Hank 3

An Interview with Hank 3
by Mike Huberty
November 2011

Shelton Hank Williams is the closest thing that country music has to a crown prince. The son of Bocephus himself, Hank Jr. (The Artist Formerly Known as the “Are You Ready For Some Football?” guy), and the grandson of one of the most popular country artists of all time, Hank3has charted a path entirely his own. Starting his career drumming for punk bands in the early 90’s, he’s spent his music career freely ignoring the genre lines of metal (he was in two bands with PANTERA’s Phil Anselmo, ARSON ANTHEM and SUPERJOINT RITUAL), cow-punk (he calls it “hellbilly” with his DAMN BAND), and punk (leading the band ASSJACK) After years of fighting with the Nashville country music system (just listen to “Dick in Dixie” or “Trashville” for his opinions on the current state of country music) as well as his record labels, Hank has just released three(!) new albums on his own, Hank3 label. Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown is a double country-tinged album, Attention Deficit Domination is doom metal, and 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’ is a mashup of speed metal and spoken word by cattle auctioneers that has to be heard to be believed!

“As Henry Rollins told me many years ago”, Hank proclaims, “‘All you need is distribution. You already got your fans, you have a good work, ethic and you tour. You know what you want, you got your sounds, you know how to write and record record and mix and master them yourself.’ 2011 is a new beginning and it’s been exciting. A lot of people have written about me, saying ‘he does this and he does that’. But no one has heard what a diverse musician I could be until now.” Indeed, Hank plays all of the instruments on both ADD and Cattle Callin’. Not that he can’t call in a little help once in awhile, he gets stars as distinct as Tom Waits and Primus’ Les Claypool to help out on some tracks on Guttertown. He adds, “Whenever I get in recording mode I have to shut everything down and be at the house. But I basically wrote all the material in January and I hit the record button in February and didn’t have all songs recorded, mixed, and mastered until June. So, from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep that’s what every day revolved around. I usually weigh 160 but I went down to 137 pounds through all that process. It was very grueling, but very inspiring to be able to release that much music on the same day. “

And even though it seems like he would be groomed for the stage, music is a trajectory that he found without too much help. “You’d be a little surprised.” he says. “I only used to get to go to Fantasy Land about two weeks a year honestly… I was never around my father that much, they got divorced when I was two years old… Since I didn’t live with my father all the time, I didn’t get to be around a lot of the musicians that most people would think. Getting to be around THE MELVINS and all these other bands that I’ve been involved with, that was kind of my own groundwork going to shows and being involved for the love of the music.” He continues, “My Dad was forced onstage when he was 8 years old, he didn’t have a choice. I got into music because I wanted to.”

But his life changed quickly when he got an unexpected surprise. “I was opening up for a band called Buzzoven in Nashville. I had a one-night stand that waited three years to tell me I had a son and they served papers onstage. Then the judge told me I owed sixty-thousand dollars backpay and that I had to ‘Get a real job, boy.’ My way of getting a real job was paying my dues and that’s when I had to get into country to be able to rock out again. It all worked out for the best, I got to take care of my son and I got to create my own niche out there.”

Hank 3 will bring that niche to The Barrymore Theatre in Madison on December 1st. His shows go well over three hours and the set is divided up between his genres. “It’s a long show, I always tell ladies not to wear open-toed shoes to the show. We usually have a pretty rowdy crowd, but I always pay respects to my roots and country in the first part of the show… then I get into the hellbilly and the doom rock and the metal. 18 to 80 is our crowd. It’s the average guy, the redneck, the heavy metal dude, the biker, and the grandmas and grandpas.  I’m really proud of our audience.”

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