Hank Williams III has recently released four new solo albums. These albums were the first to be released by William’s newly formed label Hank 3 Records. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Hank 3 about what it was like releasing four albums simultaneously.
Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the idea of releasing four albums simultaneously?
HW3: For me I wanted to try something different. There are many different angles. Doing something different was the first one. The second part for me was trying to make another mark in musical history. I am standing on my own two feet. People can look back on my career and see that I did quite a few different things with the family he was from. A third reason is I haven’t been able to sell a CD at any of my shows in almost 18 years. I wanted to be able to give the fans a chance to see all the different sounds and a chance to also buy them. I don’t know if I will ever have that much focus or drive to do that amount of work again in a short period of time. There are all kinds of things that prompted me to push myself a little harder and do something un-standard. I also kicked off Hank 3 Records with these releases. What better way to do it than to come out of the gate strong.
AL: What made you decide to start your own label?
HW3: Basically I am going through one lawyer instead of five or six. I have less people trying to tell me what I can or can’t do. It’s pretty simple what I am trying to do. I am making music and touring. When I get a chance to work with another musician I don’t want that opportunity shut down. I have always known my sound. Henry Rollins gave me some advice a long time ago about only really needing a good distribution company as the other stuff is already in place. I kept his words very close to me. So far things have not been an issue. However if it starts cutting into my creativity then I might think about changing it up. Right now it is just another way of trying to become more hands on.
AL: Did the writing/recording process vary at all between the four albums?
HW3: The country is always a bit more serious to me. I have to worry about pitch and the tone as well as the timing. I take that a lot more serious when I am working on the country sound. At night I would do a lot of the “ADD” and “3 Bar Ranch” stuff. It was a good way to end the session and wind things down. For a couple of months it was working from the time I got up until the time I went to sleep. Things were full on. I have always been that way when I have been working on the country stuff. You have to be sharper with that stuff. The other material I am playingmostly by myself so things are less intense. There are no outside players coming in and needing your ideas explained to them.
AL: What interested you in using different auctioneers in the back ground of the “3 Bar Ranch” album?
HW3: I have always looked at cattle auctioneers as different singers. I thought the speed of the auctioneers combined with the speed of heavy metal were a good mix. I lost more than 60% of the guys I wanted to use on that album because they didn’t feel comfortable with what I was doing. I was trying to explain to those guys that they weren’t going to like the music or understand it but I was in no way making fun of their industry. I wanted to offer inspiration to younger auctioneers in a different way. I also wanted to give maybe aspiring bull riders a different kind of music to get all amped on before going on an 8 second run. There are quite a few angles but it just goes back to doing something out of the box and different. This album is only for select people out there that might get into this kind of stuff. For me it was a lot of fun. I pushed myself to some other limits as a player. It was a good way to end all of the records.
AL: Did you use samples of auctioneers or did you actually go out and record at various places?
HW3: Basically I would have to try and track the guys down. A lot of them already had stuff up on YouTube. I would call and talk to them about what I was doing and make them an offer. Everyone got offered the same deal. It didn’t matter if you were 17 years old or one of the highest paid auctioneers out there. I just told them this is what I was offering and would they want to be a part of it. When I started losing like 60% of the guys out there I went and recorded a few local people. I did all of the Tennessee auctioneers in person. There were a few guys that were really helpful. Some of the older guys have started to see what I am doing and they have gotten a feel for what it is. I am being a little different but trying not to be disrespectful. At times people don’t quite understand creativity or art views.
AL: What has it been like playing these albums live?
HW3: It’s been fun. By the time I get to the “3 Bar Ranch” stuff we are about 3.5 hours into it. We have taken the audience through a lot of different moods already. For that last little segment it’s pretty intense. For me it’s a lot of fun. When everything is right it feels great. For now we have to work around samples of the auctioneers. One day it would be great to find the right kid who can do that stuff live and correctly. Until then we have to work around the samples. We have done 5 tours with “3 Bar Ranch” so far. There are still some people hanging out at the end of the show who come up and tell us their minds have been blown. It’s always good when you leave an impression on someone.
AL: Personally is there one of the four albums that stands out for you above the rest?
HW3: It just depends on which way you are looking at it. Creativity wise a lot more went in to “Ghost to a Ghost” and “Gutter Town”. This was only because of all the outside players and effects. There was a lot more work that went into that as opposed to “Cattle Callin” and “ADD”. It is intense but not as intense. That stuff is a little more fun and I don’t have to be as strict on myself. It’s like taking a break in a way. The hardest part out of all of this was the mixing. Each album is special to me in its own way. People seem to recognize more with my roots in country music more so than in rock or heavy metal. I try to make sure I deliver some stuff to the hardcore fans out there.
AL: Do you have any more tour plans for these albums?
HW3: We are getting ready to do a Mid-West run which will be sort of a short tour. From there we will be heading over to Europe for about a month. That will take us through mid July. When I get back from that and I take some time to put myself back together we have a west coast run scheduled for August. We are possibly trying to get into Canada as well.
AL: Do you think you will be back in the studio anytime soon?
HW3: Once I break even. I have to keep working until I break even. Once that happens and everyone is satisfied then I will be able to think about that. For me I can’t get creative until I get everything back level.