October 2017


The Phenomenal:
Hank Williams 3
Interview By: Cyndi Ford

It is said that we inherit certain traits from our parents, and grandparents, those are some pretty high expectations to fill when you descend from Hank Williams. Add to that, looking like your grandfather's spitting image and you might begin to have a clue to what society might expect from Hank 3. Again, like his grandfather, Shelton came from humble beginnings, (unlike some may think), and landed in Nashville and made HIS OWN unique mark in the industry. His taste in the music he chooses to deliver to his fans can vary from Punk, to down right Honky Tonk - Sr style heart tugging tunes....oh and let's not forget his efforts when he teamed up with Phil Anselmo (Pantera), to form Arson Anthem, and they threw down some metal. I once heard that "Hank 3 put on the most amazing night of tunage, because he played in two bands that night, and the two could not have been more different. He didn't slack on either performance, and cut things short." I was lucky enough to have met Shelton a few years back, and got to have a chat. As I gazed into his eyes, the first thing that struck me was the honesty that gleamed from his eyes. I couldn't help but picture his grandfather playing on our tv when I was a kid, and my mama explaining who he was, and educating me on his greatness. Needless to say, I teared up, and said, "If my mama could see me now."

Punk Globe: How old were you when you first picked up an instrument?

Hank Williams 3: It goes back to probably, the first instrument I had was a guitar, but I don't remember playing it much. But then I got a drum set when I was about 5 or 6. I remember playing drums more than I do playing guitar.

Punk Globe: When did you realize the greatness of your lineage?

Hank Williams 3: I kinda knew that my dad was playing music, and I noticed lots of Hank Williams records laying around. But I didn't understand how intense the work load was that Hank Sr did within 29 years till I was about 12 or 14. That was when I tried to wrap my head around some of the writing, song structures, and all that stuff.

Punk Globe: You have the most exquisite taste in the music that you record, what determines the genre or feel the album is going to have?

Hank Williams 3: If I set out to make a country record I try to always have the roots of that record true to that sound. If I make a country record there is going to be an acoustic guitar, fiddle, a stand up steel, stand up bass, a banjo, and maybe a mandolin or something like that. I try to keep the roots in there as much as possible no matter what genre I am doing. Every now and then I will go back and forth if I am working on a couple of different projects at the same time. But if it is a country record, it will be a country record, except maybe a couple songs that are on it that will be experimental or not as pure as compared to other parts of the record. Each style and each genre are recorded different. If I am doing a rock genre usually the guitar licks come first, and then I do the drums and the vocals are last. But if I'm doing country the vocals and the guitars is first and everything else is built around that. So it really depends on what mood I am trying to capture, what kind of energy I am trying to put into the song. That is how I have been doing it for quite a while now.

Punk Globe: I adore your punk tunes, what punk bands inspired you?

Hank Williams 3:Well basically I learned to play guitar from listening to a lot of the standards. You know the Sex Pistols, the Misfits, certain Black Flag songs I could hang in there a little bit. The Melvins helped me a lot. You know I never really did catch on to the Dead Kennedy's much, it was a bit to complex. But the bar chords are still to this day are what I do, I have never been much of a lead player. But I do know how to keep pretty decent rhythm in my songs. That's all the big ones, you know, but there were lots of standard punk rock band that got me going. There was Sven Seconds, GBH, of course Suicidal Tendencies was real big at that time. And then there are a lot of bands that I don't know who they are, but have tried to do research on over the years. I used to record 88.5 in Atlanta. I used to record radio stations on tape, and I still have those tapes. A lot of those bands influenced me a lot, Phil Anselmo influenced me a lot. There are a lot of under ground bands that also influenced me as well.

Punk Globe: I don't know if you are aware, but I live in Atlanta, and grew up listening to 88.5, and a lot of my friends worked there. We have a bit of situation with the station these days, seems they are trying to turn it into a talk radio station or something. So we are trying to save it.

Hank Williams 3: That radio station introduced me to a lot of different styles of music, so I wish you all the best of luck with that. Most independent radio stations and college radio stations tend to be a bit more happening than the commercial radio stations, and let some music get heard that otherwise may go unnoticed. So they definitely play a huge role in me growing up. I lived in Dunwoody, Roswell, Kennesaw, Doraville, and a few places when I was there. I was only there a couple of years, but it definitely stayed with me for life.

Punk Globe: Why the skeleton make-up?

Hank Williams 3: Those shows are mostly on Halloween. That is not a nightly thing. That is only a holiday thing when those pictures are put out there. It is not a black metal thing, or anything like that. Those shows have mostly been local in Nashville. I have a good friend that is a really good airbrush artist, and so it's always fun to change things up, and let him do his art. I have only done it two times.

Punk Globe: Tell us the story of the infamous boots, and where are they now?

Hank Williams 3: Those boots stayed with me a long time on the road. A lot of the country and western stars are into high dollar suits and really expensive clothes. And for me it was really about trying to help the fans relate a little more to me. There have been clothes made with those boots on them, that I was given by the fans. After about 5 years of wearing those boots, they finally got holes in them. I got tire of having them resoled, so that is where the duct tape came into play. They made it through about 10 good solid years with me till I just couldn't wear them anymore. It became physically impossible to wear them anymore. So they have been in the Country Music Hall of Fame for a while, probably almost a year and a half as part of an exhibit. There have been show posters made around those boots, I've seen maybe a couple of tattoos made of the boots. Now they are just sitting on top of my refrigerator. Who knows where their final home will be. It all goes back to art, and all the pretty cool stuff people have made. They have seen a lot of shows out there, and I am glad that they are in the museum, as my son would say. Walking into the house is kinda like walking into a little museum.

Punk Globe: You are currently touring supporting two recently released cd's on Megaforce records, Fiendish Threat, and Brothers of the 4 x 4. Describe what the fans can expect when they come to a show, and will you be adding more dates, and possibly make it to Atlanta?

Hank Williams 3: I am trying to get everywhere I haven't been to in 2013, and we didn't get to make it to Atlanta. So I will try and make to Athens, pretty soon. I like playing Georgia as much as possible. But Georgia is probably gonna be more towards the end of summer. If you come out to a show, we usually start at 8:00. There is no opening band, so we tell everyone to try and get there early. We always usually start out with an hour to an hour and a half of the country show. Then we do a little bit of the Hellbelly or Punk sound. And then a little bit of rock. Hopefully I am still going to be able to do the long shows. They are usually 3-4 hour shows. With the two releases, the country and the punk rock record we are just trying to make to to where we didn't in 2013, an east coast run, gonna try and hit the Midwest a little more. Then I will try and see, we might be able to get Georgia in there, towards the end of the summer. I don't like to book too many shows in advance, only about a month before I go on tour will I put shows on the book. So I don't get in too much trouble. I can't book shows 6 months out. That kinda bugs some people that work with me, but that is the way I have always done it.

Punk Globe: Well I hope you do make it to Athens, and I get to meet you again.

Hank Williams 3: Yeah, when we play Atlanta we usually play the Masquerade, have for many many years. Had some special moments there. I know there has been a couple of changes since we played there, but Athens I usually only get to play there every 3-5 years. I always say hello to those that make it to the end of the show. I know a lot of people have to get up and go to work the next day. But every show I do, I always stick around shake a few hands, and say hello to everybody. I am easy to access if someone wants to say hello at the end of the night.

Punk Globe: I met you a few years ago at the Masquerade when you were playing with Arson Anthem. It was a special night.

Hank Williams 3: Oh yeah, that was down when I was playing the drums. It's been a while, Arson Anthem might play a couple of shows towards the end of the year. We will see how everyone is feeling. That was a fun tour there, everyone getting together and doing what they do.

Punk Globe: It was kinda funny, when we met, I'm not a spring chicken anymore, and after talking for awhile, you said, you do know this ain't gonna be one of my country shows don't you.

Hank Williams 3: Well I like to try and make sure everyone is going to have a good time, and they get there money's worth. Some people are into rocking out, and some people aren't. That's one of those things. I am glad you got to come out and see it. That is one of those bands that we don't get to do that many shows.

Punk Globe: Speaking of recording, how do you feel about the way the industry has changed when it comes to how albums come together?

Hank Williams 3: Well it is pretty complicated, some musicians on major labels would say there no room for creativity anymore. Then some would not agree with that. Someone like me being a creative person, and writing my own songs, I know what I am going for most of the time. That might sit well with some, and might not sit well with others. But I guess it really depends on what you are going for and what you are trying to capture. There are some that like awesome engineers, with some really good equipment, and some high dollar gear, but then there is something to be said about some of the records that are a little bit low-fi. But you can never tell everyone is different. Every record is different. A lot of it is pro tools and stuff like that these days. But if you go and listen to some stuff like the old Waylon Jennings records, some of those are pretty thin sounding. If you listen to a Pink Floyd record, some of those are pretty thin. Then some of those records are some of the best produced records, or engineered records that are out there. So it is a back and forth battle. Some people say that making records is definitely not a cheap thing to do. And all in all it takes a lot when you go through that process, so it is hard to say. For someone like me I am just glad to be part of it and capture what I can. Most of all I record on my own, and be my own engineer. That's just how it is for now, one day I may not be able to do that. Almost the last 7 or 8 records, even back when I was on Curb, I was definitely hands on with it. I tried to be involved with it as much as possible. The last records that I have put out I was involved in every aspect of it, as far a writing it, recording it, mixing it, mastering it, all of that has been done by me. I don't have the best sound, I don't have the worst sound, but hopefully it makes it pleasing.

Punk Globe: You sing of a simple life, farming, hunting and fishing, describe how this is important to you, and what do you feel about going back to the old ways of farming, you know, organically?

Hank Williams 3: Well it has been really hard on the farmers now days. Even when I was brought up on my mom's side of the family, I had to watch a farm that was once an empire, barely get by. Had to watch it slowly crumble, and part of that is you get older and then the crops not coming in, and everything getting so expensive. But I have always supported the farmers as much as possible, and I know how hard it is if you are just a farmer. It is really a tough business. You know I don't even smoke pot anymore. But is one of those things that it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that is a good crop for farmers to grow. As far as production and what you can get out of it, compared to trees, it seems like a no brainer for a green crop and what you can get out of it. I know that is a tricky and complicated subject, but it is one step towards a greener planet. You know a lot of the mountains that have had the tops cut off. Where the get the coal...that is something that Tennessee is having to battle, trying to keep it out. It is tricky stuff when you look at what all is happening with that, with the pesticides a lot of the stuff that the farmers have to do. The way the weather has been changing and everything it is really hard.

Punk Globe: I know all to well about coal mining, my family was from Kentucky. Where my grandfather lived it has been clear cut, and a lot of the tops of the mountains have been taken off. My father was a coal miner. And it was a great point that you hit on, about the farmers growing pot. I had never thought of that, and the impact it could have on the farming industry.

Hank Williams 3: If you look at all the land that has effected by mountain removal and all the land that has been hydro seeded, it is just desolate land. And if someone were able to see if they could grow on that land, and get a crop on it, that might have some effect on all that mountain top removal. But there are a lot of people that are from coal mining families that just don't agree with the way the surface mining has gone. That there is another tricky topic, but we all know it has happened in Kentucky, and is happening a lot in West Virginia. Here in Tennessee we are trying to keep it out right now, who knows if that is gonna happen. The farmers of America, if you look at the FFA they have a lot of things they have to contend with. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Punk Globe: What advice do you have to offer the next generation, when it comes to the music industry?

Hank Williams 3: The music industry is really tough, and some people are gifted with the ability to write songs, and be creative, and are not that good on the business side of things. As far as school goes, it is best to stay in school and get as much knowledge as you can. Once you stop going to school it is really hard to get back in the motion of it. Math, is really complicated, but it helps at the end of the day. If you are making your own t-shirts, or learning a trade with your hands....there are a lot of aspects. Try to get into to the sound, try to get into recording your own record. Recording your own practices. Getting out there and touring, and sell t-shirts. You just kind learn over the years what works, and what doesn't. In general, times are tough all around, and people wanting to get out and forget about their problems, and see some music. People are coming out to forget their problems, and have a good time. It is complex, you have so many options, but I would say, record your own band, learn a little mathematics. And if you want to be on an independent label, or a major label, it depends on what your vision and your goal is. Keep an open mind as much as possible.


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