Interview: Hank3 on Releasing Four Albums on the Same Day, Cattle Calling, and His Dad
While Hank3 may have country royalty running through his veins, his musical influences and repertoire have always extended far beyond those of his family ancestry and environment. The son of Hank Williams, Jr. and grandson of Hank Williams, Hank3 is demonstrating his full musical range, notably his hard-rock side, in the most extravagant way possible by releasing four albums, featuring three different genres today. There is a double-country record titled Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown, a doom-rock album called Attention Deficit Domination, as well as a speed-metal album set over a bed of auctioneers at a cattle auction, appropriately titled Cattle Callin', all released on his own label Hank3 records, through Megaforce. Hank3 gave Revolver the lowdown on his ambitious endeavors, breaking free from a restrictive label, and his love for metal.
REVOLVER What are you most proud of about these four records?
HANK3 Well, A) the fact that four albums are coming out at once and covering three different genres. And I would say taking on the task of recording it, playing all the drums on the records, mixing it, mastering it, and doing all the artwork myself is definitely a task that I’m very proud of. Because I don’t know if I’ll ever have the energy again to make that happen.
How long have you been waiting to get these albums out that explore your full-range of musical influences?
Well, I've always done it, I just haven’t been able to release it on a record label. You know, when I recorded This Ain't Country 10 years ago and Curb Records waited 10 years to put it out, when I’m done with them. I've always delivered a metal show; at least the last 10 years when you come and see me perform it’s always been country, hellbilly, and [Hank3's metal group] Assjack. Nowadays it’s gonna be country, hellbilly, Attention Deficit Domination and possibly the Cattle Callin' and we did it all there so it’s really close. But the main thing right now is musical freedom. I had my creativity held back for so long and now I don’t have those problems. If I want to make a record, I make a record and put it out. If I wanna record with whoever, I can do that and I don’t have to go through four lawyers to do one thing.
Was having this freedom a large part of why you took the unique step of releasing four records of different musical styles on one day?
Well, there’s a couple of reasons. Yeah, I did almost 14 years for Curb Records, only have five records to show out of 14 years. Here I am starting my own label, coming out of the gate, I got four to show. That’s, yeah it’s a little bit of an inspiration. But the other inspiration was I wanted to do something that’s never been done in the music business. I don’t think it’s been done in our time.
And a lot of it, also, I haven’t been able to sell my own CD at my merch table in 14 years. I cant tell you how much times I’ve been asked "Well, man, do you got a CD?" "No, sorry. I refuse to sell Curb Records product." So there’s a whole other reason why I wanted to have all my different style of genres available for everybody.
Was it tough physically creating so much material at once?
Well, I normally weigh 160 pounds and I got down to 138, that’s how intense it was. Some days were so full on that I wouldn’t even have time to eat. I would just be completely focused in the mode of mixing and mixing and mixing and while I got it, man, I’m doing it to it. I'm just… that’s kind of the way I am: My highs are really high and my lows are really low, but my work ethic has always been overboard.
Why did you decide to use the combination of speed metal and auctioneering with Cattle Callin?
Well, I was raised, in the summer time, on a farm in Jane, Missouri, my grandad’s farm, and I would always go to the auctioneering barns with him. I've milked cattle, I've branded cows, I've worked cows, I've herded cows, and I've had to drag the dead ones off to the side of the field. So I have been in that lifestyle. I've always been a fan of speed metal, heavy metal, as a drummer, and as a fan, I’ve loved it and always been fascinated by it and that goes to say I’ve always been fascinated by the auctioneers also. It seems kind of like a natural fit to me.
Some of the fastest guys I did not get to use because they didn’t want their names associated with me because of my bad reputation, or whatever. Most of these guys don’t drink, don’t smoke, and are about 60 and 70 years old and don’t want no part of any kind of rebel outlaw.
Presumably your dad had similar experiences growing up with cattle calling, too, has he heard your record?
Naaah, I mean, man, my dad only heard, I couldn’t even tell you, you know—me and him don’t really talk hardly at all. And he's probably only heard one of my records, maybe 15 years ago. All I can tell you is back when I was a young kid, I was always into the heavy stuff and he was making fun of me back then. Like, there’s a [Hank Williams Jr.] song called “Young Country,” it says "Our hair’s not orange, we don’t wear chains and spikes." And in that video you’ll notice, I’m the reason Suicidal Tendencies was in that video, I’m the reason Fishbone was in that video, I'm the reason that Van Halen hooked up with Hank, Jr., you know? 'Cause I told him, back in the day, "You know, there’s one of the biggest rock-and-roll bands in the world that says they go in Bocephus mode [Bocephus is the nickname for Hank Jr.] before they hit the stage?" "Oh, really, no, who’s that?" [Sarcastically] "Uhh, they’re called Van Halen." And then a week later they’re doing a video together. So I turned him on to a lot of things, but he’s always kind of made fun of what I was into.
Photos: Cocked hat: Donnie Knutson; Suicidal Tendencies hat: Courtesy of Hank3 Records; Live: Cindy Knoener.