Hank III says freedom's just around the corner
Hank III is about to make a fresh start. Years after selling his soul to the music industry for the sake of supporting a son whom, for years, he didn't know about, the progeny of Hank Williams Jr. is delivering his last album to Curb Records.
"My whole game plan, at first, was [that] I wanted to rock out as hard as I could because, usually, you're old by the time you're 24," Hank III told SoundSpike. "In country [music], you can grow old with your fans. You can still do shows when you're 70.
"Then, I was opening up for Buzzoven. I had five police officers walk in when I was setting up my gear. I was 19 or 20 at the time. They said, 'Are you Shelton Hank Williams?' 'Yes sir I am.' 'We're serving you these papers. You have a child.' They waited three years to tell me so they could see all this money build up."
So he dabbled in country, metal and "hellbilly," as he calls it, all for the Curb label. Even though he's been dubbed one of the hardest-working musicians in music, years ago a judge told him that playing music wasn't a "real job."
"I showed the judge that music is a real job and all that stuff," Hank III said. "[Now] 18 years later, my kid's 18. I'm getting ready to turn in my last record for Curb, and I'm getting ready to be a free man and start all over--DIY. I'm looking forward to actually having the opportunity to play with musicians and not have to tell a lawyer, 'I want to go jam with this friend of mine and we're going to go make a record.' I shouldn't have to go through four lawyers to do that. I will finally be free and be able to create music for fun just to put it out there. Not have all this business bullshit hanging over my head."
He expects to turn in his last record to Curb within the month, and then "a nine-month clock will start ticking and then they have to let me go. It'll be a good beginning."
Meanwhile, Hank III and his death metal band Assjack are touring in support of their self-titled album, their first record of fully authorized material, released Aug. 4 by Curb Records. Featuring tracks like "Redneck Ride," "Wasting Away" and "No Regrets," the set personifies the split in the psyche of the singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer, who last year released the psych-country album "Damn Right, Rebel Proud." The shows are equally as schizophrenic.
According to Hank III, performances on the current Assjack tour don't differ from those in support of his other projects.
"It's a country show, and then the hellbilly and Assjack. There might be a couple of new songs, but it's the same vibe. The same energy. It's a long damn show. It's almost a two-and-a-half to three-hour show. The people that have seen me in the past know what to expect. To the people that have never seen us before, I would just recommend don't wear open-toed shoes and be ready to be around some rowdy people. It's always a lot of good energy."
Hank III said his live shows are what keep him different from other acts on the road.
"I could've have taken the easy way out and just been a country singer and did what they told me to do and made millions of dollars," Hank III said. "That's not what I wanted to do. I chose taking the hard road and creating my own niche and getting my own fan base. Doing both sides of the country--the hellbilly and the heavy metal. That's what makes us separate. That's why we get the grandmas and the cowboys and the punk rock kids and the kids in black and the skinheads and all the different genres come out to see us. If I would have just been a country singer, it wouldn't be the same at all. We'd be Shooter Jennings or something lame like that."
See Hank III's exclusive acoustic performance at Sessions.