for the road and time will tell. I’ll be getting into the road mode here soon. I’m almost one hundred and seventy days on my end, way deep off into a project, so I know the road is just around the corner for me. It’s a totally different mindset.

~The last time we talked, you said you had a plan to tour for ten more years. Are you still on target?

It’s just hard to say what’s going to happen. I always said that I was going to tour the road until I was fifty and even my people at my business management would say, “You sure do need to charge more money for your live shows.”

I’m like, “Well, I don’t want to go there yet.”

So who knows what’ll happen? Maybe at fifty, I’ll raise my ticket prices a little bit or else I’ll be hanging it up. I don’t know. When I look at guys like Lemmy (from Motorhead) and Willie Nelson and Iggy Pop, guys that have just kept on doing it…it’s a good inspiration. And if I can still pull off the shows I want to, who knows? Maybe at fifty, if I can’t really pull off the show that I want to, maybe I’ll just do more of a laid back set and be doing the acoustic thing a little more but right know I’m always just trying to put on the longest show for a very affordable ticket price.

I started with a crew on the road in 1995 at five and seven dollars and now I am able to keep it at seventeen to twenty-four max…with the economy and everything I’ve just always tried to be affordable, you know?

~You sure give more miles per ticket. You played for four and a half hours the last time I saw you. I can’t remember seeing anybody play that long onstage before.

It’s always a challenge. Every tour is different. Even in the back of my mind I’m thinking, even though I’m in studio mode, realyl soon I’ve gotta start riding the bike and getting ready to lift stuff and all that getting the cardio going for it.

~You have the partier image but you can’t do what you do every night without taking care of yourself.

It’s strange. On one hand I’m really strong and on the other hand, I’m really weak. I kind of have both happening. When it’s on the road a lot of the time I’m just thinking of the show, the performance and trying to keep a good team morale. We all pitch in. We all do our best. We all load the trailer together and set up the gear together and break it all down.

That’s a lot of it. The reason for the thing about partying so much is when people come out to see the show I try not to bum ‘em out too bad or sing too many slow songs because I want a lot of the folks to come and forget about all their problems and enjoy the show and feel the different moods. So that’s always in the back of my mind on the drinking songs and all that stuff.

~I like them, like ‘My Drinking Problem’.

The guy who wrote My Drinking Problem was Randy Howard and I saw him on public access tv…somehow I got lucky enough to track him down. He was staying at a hotel in Nashville. I’ve done two of his songs: I Don’t Know and My Drinking Problem. He has the great outlaw raspy voice and has a record out. He is one of the few guys who’s songs I’ll sing. He’s like one of the unsung heroes to me…a songwriter and just his sound. He had that Georgia rebel outlaw kind of thing going on and his sound just stood out. It had a lot of the Allman Brothers in it…the Johnny Cash feel in it…the old seventies sound.

~You opened your first LP, Rising Outlaw, with’ I Don’t Know’, right?

Rising Outlaw was pretty difficult. You’ve got to understand how young I was. There were producers and engineers I was having to go against. They were trying work with me as much as they could but on the other hand they were trying to do the ‘Nashville way.’

It was great to have Dale Crover from Melvins come in and pick out whatever drum set he wanted and get to record on Music Row.

That was one of the highlights for me. I did my research and picked out all the songs…the Kostas one, which had Eddie Pleasant on one (Devil’s Daughter) and a Buddy Miller song (Lonesome For You). Some of those guys are still writing songs and some of the guys who were engineers on that record are totally done with music so…a lot has changed since that record but it definitely had its own sound. It only takes a little while to get your ‘feel’ under you, no matter what you are doing.

(Sound of his famous dog, Trooper is barking and Hank opens a door. His dog has been the subject of mroe than one song – an old tradition and very much Americana.)
~Is that Trooper?

Yeah…If I’m pacing around a little bit and they hear something knocking, they think somebody is at the door.

~How did you extended world tour go?

The touring was great but unfortunately the routing was really bad so the next time I have to do that. I’m going to have to get a lot more involved. If I hadn’t have been selling merch I would have taken a pretty big loss. All of that is because of routing. That is the only thing I’ve got to check on. Most of the festivals were fine. Of course, naturally when I do the heavier stuff a lot of folks will leave.

We did some bar shows and I would squeeze it in. If we had an hour, I would do forty minutes of country, two hellbilly songs, a doom song and then two sweet, sentimental kind of songs. It would be just long enough to see the folks react to it.

We also got to play a lot of, what I would say are, our home shows, like the bars where we don’t have a time limit and get to do whole show. It went good. The help over there this time was okay, too

~Does your audience age have a wide range there, as it does in the US?

In London, it was a pretty mixed crowd. London was a lot like the states, where I would go a hundred miles down the street and we would get twenty to a hundred people out and they were more middle-aged. When we played Amsterdam, that was all over the age genre with all kinds of folks coming out.

I keep in mind, when we are in certain festivals, if they’re more catered to a certain type of music and don’t want the heavier stuff I keep that in mind as well. Mainly it’s kind of different. It’s sort of like starting over for me there.

~What is up with the Re-InstateHank petition to get your grandfather back into the Grand Ol’ Opry?

Basically, all we can do is talk about it.

Really…we talk about it and sign the petition – but one day a position might change ‘up top’ on who is in charge of what. Whenever that position changes, you never know who might just say, “Oh, okay. We’re going to do some things different and let’s include having Hank Williams be back in the circle.”

A lot of it nowadays…I am not in tune with it but I do know what is on the Grand Ol’ Opry is a lot of pop stuff, a lot of bluegrass and then you go straight to the older folks.

It’s more of the loophole that if you’re dead you can’t be a member of the Grand Ol’ Opry. That in itself, as I’ve said before, is like you are not preserving history.

If Hank Senior is not part of the Opry then why is he on your website from the forties and why are the pictures still hanging up? It’s hard to say. Holly, my half-sister, she does a lot of work down there and knows a lot of those people where I, on the other hand, haven’t been there since I went to Earl Scruggs’ funeral. That was about it. The last time I said I would play there was the fiftieth anniversary of Hank’s passing, live on TV.

It’s not like I’m this great star or anything but I won’t be coming here to sing my songs until the right thing is done., if they are going to keep riding on him.

Tom Waits summed it up the best way that you can, as far as politics behind it and everything. It just goes back to one day that position may change and then something will happen. Every so often I hear that something is going to happen but then it goes away. Who knows?

~How did Waits sum it up?

He basically did a lot of research on the Opry and on the individuals that are involved with it right now and they are…well, it’s the ‘living’ part that gets in the way.

They’re saying, “Well, if he gets re-instated then how come this other guy can’t be?”

If people want to do the research, Tom Waits got to edit the 200th issue of Mojo Magazine and there is a good read on it.

The ‘top’ is singing back home.

I am not asking for a $90,000 statue.

I’m just asking for a little bit of respect and a ceremony one night to sing and say that we respect Hank Williams and would love to have him back in our circle.

One thing he says – on their website you will find Hank Williams Senior’s name among the names from the forties. So if he isn’t a member, why does the Grand Ol’ Opry’s website list him as one? There was really no response to that question so maybe it’s a misunderstanding. It’s not like Nashville doesn’t recognize the contributions of Hank Senior. It goes on and on. For someone to be a musician with as much clout and knowledge as Tom Waits has – to have him write about it was an honor.

~You have a lot of devil and Satanist symbols in your record art and merch. We noticed that Garth Brooks came back recently and wonder if you think he could maybe be the Anti-christ?

Laughs…well, there is a lot to be said for Garth Brooks. He is one of those guys that coul have just been a rock star and not been hands-on and just walked onstage but he went way deeper than that. In general, he was a good businessman. He was a guy that knew how Music Row worked, knew how the business worked. He was always doing lunch.

Whenever he got his hit songs and after he got a few tours, he was hands-on. He was a rigger and he was setting up a lot of stages. He was keeping himself busy. Out of that mentality, I have respect for him. I’ve never seen Garth Brooks live. I know how big career that he has and his creativity. Really, his creativity. He stuck to his guns. He was a rock and roll fan as well. He’s done stuff with Gene Simmons and all that. I can understand that maybe he just got bored and maybe he didn’t feel productive anymore and just wanted to get out there and start doing the music again.

~Do you take a truck on the road with you so you can go off-road to relax?

When I’m on the road it’s constant work. Once I’m in that mindset, I’ll barely get away at all. Even if I did get away, I’m so locked into the road that I can’t enjoy myself. Every once in a while we get a show – like last tour we did a fundraiser for a friend of mine who survived a really bad crash and it was on top of a mountain, forty minutes up the hill on a dirt road to get there. We basically all pulled together and did it. Every so often we get to do something like that.

That’s the closest I get because when I’m in work mode I don’t snap out of it until I get home. It’s like I’ve got to keep my guard up constantly. That’s just how it is. When I’m at home and not on the road it’s different.

At home, I get to have fun. When I was growing up that’s what we would do. My friend had a mobile home and the front yard was a mudpit and it was all ‘who makes it through and who gets stuck’. We had a bulldozer there to pull people out.

We’d go riding trails, just cruising around in the woods where there’s not any traffic and you don’t have to worry about running a bicyclist over or anything like that. It’s more an an outdoor adventure in itself. You’re cruising. That’s how I take an approach at it.

~Even the slow songs have a strong beat on ‘Brothers of the 4×4’.

I think that’s my rhythm cutting through because I’m playing the acoustic and Im playing the drums on it. The fourth song would be Farthest Away and the really deep song that is more slow is Deep Scars and then you have Loners4Life. To me those are the more old-school, deep country songs on the record.

It’s a challenge – playing light and in time and then doing the side stick like that…or doing the marching beat on I’m Not Broken Down, I’m Just Broke. That, in itself, is a little more tricky than you would expect also. Johnny Hiland, he’s the lead guitar layer I have on the last few of my records, he said, “Man, Shelton, nobody like you in Nashville has this kind of rhythm!” I can only say that it goes back to me playing the drums and playing acoustic guitar on it and having just a little bit of a different kind of drumbeat as opposed to most traditional drummers who are studio players around Nashville.

~Didn’t your grandfather also get static for turning up his bass to loud so it would sound like a drum?

We all know that he was sick and a little too drunk when he showed up for a performance and they said, “Hank you got to get your act together but for right now we’re going to have to let you go but you’re going to have to come back and redeem yourself. So he never did have the chance to redeem himself – but the rhythm, he had that rhythm.

Marty Stuart, when he watched me play, he said, “You know, Shelton, that’s your thing.”

In the early nineties, when I was playing more of the ‘ma and pa circuits,’ I had an older gentleman come to me and he says, “That style of guitar playing, that rhythm you got – that’s your sound…your niche.”

That helped quite a bit and a lot of the gallops and fast strumming and stuff like that has kind of been my thing although I still don’t know guitar theory…or I can write songs and record them and do all that stuff but I just don’t understand theory so I think that, in itself, sets it apart as well.

~Speaking of rhythm, the story about your grandfather turning up the bass so that it sounded like a drum, is that true?

I would consider a true story on the basis that he was playing rock and roll before rock and roll was. They did have electric instrument that they were having to go against, like the lap steel and then you’d have a tin-topped guitar player back in there, so of course, I’m singing and I need to hear the bass and all I hear is the steel guitar and we need to even the stage out. Some of the places had a PA system and some didn’t.

Listen to the song Move It On Over. That’s basically Rock Around The Clock before it was. There’s a reason there is a picture of Hank Williams in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I would probably say that’s true.

~Where is the best play to buy your music and merch?

Anything you want, the best place to get it is off of http://www.hank3.com . That’s the place to go. That’s where it’s family owned and operated and you know you are getting it out of Tennessee.
~
See the review of A Fiendish Threat in the CD review section and watch for a review of Brothers of the 4X4 in the next issue of Steel Notes!

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