With over ten years of performing, Hank3 (AKA Hank Williams III) has made himself a staple across several genres of music. He mixes country, punk and metal, making his live shows wild, unique experiences. He will be releasing not one, but three albums on October 1st. The first is a double country album, Brothers of the 4×4 and a punk album, A Fiendish Threat.
mxdwn had the chance to speak with Hank3 about his upcoming releases, burning records and his epic live performances.
First off, I would like to thank you for speaking with us again! I know you have a hectic schedule. You are releasing three records on October 1st and your tour began August 24th-– How the tour has been going so far?
It is going well! It should be a good run. Right now, we have a West coast tour and East coast tour and hopefully more dates booked soon. As you were saying, we have the albums coming out October 1st. Right now, it seems like a lot of people got to come out and enjoy a whole different sounds we’ve been doing. We had to adjust to a couple of changes with the band. That’s always hard to recover from, but it’s been going well with the new guys I’ve been with.
Just for fans that haven’t been to your shows: Your live shows are an experience within themselves. Can you describe what a Hank3 show would be like during this tour?
I always break my shows into sections. I always pay my respects to country music. That’s the first part of the show and it is fairly high energy. We always have an intense kind of rowdy crowd. It’s basically kind of like a heavy metal show without the knife. Sometimes there’s a mosh pit on the floor. Ninety percent of the time there is movement. Some nights it might feel like Monday and some people just want to come and hang out. We start off with the country-– about an hour and half of that – and then I do some of the Hellbilly sound for about forty minutes. Then I do the Attention Deficit Domination part of the show and some new material. I end the night with 3 Bar Ranch. There are a lot of different sounds along with a lot of different moods throughout the night. If you are standing up front near the stage, it could be a little uncomfortable at times. If you just want to come out for the music, it might be best to stand in the back of the room. That’s how it’s gone down for many of years.
So you are playing some of your new material, as well? Is it a mix between your new releases and older material?
I’m not the kind of artist that switches the whole show just because of a new record. I kind of walk out on stage without a set list in mind. I just play whatever is on top of my head and feel what the audience is leaning towards that night. All in all, people who come out will see a full Hank III show with a few new songs. It’s not going to be a full hour of new material. Most of the songs played will be played by ear.
Which bands do you have on your with you now?
I haven’t had an opening band in quite a long time. Basically, I go on at eight and play until twelve at night. With as much gear as I’m hauling, it’s not a possibility right now to have an opening band.
In a previous interview with mxdwn, you mentioned troubles with your voice. How has your voice been during the recording of these new albums and during the tour?
That is always a challenge. What I’m doing with my voice is not normal. What I’m doing with my voice every night, that’s what’s giving it trouble. It’s just like if you were an athlete and lifting weights every single day and increasing the level of weight every single day, pretty soon something will start to give. That is always the challenge to try to rest my voice as much as possible. It is good for the tour to take it as far as I can. As far at the top the shows were, I think my voice has held up well. Usually. we are working up till six thirty, and then we have about forty-five minutes to an hour just to get the show clothes on and start our show. Most of the time we load in at twelve. It takes that long to get everything checked, maybe an hour to get our game face on. Until twelve thirty at night we load our trailer and start all over again.
Has that affected your live shows, especially the rock portion of your sets?
It’s still all one performance. The audience kind of picks up on different levels of it, but it is all-important to me. I do know that people try to break it up in different sections, that’s why I play an hour and a half of country and then go off into my other stuff. Not everyone is coming out to see the rock part of the show. What I’m doing right now, that has been a work in progress, keeping everyone satisfied. That has worked real well over ten years.
Going back to these new releases-– what kind of inspirations did you draw from in creating these records? How were you inspired?
Country music for me has always based on either writing a happy-go-lucky or deep song, if you are dealing with depression or any of those kinds of issues. In country music, it’s a different state of mind– A lot of highs and a lot of lows, a couple of fun songs and a couple of not necessarily “country” songs. With a rock record, I was approaching it as a person who had a pretty bad wreck and is doing everything he can to build back his body and mind. It’s about picking yourself off the floor and putting yourself back together type of album.
I wanted to talk more about A Fiendish Threat, the more punk album release. It’s not your typical punk rock album. It features multiple non-traditional instruments like the banjo and fiddle. Was there anything specific that geared you towards that sound? Or was it a natural progression coming from the country influence?
There’s only a little bit of the banjo and fiddle feel throughout the record. I just thought it might give it a different feel. A lot of inspiration came out of playing on the acoustic guitar. It’s a lot harder to play that kind of rhythm on the acoustic guitar. It felt natural and created a different sound. When I listen to it, I hear a lot of different influences. Bands like the Ramones, Ian McKay, The Misfits and even Jane’s Addiction in certain parts. There are a lot of elements that influenced me through the creative process. It’s also a different singing voice for me. It’s more of a rounder voice for me to sing like that as opposed to country.
Speaking of musical influences, you recently had an interview with Fuse’s Crate Diggers. You mentioned your parents burned some of your records?
While I was growing up, a lot of Satan seminars were popular on TV and in school. That’s when they were playing the Led Zeppelin records backwards and all that stuff. My mom was just doing that out of concern because I was into a pretty extreme style of music. That’s all she was doing, was being a concerned mother, like any mother would.
What were some records that your mother approved of? What was playing in the household while you were growing up?
She always had just classic rock-n-roll playing like Elvis Presley, Heart and ZZ Top. She would have all the country singers like Merrill Haggard and all those records would be lying around. The first records I got when I was a kid was a Kiss record and a haunted house record from Walt Disney. Being a drummer, I leaned towards the intense metal or punk rock sounding record because I thought it was fun to play. As time has gone on, I’ve gained a pretty open mind when it comes to creating different styles and genres of music.
You also mention an unreleased/unheard vinyl from the late Hank Williams. It featured the songs “Mother’s Side By Me” and “Lonely Mount of Clay.” Were you able to listen to this record?
No, I haven’t put it through that process. It’s just one of those few things that I do own.
So you have no intentions of getting this released, perhaps through your own label?
When you’re dealing with a Hank Williams name, there are all kinds of legal barriers. I don’t have any say so in the matter. There would be all these legal issues if I wanted to do that.
Were you able to listen to this record?
I don’t have the right kind of player that would allow me to listen to it. Maybe one day.
You have been releasing your own albums through your own record label. How has been releasing your own material in comparison to a larger label?
Running my own label is basically a creative thing. It’s nice to be able to work with people who understand your creative side. For so many years, I worked with a larger company who gave me no respect for what I do out there. It is a great feeling to be able to put out projects and have the freedom to work with other creative people. I wasn’t getting the opportunities to work with other creative people and I felt like I was held back. Now I get to explore new things and try new talent.
Have you gone through any personal challenges distributing your own music?
Well, it’s all a big challenge. If you’re hands-on with it, it can be challenging within itself. Just putting on shows and completing records-– all of it is intense. For someone like me, it can be a little harder. I’m not the best, I’m not the worst, but I do my best to put myself out there and do what I can.
Do you have anymore set shows for this tour? How does your touring schedule look like in the coming months?
Right now, we are working on West coast run and then we will try to do an East coast run. We are booking a little bit at a time. I never really plan six months ahead; we book tour by tour.
If you would like anymore information about Hank3’s new releases or information on his tour, check out his website!
Photos by Raymond Flotat